Perched at a sticky picnic table in the shade of a gas station awning, I sipped sweet passion fruit juice and swatted the flies circling my head. If it weren't for Boise burger landmark Big Jud's across the street, I'd have sworn I was somewhere south of the border. That feeling was only magnified once lunch was served.
Latin Twist, a new food truck parked at the corner of Boise Avenue and Protest Road, specializes in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine. But we're not talking tacos and tamales--Latin Twist serves everything from Costa Rican rib-eye sandwiches to Jamaican jerk chicken to bacon-wrapped Sonoran hot dogs. The spot also offers an assortment of salads and sides: rice and Cuban-style black beans, grilled pineapple and a vibrant quinoa salad with fresh hunks of watermelon, avocado and tomato.
Even though it was sweltering outside, we started off with a warm bowl of Brazilian white bean soup ($5). Smoky coins of linguica sausage mingled with big, tender white beans and floating bits of swiss chard in a lightly spicy, thin red broth that glistened with an oily sheen in its Styrofoam container. The soup was a small-but-lovely precursor to our meaty main meal.
The jerk chicken and ribs combo ($14.50) came piled high with hunks of grilled chicken thigh and big, beefy ribs covered with a dark barbecue sauce. On one side, there was a mound of tart and spicy cabbage slaw flecked with carrots and cilantro. On the other: a scoop of white rice smothered in black beans. Adding a dash of color to the overloaded plate was a container of mango, papaya, pineapple, cilantro and onion salsa.
Smoked on imported Jamaican pimento wood, the jerk chicken was succulent and flavorful, with hints of allspice and hot pepper infusing every bite. Paired with the fruit salsa and a forkful of black beans, it was a heavenly combo. Though the smoky/sweet, mole-esque barbecue sauce contributed a complex flavor to the ribs, they were a bit too chewy and would have benefited from a few shakes of salt.
One of the highlights of the meal was a side of grilled corn ($3.50) coated in a creamy poblano sauce and cotija cheese. The tender ear was speared on a bamboo skewer like a savory corn popsicle, with its charred husks forming a little skirt below.
After we mopped the mess from our hands and faces, we went back for dessert. While I waited for a tiny key lime pie ($3.50) to be topped with a spritz of whipped cream, I spotted a sign on the side of the truck advertising upcoming menu items: curried goat in coconut milk, ceviche in a tostone cup, bake-n-shark, beef empanadas, salt cod fritters, plus "alligator, octopus and more deliciousness." I'll be back for one of everything.