By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 16, 2017 at 2:03 PM

If you attended Gallery Night in Greendale or the Pabst Brewery Grand Opening Street Festival this weekend, you may have spied a brand new mobile food operation, Lumpia City.

If not, you're in luck. The new food truck will celebrate its official grand opening – along with its new home base in Milwaukee – on Wednesday, May 17 at Sugar Maple, 441 E. Lincoln Ave., in Bay View.

As its name suggests, Lumpia City specializes in lumpia, a traditional Filipino dish that, like Chinese spring rolls, features a thin crispy wrapper that’s usually filled with ground beef or pork and vegetables. But, in the case of Lumpia City, owners Alexa Reyes and Samantha Klimaszewski have reintroduced the time-honored dish with a new twist.

Reyes, whose family is from the Philippines, says she grew up making and eating traditional lumpia. But, she says her light bulb moment happened when she realized the rolls would make a good basis for a food truck.

"My aunt and uncle used to play around with flavors, adding things like carne asada and cheese," she says. "And they were really delicious. When you think about it, there are endless possibilities, and with fusion food getting to be so popular, it seemed like a great idea."

Flavors include the "Five Cheese Mac," which features ditalini pasta in a five-cheese sauce, Sriracha pork and carne asada (three for $6 or six for $9). Special rolls include pizza lumpia with Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms (three for $9) and Dutch apple pie, a classic dessert-turned-lumpia (three for $6 or six for $9). A combination plate includes six lumpia along with a side of LC fries, seasoned shoestring French fries drizzled with cilantro lime aioli and parmesan.

From California to Milwaukee

Klimaszewski and Reyes met in San Diego, California, where they launched Lumpia City in spring 2015. Originally, the "truck" was nothing more than a pop-up canopy, says Kimaszewski. But, after a successful start in California, the two entrepreneurs made the decision to bring their lumpia to the Midwest last December.

Klimaszewski, who was born and raised in the Milwaukee area, says Lumpia City did well in the San Diego market. But, they were eager to see how the truck would do in a smaller market that wasn’t as familiar with lumpia. And she says it’s been great so far.

"I’m very excited to see what happens here," she says. "The last two events we’ve done have gone really, really well. And we really love the food truck culture here. People really want to help one another out, and I think it’s a great place to get more recognition for what we’re doing."

Reyes agrees. "Knowing that we have a product that’s so different is fun too," she says. "It’s cool to see peoples’ reactions when they try it for the first time."

Klimaszewski says one of their goals for the business is to really begin to create more community connections.

"Right now we’re working with a local photographer to do t-shirts," she says. "And we’re looking for more ways to be involved in raising money and helping others. We want to be part of something bigger, so we’re also looking for different ways to contribute to various organizations."

You can find Lumpia City at Sugar Maple tomorrow from 3:30 to 8 p.m., as well as at a variety of events throughout the city. You can track its location on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.