It’s more important than ever to stand out in El Paso’s ever growing food scene, and this rings even truer for food trucks. London Grill, the city’s first “bustaurant” arrived in 2015, inviting El Pasoans to climb aboard a double decker bus to dine on U.K. classics. The vehicle, proudly embellished with the Union Jack, is eye-catching and draws passersby.
Mauricio Olivares escaped his corporate desk job of 10 years to reopen Seafood Galley and ultimately fell in love with the restaurant industry. Seafood Galley ended up closing down, but an undeterred Olivares returned to school to pursue a degree in culinary arts at EPCC.
“About a year and a half ago, I opened up a food truck under a different concept, different name, but I saw that El Paso was getting more and more competitive with the food truck scene,” Olivares said.
An eBay search on double-decker busses led Olivares to look up what kind of bus restaurants are out there. He found that many of them offer food ranging from cupcakes to vegan chow, but none of them tapped into English cuisine.
“They’re missing the whole point,” Olivares said. “It’s a British double decker bus – do something British.”
While the London Grill double decker may have originated in England, it had to be driven to El Paso from California. The trip took twice as long because the bus could drive no faster than 50 miles per hour – and it attracted a lot of attention.
“It was bright pink and was being used as advertising for an underwear company with male and female models in their underwear, so people were honking and taking pictures,” Olivares said.
When the bus finally made it to El Paso, Olivares decorated the interior himself, adding British rock posters and tables, but keeping the original seats. The kitchen is in a separate food truck to make room for more seating space.
Nothing but British pop and rock – from classics to indie songs – blast through the speakers. Even the menu items, which include six premium burgers, carry the names of song titles complete with hidden meanings. “Start Me Up” is the biggest seller, topped with fried jalapeno caps, pepper jack cheese and chipotle aioli. The most popular dish is none other than fish and chips. London Grill uses Guinness beer in the majority of their dishes, from the fish batter to the bangers and mash, which are sausages cooked in beer and served atop mashed potatoes, peas and sautéed onions. The Shepherd’s Pie is pure comfort food with ground beef, peas and diced carrots stewed in Guinness and blanketed in buttery mashed potatoes, flecked with fresh parsley. For Lent, they’ve added “The Queen’s Favorite Fish Tacos,” which get topped with cabbage, chipotle aioli and a creamy jalapeno salsa.
While the whole bus and London rock experience may seem gimmicky to some, the authenticity and quality of the food has always been the focus. Just last month, London Grill had the honor of serving The Daughters of the British Empire. Chapters of this historic organization are located throughout the United States where membership is exclusive to women of British heritage. El Paso’s chapter booked the bus for one of their meetings, and Olivares said that his food received their approval – notably the shepherd’s pie.
London Grill can usually be found at the corner of North Mesa and Balboa, but moves for both private caterings and public events, like the Downtown Art and Farmers Market. The experience of dining on a double decker while eating British food as the sun sets in El Paso is truly one of a kind.
Location & schedule varies
All items are $10.