There’s no denying it: we are living in the golden age of food trucks. Once synonymous with sketchy, generic foods like hot dogs and chicken kebabs, over the past few years food trucks have grown ever more varied and exciting. Recently, for the third year in a row, we took a deep dive into the very best of America’s food truck scene and identified the 101 Best Food Trucks in America. Nine cities stood out from the pack, and we’re pleased to announce that they’re the best cities for food trucks in the U.S.
Operating a food truck isn’t easy. While there’s certainly lower overhead than for a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, operators are forced to brave (mostly) outdated municipal restrictions, random (or worse, targeted) police ticketing, and the misdirected ire of insecure restaurants who often try to stir up trouble for their perceived competition. Food trucks are far from the latest food trend, but when it comes to great food made quickly (and by the "little guy"), they’re one of the best things to happen to the American culinary scene.
In order to compile our ranking of America’s 101 best food trucks, we started with the more than 450 nominees from more than 40 cities that were considered for last year’s ranking and added 50 trucks to the list, mostly new ventures and those suggested by readers. We factored Twitter followers, Yelp reviews, and Yelp stars into a weighted algorithm, rounded out by an originality score that took into account menu innovation, overall concept, and geography.
We’re reaching the point in American culinary evolution at which, almost anywhere a large group of people congregates, food trucks are likely to be nearby. The cities that currently contain the most of the best food trucks are still the ones where the movement first gained its footing (many of the best food trucks were the ones that started it all), so if your city isn’t on our list, just be patient; the food truck revolution is still going strong, and it’s heading your way.
With four trucks on our list, Nashville is a certifiable food truck town. Smoke Et Al, run by chef Shane Autrey, rounded off our list at #101 with its top-notch barbecue offerings (pictured); Riffs Fine Street Food (#96) fuses Asian and Caribbean flavors with dishes like jerk chicken and spicy Asian beef salad; Mas Tacos Por Favor (#68) serves some spectacular tacos, including one with fried tilapia; and The Grilled Cheeserie (#66) elevates simple grilled cheese to new heights.
Four Seattle trucks also made our list. Maximus/Minimus (#90), pictured, shaped like a giant metal pig, was the most outrageous-looking truck on our list, serving delicious pulled pork as well as vegetarian sandwiches. El Camión (#52) serves traditional Mexican fare (think carne asada, pollo asado, carnitas, cochinita pibil, adobada, etc); Where Ya At Matt? (#42) serves some of the best Cajun fare outside of New Orleans; and Marination Mobile (#40) mashes up Hawaiian and Korean cuisine like none other, with dishes like kalbi tacos and kalua pig sliders.