$7 Well-Spent at Monster PBJ

monster1.jpg
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
A classic on gluten-free bread ($5).
I was fully prepared to turn my nose up at Monster PBJ. A $7 peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Prepared with your choice of locally sourced breads, nut butters and jams? It sounded like a Portlandia episode. "We can pickle that!"

I love it when I'm wrong.

I'm officially here to tell you that if you have $7 and you want to spend that $7 on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you're going to receive the best dang peanut butter and jelly sandwich of your life at Monster PBJ. But be prepared: It truly is a monster.

The "monster" size is the largest that Monster PBJ sells, and features three slices of bread along with your choice of nut butter, jam, sliced fruit and sweetener (if you're more of a peanut butter-banana-honey or peanut butter-banana-Nutella) person. You can get it grilled, which I heartily suggest. I also suggest splitting it with a friend, because it's truly massive.

monster2.jpg
Check off your choices, Brown Bag Deli-style, and your sandwich will come back to you in the very same bag.
Far better for one person is the "classic" size, which is only two slices of bread and costs a reasonable $5. (Monster PBJ will even cut it into one of four different styles for you, crusts on or off.) For the kids, there's a "junior" size for $3 that's basically half a sandwich. And if those costs still seem high to you, given the number of PB&J sandwiches you could make at home for the same amount of money, consider the following.

Monster PBJ makes its own nut butters -- peanut, cashew and almond -- and uses bread baked here in Houston by Best Bread Around Bakery. The jams are locally made too, and feature no added sugar or preservatives. The blueberry, in particular, is the platonic ideal of how a good batch of preserves should taste: just like the ripe fruit itself, with no other interloping flavors present at all.

Like the array of nut butters, there are also three different breads to choose from: white, wheat or gluten-free (the truck offers other gluten-free goodies too, like baked lentil chips). For the sake of comparison, I ordered a gluten-free "classic" with cashew butter, strawberries and blueberry jam last week. My buddy ordered a "monster" with wheat bread, almond butter, Nutella and more blueberry jam.

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The "monster" was a beautiful beast.
His sandwich outclassed mine in nearly every way: Monster PBJ mixes the Nutella with whichever nut butter you choose, a touch I really enjoyed. He also got it grilled, which made the blueberry jam nearly melt into the Nutella-almond butter blend. Although my sandwich was perfectly serviceable, I kept stealing additional bites of his (easy to do, as he couldn't come close to finishing the beast).

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Photo courtesy of Monster PBJ
The truck was parked in front of the Contemporary Arts Museum when we found it last week.
The gluten-free bread is, of course, a terrific and welcome option for those who can't digest gluten. However, the texture of the bread is too dense for the toppings, which get lost amidst the thick slices. The bread itself also has no flavor of its own, which mutes anything you've got sandwiched between. My advice: Remove the top slice and eat your sandwich open-faced. You won't miss a thing.

For all its seeming trendiness, I wouldn't be surprised to see Monster PBJ outlast many of the other food trucks currently rolling down our streets. It's all electric, which means it can park places that propane-equipped trucks can't. It offers a lot of bang for the buck. It caters to vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free diners. And it's accessible for parents with kids or picky eaters, or simply anyone interested in a bite of comfort food.

Follow Monster PBJ on Twitter for its weekly schedule: @MonsterPBJ.



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Location Info

Monster PBJ

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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11 comments
FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

I prefer PB&Mayo sandwiches.  Do they have those?

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

I love this truck--it's a fun treat. Grilled is the way to go, for sure.

StephenMaturin
StephenMaturin

Call me a cheapskate if you wish, but spending $7 on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is ridiculous.  Even the $5 option is laugable when you consider that I can get four tacos Stuffed To The Brim with delicious carnitas at Tortas la Vista on Mangum for the same price.  I'll bet these jokers charge you extra for milk, too!

It's frankly insulting to be told that a $5 PBJ sandwich is anything that can remotely be considered a good deal.

PS: reading "three slices of bread along with your choice of nut butter, jam, sliced fruit and sweetene" literally and I mean literally gave me diabetes. 

Stolib
Stolib

Almond isn't a nut and is fine for people with nut alleriges? I think you need to check your facts on that one.

stanton
stanton

@StephenMaturin You're not only a cheapskate, but also a humorless prude judging from your other posts. You belong in Victorian England I fear, Stephen Maturin. Get thee to a nunery.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@StephenMaturin I'll never call you a cheapskate, and $5 for a PB&J definitely isn't for everyone. I'm just saying that IF you want to spend $5 on a sandwich, you can rest assured that the quality and flavor of the ingredients is at least present to back that $5 up.

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

@Stolib Almonds aren't nuts.  They're actually closely related to peaches.  The part you eat is the almond "pit".

coog30
coog30

Note to all who may happen upon this thread: Suggesting that someone is dull and belongs in Victorian England, and then referencing an obscure quote from Elizabethan England in an effort to imbue your comment with a witty, intellectual veneer is not advised.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@HTownChowDown @Stolib  

Botanically, almonds aren't nuts, neither are a lot of things we call nuts. But as a food, almonds are considered tree nuts and people with nut allergies need to avoid them.  Also, people with peanut allergies (peanuts are also not nuts) are frequently allergic to tree nuts.

stanton
stanton

@Bruce_Are @HTownChowDown @Stolib 

all sorts of nuts, there's a peanut, a walnut, a pistachio nut, a pecan nut, macadamia nut ...then momma said, Albert, would you please stop naming nuts.

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