New food truck features Indian tacos, traditional dishes

April 10, 2020

The newest food truck in Sioux Falls specializes in popular Indian tacos and more traditional Native American dishes.

Watecha Bowl owner Lawrence West is starting with an “introduction menu” of four items: Indian tacos, the Big Indian burger, taniga soup and wojapi with fry bread.

Everything is made from scratch daily, he said. The fry bread is made “right there on the truck from scratch,” 10 pieces at a time, West said. “And they go fast.”

Weather permitting, the truck can be found Monday through Saturday and typically every other Sunday outside West’s retail store, Studio 1491, on Madison Street in the West Sioux neighborhood. Hours generally are noon to 6:30 p.m., but he updates his Facebook page daily.

The traditional meaning of “watecha” is leftovers, and nowadays is used as slang for “food,” said West, who grew up in Sioux Falls and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“Cooking equals family to me,” he said. “Everything I learned comes from my mom’s kitchen. I’m not a chef educational wise. … We were just raised in a traditional household and those traditions were handed down.”

Indian tacos aren’t a traditional food, but they’re something people are familiar with and will serve as a good introduction to the dishes on the menu, West said.

He loads the fry bread for his Indian tacos with ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Salsa, sour cream and black olives are served on the side.

The Big Indian is a buffalo patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, using fry bread as a bun.

Taniga is “my favorite soup,” West said. “A lot of people come to the truck to eat it. It’s a very good soup made correctly.”

His usual recipe includes tripe, buffalo meatballs, potatoes, two kinds of hominy and eight seasonings.

“If you were raised really traditional, you will know the difference. It’s not really spicy; it’s earthy. It’s good. I like to compare it to chicken noodle soup. The elders will eat it. There are a lot of memories and smells that come with it.”

West rotates flavors of wojapi, which is a fruit pudding, switching among, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and chokecherry. He’s planning to try a pomegranate version sometime.

New dishes will be coming in the next two weeks, West said. One of the new menu offerings will be a sweet fry bread topped with wojapi.

The young entrepreneur hopes to fill a gap for Native American food in the community.

“We want to try to create a culture, and hopefully it grows.”

His other business, Studio 1491, sells urban apparel, custom T-shirts and decals, traditional regalia, beadwork, star quilts, blankets and more. He and his family make much of the merchandise and other pieces are from local artisans.

West’s plan is to take Watecha Bowl to weekend powwows, but that won’t be until late summer. In the meantime, he’s planning sporadic day trips to area towns such as Brandon, Dell Rapids and Flandreau.

The support for the food truck in Sioux Falls has left him speechless, West said.

“I thought I was just opening another food truck selling Indian tacos, but the way the community has opened up to this is overwhelming. I’m humbled. I’m blessed.”

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New food truck features Indian tacos, traditional dishes

Food trucks are starting to venture out, and here’s a new one to try.

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