“Mom! What’s for dinner?” After a day of juggling work, school, and home responsibilities, menu planning may have slipped your mind. A restaurant requires too many family negotiations while a visit to the mall food court is too confining. Can’t we all have a choice while getting a little fresh air and groovy background music? Well, if it’s Tuesday, a quick trip to Santa Monica’s Main Street could be just the ticket. The rotating gathering of gourmet trucks is the weekly nexus food and community on the Westside, and sure to satisfy sundry tastes from tiny toddlers to persnickety parents.

Where are they: Each Tuesday from 5:00pm – 10:00pm, with first order taken at 5:30pm and the last fired at 9:00pm. At least a half dozen and as many as 12 gourmet food trucks (including sweet treats!) occupy the parking lot behind The Victorian on Main Street, just south of Ocean Park Blvd.

The Victorian (at the California Heritage Museum)

2612 Main Street

Santa Monica, 90405

Check out the roster: follow @SMFoodtrucklot and see the schedule here.

A sampling from a recent visit enticed hungry tummies with garlic skinny fries from All American Gourmet Grill, spicy samosas from Bollywood Bites, a tangy duck taco topped with mango sauce at Don Chow Tacos, and a beef bulgogi curry bowl from The Yummy One. Of course, couldn’t pass up the salted caramel Coolhaus sandwich with homemade red velvet cookies.

Fresh lemonade is customizable on the spot, with choices of mint, ginger, and fresh seasonal fruits such as strawberry and blueberry.

Grab a seat: The leafy patio in the fronting the Victorian offers smattering of café tables, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Setting a relaxing tone, a neighborhood troubadour strums dulcet tunes on an acoustic guitar. Nab a spot and let the kiddies relax and sample finger food from the restaurant’s Happy Hour menu, while taking turns to survey the delectable dishes parked adjacent. The Victorian also serves a wide range of kid-friendly beverages as well as potent palette pleasers.

For the little ones with proverbial ants in their pants, spread out on the recently replanted green across the driveway. There’s a lovely veranda and old-fashioned ‘stoop’ to explore, in front of the Museum (which is closed on Tuesdays). BYOB is tacitly accepted, as long as consumed discreetly.

Park it here: Cars rolling into the lot after 5:00pm are treated to free parking; once the spaces are filled, valet is available for 6 bucks. Adjoining public lots are often transitioning at that hour, as beachgoers depart and diners descend; be sure to feed the meters as they’re enforced 24/7 (Accepting credit cards takes out some of the sting). Street meters are enforced until 10:00pm. Beware of street parking in the neighborhood, which is verboten without a permit after 6:00pm.

The eco-conscious city of Santa Monica has ample bike parking at the Sunday’s famer’s market on the same site; however, sidewalk space is more limited on weekdays.

Insider tips: The scene is most family-friendly from 5:30pm-6:30pm, when the crowd is relatively thin and seating is easier to come by.  Come equipped with a towel or beach blanket and any available space becomes a picnic area. Clean, free to the public bathrooms are located inside the Victorian.

If the choice of cuisine still doesn’t suit someone’s fancy, chances are that a local area restaurants will have a stand set up as well.

And tykes still needing to get their ya-ya’s out can head a block down Ocean Park to the beachfront playground for a bedtime swing into the sunset.

— Kim Orchen Cooper (she took the photos too!)