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Lia’s Lumpia wraps up a world of food favorites

Fusion food truck lands in Barrio Logan with tacos, burgers, and rotating lumpia specials

Traditional lumpia, and Mac n cheese lumpia
Traditional lumpia, and Mac n cheese lumpia

Finally, I caught up to Lia’s Lumpia. As a food truck, it’s repeatedly eluded me: starting service after I’d left a food truck park, or ending service before I showed up at a brewery where it was booked for the day. That’s how it goes sometimes: food trucks are always on the move, working limited hours, and the same could be said about me.

Place

Lia’s Lumpia

2219 Logan Ave., San Diego

Fortunately, Lia’s Lumpia is no longer just a food truck. Now, it’s a storefront in Barrio Logan, with regular hours so week in, week out, I know exactly when and where to find it.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I’ve been wanting to try Lia’s Lumpia nearly three years, now, since a chance encounter with founding chef, Spencer Hunter, and his mother Benelia Santos-Hunter (also known as the namesake Lia). In early 2020, they were fresh off an appearance on TV show, The Great Food Truck Race, and gearing up to take their brand of lumpia to San Diego’s streets. And a big part of that brand — reflecting Hunter’s own mixed heritage — is fusion.

A fixed location for the food truck Lia's Lumpia

I’d have tried the lumpia either way, but Hunter really caught my attention by telling me the truck’s options include lumpia filled with mac ‘n cheese. All my failed attempts to catch up with the truck, I lamented the fact my first taste of mac ‘n cheese lumpia would have to wait.

It’s not all fusion: before I could try anything else I would have to get a baseline sample of Lia’s always-available, traditional lumpia. These measure something like 7 or 8 inches long, or about twice as long as any lumpia I’ve tried before, combining minced beef, pork, and vegetables — mostly meat. The serving of eight for $12 filled me up much faster than expected, and had a vaguely hot dog-like flavor.

The Lia's Lumpia food truck, as seen on the TV show, The Great Food Truck Race

It’s where the fusion picks up that things really get interesting. Keep an eye on its monthly specials, and you’ll see Lia’s Lumpia puts a broad array of cherished regional dishes inside its lumpia wrappers. I’ve noted ramen lumpia, loaded with noodles, bok choy, and seared pork belly. At times there have been carne asada fries lumpia, spam musubi lumpia, and soul food lumpia packed with pulled pork, dirty rice, and collard greens. In the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Eagles, the shop offered Kansas City BBQ lumpia, and a Philly cheesesteak lumpia of ribeye, cheese, and grilled peppers.

Rather than extra-long, these lumpia specials are more standard length but extra fat, to fit in more filling goodness (eight for $15). The same goes for the $11 order of mac n cheese lumpia, which proved worth the long wait. It’s not the most decadent mac n cheese, but the fried roll motif lends more structure and purpose than all the fried mac appetizers I’ve tried at every opportunity.

Portuguese by way of Pacific Islands fried dough treats called malasadas

In this new location, the menu has expanded beyond egg rolls, to include the likes of smash burgers, wings, Filipino styled tacos, and desserts, including fired dough malasadas, which are sort of Portuguese donut holes, served with a drizzle of ube syrup ($8 for a dozen). Meanwhile, the food truck remains parked and ready to cater behind the little converted house Lia’s Lumpia now calls home.

And, indeed, they’ve picked up where mobile kitchens necessarily leave off and made their brick and mortar homey inside, with sofas and easy chairs to go with a hodgepodge of standard table seating. Better still is a spacious front yard, where the eclectic seating continues with a mix of bistro tables, fire tables, and counter seating set up along a shaded front porch, in prime position to watch Logan Avenue street life pass by. Every Thursday through Sunday.

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Traditional lumpia, and Mac n cheese lumpia
Traditional lumpia, and Mac n cheese lumpia

Finally, I caught up to Lia’s Lumpia. As a food truck, it’s repeatedly eluded me: starting service after I’d left a food truck park, or ending service before I showed up at a brewery where it was booked for the day. That’s how it goes sometimes: food trucks are always on the move, working limited hours, and the same could be said about me.

Place

Lia’s Lumpia

2219 Logan Ave., San Diego

Fortunately, Lia’s Lumpia is no longer just a food truck. Now, it’s a storefront in Barrio Logan, with regular hours so week in, week out, I know exactly when and where to find it.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I’ve been wanting to try Lia’s Lumpia nearly three years, now, since a chance encounter with founding chef, Spencer Hunter, and his mother Benelia Santos-Hunter (also known as the namesake Lia). In early 2020, they were fresh off an appearance on TV show, The Great Food Truck Race, and gearing up to take their brand of lumpia to San Diego’s streets. And a big part of that brand — reflecting Hunter’s own mixed heritage — is fusion.

A fixed location for the food truck Lia's Lumpia

I’d have tried the lumpia either way, but Hunter really caught my attention by telling me the truck’s options include lumpia filled with mac ‘n cheese. All my failed attempts to catch up with the truck, I lamented the fact my first taste of mac ‘n cheese lumpia would have to wait.

It’s not all fusion: before I could try anything else I would have to get a baseline sample of Lia’s always-available, traditional lumpia. These measure something like 7 or 8 inches long, or about twice as long as any lumpia I’ve tried before, combining minced beef, pork, and vegetables — mostly meat. The serving of eight for $12 filled me up much faster than expected, and had a vaguely hot dog-like flavor.

The Lia's Lumpia food truck, as seen on the TV show, The Great Food Truck Race

It’s where the fusion picks up that things really get interesting. Keep an eye on its monthly specials, and you’ll see Lia’s Lumpia puts a broad array of cherished regional dishes inside its lumpia wrappers. I’ve noted ramen lumpia, loaded with noodles, bok choy, and seared pork belly. At times there have been carne asada fries lumpia, spam musubi lumpia, and soul food lumpia packed with pulled pork, dirty rice, and collard greens. In the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Eagles, the shop offered Kansas City BBQ lumpia, and a Philly cheesesteak lumpia of ribeye, cheese, and grilled peppers.

Rather than extra-long, these lumpia specials are more standard length but extra fat, to fit in more filling goodness (eight for $15). The same goes for the $11 order of mac n cheese lumpia, which proved worth the long wait. It’s not the most decadent mac n cheese, but the fried roll motif lends more structure and purpose than all the fried mac appetizers I’ve tried at every opportunity.

Portuguese by way of Pacific Islands fried dough treats called malasadas

In this new location, the menu has expanded beyond egg rolls, to include the likes of smash burgers, wings, Filipino styled tacos, and desserts, including fired dough malasadas, which are sort of Portuguese donut holes, served with a drizzle of ube syrup ($8 for a dozen). Meanwhile, the food truck remains parked and ready to cater behind the little converted house Lia’s Lumpia now calls home.

And, indeed, they’ve picked up where mobile kitchens necessarily leave off and made their brick and mortar homey inside, with sofas and easy chairs to go with a hodgepodge of standard table seating. Better still is a spacious front yard, where the eclectic seating continues with a mix of bistro tables, fire tables, and counter seating set up along a shaded front porch, in prime position to watch Logan Avenue street life pass by. Every Thursday through Sunday.

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