America's 9 Best Cities for Food Trucks (Slideshow)
October 1, 2014
There are great food trucks all over the country, but some towns do it better than others
America's Best Cities for Food Trucks
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.
With four trucks on our list, Nashville is a certifiable food truck town. Smoke Et Al (pictured), run by chef Shane Autrey, rounded off our list at #101,with its top-notch barbecue offerings; 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.
#7 Washington, D.C.
Also home to four trucks on our list, D.C. is becoming a food truck mecca. Arepa Zone (#85) specializes in the popular Venezuelan handheld pocket sandwiches; Basil Thyme (#39) specializes in five different types of lasagna; José Andrés's Pepe (#17), pictured, offers Spanish flauta sandwiches that rival even what you’d find in Spain itself; and the Red Hook Lobster Truck (#13) serves some of the finest lobster rolls you’ll find anywhere.
With five trucks making the cut, Miami’s food trucks celebrate all that’s great about the city’s dining scene. Ingrid Hoffman’s Latin Burger and Taco (#93), pictured, specializes in burgers (a chorizo, chuck, and sirloin patty topped with Oaxaca cheese, caramelized onion, jalapeños, and avocado sauce, for example), fries, and tacos including pulled pork and chicken mole; Ms. Cheezious (#91) serves some outrageous grilled cheese; and Dim Ssäm à Gogo by Sakaya Kitchen (#74) offers more than 30 tasty items, including "Popcorn" Shrimp Ssäm with spicy sticky rice and banchan and Kurobuta Pork Belly "Bao" Sweet Chili Bun. Jefe's Original Fish Taco & Burgers (#59) serves world-class Ensanada-style fried fish tacos; and The Fish Box by La Camaronera (#41) brings one of Miami’s most well-respected restaurants to the street, serving favorites like a fried lobster sandwich.
#5 Twin Cities
Roaming the streets of the Twin Cities are no fewer than five of the best food trucks in America. The Chef Shack (#86) serves high-end seasonal fare like a tempura soft-shell crab sandwich and grass-fed beef tongue tacos; and Vellee Deli (#62) fuses the flavors of Asia and Mexico into creations like the Chicken Currito, a spicy Thai curry burrito with chicken, potatoes, romaine lettuce, rice, and creamy sauce. Sushi Fix (#50) serves some of the city’s finest sushi; Smack Shack (#36) serves delicious lobster rolls and po’ boys; And Andrew Zimmern’s AZ Canteen (#18), pictured, serves an adventurous and eclectic menu that spans the culinary spectrum from andouille, oyster, and crab gumbo to griddled veal tongue sliders.
The Windy City ranked high on our list with six trucks representing its storied culinary scene. Chicagoans have access to outrageous sausages (alligator sausage with fried okra, onions, and chipotle mayo, anyone?) at Haute Sausage (#78), pictured; nine different tamales at Tamale Spaceship (#76); 10 savory empanadas at 5411 Empanadas (#70); classic sandwiches with a gourmet twist at The Fat Shallot (#67); real-deal pierogi at Pierogi Wagon (#65); and 12 different types of macaroni and cheese as The Southern Mac & Cheese Truck (#63).
#3 New York
With nine trucks on our list, nobody can claim that New York isn’t a legendary food truck town. Souvlaki GR (#80) elevates the simple kebab to new heights; Schnitzel and Things (#53) serves classic German schnitzel with veal, chicken, pork, cod, or eggplant; Taïm Mobile (#32) sells some of the finest falafel in the city; and down at the Red Hook Ball Fields, Solber Pupusas (#30) has been dispensing those traditional Salvadorean stuffed masa patties for more than 10 years. Luke’s Lobster (#15) serves classic and delicious lobster rolls; Korilla BBQ (#12) does Korean-Mexican fusion right; Wafels & Dinges (#4), pictured, serves traditional Belgian waffles with creative toppings both sweet and savory; the Red Hook Lobster Pound (#3) is the lobster roll truck that started it all; and the vegan golden child that is Cinnamon Snail (#2) serves delicious breakfast, raw food, sandwiches, and pastries, all animal-product-free.
#2 San Francisco
San Francisco had a whopping 13 trucks on our list: Ebbett’s Good to Go (#81) serves delicious and creative seasonal sandwiches; you’d be hard-pressed to find better falafel than what’s served at the Liba Falafel Truck (#73); Kung Fu Tacos (#71) makes Chinese-inspired tacos (think roast duck with mango salsa, hoisin sauce, and green onions); and at Rib Whip (#64), there’s an on-board smoker loaded with ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and turkey. Fivetenburger (#60) serves classic and simple burgers, perfectly executed; Bacon Bacon (#37), pictured, is (obviously) all about the bacon, be it in a taco or on top of fries; RoliRoti Gourmet Rotisserie (#27) spins chickens, porchetta, and pork knuckles on a huge rotisserie; and KoJa Kitchen (#26) fills toasted rice cake patties with everything from Korean barbecue beef to chicken with pineapple. There’s also JapaCurry (#24), serving scratch-made Japanese curry; Sam’s ChowderMobile (#14) with its stellar fresh-made New England clam chowder; the Lobsta Truck (#9), flying in fresh lobster from Maine and Canada several times per week for its authentic lobster rolls; Senor Sisig (#8) topping tacos, fries, nachos, and burritos with a pork-based Filipino dish called sisig; and coming in at #6, The Chairman, serving steamed buns filled with pork belly with pickled daikon, crispy garlic tofu with miso greens, and red sesame chicken with pickled carrots and cucumber.
#1 Los Angeles
The City of Angels takes the top spot on our ranking of America’s best cities for food trucks, with 16 trucks making it to our list of America’s 101 best. Guerrilla Tacos (#99) proposes creative tacos based on what’s fresh that day; Baby’s Badass Burgers (#79) serves creatively-topped ½-pound “Maneater” burgers; upscale offerings at the Vizzi Truck (#57) include garlic-poached lobster tail with tarragon remoulade, arugula, and crème fraîche on sweet Hawaiian bread; and the South Philly Experience (#55) serves several varieties of cheesesteaks. Fishlips Sushi (#43) presents sushi both creative and classic; The Border Grill truck (#38) brings the famed restaurant’s renowned Mexican fare to the streets; The Komodo Truck (#35) serves creative fare like spicy Singaporean-style shrimp and Indonesian shredded pork rending; and the Jogasaki Truck (#34) offers sushi in burrito form. The India Jones Chow Truck (#31) specializes in Mumbai street food called frankies, a wrap filled with lamb, chicken, beef, shrimp, paneer, or mushroom and cheese; Cousins Maine Lobster (#29) serves classic Maine- and Connecticut-style lobster rolls; and at Crêpes Bonaparte (#28) sweet and savory crêpes are made to order. Five of the top 10 trucks in our ranking are based in L.A.: Grill ‘Em All (#10), serving insanely creative and delicious burgers; the original Lobsta Truck (#9); The Lime Truck (#7), with its creative menu of local and organic fare; The Grilled Cheese Truck (#5), serving delicious grilled cheese both highbrow and lowbrow; and topping our list, the Kogi BBQ truck, pictured, the truck that’s behind the Korean BBQ taco trend — and, come to think of it, the food-truck trend in general — and is still leading the pack.