The Windy City is home to some of America’s best brick-and-mortar restaurants, but it also plays host to some fantastic food trucks. We recently ranked the country’s best meals on wheels for the fourth year running, and found that three were in Chicago.
In the past, our ranking was decided by combining factors like number of Twitter followers and positive Yelp reviews into a weighted algorithm, rounded out by an originality score that took into account menu innovation, overall concept, and geography. This year, we made it simple: We let you, our readers, decide, via a public poll. To compile our list of contenders, we expanded on our lists from 2012,2013, and 2014, asked readers for suggestions, took a look at the winners of the Vendy Awards, and tried to find rookie trucks. We received a whopping 2,662 responses, and we published the 101 that received the most votes.
So, now that you know how we found America’s best, let’s take a look at Chicago’s top food trucks:
#3 The Fat Shallot
Husband-and-wife duo Sam Barron and Sarah Weitz know
their stuff. The high school sweethearts traveled throughout Europe and Asia, honing their cooking skills while working on small local farms (and a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain to boot), as well as eating the street food that would eventually end up inspiring the Fat Shallot
. You might expect these well-traveled folks to have an ostentatiously worldly menu, but they stick to the classics: grilled cheese, a buffalo chicken sandwich, truffle fries, and the like, doing it all very well. This bright red truck is always a friendly sight in the Windy City
, and was voted to the #93 spot on this year’s ranking.
#2 The Vegan Food Truck by Ste Martaen
While this food truck
does mostly private events and festivals, as well as a vegan supper club, the people who have had the experience of enjoying their fare tend not to say “You wouldn’t even know it’s not meat.” That’s because items like jibarito
sliders with tofu and jalapeño crema and “p*rk” sliders with jackfruit and barbecue sauce are so creative that you’re not trying to assess whether they’re passable meat substitutes, just enjoying them on their own merits. Make sure to try any of their cheeses, which they make on their own, and are most likely a contributing factor to their being named the #77 best food truck in America for 2015 by our readers.
#1 Pierogi Wagon
A self-described “incubator of modern Polish eats,” Pierogi Wagon
serves both classic pierogis — braised beef, Cheddar and potato, sauerkraut and mushroom — and new twists on classic Polish dishes to the people of Chicago
. Their takes on zapiekanka, an open-faced sandwich made of half of a baguette topped with mushrooms and cheese, include The Farmhand, which comes with pulled pork, sriracha barbecue, melted Gouda and aged Polish cheeses, grilled corn relish, and cilantro lime aïoli. We can understand why this Yelp reviewer wrote them a haiku.
Their polish fare is so good, they made it all the way to the #68 spot on our list, and are the highest-ranking food truck in Chicago for 2015.
Original reporting by Nikkitha Bakshani.