Meet the original InstaCart: Miami’s viandero trucks.
What is a viandero?
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It’s a bodega on wheels, a common sight throughout Miami and an import of Latin American culture — where the convenience stores come to shoppers. It’s the original food truck.
This truck carries all the basics. Fresh fruits and vegetables, like Tommy Atkins mangoes from Homestead, garlic bulbs and malanga, yuca and boniato roots. Dried red or black beans. Ice cream and Latin treats like calabaza china.
They even make batidos, shakes made with fresh fruit and crushed ice, right on the truck.
Here are five times the viandero truck can save your life.
It’s better than your smoothie spot
Lunch line too long at Jamba Juice? Some viandero trucks, like this one profiled in the Miami Herald, make for a quick stop for fresh batidos. These smoothies are made from shaved ice and fresh mango, papaya, pineapple and other fresh fruit she has been cutting up since daybreak.
It makes a great alternative to even one of Miami’s favorite juice and batido spots, Palacio de los Jugos.
Tamales for lunch
Don’t have time for a long lunch? The fresh-steamed Cuban tamales make a perfectly portable meal: Eat the tamale out of its banana-leaf shell and chuck the bio-degradable husk in the trash.
Lunch achievement, unlocked.
Salvage taco night
So you’re about to make pico de gallo and realize you’re out of tomatoes. No worries! Many viandero trucks in Miami and Hialeah strategically station themselves on well-traveled routes as you drive home.
There might even be one parked at the end of the block. Send your kid down for a bag of four tomatoes. It’ll run you about $3.
The viandero carries all kinds of last-minute supplies: from green or ripe plantains to cans of Goya tomato sauce, evaporated milk and plastic bottles of dry, white cooking wine — essentials in any Latin household.
You forgot about Thanksgiving dinner
The viandero also takes special orders. Some, like Arturo Tamayo’s, which stations itself around Flagami, roasts whole turkeys for Thanksgiving.
Kill that sweet tooth
You can buy ice cream. You can buy wrapped candies. You can even buy home-cooked sweets, like syrupy sweet calabaza china, a candied wax gourd that makes for a sweet treat.