Lucas Price does for Middle Eastern at Caravan what he has done for years for Mexican next door at La Cocina de Luz: that is, he makes food that is both a staple for local residents and an irresistible enticement for visitors because what he serves up is such a pure expression of an ancestral cuisine, updated just slightly, or maybe not updated at all. Price has long considered expanding his culinary reach to the Middle East, and it makes sense because both Mexican and Middle Eastern foods taste so eternal. Eating chickpeas or tabouli or an olive, like eating masa de maiz or red chili or mole, you sense you are savoring something that is exactly what people ate centuries ago, as if these tastes reach back in time and tie you to humanity’s mainstream. For Price, organic and locally produced food fits the motif, since what he puts on the plate is pointedly pre-industrial (and the opposite of adventurous) and that’s exactly why it is fashionable and popular.
Caravan operates out of a trailer on the patio adjacent to La Cocina – like an urban food cart – except, like La Cocina, it’s not urban-fast. Be prepared to wait for your lunch, which is not so hard to do if you’ve got some time to while away on a bench or at a table at one of Telluride’s sunniest and most pleasant open spaces. The conversation is lively.
The menu is entirely classical: falafel, lamb or chicken kabobs, hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouli, Greek salad and spanakopita. And fries. Served with pita, tahini or tzaziki sauces, lettuce, tomato, and olives. Like the food next door at La Cocina, the flavors are fresh, unadulterated, traditionally spiced, and earthy; some items are vegan. Order individual items ($4) or a kabob platter with a couple of sides ($12), close your eyes to shut out the alpine scenery, and you might imagine you were in Damascus or Cairo. Also on sale at the Caravan cart and an essential part of the vibe: fresh squeezed juices (carrot, celery, beet, ginger, apple, orange; $4, $5 or $6), smoothies (berry, vegetable, yogurt; $5 or $7), and house-made ice cream by the scoop ($4 for one, $7 for two) or in a shake or malt ($7).
Telluride and the region were waiting for this: a gaping flavor hole in our food scene is generously filled.
VIBE: An urban food cart serving organic, wholesome, authentic ethnic food on a beautiful patio. (You can eat inside, at La Cocina, in inclement weather.)
HUMANITY’S STAPLE: Falafel in a pita (only $4), as a quick snack or a healthy vegetarian lunch, satisfies tens of millions of people every day in the Middle East, so why not you, at least sometimes? It is delicious, and somehow makes you feel virtuous, too.
$ (sides start at $4 and the combo platter tops out at $12)
Daily, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.