From an Airstream on 11th Street comes unbelievable things. Many Tulsans have heard of Lola's Gypsy Caravan before due to the fact that Lola was originally located in the Brady District before closing her doors and reopening in the Airstream on 11th Street.
Rumor has it that owner Lola Palazzo got the idea for a mobile truck on a trip to Florida. While in Seaside, Fla., Palazzo noticed a large number of Airstream trailers peddling food on the street. That is when she decided to sell her gourmet dishes as a street vendor.
This lovely eatery resides in an inconspicuous parking lot on 11th Street. There is an empty store on her property but this houses Palazzo's dog and some personal items while her restaurant resides in the more exotic digs of an Airstream trailer. The trailer sits on the lot looking like a rather large silver bullet screaming for passersby to notice the unusual site on a rather muted-looking city street. This silver bullet has also been known to move on several occasions including a recent day where it appeared under the store's canopy rather than adjacent to it. Picnic tables and wrought iron café tables are meticulously arranged. This restaurant has the feel of a sidewalk café mixed with fairground memories.
The menu offers a variety of sandwiches and salads in addition to desserts. The focus of the dishes is fresh and healthy. Each and every dish is homemade; Palazzo even makes her chocolate chip cookies from scratch. The dishes have cute names like "Shiny Bullet" and "Route 66 Grilled Cheese."
My friends and I decided to visit Lola's one day on our lunch break. The lot was abuzz with diners coming and going. The service is much like going to the fair. You walk up, place your order, and then sit and wait for your name to be called.
I ordered the Chic Sal San ($7), which comes with your choice of tortilla chips or fresh fruit. The Chic Sal San consists of an open face sandwich with chicken, mayo, celery, onion, grapes, nuts, and tarragon on whole wheat. The bread was soft and moist, like it had just come out of the oven. There were large chunks of lean chicken and plump grapes. Hints of celery, onion, and tarragon gave subtle flavors to the sandwich. The pecans lent a crunchy texture to it all.
The fresh fruit was delicious. Altogether it was a satisfying belly filling experience.
The friends that accompanied me had the Middle Path Egg Salad and the Chic Adobo with goat cheese. The Middle Path ($7) is coarsely chopped egg, mayo, raisins, walnuts, and spice on whole wheat. The menu states that this recipe comes from The Middle Path Café on 11th, which was open from 1976 to 1984. My friend told me she remembered the Middle Path and agreed that this sandwich was a wonderful replication of the original recipe. She thought the spices were just enough to taste and the mayo wasn't overpowering. She felt the best part of the meal was the mouthwateringly fresh bread.
The Chic Adobo ($7) is grilled chicken, chipotle and roasted bell pepper salsa, and goat cheese on a bun. This sandwich had a rather unique taste with a melding of tang from the goat cheese and spiciness from the chipotle. The roasted bell pepper salsa gave it a very unique flavor that was a bit beyond description. The bun was as amazingly fresh as the rest of the bread. This sandwich definitely had a powerful flavor.
For dessert, we shared an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie ($2). It was absolutely delightful. It tasted like it had just been made: soft, moist, and full of flavor. The cookie was baked just the right amount of time to provide that melt in your mouth goodness. I would definitely come back any day just for another one of these cookies! I plan on making more trips to Lola's just to taste one of the "ho'made ice cream sandwiches" and the "black and tan sundae" (layered Lola cake, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream).
The drink menu at Lola's is rather limited. The options are Coke products, coffee, and iced tea. They do feature a few locally brewed iced teas, but there are still relatively few choices. Drinks are all $2. My Coke came in a glass bottle. My friend ordered one of the locally brewed iced teas. She thought it was delicious. She told me it had a fabulous flavor and wasn't too strong.
This food truck has a great vibe and brings superior service and quality foods to an unusual locale for gourmet eating. Lola's Gypsy Caravan is actually part of a growing number of specialty food trucks.
This phenomenon just keeps growing in Tulsa, and Lola's takes advantage of both the nature of the movable restaurant and Tulsans' bear-hug embrace of the food truck culture. What T-Towners are finding (and enjoying) is variety at, for instance, events like Food Truck Wednesdays at the Guthrie Green: hungry people can choose from Lola's gourmet lunch fare, or, if the line is too long, or someone would rather have a hot dog with peanut butter on it or a huge slice of pizza or French fries with a Korean twist, the choices are there. Also, some days, Palazzo can pull up stakes and move outside a specific business or location, post to Facebook where she'll be that day, and everybody wins: the business sells product, and lunchers are happy. Win-win.
Some special things that should be noted are: Lola's only accepts cash and recycles. This establishment is only open Monday through Friday for lunch. Lastly, this restaurant is allergy-safe. Any sandwich filler can be put over a bed of greens to make it gluten free; however, many items on the menu contain nuts so those with nut allergies need to read the menu well. I was happy to find out that the nuts are added during the preparation of the individual sandwiches and can be left out upon request. Lola's definitely gets an A in allergy safety and healthy options. This experience is totally worth the trip.
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