It’s no secret that St. Augustine loves Michael’s Tasting Room. For many residents, it’s a go-to date night, anniversary, birthday spot – a special occasions space, if you will. So when we all heard the news that the famous Michael Lugo would be expanding his culinary endeavors to a food truck called With a Twist, we were pretty ready to hop on board and try out for ourselves to see if Michael’s extensive experience can work the same way for street food.
After Hurricane Matthew, the restaurant took a pretty big hit. “We were closed,” says Michael, “for nearly 3 weeks and the loss of revenue along with the damage we endured made for a difficult recovery.” So when an opportunity came up to purchase an older truck, Michael jumped at the chance. Though it’s used frequently to expand their catering abilities, Michaels says, “We chose to use it as a casual, every person alternative to our brick-and-mortar restaurant.”
So we made our way over to the every-Thursday location of the With a Twist truck to try the casual version of the amazing flavor for which Michael has become known.
We started with the Jibarito Chicken Sandwich, typically topped with bacon, sweet plantains, and a garlic aioli. The unusual toppings give the sandwich a surprisingly harmonious mix of sweet and savory, with a departure from the usual humdrum meal that is a chicken sandwich. There’s nothing plain about this one.
Channeling the spirit of the Ancient City, we moved on to the Datil BBQ Pork Sandwich, a fitting tribute to the area’s favorite pepper. The hearty handheld meal is taken to the next level with house pickled onions that add the vinegary bite that so well complements barbeque. It has a lot of the flavors you’d recognize with traditional barbeque, but a distinct twist provided by something local and something exotic.
The With a Twist truck even has a number of vegetarian entrees. As for us omnivores that appreciate a well-crafted vegetarian dish, we were treated to the Latin Veggie Bowl. The base of the bowl is a flavorful and well-spiced Spanish rice that’s then topped with black beans and a cacophony of seasonal vegetables.
The substance and heart of the dishes will be familiar to any frequent patron of the Cuna street spot. As with every dish, Michael has infused each with the culinary hallmarks of his familial heritage and his adopted city alike. Those same beloved flavors have merely found their way into a little more sidewalk-eating, handheld-friendly vessels. The already-beloved Spanish flare of the downtown restaurant has carried over into a perfectly casual atmosphere. In a town that definitely knows its food trucks, the Michael’s Tasting Room spin-off is going to make a mark.
On Thursdays, the truck is located at Bozard Ford Lincoln, 540 Outlet Mall Boulevard. Visit them online at www.michaelstastingroom.com/with-a-twist-truck.