The last time I visited with chef L.J. Wiley was in March. That's when the prodigal chef was busy hosting a pop-up dinner called "Yelapagain" with his former employees and colleagues from Yelapa, the modern Mexican restaurant Wiley helmed to critical acclaim before departing for New York City in 2011.
Photo via @TacoNuts on Twitter
But Wiley hadn't returned to Houston to only serve pop-up dinners, nor to resurrect Yelapa -- which closed in October 2011, not long after Wiley left.
He'd come back to Houston to sling tacos. From a truck.
But as many mobile food unit operators will tell you, finding the perfect truck -- one that runs, one that's reliable, one that has enough room, maybe even one that has its medallions already and can go straight into service -- is half the battle.
"I turned down a truck a few days ago," Wiley told me as he served up dishes at the Yelapagain dinner that night at Kitchen Incubator. The dinner's purpose was dual-pronged: to let Houston know that Wiley was back and to test out some of the tacos he was considering for his truck's menu.