Food Truck Etiquette For First-Timers

Everybody knows the basic table etiquette rules: Don't speak with your mouthful; elbows off the table; don't start eating before everyone is seated. But with the newest dining trend centered on eating from food trucks, this etiquette doesn't really apply.

However, food truck dining is not without rules. There are plenty of etiquette rules that still need to be followed. Make sure that you know them before your first food truck experience to avoid annoying the chefs, embarrassing yourself, and upsetting the other customers.

The first thing to remember is that food trucks are hugely popular. They're the newest fashion in casual dining, and everyone is crazy about them. This informal, affordable way of eating, is a favorite with many city dwellers, and so the food trucks are consequently extremely busy. As a result, you need to be patient. Don't demand that they hurry up with your order, and don't shuffle around impatiently in line, willing it to move more quickly. The chefs in food trucks have lots of orders, a small team, and limited space, so things are going to take time.

You will also be extremely unpopular if you jump the line. If you have asked a friend to save you a spot in line, and then you show up with five other people, cutting straight to the front, you'll be faced with a crowd of unfriendly faces, comments, and remarks. Food truck dining requires waiting, so get used to it and wait your turn.

All food trucks will have their menu on the outside of the truck. This is not just for decoration. Read the menu while you're waiting — you've got a long wait so there's no excuse not to  and make sure you've decided what you're having before you get to the front. If you're the person who spends five minutes trying to decide what to order when it's your turn, everybody, including the people running the food truck, are going to lose patience with you.

Remembering that a food truck is not a restaurant will help you out a lot when it comes to getting the etiquette right. Their kitchen is inside that truck: They have limited space and the only ingredients are the ones that are on the menu. Therefore, never try to order something that isn't on the menu, or to make multiple complex substitutions to a menu item. Any complicated requests will only show you're lack of understanding for what they're doing.

Never go to a food truck without cash. Lots of these small businesses don't accept cards, and it's often so much easier for them, for you, and for everyone else waiting in line, if you just pay with cash. This simple tip will win you some brownie points with everyone. Unlike restaurants, it's not essential to tip at a food truck: You're only ordering your food from the counter and then walking way, after all. However, a tiny little extra, as a gesture, will make you very popular. Be generous, and you may even get a little edible extra in return.

Finally, remember to clear up after yourself. The people running the food truck don't have staff to come and clean up after you, so pick up your litter and throw it in the trash. Make sure you end your food truck experience on a good note.