101 Best Food Trucks in America 2016 (Slideshow)
July 25, 2016
Our 101 Best Food Trucks list is back again with some familiar favorites and a fleet of new arrivals
#101 Urban Sugar, Portland, Maine
We’re well aware that lobster is king in Maine, but there’s already plenty of that around. (You could probably throw a stone from any food truck and hit a restaurant selling lobster rolls.) Besides, no truck is surrounded by more excited patrons than Urban Sugar. One of the first sweets-sellers on this list, Urban Sugar has earned its slot thanks to a whole host of hot and fresh bite-sized, gourmet doughnuts. (Because everyone knows “bite-sized” means “fewer calories,” so you’re allowed to have two or 20.) The traditional flavors are cinnamon sugar and classic sugar sprinkles, and the mini dips include glazed, chocolate, maple, and lemon — but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t opt for one of the signature bites. Whether it’s “The Lucy” (chocolate cream, chocolate sauce, and chocolate graham crumble), the “Southern Sugar” (with maple bourbon and candied pecans), or whatever the weekly special happens to be, you’ll walk away with a smile on your face — and probably some sugar and frosting, too.
#100 LurnyD’s Grille, Jackson, Miss.
One of the first food trucks in Mississippi is still the best. LurnyD’s Grille has been serving satisfied customers since 2013, featuring burgers like the Goober Burger (topped with creamy peanut butter and bacon), the French Onion Dip Burger (topped with French onion dip, potato chips, and a pickle), the Sunrise Burger (with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg), and the Sloppy Jalopy (with cheese, sloppy joe, and deep-fried jalapeños). Veggie patties are available for substitutions, and we’d highly recommend the hand-cut fries — which only cost an additional $2!
#99 Kapow, Wilmington, Del.
When it comes to food trucks in America’s first state, the number one pick has gotta be Kapow. Seamlessly fusing the cuisines of Thailand, Korea, and Hawaii, Delaware’s “Thai Guy” prepares rice bowls with Peking duck, Thai curry, and bulgogi steak; a variety of tacos (like Delaware’s original kimchi taco — three for $7); Thai fried chicken; fried spring rolls; and Thai Guy’s wings. The truck is run by husband-and-wife team Wit and Jody Milburn, who can be found roaming around Wilmington or setting up shop at the town’s Rodney Square Farmers Market or the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts.
#98 Chef Ray’s Street Eats, Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City isn’t one of the first places people would think to find a good food truck, but based on the number of responses we got for Chef Ray’s Street Eats, maybe more people should be looking. But the interesting about this particular truck is the fact that in addition to its highly praised standards like chicken and waffles (hand breaded, buttermilk fried), Okie Cheesesteaks (slow-cooked pork shoulder with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese on a fresh hoagie roll), and signature banana pudding, Chef Ray will also cook up “anything from simple, finger foods to elegant culinary delights.” That’s because it doesn’t matter what the specific dish is — if it’s coming from Ray, it’s guaranteed to be delicious.
#97 Vellee Deli, Twin Cities, Minn.
If you love the flavors of Asia and Mexico, crave fresh ingredients, and want a memorable meal, check out Vellee Deli. The menu has items like The Mojo (a jumbo lemongrass and ginger sausage topped with pico de gallo and fresh papaya), a “Currito” (burrito with chicken, spicy Thai curry, potatoes, romaine lettuce, rice, and creamy sauce), and fish tacos. However, the most attention (from both satisfied customers and members of the press) is given to the B.P.T., a grilled pork taco with aïoli, slaw, and a house pickle.
#96 The Grilled Cheese Grill, Portland, Ore.
Here we were, all ready to explain why The Grilled Cheese Grill is the best food truck in the State of Oregon, when we realized the official website already summed up the reasons perfectly. First, the venue: How many other mobile food companies can claim three vehicles, one of which is a double-decker London-style bus? Another reason is the menu, which contains everything from breakfast options (like “The Hunter” with Cheddar, a fried egg, and bacon), to monstrosities like “The Cheesus,” which is basically a burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches (both of different varieties) as buns. And the final reason, in the words of The Grilled Cheese Grill, is the fact that its staff is willing to cook you a classic dish just like Mom used to do. “We’ll be your mom,” the website offers. “A couple of bearded dudes in a food cart will be your mom.”
#95 Urban Street Grill, Greensboro, N.C.
The Urban Street Grill food truck services North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad region — comprising the area around Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point — and beyond; check the truck’s website for updated schedules. The Korean-Mexican fusion results in dishes like ribeye bulgogi or spicy pork (both with salsa roja) and ginger chicken or tofu (both with tomatillo salsa verde), served in a taco, burrito, or rice bowl with kimchi fried rice and ingredients such as sesame soy lettuce and cabbage, cilantro and lime-marinated onions, pickled red onions, and/or avocado. You can also opt for the “Bulgogi Cheese Steak,” which comes smothered in Cheddar, black sesame mayo, lettuce and cabbage, and pickled cucumber and jalapeños on a hoagie. Love the ingredients? Urban Street Grill also sells jars to take home.
#94 Mariscos German, San Diego
Photo by Jesse F. via Yelp
Mariscos German (which previously made our list of America’s Best Tacos) is the quintessential San Diego fried fish taco: generous in size and filled with grated cabbage and fresh, battered pieces of fish fried to golden brown perfection, all topped with a creamy sauce. If you’re really hungry, order the Baha Trio — one fried fish taco, one marlin taco, and one shrimp taco — and wash it all down with a cheap can of beer or some coconut juice sipped right out of the coconut.
#93 Waffle Love, Salt Lake City
If Leslie Knope lived in Utah, she’d probably spend most of her time chasing the Waffle Love truck around Salt Lake City (also, founder Adam Terry totally looks like Ron Swanson). Here are three reasons you should be chasing it too: the “Dulce de Liege” (a cinnamon sugar waffle topped with fried ice cream and dulce de leche), the “Nutella Love” (with your choice of fruit), and the “Banana Cream Pie” (stuffed with chocolate and topped with bananas and cream). All the options cost about $8, but the various weekly specials can be enjoyed for just five bucks. The company started with a single truck in 2012, and has since grown to include a brick-and-mortar location and five trucks.
#92 Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ, Portland, Ore.
There aren’t a lot of all-vegan trucks on this list, but here’s one that’s a must-visit, even for meat-eaters. Homegrown Smoker serves a variety of protein options — like tempeh ribs, smoked soy curls, and smoked tofu — in a variety of ways. Order a plate (with sides like hushpuppies, mac no-cheese, and chipotle slaw), throw it on a sandwich or burger with homemade barbecue sauce or mustard, or roll it all up in a burrito. Who needs meat when you have delicious food like this?
#91 Mannino’s Cannoli Express
It’s hard to imagine a food truck surviving mainly on one item — especially a dessert item. But these aren’t just any dessert item, they’re Gaby Mannino’s famous cannoli. Mannino has been hawking these hand-filled treats for eight years now, two out of a food truck. She buys shells baked in Sicily (which are wider than most domestically made shells) and makes the filling in her family’s Italian restaurant, in alternate varieties like chocolate and blueberry. Wherever Mannino shows up, her fans show up in large numbers as well, and there’s almost always a line at her truck. Kind of like how they all showed up on our survey page to propel her truck onto this list.
#90 Aroy-D, The Thai Elephant, N.J. (Various locations)
Photo by Jon H. via Yelp
Calling itself “New Jersey’s first and only authentic Thai food truck,” Aroy-D, The Thai Elephant doesn’t take this distinction lightly. Thailand-born Pupay moved to the United States in 2006 and soon began longing for her native Thai food, which she started making at home. One day she sent food into the office of her husband, Jon, and his co-workers went crazy for it. She began catering meetings and eventually joined the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. In 2011, the duo opened Aroy-D (Thai for “very yummy”) and have been cruising the streets of New Jersey selling it ever since. The dishes are nothing revolutionary (pad thai, drunken noodles, pad see ew, pineapple fried rice, dumplings), but the quality still blows customers’ minds, just like it did in Jon’s office almost a decade ago.
#89 Komodo Truck, Los Angeles
The Hotel Bel-Air's former grill chef Erwin Tjahyadi made a splash in 2010 by serving Asian-Mexican fusion that involved burritos, as well as tacos, at Komodo. Since then, Tjahyadi’s legend has grown, and his black-and-white Komodo dragon-themed truck has gone brick-and-mortar. But the truck still rages on, serving menu classics like seared top sirloin, grilled marinated chicken, fish and grapes, spicy Singaporean-style shrimp, and Indonesian shredded pork rendang with sides like truffle or garlic fries (or tater tots) and meatballs with romesco sauce. Fun fact: The truck is named after an Indonesian lizard, a rare, endangered, lethal species with weak hearing and sight but a powerful sense of taste.
#88 Roti Rolls, Charleston, S.C.
With appearances at Bonnaroo and other big-time festivals, Roti Rolls is finding ways to get its food out to non-Charlestonian eaters, and how grateful people are for that. Who wouldn’t satisfy their cravings for Asian, Indian, Caribbean, Latin, and Southern flavors all wrapped into one convenient flatbread? Options like “Smoky the Bear Dawg,” with blood sausage, Thai pimento cheese, kimchi, and a sunny-side up egg, or the “Frittata Mama,” with baby corn, asparagus, onion, peppers, and tahini with citrus slaw, represent a variety of cuisines.
#87 Mei Mei Boston, Boston
Photo by Kimberly W. via Yelp
Run by three siblings, Mei Mei is dedicated to sustainably sourced food and creative takes on Chinese cuisine. Get their “Double Awesome,” a scallion pancake sandwich with pesto, Cheddar, and two runny eggs, or the pierogi dumplings with Sriracha fried rice. After the success of the truck, Mei Mei opened a brick-and-mortar location, which was voted the best restaurant in Boston by Eater in 2014 and is a go-to spot for renowned London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi when he's in town.
#86 Food Fix Original Food Creations, Modesto, Calif.
You asked for it, and we heard you: Food Fix is now officially part of this list. The Modesto-based truck offers some fantastic food creations unlike anything you’ve ever seen on wheels (or at all, in most cases). Think sandwiches like the “Porkstrami & Preztel,” root beer pulled pork, and “Angry Bleubird” with mesquite grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese, and homemade bleu cheese dressing. Food Fix also offers some salads, but that would mean missing out on the sandwiches!
#85 Aloha Plate, Honolulu
Photo by Mel B. via Yelp
Aloha Plate’s claim to fame was winning Season Four of The Great Food Truck Race, but that was just the beginning. It has since appeared on Good Morning America and received endorsement from former MLB outfielder (and native Hawaiian) Shane Victorino and SPAM for fare that includes braised beef loco moco (a recipe from the mother of owners/brothers Adam and Lanai Tabura), huli huli chicken tacos, venison chili moco, and pork adobo. Aloha Plate has also made the jump from the island of Hawaii to the mainland for events like Coachella, but still spends most of the time back in its tropical homeland.
#84 PEPE, Washington, D.C.
Pepe, Washington, D.C., Jane Bruce
With so many pizza, taco, and Asian fusion trucks on the scene, it’s great to see a fusion-free mobile eatery — especially because said truck is helmed by none other than José Andrés. PEPE rolls through D.C., Maryland, and Virginia during lunchtime every day, offering Spanish flautas (flute-shaped sandwiches), as well as seasonal soups, desserts, and non-alcoholic sangria. The menu changes often, but here’s what you can expect to find in their flautas: seared ibérico pork with serrano ham, roasted green peppers, caramelized onions, and aïoli; grilled cheese with manchego, Murcia, Valdeón, goat cheese, and membrillo; seared beef tenderloin, caramelized onion, piquillo pepper confit, and blue cheese; and for dessert, a chocolate and hazelnut ice cream flauta. You can’t go wrong with a side of patatas bravas, either.
#83 Barrio, Cleveland
A large calaca (stylized Mexican skeleton) with arms open wide adorns the Barrio food truck, inviting you to build your own tacos. You can choose from five different kinds of tortillas, such as the “White Widow,” a soft flour tortilla with guac, sour cream, and “crunch”; nine different kinds of filling, including a fish of the day; queso fresco, smoked Cheddar, or Chihuahua cheese; and a bevy of toppings, salsas, sauces, and sides. But hey, it looks like these guys know what they’re doing, so try one of their suggestions, like the “El Puerco,” with pulled pork, quesos blanco and fresco, salsa roja, and chipotle honey; or their taco of the month, which features the most seasonal of ingredients.
#82 BACON MANia, Orange County, Calif.
Photo by Devo S. via Yelp
With almost 13,000 Twitter followers, it’s about time BACON MANia made this list. The truck serves “unabashedly American, unapologetic man-food,” but don’t let that hint of misogyny deter you from sampling the award-winning mac and cheese with bacon, chili con bacon, bacon-wrapped hot dog, twice-grilled cheese with bacon, or the “BLAT” (BLT plus avocado). Heck, even the brownie bites are wrapped in bacon. If you live in Orange County, you should thank your lucky stars (or pigs) that this truck is a local mainstay.
#81 Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers, Boston
Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers serves juicy burgers out of its truck, which features a large decal of a high-heeled boots-wearing, bikini-clad woman in the form of a devil, sitting on a shark-shaped rocket and eating a burger. It’s very much the Guns N’ Roses brand of rock and roll. But how do the burgers stack up? People love them. Whether you order the “Kick Out the Jam,” their 100 percent Angus burger with pickled red onions, bourbon bacon jam, and Monterey Jack cheese, or the “Richard Simmons,” a black bean and quinoa burger with cilantro aïoli and Cheddar, consider yourself welcomed to the jungle (of flavor).
#80 Culinerdy Cruzer, Sacramento, Calif.
With a punny name like “Culinerdy Cruzer,” how could we not include this truck in the list? Of course, the food is also cleverly named, like the “Bruce Lee M’Fn Burger” with beer-braised onions, three cabbage slaw, nori, and wonton strips; the “Dammit Jim!” burger with bacon ends and pieces and beer blue cheese; and “Hulk Fries” with basil pesto, artichoke hearts, and fire-roasted tomatoes. Even the Brussels sprouts are legendary here. The people of Sacramento have spoken, and they decreed Culinerdy Cruzer should make this list.
#79 Riffs Fine Street Food, Nashville
Neither the co-owner of Riffs Fine Street Food truck, B.J. Lofback (of Detroit), nor Carlos Davis (of Barbados), is actually from Nashville, but at this point, their truck is probably beloved enough in the city for it to adopt them as native sons. Lofback (a self-described culinary school dropout) and Davis (a culinary school grad and hotel chef) won Nashville’s Battle of the Food Trucks with a menu that leans toward Asian flavors, but stays away from any restrictive cuisine umbrella. As they write on their website, “Riffs was born from a desire to just be creative with food, the concept being NOT having a concept.” What’s the result? Tomato sashimi in a sushi burrito, tater tots with gochujang barbecue sauce, and “Tennessee Benedict,” which consists of a buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken, gravy, poached eggs, and tater tots. Also, just over a year ago, the duo opened Funk Seoul Brother to focus their talents on the cuisine that made them love food trucks in the first place: Korean.
#78 Nosh The Truck, Seattle
What the heck do they serve at a truck with a vague name like “Nosh”? Burgers? Tacos? Cupcakes? Nope. Try fried rabbit, roasted bone marrow, caprese sandwiches, meatloaf, and chicken tikka masala. And the folks at Nosh also grind their own meat, pull their own mozzarella, and use sustainable line-caught fish. Think this fare sounds too odd to be popular? Tell that to the voters in our survey who got Nosh on this list as a write-in.
#77 Basic Kneads Pizza, Denver
Photo by Nelle H. via Yelp
We are suckers for a good pun and even more so for a good pizza. Basic Kneads operates four different units (each with punny names) around Denver. Basic Kneads eschews strict Neapolitan guidelines for D.O.C. pizza so that it can integrate local ingredients, experiment with toppings, and use the family dough recipe its team developed over the years: a mix of organic whole-wheat flour and refined Colorado flour (Basic Kneads also does a gluten-free crust). There are eight pies on the menu, starting from the basics (Margherita, pepperoni, fennel sausage) to more extreme pies like sweet Thai chile chicken.
#76 Butter Truck, Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s Butter Truck proves that PB&Js are more than just sandwiches your parents packed for you the night before school. While chef Nicole Zalewski includes items like peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, she also takes that sweet-salty flavor combo and takes it to the next level, in the form of items like mac and cheese cupcakes (baked mac and cheese topped with ricotta “icing” and Togarashi-spiked Parmigino-Reggiano “sprinkles”) and pink lady grilled cheese (smoked Gouda, sharp Cheddar, and mirin-poached apple on five-seed bread).
#75 Munch Mobile, Boston
Serving mocktails (like a Negroni with caramelized juniper water) and elevated cuisine sans pretentiousness, Boston’s Munch Mobile offers nosh such as mushroom sliders with Beemster cheese, Brussels sprouts slaw, and herb aïoli; hummus made with Night Shift IPA-soaked chickpeas, togarashi spice, citrus olive oil, and sea salt; and a braised pork tostada with aged Vermont Cheddar, radicchio slaw, and Sriracha crema. In an effort to meet dietary restrictions of all kinds, half of the truck’s offerings are vegetarian, two are vegan, and one is gluten-free. Also, in true on-the-go fashion, utensils are not necessary for any of the dishes. Munch on!
#74 Chewy’s, Philadelphia
Photo by Jenny L. via Yelp
If you’re hungry in Philly, be on the lookout for a bright orange truck — especially if you’re not quite sure what you want to eat. Chewy’s offers eight distinct burger varieties (from bacon and cheese to veggie to kimchi), four varieties of BLTs (including one with smoked salmon) and some odds and ends that include truffle or buffalo fries or tots, as well as chicken and waffles. If you feel bad about eating food that’s a bit unhealthy, would it help if we mentioned the fryer oil is recycled for fuel, the leftover food is used for compost, and the food containers are made with natural materials?
#73 The Jolly Pig, Baltimore
Photo by A. C. via Yelp
It’s difficult to use the phrase “Maryland food trucks” without mentioning The Jolly Pig. The pink truck has been a mainstay (if you can use this phrase to describe a mobile restaurant) in Maryland for several years now, and is constantly racking up awards, nods, and other accolades. As for the food, there’s an awful lot of pork (mostly of the pulled variety) on the menu. Of course, by “awful” we mean “delightful,” because the options include tacos like the Korean BBQ, Jamaican Jerk, Peking, Carolina, and Al Pastor, in addition to sandwiches like the Cuban, the “Figgy Piggy” (with mortadella, or “Figgy No Piggy” without), and The Carolina Sliders. Now that you’ve got the rundown, it’s time to pig out!
#72 Pierogi Wagon, Chicago
Photo by Pierogi Wagon via Yelp
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 to the people of Chicago. Its numerous takes on zapiekanka (an open-faced baguette sandwich topped with mushrooms and cheese) include creations like “The Farmhand,” which comes with pulled pork, Sriracha barbecue sauce, melted Gouda and aged Polish cheeses, grilled corn relish, and cilantro-lime aïoli. With so many enticing offerings, we can understand why this Yelp reviewer wrote Pierogi Wagon a haiku.
#71 WOW! Food Truck, Atlanta
Wendy Cross tried arepas for the first time in New York City several years ago, and immediately knew she had to bring them home for the people of Atlanta. The WOW! Food Truck (an acronym for Wonderlicious on Wheels) was born, and business just keeps on growing. Wendy’s arpeas (in varieties like chicken sofrito, smoked pork, beef and cheddar, and veggie) and bowls (featuring slow cooked brisket and slow roasted chicken) have earned her “best of Atlanta” accolades, as well as the truck’s first appearance on this list.
#70 Polkadot CupcakeShop, Nutley N.J.
After last year’s 101 list, we were informed by many folks that we had made a grave error in leaving New Jersey’s Polkadot CupcakeShop off our survey. After investigating, we discovered they were right! We added it this year, and the voting blew us away. People obviously adore the cupcakes at Polkadot, including classics like the signature red velvet and birthday cake varieties; specialty creations like “Better Than Sex” (with chocolate cake, mousse, frosting, drizzle, and sprinkles), PBJ, and salted caramel peanut butter pretzel; cocktail cupcakes made with booze, and a monthly special. Owner and lead baker Arlene (who opened her own shop in 2011 and truck in 2013) also makes full-sized cakes, but we can’t polish off multiple varieties of those and still feel good about ourselves afterward.
#69 Streetza, Milwaukee
Food trucks are all about serving the people without frills or pretentiousness. Nobody does that quite like Streetza, which crowdsources everything from pizza toppings to the art on the side of the truck. Conventional slices, special slices, Milwaukee neighborhood slices using "the best stuff from Milwaukee’s neighborhoods," and slices whose components are suggested by Twitter fans all come out of its oven, which is heated to a blistering 650 degrees F. Exceptional examples include the Wisconsin State Fair Chili Slice (made with an award-winning chili recipe from 1989) and The Farmer’s Market Slice (which is actually made of a medley of random vegetables from the Milwaukee Public Market).
#68 Pink Bellies, Charleston, S.C.
Pink Bellies serves Vietnamese favorites like pho and banh mi to the good people of Charleston, and they love it. The menu options rotate, but here are the kinds of things to expect: pulled pork with mayo, blueberry jam, chiles, pickled carrots, pickled red onions, and cilantro; “The Realest” banh mi with pâté, pork belly, loin ham, roast pork, chiles, cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, and spring onions; or the house lo mein with red roast pork, tofu, shrimp, yu choy, Chinese celery, vegetables, and chile sate. Pair it with a Vietnamese iced coffee or toasted sweet iced tea (matcha green tea, ginger, toasted rice), and your belly will be happy.
#67 La Cocinita, New Orleans
Rachel Billow and her business partner, Venezuelan chef Benoit Angulo, started their business in the Big Easy, where running a food truck actually doesn’t always jibe with the city’s nickname (among other restrictions, trucks are required to change locations every 45 minutes). But Billow and Angulo have not just been making it work, but making it work really well. Ordering at La Cocinita is definitely easy: First, choose your vessel (arepa, taco, burrito, or bowl), then pick your protein (braised chicken, braised pork, roasted sweet potatoes and black beans, or black beans and queso fresco), add a sauce (we suggest guasacaca, which is Venezuelan guacamole, or the “Stupid Hot” sauce), and enjoy — which is without a doubt the easiest part!
#66 The Cheese Truck, Connecticut (Various locations)
Caseus was already extremely popular as a cheese shop and bistro, so the next logical step was to take the show on the road. Enter The Cheese Truck, which capitalizes on Caseus’ delectable dairy by serving the classic American meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup. Only $5 will get you the standard sandwich, which is anything but ordinary. It contains a blend of provolone, Swiss, Comté, Gruyère, Gouda, and sharp Cheddar — and this is before you get to the add-ons like guacamole, hot cherry peppers, Berkshire pulled pork, and bacon. Want soup with your meal? That’ll run you $7 — for both the soup and the sandwich! Eat 10 sandwiches with the add-on of your choice in under 60 minutes and they’ll name it after you, give you a T-shirt, and put your picture on the menu board.
#65 The Blaxican, Atlanta
The Blaxican serves Mexican and soul-food fusion fare to those hungry for it in Atlanta, offering deeply satisfying plates like Buffalo chicken tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, and crumbled blue cheese; Philly nachos with grilled marinated steak, grilled onions and peppers, melted queso, lettuce, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and sour cream; and the Mexy Mac n Cheese with fresh jalapeños and Blaxican’s special three-cheese blend. This truck has not only soul, but a lot of heart: It uses tips and donations collected via its website to help feed those less fortunate in collaboration with various organizations around Atlanta.
#64 Ssahm BBQ, Dallas
In Dallas, you shouldn’t travel for the best Korean-Mexican fusion; you should let it travel to you. It does help to know this truck’s schedule, though, which they update on their website and Twitter page. Partners Joey Hong and Andy Park offer a straightforward and solid menu of Korean-style beef, pork, chicken, or tofu either served tucked inside a taco, quesadilla, or burrito; in a bowl; or on top of a hot dog or kimchi fries.
#63 El Guapo, Detroit
The Michigan food truck scene has been heating up over the past few years, with the competition among taco trucks the most feverish of all. The current king is El Guapo — Fresh Mexican Grill, which was actually the first licensed and accepted food truck in Detroit’s history. Founded in 2011, El Guapo offers a menu that features a variety of tacos, burritos, and bowls with grilled chicken, chorizo, or beef brisket, along with a few specialties like the pork belly taco, shrimp burrito, and new Korean beef burrito. With everything on the menu priced at less than $9, you can fill up without emptying your pockets.
#62 Go Gyro Go, St. Louis
Is it "jy-ro" or "year-o"? However you say it, you’ll call the rendition served by Go! Gyro! Go! "tasty." Owners Nick and Laura Cowlen bought their truck in 2011, outfitted it themselves, and set out into the streets of St. Louis with food inspired by the family recipes of his yia-yia and papou (both from the island Zakynthos off the southwest coast of Greece) and his own experiences when visiting the motherland. The menu is pretty simple: gyros. There’s the classic beef and lamb, chicken souvlaki, chicken tahini, and veggie gyro. Go with the classic: spiced beef and lamb wrapped in a freshly grilled pita with sliced tomato, red onion, feta, parsley, and homemade tzatziki.
#61 Taïm Mobile, New York City
In 2005, chef Einat Admony and her husband, Stefan Nafziger, homesick for their favorite Tel Aviv street food, opened their own falafel shop on Waverly Place. Five years (and a location in Nolita) later, they launched the much anticipated Taïm Mobile. You don’t want to miss these falafels, which are smaller in size than the falafel balls you’re used to, but have double the flavor and crunch. They frequently offer special red pepper falafel and sometimes one made with spicy harissa — and when you order them, make sure to ask for everything, and extra of it. They’ll add s’rug (Yemeni hot sauce), amba (pickled mango chutney), Israeli pickles, and spicy peppers for a spicy, crunchy, wet, delicious mess. You can expect only the best from these chefs, who are behind the beloved New York City restaurants Bar Bolonat and Balaboosta.
#60 Jack’s Chowhound, Dallas
After spending time in Los Angeles, owner and operator Jack Mooney decided to open a food truck in his native Texas. According to the Dallas Observer, Jack’s Chowhound “looks like the love child of an old mail truck and your mom’s wood-paneled station wagon,” and my, what good food comes out of that odd-looking vehicle. The smoked Gouda on its famous pulled pork grilled cheese is the perfect match for the smoked pork shoulder, the BLT contains five slices of thick-cut bacon, and if you’re going to order steak frites from a truck, make it this one — the staff stacks sliced steak right on top of the hand-cut fries.
#59 Scratch Truck, Indianapolis
Photo by Scratchtruck via Yelp
As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. That was the case for Matt Kornmeyer, who opened Scratch Truck after being laid off from his day job. Nowadays, he serves creative spins on the comfort food from his childhood to the people of Indianapolis, who get to enjoy items like the “Scratch Burger” (a 1/3-pound custom-ground burger with bacon marmalade, gorgonzola cheese, and arugula); Poutine de Peru fries tossed in yellow pepper sauce, queso fresco, and cilantro; and strawberry Sriracha shortcake with basil whipped cream. The menu changes regularly, but the food is consistently excellent.
#58 The Bacon Truck, Boston
Operated by two high school friends who were brought together by their love of bacon, the light pink-colored Bacon Truck serves only one item that doesn’t ostensibly include bacon, and that’s habanero garlic pickles. By all means, order them as a side, but do not miss “The Hangover,” which consists of bacon, bacon scallion hash, Cheddar, and havarti with a fried egg, or the Turkey Avo, with truck-roasted turkey breast, bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, lettuce, and chimichurri aïoli. And for dessert? Nutella-covered bacon, of course.
#57 Fired Up Taco Truck, Cleveland
Fired Up Taco Truck serves tacos and empanadas out of their converted S.W.A.T truck, which is now covered in paintings of flames. Cleveland goes crazy for these tacos, and we can see why. Popcorn shrimp served in a flour tortilla with Fired Up slaw, corn and green chile salsa, Jack Cheddar, seasoned fries, barbecue, and lime crema? Color us impressed. Don’t feel bad for the vegetarians; they get to enjoy pineapples in their tacos and empanadas.
#56 Guerrilla Tacos, Los Angeles
Guerrilla Tacos puts local and sustainable food first. Their menu selections change daily, as their dishes are built around what they purchase fresh from their vendors every morning, but one can generally count on seeing chorizo tacos with fingerling potatoes, habanero chili, cilantro, and pickled onion, and Neuske's bacon tacos with chile de árbol, scrambled eggs, fried Brussels sprouts, and queso fresco in the AM. Later in the day, choose from a selection of tacos with such ingredients as roasted artichoke hearts, red pepper, escabéche, spinach, and morita chiles, or something more unusual, like the cauliflower with Castelvaltrano olives, dates, chives, morita chiles, and pine nuts.
#55 East Side King, Austin
Perhaps the most beautifully, psychedelically designed food truck around, East Side King is run by a man every Top Chef fan knows: Season Nine winner and former executive chef at Austin’s Uchiko, Paul Qui. Chef Qui’s truck menus represent his spin on Japanese street food, which includes fried potato noodles with pork and kimchi stew, mapo tofu chili, a pork melt and pork chop sandwich, and fried chicken fried rice. Don’t miss the ramen, either; it was toward the top of our list of America’s Best Ramen Shops.
#54 Guerrilla Street Food, St. Louis
The rotating menu of dishes at Guerrilla Street Food might require a little explanation to those who are less than familiar with Filipino cuisine, but you don’t need a passport to order Guerrilla’s signature dish, the “Flying Pig.” It’s slow-roasted pork set on jasmine rice, topped with egg, and accented by calamansi tartness and Sriracha heat. Don’t miss the Filipino blue crab ceviche, with crab, chiles, black sesame, cilantro, palm sugar, and atchara (unripe papaya pickle), served over sliced watermelon, either. "You're content to wait for trucks bearing tacos, pizza, or whatever to park near you," the Riverfront Times noted, "[but] Guerrilla Street Food, you hunt down."
#53 Oh My Gogi! BBQ, Houston
The owner of this truck, Eric Nguyen, hopes you’ll exclaim "Oh My Gogi!" after sampling his Korean barbecue tacos, burgers that utilize ramen buns and Texas toast, and so-called “OMG! Fries” with Korean beef and colby jack cheese. Gogi means “meat” in Korean, but don’t just opt for the meat dishes here; the vegetarian quesadilla, with stir-fried kimchi and Monterey Jack, will have you saying “Oh My Gogi!” just the same.
#52 Seoul Taco, St. Louis
I know what you’re thinking: another Korean-Mexican fusion truck? However, there is a reason Seoul Taco has remained one of the country’s top food trucks since 2012: The food is really damn good. Fare from Seoul Taco includes the gogi bowl with rice, fresh vegetables, fried egg, sesame oil, and spicy gochujang pepper sauce; burritos with kimchi fried rice, lettuce, cheese, carrots, sour cream, and a mix of Seoul sauces; and tacos with Korean salad mix, green onion, Seoul sauce, crushed sesame seeds, and a wedge of lime. They’ve now opened three brick-and-mortar locations in Champaign, Illinois, and Columbia and St. Louis, Missouri (with Chicago on the way, too!), which is a testament to both Seoul Taco’s success and deliciousness.
#51 Border Grill, Los Angeles
Photo by Border Grill via Yelp
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, two Top Chef Masters contestants and successful West Coast chef–restaurateurs (and members of The Daily Meal Council), took the upscale modern Mexican cuisine of their successful Border Grill restaurants to the streets with the Border Grill Truck. Border Grill recipes were adapted to be on-the-go, and though the truck menu isn’t quite as extensive as the restaurant’s, it doesn’t miss by much. There are five or six different tacos (including Yucatán pork, carne asada, and Baja fish); three quesadilla options; corn tortilla cones filled with Peruvian ceviche made with sustainable fish, pickled onion, and aji amarillo; sides like cumin fries, and, of course, guac and chips.
#50 Chef Shack, Twin Cities, Minn.
Life partners and chefs Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer each have more than 20 years of experience, and also one of the most lauded trucks in the country. Carlson reportedly cooked for Gray Kunz, Christian Delouvrier, and Daniel Humm, while Summer is credited for opening Morimoto’s pastry department and working at Jean-Georges’ JoJo. Ingredients are organic when possible — from family farms and co-ops within Minnesota and Wisconsin — and the food is served in 100 percent biodegradable packaging. Speaking of which, the menu (seasonal), ranges from signature Indian-spiced mini-donuts, tempura soft-shell crab sandwich, and grass-fed beef tongue tacos to bison burgers, bacon beer brats, and Thai and Indian vegetable curries. There’s literally something for everyone — something Wisconsinites have recently been made aware of at the truck’s Bay City brick-and-mortar location. Chef Shack’s fans were oddly quiet last year, but they enthusiastically showed up to support Lisa and Carrie in 2016.
#49 Mama’s Meatballs, Philadelphia
Fans of Philadelphia’s Mama’s Meatballs almost broke our survey with their votes and comments. Although, “comments” is putting it lightly, as most dedicated customers demanded we put Mama’s on this list. As lovers of Italian cuisine, who were we to say no? Especially with balls as delicious as the handmade, gourmet samplings at this truck, in varieties like turkey and broccoli rabe, spicy sausage and jalapeño, and even a vegetarian option. Oh, and in case you were wondering, just because the truck is named after Mama, it doesn’t mean the company shies away from puns. Just visit its Twitter page, @MamasBalls, to see for yourself.
#48 AZ Canteen, Twin Cities, Minn.
Photo by Andrew Zimmern's Canteen via Yelp
The “AZ” in AZ Canteen stands for Andrew Zimmern, and his food truck is his self-styled “food adventure,” hawking a wide menu of dishes that span the culinary spectrum from andouille, oyster, and crab gumbo to griddled veal tongue sliders, Pat La Frieda goat sausage grinders, Nicaraguan dulce de leche shaved ices, and a goat butter burger with roasted tomatoes, charred onions, and sweet pickles. The truck made an immediate splash when it first hit the streets last year, and if some of the creations sound a little bizarre… well, would you expect anything different from Andrew Zimmern?
#47 Jersey Dawg, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Photo by Rev C. via Yelp
The Jersey Dawg food truck can be found most days at the corner of Powerline & Cypress in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But now, inside you’ll likely find the shiny trophy the truck’s owners won Feb. 26 at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Rob Goodman and his team came away with the Schweid & Sons Very Best Burger Award, given to its Classic Slider, described as “butcher-ground fresh beef cooked on a bed of steamed onions and served on a Martins potato bun.” And we haven’t even mentioned Jersey Dawg’s dogs yet! Go for the original Ripper made with beef and pork and deep-fried, with any number of toppings, such as homemade chili or homemade relish, cheese, sauerkraut, chopped onion, and NY pushcart onions in sauce. All that is enough to get JD its first spot on this list — and in the top 50 at that!
#46 Bon Me, Boston
Photo by Jeremy K. via Yelp
Founders Alison Fong and Patrick Lynch started Bon Me in 2011, transforming a used DHL delivery truck into their first food truck. They now have five servicing the Boston area. Here’s how it works: You choose between a sandwich, rice bowl, noodle salad, or salad, and decide on a filling. Their options for fillings, like their wheels, “rotate daily,” but stalwarts include paprika tofu and miso-braised pulled pork. Their specials also impress: the iconic three-cup chicken, for instance, or a Korean-style chicken inspired by late nights in New York’s Koreatown. As for sides, let’s hope you get the chance to try their black tea-soaked deviled eggs.
#45 Bernie's Burger Bus, Houston
Photo by Tams B. via Yelp
Bernie’s Burger Bus is in an old-school short bus that takes the school shtick all the way, from labeling press reviews as "report cards" and truck swag as "school supplies" on its website, right down to the name of the burgers. There’s The Principal (classic burger), The Substitute (blue cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions), the seasonal Study Hall (Cheddar, barbecue sauce, and pork belly) and the Fire Drill (roasted tomatoes, pepper jack, chipotle aïoli, spicy guac, and crispy tortilla strips). But let’s face it, if you’re going back to school, you’re going to either want to take down The Bully (two patties, Cheddar, fixings, and roasted tomatoes) or go to Detention (two applewood-smoked bacon grilled cheese sandwiches used as the bun, two patties, Cheddar, "tipsy onions," and fixings). If you can actually stomach the whole Detention, you get on the Bernie’s wall of fame. But perhaps you want to save room for the fries, which we included in this year’s list (at No. 38) of America’s 50 best French fries.
#44 Easy Slider, Dallas
With perhaps one of the cleverest food truck names on this list, Easy Slider serves creative mini burgers that use certified Angus beef and farmers market produce out of their red, white, and electric blue vehicle. They introduce sweet flavors into savory sandwiches in not-too-sneaky ways: by using strawberry jam in their burger with bacon and goat cheese, peanut butter instead of cheese in their bacon burger, and sea salt caramel with grilled red onions in their Sugar Derby burger. You don’t want to miss their Baby Bella, with a Texas-born portabella mushroom patty topped with the basic components of a caprese: mozzarella, tomato, and basil pesto.
#43 Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Angeles
The Grilled Cheese Truck has been a mainstay in the top 50 portion of our 101 Best Food Trucks list since 2012. Its cheesy mac comes fully loaded with sharp Cheddar and barbecue pork; the French onion soup melt features Gruyère with onion soup compote and a Parmigiano-Reggiano crust; and the Pepperberry Melt includes chili, cilantro lime sour cream, tomato salsa, and Fritos. There are also savory additions, like mac and cheese and bacon; sweet additions, like Nutella, toasted marshmallows, candied walnuts, and peanut butter; sides like tomato soup and tater tots; and, finally, “crusts,” like jalapeño or bacon-Parmesan, which line the corners of the mac and cheese.
#42 Red Hook Lobster Pound, New York City & Washington, D.C.
This multi-city truck is owned by Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich — yes, the daughter of daytime TV star Maury Povich — and brings Maine-style lobster rolls and other seafood shack favorites to the masses. There are shrimp rolls, a lobster BLT, lobster bisque, and New England shrimp and corn chowder — but let’s face it, it’s about the lobster roll: lobster, served cold, with celery, spices, and a touch of homemade mayonnaise on a J.J. Nissen split-top bun (or Connecticut-style, warm and buttered). Don’t forget to wash it down with one of their Maine Root sodas (root beer, ginger brew, mandarin orange, blueberry, sarsaparilla, or lemon-lime). RHLP recently made the No. 3 spot in our list of the 20 best lobster rolls outside of Maine.
#41 Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese, Boston
Brothers and bandmates James and Mike DiSabatino teamed up with trained chef Marc Melanson to establish Roxy’s, where they sling sandwiches that swap butter for mayonnaise in order to make what James describes as “grilled cheese without borders.” The menu rotates, but staples include the Green Muenster (Muenster, guacamole, and applewood bacon), Mighty Rib Melt (fontina, braised short ribs, and caramelized onions), and the Rookie Melt (Vermont Cheddar and vine-ripened tomatoes). While they did not win season two of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, their popularity is only increasing, now boasting more than 16,000 followers on Twitter. However, it’s worth noting that somehow Roxy’s made it right back in the exact same spot in this list as last year.
#40 Surf and Turf Truck, Philadelphia
The folks behind Philadelphia’s Surf and Turf Truck liken their mobile eatery experience to a day at the beach, as they “serve tasty, unique food in a friendly, casual way” that allows their customers (who deserve a big “thank you” from S&T for their votes in our survey) to slow down for a few minutes and enjoy life. It’s hard not to enjoy it when your meal options include the signature lobster roll topped with chilled mango and jalapeños or the BLT (bacon, lobster, and tomato), as well as a rosemary steak sandwich option, firecracker shrimp tacos, salmon burger, and even a bacon-onion infused double quarter pound burger. Not into seafood or meat? Relax! They also have several vegetarian options.
#39 Crepes Bonaparte, Los Angeles
Have you ever tried a savory crêpe on the streets of Paris? Then you remember that warm, salty cheesiness, and the enjoyment of life that comes from biting into a well-made, freshly cooked one. It’s thin. It’s crispy. It’s salty, gooey, satisfying, and soul-affirming in a way that almost shouldn’t be possible. And yet it is. The partners behind Crepes Bonaparte know and emulate that. All the crêpes are served to the sound of French pop by folks wearing berets, black vests, and ties, but it’s not all about looks here; the crêpes are excellent. Savory crêpes like In Da Club, with bacon, mozzarella, tomatoes, and avocados, as well as sweet crepes like the Al Capone, with blackberries, mascarpone, and chocolate drizzle, are both must-tries.
#38 Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, Denver
Once upon a time, Jim Pittenger repossessed cars. Now? He splits hot dogs right down the center, chars them on a gas grill, and tops them with Coca-Cola-soaked grilled onions and a "swizzle of cream cheese unloaded from the front end of a caulking gun." Some of the dogs on the menu at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs include rattlesnake and pheasant, linguisa, duck cilantro, southwest buffalo, pheasant, and Louisiana Red Hots — but the elk, wild boar, and reindeer have been attested to by none other than everyone’s favorite gastrogrouch, Anthony Bourdain.
#37 Baby's Badass Burgers, Los Angeles
Photo by Carol L. via Yelp
Past customers of Baby's Badass Burgers have noted that something about the presentation can be a bit much. More specifically, that means tiny booty shorts, tight tank tops, and high heels worn by the "burger babes," who you can view here. The truck, the creation of ex-New York restaurateur Erica Cohen and event planner Lori Barbera, also has a logo that features a scantily clad girl holding up two burgers. All of this, of course, makes it wildly popular on LA’s streets and also on TV — the truck has had cameos on both Entourage and CBS’ The Defenders.
There are seven half-pound "maneater-sized" burger options on the menu made with ground Angus and served on Kings Hawaiian Rolls, as well as a turkey and vegetable option, all with names drenched with the innuendo you’d expect (Cougar, Mamacita, She’s Smokin!, The Other Woman, and The "Perfect 10"), but The Bombshell is the move: “A half-pound patty sandwiched between two bacon grilled cheese melts, topped with grilled onions and a side of baby’s special sauce." As the menu says, it’s "baby-liscious."
#36 Clover Food Lab, Boston
Photo by Louisa B. via Yelp
Serving both breakfast and lunch, Clover Food Lab offers only the freshest ingredients in everything they make, creating what founder Ayr Muir describes as "clean flavors." Even the beverages are "a part of [their] culinary conversation." Cinnamon lemonade, blackberry switchel, hibiscus iced tea — any chef in the truck can tell you where the ingredients for the drinks come from just as confidently as he or she can with the components of a sauce. In the past, they’ve served fried blue oyster mushrooms with rhubarb aïoli, a chickpea fritter sandwich, and perfectly textured doughnuts.
#35 South Philly Experience, Los Angeles
Photo by Peter H. via Yelp
After missing the list completely last year, South Philly Experience is back in a big way — even bigger than its spot at No. 55 on our 2014 list. Boasting two oversized food trucks with graffiti-covered brick wall-pattern exteriors, South Philly covers much of the LA area — for both lunch and dinner — from Venice and Santa Monica to downtown and the Valley. Yes, of course there's cheesesteak. Also Buffalo steak, pizza steak, and so on (including chicken versions of one and all), not to mention the chicken fingers (called “tails”), which are deep-fried in batter and served with Buffalo-style hot sauce, celery, and blue cheese. Dessert? Tastykakes, of course.
#34 Sugar Philly Truck, Philadelphia
The Sugar Philly Truck’s mission is to make desserts delicious and accessible in order to bring happiness and smiles to all. Food-truck lovers John Suh and Franklin Shen dreamt of creating a gourmet dessert truck to serve the city of Philadelphia, and after convincing their friend Dan Tang to return to Philadelphia to serve as head chef, they were ready to launch. The truck serves crème brûlée, a selection of French macarons, and crème fraîche cheesecake made with local strawberries and a blueberry compote. We should all congratulate Sugar Philly on making the jump from No. 24 on our list of the 25 best dessert trucks in America to being of the 101 best food trucks overall.
#33 Rigatoni’s Mobile Crab Cakes, Prospect Park, Pa.
“The best crab cakes are not in Maryland,” boasts the writing on the Rigatoni’s Mobile Crab Cakes truck. “They’re here.” In Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, that is. Don’t believe us? Check out the lines outside the truck on its Facebook page. After all, who could resist its delightful take on the specialties of Baltimore and Philadelphia in the form of their crab pretzel, a soft pretzel topped with crab dip and Cheddar cheese? The crab-stuffed onion ring ain’t too shabby either.
#32 Two for the Road, San Diego
Photo by Seetha G. via Yelp
This truck has had quite the journey in this list over the past couple years, ranking as low as No. 98 in 2014 and as high as No. 2 in 2015. The people have spoken once again, and now Two for the Road finds itself in the middle of the pack. Specializing in American comfort food, the menu changes weekly, but count on there always being a burger and interesting variations on the hot dog, as well as regional dishes like New England lobster rolls or not-so-regional foods like spinach and artichoke grilled cheese. The ingredients are fresh, never frozen, and hormone-free, which is a telltale sign that owners Lisa and Roberto know what they’re doing. Other signs? Roberto attended culinary school in Italy before immigrating to the U.S., and has been the chef in several top hotel kitchens in Las Vegas and San Diego. Lisa’s background in the travel industry has allowed her to roam the world, so you know the regional specials are authentic — not to mention delicious.
#31 Smoke Et Al, Nashville
Chef and owner Shane Autrey calls his Smoke Et Al truck — which serves a variety of barbecue — a “boutique smoker.” Using real wood smoke and other techniques to flavor his barbecue fare, Autrey serves dishes such as Fiddlers Biscuits (shredded smoked chicken on sour cream-sage baked biscuits with wild flower honey and green onions) and a third of a rack baby back ribs, dry-rubbed and hickory-smoked. Keep your eye on this chef, as Autrey took first place in the Chow Masters challenge on the Travel Channel in 2014.
#30 Cucina Zapata, Philadelphia
Cucina Zapata serves up Thai food in a taco, so you can go ahead and cross that one off of your food fantasy mash-up list. Other dishes include items like a Cap’n Crunch-crusted tilapia burrito topped with avocado, pico de gallo, and peanut sauce. Or the sweet potato curry. Or the Thai short rib tacos covered in veggies and topped with avocado. Or basically anything else. Regardless of your exact pick, it will be a refreshing change from the Korean barbecue we normally see paired with tacos.
#29 Five Sisters Catering, N.J. (Various locations)
Upscale ingredients and expert execution come together in the form of creative and refined dishes inside the Five Sisters Catering truck. Poutine duck fries, barbecue pulled-pork fries, sirloin burgers topped with crabmeat and Sriracha tartar sauce; all are dishes that expertly straddle the divide between standard greasy food truck fare and haute cuisine. Not all the dishes were so lofty, however. Five Sisters also touted their take on a couple of “fat sandwiches,” which are essentially every kind of fried and/or grilled short-order food you can imagine (think cheese steak and chicken fingers) put together on a sandwich roll.
#28 Marination Mobile, Seattle
"Big Blue" launched in 2009, touting Hawaiian-Korean curb cuisine ("Two cultures, one food truck"), the brainchild of Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison. The pair came up with the idea for Marination Mobile while eating their own marinated spicy pork tacos and commiserating over some unfortunate investments in Wall Street.
Look for tacos filled with sweet and savory kalbi, pork, miso ginger chicken, or tofu. They also do a kimchi quesadilla and rice bowl, and serve sliders stuffed with shredded Kalua pork or SPAM. Marination Mobile fell off our list last year, but they’ve come roaring back for 2016.
#27 Wok n Roll Food Truck, Cleveland
Photo by Tricia M. via Yelp
The owners of Wok n Roll, Matt and Tricia, met while working together at KFC in 1999. Today, they churn out fusion foods, such as Korean poutine made with tater tots and topped with Monterey Jack, kimchi, and black sesame seeds; non-fusion foods, like no-frills bibimbap or banh mi sandwiches; and specialties like “Krab Rangoon” with cream cheese and sweet chile sauce, which fall into neither category. The truck has only been in existence for two years, but it’s already one of our absolute favorites, and apparently a lot of voters agree.
#26 The Dapper Dog, Philadelphia
Photo by Christian P. via Yelp
The Dapper Dog is one of the reasons Esquire called Philadelphia “the late night capital of the United States.” Its menu often changes according to “relentless hot dog research and seasonal changes,” but its popular options are The Mack, a hot dog topped with mac and cheese, and the classic Chicago dog. Specials include hot dogs topped with asparagus and provolone and a bacon-wrapped dog topped with green apple slices, gorgonzola cheese, and jalapeños.
Although the Twitter page and website appear to be inactive, we're told the Dapper Dogs truck is still out there — albeit quite hard to track down.
#25 Emerson Fry Bread, Phoenix
The colorful Emerson Fry Bread truck might very well be the only truck in the country that specializes in Native American cuisine — one of the most underrated cuisines of the world — with a Mexican twist. Customers pick a protein and a wrap style, such as “Jazzy” (Indian-style with beans, carne asada, cheese, and pico de gallo), “Mi Bandera Linda” (with handmade red and green chile sauces), or “Bolli” (served in a taco bowl), and wash it all down with a fan-favorite 32-ounce prickly-pear-based juice. Emerson is a testament to the creativity needed to run a successful food truck.
#24 Foolish Waffles, Philadelphia
Photo by Ashley M. via Yelp
Dapper Dogs and Foolish Waffles: Philadelphia certainly takes the cake when it comes to Victorian novel-esque names for food trucks. Foolish Waffles serves mostly savory, but a few sweet waffles, too. Their chile honey-glazed buttermilk fried chicken waffle with pickled bourbon jalapeños — which you can also get bánh mì-style — is stellar, and if you must go sweet, pick their Liège sugar waffle topped with mascarpone whipped cream, black pepper bacon toffee, salted caramel, and Maldon smoked sea salt.
#23 Cupcake Carnivale, Philadelphia & New Jersey
You think you’re pretty clever, don’t you, Cupcake Carnivale? We saw your Twitter post asking your fans to stuff The Daily Meal’s ballot box for this list. And you know what? It totally worked. Your fans voted en masse and earned you a spot on this list — and a high one at that. We also happen to know that your cupcake varieties — from That’s S’more to Not Your Father’s Root BEER Float to Strawberry Oreo Cookies & Cream and about 50 others — are some of the most imaginative creations we’ve ever seen, and among the most delicious around. Drink it in, CC; you earned it.
#22 The Chairman, San Francisco
This food truck used to be the cleverly named “Chairman Bao,” but dropped the “bao” when New York restaurateur–turned–cultural icon Eddie Huang indicated he might sue them (Huang founded New York sandwich shop Baohaus). Name change aside, The Chairman draws lines for its simple menu of steamed and baked buns with fillings like Muscovy duck confit with green papaya, pickled red onions, and mint.
#21 The Creperie at Temple, Philadelphia
Photo by Xinda Q. via Yelp
Stationed in the heart of Temple University’s main campus, The Creperie’s offerings are so creative that even if you show up with one in mind, you’ll most likely end up choosing one of their wild creations, which include General Tso’s chicken, pizza, sirloin steak with barbecue and ranch, peanut butter and banana, and even one with cheesecake, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Just remember, Temple students, you can’t eat crêpes for every meal.
#20 Sushi Fix, Twin Cities, Minn.
Photo by Jen G. via Yelp
After working at multiple sushi bars and Japanese restaurants, the friends behind this hit decided to put their expert knowledge to the ultimate test and see if they could create a successful food truck. Victory! The end result was Sushi Fix, where everything is crafted with the utmost care and dedication. Thank years of practice scaling fish to ensure proper sushi cutting, a commitment to the freshest local ingredients, and “washing sushi rice until finger tips don’t feel.”
#19 El Camión, Seattle
For anyone who knows Spanish, the name of this one makes perfect sense. For those who don’t, el camión means "the truck," and this one in particular has been known to be "full of goodness," according to The Seattle Times. El Camión serves quite a few different meats, including carne asada, pollo asado, carnitas, cochinita pibil, adobada, chorizo, lengua, tripas, cabeza, and fish. There are tacos, burritos, quesadillas, gorditas, mulitas, tortas, tamales, and breakfast burritos. It’s a big menu, and that doesn’t even include the platos, which are worth a spin-through of their own. Whatever you get, take comfort that founder McGinnis makes all six of his salsas from scratch.
#18 Lobsta Truck, Los Angeles & San Francisco
Photo by Bob L. via Yelp
The lobster roll at Lobsta Truck is inspired by the legendary version at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine, one of America’s best seafood shacks. While lobster in California is not quite the same as lobster in Maine (even though owner Justin Mi flies in fresh lobsters from Maine and Canada several times a week), these $14 rolls are still fantastic. There's little more than the lobster roll on the menu — you’ll find clam chowder, lobster bisque, chips, whoopie pie, and an ice cream sandwich — but they've added one West Coast item that's likely to make many East Coast seafood lovers jealous: a fresh Dungeness crab roll.
#17 Bacon Bacon, San Francisco
Photo by Jason M. via Yelp
In case you couldn’t tell, this San Francisco truck is all about the bacon — be it on a burger with sautéed onions and Cheddar, inside a grilled cheese with bacon jam, on a fried chicken sandwich, in pork belly form with a fried egg, or in a taco. Bacon is also in the fries, along with pickled peppers, and in the desserts (chocolate-covered or with caramel corn). Oh, they also sell straight-up, plain old bacon, too. If you can’t flag down the truck, there’s also a brick-and-mortar location on Frederick Street.
#16 Korilla BBQ, New York City
You’d have thought it would have hurt team Korilla BBQ to be called cheaters for adding more than $2,000 of their own money into their cash drawer on what has basically been the representative show for food trucks on cable TV (Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race). But the scandal certainly didn’t shrink this bright, tiger-striped truck’s popularity — they have almost 29,000 followers on Twitter and have since opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the East Village in Manhattan. Korilla BBQ offers a base of burrito or bowl; four proteins (bulgogi, barbecued pork, marinated chicken, and tofu); B.F.K.R (bacon, kimchi, sushi rice) or sticky rice; and various toppings.
#15 Cousins Maine Lobster, Los Angeles & Other Locations
Los Angeles has a few excellent trucks serving fresh Maine lobster, but Cousins appears to be the most popular, based on the overwhelming amount of votes it received over the past two years. Though it started in LA, Cousins now operates in a handful of different cities, but nobody who eats food from this truck can argue that it’s anything short of fantastic. Cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac serve classic Maine- and Connecticut-style lobster rolls, as well as lobster tacos, crab rolls, shrimp rolls, lobster tots, and deep-fried Maine lobster on a stick — not to mention lobster bisque and New England clam chowder — all while running a mail-order business and pursuing franchise opportunities.
#14 Sweet Box Cupcakes, Philadelphia
Sweet Box Cupcakes offers some of most the creatively flavored cupcakes in Philly. From pumpkin chocolate chip to strawberry Champagne and chocolate chip cookie dough (which has a glob of cookie dough in the middle of the cupcake), there is plenty to tempt any sweet tooth. Not to mention the bacon-flavored cupcakes like bacon maple pancake and chocolate-covered bacon. Owner Gretchen Fantini opened a storefront back in 2013, called Sweet Box Shop, but the truck is still going strong.
#13 Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Oahu, Hawaii
Despite the fact that Hawaii boasts a whole sea of various shrimp trucks (Famous Kahuku, Fumi’s, Big Wave, Geste), somehow Giovanni’s emerges victorious from the pack. Maybe it’s the Hawaiian company’s experience in the business (G’s was founded in 1993), maybe it’s the countless signatures of satisfied customers that cover the exterior of the truck, or maybe it’s the insanely tasty plates like shrimp scampi, lemon butter shrimp, and “No Refunds” hot and spicy shrimp — but it’s pretty clear that the folks at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck are banging on all cylinders. Here’s to another 23 years, or at least another plate of succulent shrimp.
#12 SeoulFull Philly, Philadelphia
SeoulFull Philly won a Vendy for Rookie of the Year in Philadelphia last year for its Korean-American comfort food, so that’s a good start already. On top of that, you’ve got to admire it for the delicious ways it utilizes Cheez Whiz, like on tater tots (alongside kimchi and scallions) or atop a Korean-style cheesesteak (with kimchi and onions). However, our favorite item is definitely “Corn on the Seoul”: deep-fried corn on the cob, gochujang crema, cotija cheese, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds.
#11 Where Ya At Matt, Seattle
Where Ya At Matt has been bringing New Orleans-style po’boys, muffulettas, jambalaya, and more to Seattle since 2010. It has been called one of the best food trucks in the country by Thrillist (and No. 79 in America by us last year), and Eater named its fried oyster po’boy one of the city’s most iconic food truck dishes. But don’t stop at the savory: its beignets, as well as sweet potato and pecan pies, are just as excellent.
#10 The Grilled Cheeserie, Nashville
Run by Los Angeles transplants Crystal De Luna-Bogan (a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef) and her husband, Joseph, The Grilled Cheeserie has been winning Nashville over, and has almost 38,000 Twitter followers. Why? Well... it could be the fantastic specialty melts, among them a pimento mac and cheese, a Buffalo chicken melt, the “B&B of Tennessee” (with buttermilk Cheddar, bacon, and Georgia peach jam), and whatever the "Melt of the Moment" happens to be that season. In the world of food trucks (and food truck rankings), creative takes on classics are always a good thing.
#9 The Taco Truck, New Jersey (Various locations)
Photo by Justin E. via Yelp
Don't let the generic name fool you into thinking these are just your average tacos. From catfish tacos on flour tortillas to seasonable vegetable tacos on corn tortillas, when it comes to the Taco Truck, it's all in the details. The truck’s popularity has allowed the owners to open numerous brick-and-mortar locations around New Jersey and New York (in Hoboken, Morristown, Princeton, and New York's High Line Park), but it all started in that truck.
#8 Fukuburger Truck, Las Vegas
Photo by Ardie Y. via Yelp
For the record, Fukuburger gets its name from co-founder Colin Fukunaga’s last name, not an expletive. He and Robert "Mags" Magsalin serve "All-American" burgers (and a panko-encrusted chicken katsu sandwich) with a Japanese twist, featuring toppings like wasabi mayo, pickled red ginger, avocado cream, Japanese barbecue sauce, and furikake (dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, and salt). Looking for a unique side dish? Try the togarashi garlic fries with banana ketchup.
#7 Mac Mart Truck, Philadelphia
Mac Mart Truck in Philadelphia serves what Eater once called the “Breakfast Sandwich [That] Beats All Other Breakfast Sandwiches”: mac and cheese sandwiched between two hash brown patties and drizzled with buttermilk ranch — bacon optional. You can get yours mixed with barbecued chicken, tossed with Philly cheesesteak components, atop a charred hot dog, or in a handful of other creative ways. Currently, the truck is promoting a “Lobster 7 Cheese Mac.” Also, you never have to choose between grilled cheese and mac and cheese here: Their “Return of the Mac” sandwich includes mac and cheese between buttery slices of white bread. Mac Mart also recently opened its first brick-and-mortar location.
#6 Luke’s Lobster, New York City
Photo by Luke’s Lobster Mobile Lobster Roll Food Truck via Yelp
Born and raised in Cape Elizabeth, a small town on the coast of Maine, Luke Holden “grew up lobstering, built his own skiff, and launched a lobster company while still in high school.” At Luke’s Lobster, chilled lobster is served in a buttered and toasted split-top bun “with a swipe of mayo, a sprinkle of lemon butter, and a dash of our secret spices.” You can opt for either the crab or shrimp roll instead, but really, when these lobsters are served just hours after they are caught, why would you? Luke’s has been a mainstay on numerous food truck lists at The Daily Meal for some time, and this is their highest achievement yet.
#5 The Cow and the Curd, Philadelphia
The Cow and the Curd only serves one thing, but boy do they do it well. C&C makes battered fried cheese curds, which sounds a little mysterious at first, until you realize they’re essentially mini mozzarella sticks and dive right in. All right, so they’re not really like mozzarella sticks, but they do bear a few similarities. Both are fried to golden-brown perfection, both are hot and melty and stretch into gooey strings when you bite into them, and both are enhanced by various dipping sauces. The people of Philly voted in droves for this year’s list, and this truck was the best in the city by a landslide.
#4 Kogi BBQ, Los Angeles
We might be able to thank chef Roy Choi, one of the coolest people in food and drink, for our love of Korean-inspired Mexican food, or even, arguably, our nation’s love of food trucks. “Kogi set off a flavor bomb that would shake up the foundations of the industry so that street food would never be looked at the same way." That’s from Kogi’s site. What’s the saying? It ain’t bragging if it’s true? After appearing at No. 1 on our 101 Best Food Trucks list in 2012, No. 2 in 2013, and No. 1 again in 2014, it’s a bit of a surprise that Kogi BBQ is in the lower end of the top 5 (although it still moved up a few spots from No. 10 last year), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could be because Roy Choi has extended his talents beyond food trucks, with restaurants like the Caribbean-inspired Sunny Spot and hip lounge Alibi Room, or it could be because so many new food trucks have popped up since Kogi first opened in 2008. Nevertheless, Kogi BBQ still remains one of America’s very best, and you shouldn’t dare call yourself a food lover if you stop by Los Angeles without trying one of their short rib tacos.
#3 Ms. Cheezious Fresh Made Grilled Cheese, Miami
Ms. Cheezious isn’t just another grilled cheese truck; it was the No. 1 food truck in America for 2015. The menu includes 17 standard styles and a build-your-own option, with eight cheeses, about five breads to choose from, and six add-ons to throw into the mix. Go for the standards, like the Crabby Cheese Melt (crab salad and sharp Cheddar), Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle Melt (fried chicken and Cheddar on house-made buttermilk waffles with gravy and syrup), Frito Pie Melt (house chili, American cheese, jalapeños, onions, and Fritos), and the best dessert grilled cheese we’ve heard of yet: The Sweet Meltdown, with a ricotta and orange marmalade blend on Texas toast, served with chocolate dipping sauce. Ms. Cheezious has been a mainstay on our list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America since 2012, and we’re thrilled that husband-and-wife duo Brian and Fatima Mullins are still getting recognition from hungry folks year after year.
#2 The Cinnamon Snail, New York City & New Jersey
Photo by Michelle L. via Yelp
Even though The Cinnamon Snail is often more active in Red Bank, New Jersey, nowadays, this city-born truck is still the property of New York (it even opened a brick-and-mortar store in Penn Station’s Pennsy food hall), and absolutely the most deserving truck for this slot. Not only does TCS serve high-quality food, it checks all the other boxes, too. Looking for a sandwich? Try the Thai BBQ tempeh with pickled red onions, Thai basil, arugula, smoked chile-roasted peanuts, and Sriracha mayo. How about a burger? Go for the ancho chile seitan burger in maple bourbon barbecue sauce with jalapeño mac and cheese. Gluten-free? Replace any bun or bread with millet flax bread or over greens and red quinoa pilaf. When all else fails, there are also doughnuts and pastries; on any given day, the truck stocks about 30 different varieties. By the way, did we mention everything is also vegan? Mind blown.
#1 Oink and Moo, N.J. (Various)
Oink and Moo has operated in New Jersey since 2012, enjoying its status as a well-kept Garden State secret in towns like Hoboken and Asbury Park. However, shortly after the truck expanded to Philadelphia, it won a Vendy award for Rookie of the Year — and we’re pretty happy the secret got out. The concept is simple: beef brisket or pulled pork barbecue done well (not well-done) in the form of sliders, chili, tacos, quesadillas, and ribs. It also has a brick-and-mortar location Florham Park, New Jersey, but where’s the fun in that? You want to enjoy barbecue like this as soon as it’s off the heat.