In the past few years, the food truck craze in Chicago has been spreading like wildfire. More and more trucks are popping up every month, offering everything from gourmet mac and cheese to creative cupcakes.
Unfortunately, there are some strict rules about when and where these trucks can park in Chicago (the trucks here have had much to overcome, including fighting to cook onboard and having to adhere by strict rules, which include staying 200 feet away from restaurant storefronts), making it a bit harder for tourists and locals alike to track down Mexican tamales at The Tamale Spaceship, wagyu beef by chef Aaron Crumbaugh at The Wagyu Wagon, and cute cupcakes from Flirty Cupcakes.
The good news is that there are several websites where you can track Chicago food trucks in real time. Whether you’re trying to locate the rib-eye slider with provolone, caramelized onion, and horseradish at The Slide Ride, ranked number 98 on The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Food Trucks in America, cheesy mac and cheese from The Southern Mac & Cheese Truck (number 61 on The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Food Trucks in America), or savory beef empanadas from 5411 Empanadas (number 52 on The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Food Trucks in America), these three websites and apps will have you covered.
This food truck site conveniently displays various trucks according to when they’re open: now, later today, or tomorrow. Under each listing are the address and the service times for each truck, along with a handy map marking each truck’s current location. Available in 37 cities in the U.S. and Canada, TruxMap has free apps available for Android and iPhone.
Chicago Food Truck Finder
This site has an efficient search function that makes it easy to search for food trucks according to either the time you want to eat or where you’re currently located. Chicago Food Truck Finder uses information from food truck owners posted to Twitter, Foursquare, and on their websites to create a map showing where your favorite food trucks are currently parked. The great thing about Chicago Food Truck Finder is that it’s simple and easy to use. The not-so-great thing is that there’s no corresponding mobile app. However, there is a handy Twitter account you can follow at @chifoodtruckz.
Perhaps the most detailed Chicago food truck site, Roaming Hunger maps out food truck locations according to when they’ll be open and when you want to eat (lunch, dinner, late night, tomorrow, and the day after) plus shows tweets from each food truck. Users can also set up alerts for their favorite trucks and even view menus when searching for nearby street food. If you have an iPhone, be sure to download the handy app.
Ashley Henshaw is the ChicagoTravel City Editor for The Daily Meal.