STL Thallu Vandi brings South Indian street food to St. Louis
STL Thallu Vandi has joined Bombay Food Junkies as one of the only food trucks selling Indian cuisine in St. Louis. Owner Ranjitha Chandrasekar and her husband Chandrasekar Govindarajan started their culinary journey a year and a half ago as a catering service called STL Kari Virunthu.
“Until two years back, we were trying to find a good South Indian, especially Tamil Nadu, kind of food in St. Louis, which I don't know if it is there. I have not found it,” Govindarajan said.
As their catering business gained popularity, the pair decided to launch their food truck STL Thallu Vandi in August 2023. Thallu Vandi means “pushcart” in Tamil, a South Indian language.
The menu reflects the popular street food items of South India, like dosas, savory lentil crepes, or poori, a deep-fried bread. Another popular item is the chicken Frankie, curried pieces of chicken wrapped in a wheat-based bread called chapathi. If chicken isn’t your thing, Govindarajan recommends idlis, which are steamed rice cakes, or vadai, a savory lentil doughnut that you can pair with a delectable lentil soup called sambar.
Govindarajan said that he initially struggled to introduce traditional South Indian street food to the St. Louis community. “The real South Indian taste should be given to others like non-Indian people. They have to taste that,” he said. “So initially yes, they are afraid, they don't want to try it out because they don't know what it is,” Govindarajan explained.
In addition to a variety of South Indian fare, the truck also offers Madras coffee, a blend of ground coffee powder and chicory root with milk and sugar.
STL Thallu Vandi vends at a number of spots around town, including Frankie Martin's Garden in Cottleville and Flock Food Truck Park in Alton, along with companies such as Charter and private events. For staff or students at St. Louis University or Washington University, you can also frequently catch them at the back end of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
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