Cheap Eats

Motor Mouth

Motor Mouth

It's a blindingly sunny Wednesday in Cleveland and Motor Mouth's metallic exterior glints in the sun as people crowd around, craning to get a better look at the menu. From the front of the truck, above a menacing grin splashed in white across the fender, a girl in a striped dress and fairy tattoos smiles as she takes orders.

In the back, feverishly assembling sandwiches, is owner Rusty Phillips, a 10-year vet of the food-service biz.

"When I first got the idea for starting a food truck, I was hoping to have better hours than the regular restaurant business," he says. "That didn't really pan out."

With his days often starting at 5 a.m. and lasting until dark, he might have had better luck with a brick-and-mortar spot. Still, Phillips stands by his choice. "I really enjoy getting to interact with the people who eat my food."

The menu varies daily, with prices ranging from $7 to $9. Phillips' favorite? That's the Chivoto sandwich: grilled steak, smoked ham, smoked provolone, fried egg, and pickled hot and sweet peppers on ciabatta.

Other menu regulars include pork taquitos — slow-roasted pork, roasted poblano pepper and sweet potato, toasted pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, and red chili mojo sauce on corn tortillas — and an Asian chicken sandwich with roasted chicken, cucumber kimchi, cilantro, jalapeños, and sweet chili sauce on a fresh baguette.

When he's not feeding the masses with his globally inspired creations, Phillips enjoys painting. It's his way to unwind.

"I'm an artist," he says, "but I don't get to do much outside of working on the truck anymore." — Justine Stump

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