It’s easy to pass, California Cravings, the signage is at the moment just a vinyl banner, the parking lot is also small and hard to get in when it’s meal time, but this Killeen food truck turned brick and mortar has one of the absolute best vegan BBQ street tacos within 70 miles and is worth turning around for.
Started in Killeen as small blue food truck selling Mexican styled “snack food” California Cravings has grown through truck and a smaller previous location to finally reach the restaurant sized space they have now with seating for a few dozen, large chalkboard menu, and a line of customers stretching back to the door. The product of the hard work of Tony Villalpando and his wife Anita, California Cravings has seen the growth of their restaurant take them to top honors in the Central Texas area winning 1st and 2nd place in recent battle of the food truck events.
Now, as a recent meat eater turned vegan, or what I call Vegan-lite, Mary and I are still learning “the ropes” and this place drew us in as being one of the very few non-Asian food joints in Killeen that has a large selection of Vegan meals. One gets a little tired of always eating lo mein and tofu when looking for a quick meal around town and California Cravings provides a nice respite with their vegan tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas.
Speaking of quesadillas, they’re stuffed. I ordered the mushroom fajita quesadilla and it came fat and loaded, beautiful sautéed mushrooms, done fajita style and a handful of melted Cheez to tie in that nice crispy tortilla, a beautiful combination for any Mexican food lover and my recommended and favorite of the meals I’ve had there so far.
Mary ordered the jackfruit barbacoa tacos. Done street Taco style these babies came with a nice spicy kick and topped off with that refreshing cilantro bite, add in a little of the vegan sour cream and you’ve got yourself a beautiful blend of plant based flavors. Now I do have to admit we’ve had jackfruit BBQ before, from a premise bag we got at HEB and it was ok, these tacos, well they rivaled some of the best meat street tacos we’ve had. With their homemade spicy barbacoa blend, the “meaty” jackfruit filling and a refreshing dash of cilantro these will even have meat eaters nodding and smiling in spicy delight.
“Quality” Tony tells me, “Quality is what we focus on. We’ve had a few bad reviews on facebook saying our service is slow, and it is, compared to Taco Bell. We’re not fast food, and we’re not really a “sit down” restaurant, we’re in between. Everything is fresh, veggies are cut when you order it, dropped in the fryer when you order it, put together for you, when you order it, and you can taste that difference in our food.
This sort of quality doesn’t come at a fast food pace.” Tony and spoke at length about quality food and its importance to customers, a fact that was supported by the line of hungry visitors extending all the way back to the door. “We’re working on a few ways to streamline some processes while keeping true to our high quality standard” Tony said, repeating that quality is the most important thing for them and it comes through in the food.
Just a note, Vegan isn’t the only thing on the menu. They aren’t even technically a “vegan restaurant” though Tony strives to make the vegan experience superb, even down to having vegan only cookware and utensils for only the vegan food. Their Carne Asada fries are all the rage and sell out often through the day. They serve a full menu of Mexican and fusion dishes all made to order, when ordered.
Visit Tony and his team in Killeen, at 1103 W Veterans Memorial BLVD, the restaurant is on the Fort Hood Street side of Veterans in a plaza, easy to miss at first, California Cravings is the place to go in Killeen for top notch Vegan Mexican food.
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