By Megan Volpert
Ah, Yumbii: the original gangster of Atlanta food trucks, established in 2010 before the city was overtaken by the craze sweeping across our nation. Though the Atlanta Street Food Coalition now boasts well over 100 member vendors, Yumbii’s ongoing success provides a strong model for sustainable expansion of a food truck enterprise. Their first truck begat a second truck, and those trucks begat a minimalist brick and mortar location. Who knows how much more they may try to scale up; they’ve managed to do a lot in six years.
As a food truck, Yumbii generally makes 11 a.m. lunch rounds and 7 p.m. dinner rounds. Their brick and mortar location likewise runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an extra hour before closing on Saturday nights. It’s located in a little Brookwood strip on Peachtree at Collier, a residential neighborhood where the nearest quality Mexican competitor is Bell Street Burritos and the nearest quality Asian competitor is Tuk Tuk Thai. But if you hate to sacrifice your queso needs in order to get your sriracha fix, or vice versa, look no further than Yumbii’s Asian-Mexican blend.
Their menu in the store is identical to the food trucks. There are four classic items: taco, burrito, rice bowl, quesadilla. These come with four protein choices: Asian rib-eye beef, spicy pulled pork, chicken, stir-fried tofu. There are four specialty items: fish tacos, pulled pork sliders, and a philly or nachos with your choice of protein. Two options for sides: chips and fries. A combo of three tacos plus drink will cost you just $10. The other combo is also $10, but subs in fries for one of the tacos. Get the fries.
These are not ordinary fries! But also, they are normal enough that your children will eat them. And then you’ll be hooked for life because Yumbii’s sesame fries are completely crave-worthy. The sesame oil adds a gentle touch of the extra savory to everybody’s favorite comfort food. They smell great and taste great, offering a decent crunch in their golden brown exterior. Covered in salt flecks and an evenly distributed yet far from intimidating number of red chili flakes, these sesame fries are built to be distinctively tasty, as opposed to generically spicy. Fries come with a side of chipotle ketchup that is both delicious and utterly unnecessary due to the quality of the fries.
And why would you dunk your sesame fries in ketchup when you could dip them in sriracha queso? You can order a stand-alone cup of the stuff for two bucks, or with chips for five bucks. The chips are nicely browned and plenty salty, but the sriracha cheese dip is the star of Yumbii’s show. There is nothing special or fancy about it; it just tastes awesome. It’s not too spicy, but does add a little kick beyond regular queso. Yumbii understands the true meaning of special sauce and you will want to take a bath in that sriracha cheese dip.
In fact, their condiments generally are what have always kept Yumbii a notch above the usual food truck fray. Soy-sesame vinaigrette on the salad topper for the tacos? Nice flavor and just enough bite. Korean barbecue sauce on any of the classic orders? Strong flavor and great balance of sugar with spice. Cucumber kimchee on the sliders or the philly? So much more going on than your average pickle. Entree-wise, you therefore cannot go wrong.
Yumbii sticks to what it knows, expanding slowly but surely. The brick and mortar location is 1,440 square feet—not much more kitchen space than a truck. The seating is comfortably cheap and they’ve got some taller stools in the front patio so you can watch people walking by. All together, the place seats about 40. They’ve got ambient techno playing quietly in the background in the afternoon. You can sit there with a good book, sipping on a lime Jarritos soda and enjoying a never-ending stream of sriracha cheese dip, soaking up the sunshine for an easy hour.
Yumbii is an excellent reminder that slow and steady wins the race. The food truck’s fans asked to put the first permanent location in Brookwood, and they are obliging. Between those loyal followers of the trucks and the converts Yumbii will win through foot traffic in Brookwood, owner Carson Young is doing everything right. Expect a selection of local beer and wine soon, and maybe eventually a breakfast menu.
Yumbii is located at 1927 Peachtree Street. For more information, visit yumbii.com.