Enrique Garcia has been back and forth from Michigan to Arizona several times since 1990. Like most Detroiters, he’s a steadfast fan of the city and, rightly so, its food.
Six months ago, the Peoria resident founded The Taste of the D: Belle Isle to 7 Mile food truck, selling coney dogs, and Vernors and Faygo “pop.” It’s not “soda.”
“I bring the hot dogs and the chili from Detroit,” said Garcia, who maintains a Michigan driver’s license and a Detroit Red Wings fan.
“The hot dogs have the original casing, beef and pork, and the chili sauce — they’re all from Detroit. I have Better Made potato chips. I have Faygo in glass and plastic bottles.”
Garcia isn’t inspired by the greats, Lafayette and American coney islands. Instead, he looks up to the smaller, less-exposed Duly’s Place on Vernor in Detroit.
“Duly’s is eight years older than they are,” he said. “Donald Sutherland filmed ‘The Rosary Murders’ cross the street at Holy Redeemer.”
Garcia said he’s been surprised by the trend toward Michigan restaurants, like Motor City Coney in Avondale, Detroit Coney Grill in Tempe and The Rec Pizzeria in Peoria.
“The trend is happening,” Garcia said. “We’ve had coney islands and pizzerias. I don’t know what’s next. I think Dave (Najor of Detroit Coney Grill) has some great stuff.”
The Southwest Detroiter is a longtime restaurateur. When he moved to Arizona in 1990, he was so homesick he returned to Detroit. Garcia fell tired of the snow and came back to Peoria. He bought a Subway franchise because it “seemed easy” and “cookie cutter.” He eventually sold it and rolled over the money into a Metro PCS store.
“I had been thinking about doing this coney thing,” Garcia said. “I talked to Dave and his brother said he had a food truck he was selling. It was a taco truck and he was selling it because he just bought a restaurant.”
His goals for the future include selling Greek food — salads, pitas and baklava. Right now, he doesn’t have the room for it on his truck.
“The food truck industry is different than a subway,” he said. “It’s a grind, but I’m getting a lot of movement because of the coney thing.
“I park and people will stop and ask if I’m a coney island. They’ll see the truck with the different monuments. I wanted someone who walked up to the truck to feel like they walked into the Detroit city limits. I’m still playing with the menu. I do offer other stuff, like tonight it was street tacos. All I’m trying to do is offer different food to people. There are a million taco trucks out here. I want people to know Detroit.”