Guerrilla Street Food has been on my must-try list for some time. Last week Cyndy and I set out to find the brick and mortar location of the famed food truck. The restaurant features Filipino inspired food and is located on Arsenal just off Grand, next to a sizable parking lot.
I remember eating Filipino food, when I was on the islands for a visit years ago. I enjoyed the Asian-Spanish fusion of their cuisine, that comes from having been occupied by Spain for a 100 years. The Spanish left them with new spicy dishes, later the Chinese left behind their spring rolls, and the Americans GIs bequeathed their favorite: Spam. Don’t be surprised to see a punched up version of the World War II favorite on the GSF menu. Look for Fried Tocino Spam. It’s the Filipino version of the cured meat, that’s canned after being marinated in anise wine, annatto, sugar, water and salt. It’s typically served for breakfast, but available anytime at Guerrilla Street.
Stumbling onto the Calamansi
Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing that brought a smile to my face was the dark, but humorous decor, that resembles a Jedi outpost. I was excited to see a couple of small calamansi lime plants growing happily in the entry way. The Philippine-Malaysian fruit has been described as a cross between a lemon, a tangerine, and a hand grenade. Yes, it packs a sour punch on the inside, but the thin exterior (when ripened) is edible and sweet.
Cooks squeeze the lime over fish and into soups and sauces and combine it with soy, vinegar and red pepper flakes for a marinade. It can also be squeezed into a beer or Coke.
Fans of calamansi claim it makes a great morning power drink. The potent little lime supposedly strengthens the immune system, lowers weight, improves skin, teeth and gum, protects against colds, flu and dandruff and removes ink stains. For your growing convenience, the plants will live happily indoors or on your patio.
Meet the Guerrilla Band
Poking around the kitchen, following the noon hour rush were co-owners Brian Hardesty and Joel Crespo. Brian describes himself as “Chef and Jedi” while Joel’s label is “Emissary and Jedi.” Whatever their roles, the pair has been able to transfer their humble beginnings in a food truck to a brick and mortar operation—with more restaurants to come.
Brian took our order. He pleasantly offered suggestions while explaining the menu that included unrecognizable items such as Flying Pig, Wandering Pig, Pancit Palabok and Iron Manok.
The friendly young men who successfully grew GSF seem to enjoy what they’re doing and the customers they serve. Their authentically flavored dishes have earned them recognition from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. GFS placed #17 in the “Best Food Truck, USA” competition at dailymeal.com. And their Flying Pig (slow roasted pork with calamansi, hoisin, sriracha, garlic and scallions) was named Best Dish in St. Louis!
You gotta try this place!
Guerrilla Street Food, 3559 Arsenal St. Open: Mon-Thu 11a-10p; Fri-Sat 11a-1a; Sun: closed. (Right: Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives eats and films at GSF in 2011. Video of his visit here.)