By Nicole Schoen

Food trucks are the latest fad in convenience in fast food and Valrico resident Luke Mendoza is trying his hand in the game. It started two months ago with Mendoza offering something different from the sea of food trucks with his steamed cheeseburger truck, appropriately called Hot Boxd.

“Everybody has a unique twist to some kind of food or specialty, so our specialty is the steamed cheeseburger,” said Luke. “It’s what we do.”

Instead of grilling the burgers, Mendoza steams them in a hot box steamer he purchased from Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden, Connecticut who has been cooking up world-famous steamed cheeseburgers since 1959.

“You can’t get any more American than cheeseburgers. Steamed burgers are a unique twist from the Connecticut area, so I’m trying to bring it down here to the south,” said Mendoza.

While the business is completely owned and run by Luke, sometimes family members will assist him at certain events.  Most of the food prep is done at Bernie’s Deli and Café’s commissary in Tampa where Luke used to work.

“He was a little chef since he was born,” said Luke’s mother, Marlene Mendoza.

Hot Boxd features a few different choices in steamed burgers. There is the classic, which is topped with white aged cheddar, baby lettuce, roma tomato, red onion and its signature roasted red mayo served on a toasted roll; the swiss, which has the same dressings but is topped with swiss cheese and drizzled with truffle oil on the bun; and the cali burger which is topped with guacamole. The burgers are slider-sized and cost $8 for any two steamed burgers plus side and drink, or $5 for just the cheeseburgers. The side items include kettle chips and fresh produce, like watermelon from Wolfe’s Produce in Riverview and Pete’s in Ruskin.  For consumers who don’t like burgers but still enjoy local produce, Luke also sells salads for $5.

Almost every Wednesday, Hot Boxd can be found at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce but hungry patrons in the greater Tampa Bay area should stay tuned to Luke’s at and his Twitter: @hotboxdburgers to know where they can find a steamed cheeseburger.

To hire Luke for catering events, contact him at 343-1780 or hot


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