The Best Food Truck in Every State 2016 (Slideshow)
May 25, 2016
50 states, 50 food trucks; this is what America is all about
Alabama, Shindigs Catering, Birmingham
Comfort food? Check. Healthy food? Check. Wait… what? Make no mistake, this combination does exist, and the Birmingham-based food truck Shindigs Catering is the venue. As the name suggests, Shindigs is available for hire as a caterer for private events all around Alabama, but the truck also sets up shop at random locations to feed its hungry and adoring public. Currently, the truck is hawking signature burgers like the Willis (grass-fed beef with bacon, gorgonzola, blueberry mostarda, and truffle yogurt) and the Bueno (beef and chorizo with a 45-minute egg, manchego cheese, romesco sauce, and cilantro-lime aïoli) along with entrées like Korean steamed buns and quinoa salads. Sure, these dishes may not fit the traditional definition of “healthy,” but the meats are raised humanely; the vegetable-based items are organic, gluten-free, and vegan; and the ingredients are GMO-free and contain no hormones, antibiotics, or added trans fats.
Alaska, Quickie Burger, Anchorage
As odd as it may seem given the climate, the food truck scene is Alaska is getting larger and more diverse each year. However, when it comes to fan favorites, Alaskans stick to simplicity. Quickie Burger is exactly that; a place to run up, grab a burger, and head somewhere warmer to enjoy your purchase (although an attached, heated tent was introduced 2016) — and enjoy you shall. Quickie offers the standard (but delicious) hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and doubles in addition to specialties like the “Bacon My Blues Away” (with fried blue cheese, Cheddar, and bacon), the “Mahalo” (with grilled pineapple, onions, and teriyaki sauce), the “Big Alaska” (Quickie’s imitation of a Big Mac), and assorted sandwiches and dogs as well. Making the meal even more enjoyable, the prices are extremely reasonable: only $5 for regular or cheese, $10 or less for specialties, and $2 for fries or tots — with hefty, filling, Alaska-sized portions.
Arizona, 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.
Arkansas, The Southern Gourmasian, Little Rock
Earlier this year, we told you about the 10 biggest food truck festivals in America, which included the Main Street Food Truck Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas. That means there are a lot of vehicles vying for this one metaphorical parking space, but our nod goes to The Southern Gourmasian (est. 2012), which serves — as one might expect from the name — a wonderful fusion of Southern and Asian cuisines. This means the menu contains dishes like soy- and ginger-braised beef short ribs, smoked brisket with sweet plum barbecue sauce, and brick-pressed shrimp with shiro miso grits. If you were one of the dedicated followers of TSG that didn’t mind waiting in line for delicious dishes until your feet hurt, you’ll be happy to know it also opened up a brick-and-mortar store in 2015.
California, Two for the Road, San Diego
Sorry, Los Angeles, despite your plethora of can’t-miss food trucks, our vote (and apparently the votes of folks across the Internet) goes to San Diego’s Two for the Road (which clocked in at No. 2 on our best in the country for 2015). Specializing in American comfort food, this truck’s 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, hormone-free, and never frozen, 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, while Lisa’s background in the travel industry has allowed her to roam the world. Now you know the regional specials are authentic — not to mention delicious.
Colorado, Basic Kneads Pizza, Denver
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.
Connecticut, The Cheese Truck, Various
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.
Delaware, Kapow, Wilmington
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.
Florida, 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 and 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 finally getting the credit they’re due.
Georgia, 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.
Hawaii, Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Oahu
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.
Idaho, The Kilted Kod, Boise
There’s a blossoming food truck community currently in Idaho, and The Kilted Kod is constantly running down the competition. Family-owned and inspired by countless trips to Scotland, the truck’s menu is simple: two-, three-, or four-piece fish and chip platters; a surf and turf option; and chicken and chips for landlubbers. That’s it, and that’s all it took for The Kilted Kod to build its empire in Idaho. After all, this joint has received nods for best fries in the state, and that’s a big honor in potato country.
Illinois, Pierogi Wagon, Chicago
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.
Indiana, Scratch Truck, Indianapolis
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.
Iowa, The Spot, Des Moines
The food truck movement is still in its infancy overall in Iowa, but the industry has been gaining speed every year, with a few vehicles clearly standing out. And if you happen to be looking for gourmet sandwiches, then we’ve got The Spot for you — as in The Spot food truck, which was founded with a “buy local, sell local” attitude in 2013. Its consistent location schedule (operating Tuesdays through Fridays) means that loyal customers always know where to go to get a Royal Bird (sage-rubbed chicken breast, prosciutto, and red wine vinegar mayo on a bun), a Chicken Philly (grilled chicken with sautéed onions, green bell peppers, mushrooms, and provolone on a hoagie), or an order of hand-pulled Kalua pig sliders with plum sauce. This is just a small sample of the unique creations served at The Spot, and we’d highly recommend ordering something off the mouth-watering weekly specials menu.
Kansas, Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch, Topeka
Kansas is a little late to the food truck party; but lucky for them, the celebration is only beginning. However, Noble House Hawaiian arrived early and will continue to party practically by itself until the other guests arrive. The truck pops up in different places all over Topeka, but the dishes served are always of the same high-quality that first earned it accolades. Grab a plate of poke (it’s all the rage right now), or the Huli Huli chicken, chicken katsu, Kalua pork and cabbage, and Spam & eggs to see what all the fuss is about. One taste, and you’ll know why Noble House is king in Kansas.
Kentucky, Longshot Lobsta, Louisville
Louisville might be famous for its hot brown sandwiches, but lobster rolls? You better believe it. This truck, with a menu of lobster rolls (traditional, “Main” [sic], and Connecticut), bisque, chowder, and biscuits, is doing just fine — and based on the low prices, so are the good people of Kentucky. Chopped lobster mixed with a tangy sauce costs just $10, and it even includes a Cheddar-baked biscuit thrown in for good measure.
Louisiana, 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!
Maine, Urban Sugar, Portland
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, U.S. 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.
Maryland, The Jolly Pig, Baltimore
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!
Massachusetts, Munch Mobile, Boston
Serving mocktails (like a Negroni with caramelized juniper water) and elevated cuisine sans pretentiousness, Boston’s Munch Mobile offers nosh like 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!
Michigan, El Guapo, Detroit
The Michigan food truck scene has been heating up over the past few years, with the competition amongst 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.
Minnesota, Vellee Deli, Twin Cities
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.
Mississippi, LurnyD’s Grille, Jackson
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!
Missouri, 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.
Montana, Cajun Phatty’s, Billings
Sorry, Montana purists, your best food truck is actually a transplant from Louisiana. Cajun Phatty’s was born on the Bayou to parents/owners/operators Shane and Ashley Robichaux, who recently moved to Montana to be closer to family. Although, honestly, this is a bit of a half-hearted apology — because Big Sky Country residents should instead consider themselves lucky to have access to authentic Cajun eats like shrimp or fried chicken po’ boys, fried alligator, pork and sausage jambalaya, and crawfish boils served by fun, festive, and friendly folks. (We know we’re jealous!) Clearly the relocation is working too, as Cajun Phatty’s recently announced it will soon be opening up a second truck!
Nebraska, Localmotive, Omaha
When a food truck is so successful that its signature dish becomes famous among food-lovers both citywide and statewide, you know it’s something special. Nebraska’s Localmotive is more than worthy of this distinction, thanks to its number-one bestseller: “the rounder.” Basically a sourdough “dumpling” stuffed with a variety of fillings (like a “Reuben” with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss; a “Gyro” with lamb, beef, feta, and tzatziki; and a “Cordon Bleu” with chicken, ham, Swiss, and honey mustard), this fan favorite is made from scratch with locally-sourced ingredients. Localmotive also has a variety of sandwiches, but with the rounders priced at three for $5, why order anything else?
Nevada, Fukuburger Truck, Las Vegas
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.
New Hampshire, B’s Tacos, Londonderry
October 2015 saw the arrival of the 2nd Annual New Hampshire Food Truck Festival, which means the state is finally putting itself on the mobile meal map. Since most trucks are all similarly young, the competition is limited but heated, with B’s Tacos pulling ahead thanks to its popularity… and obviously its tasty tacos too. The namesake dish is available in six- and eight-inch varieties, and there are also eight-inch fajitas, 12-inch burritos, and bowls with your choice of meat (slow-cooked pork loin, seasoned ground beef, chorizo, and grilled or Buffalo chicken) and all the standard toppings. Of course, those who take their tacos seriously will add avocado, bacon, and grilled onions and peppers, or all of the above!
New Jersey, Oink and Moo, 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.
New Mexico, The Supper Truck, Albuquerque
What do you get when you mix the cuisines of Mexico, Vietnam, and the South? Answer: The Supper Truck, New Mexico’s most popular mobile food vendor. The food is fantastic, regardless of whether you order tacos (barbecue beef, shrimp, or tofu — all with sriracha, Asian slaw, pickled red onion, and cilantro on corn tortillas), banh mi sandwiches (fried chicken or tofu with pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, jalapeño, and cilantro), grits (shrimp with bacon and white wine sauce or Coca-Cola-braised beef), or burritos (with Vietnamese beef or grilled shrimp). Bonus: If the truck is parked outside of a local brewery, it will also serve beer-battered fried pickle chips!
New York, The Cinnamon Snail, New York City
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.
North Carolina, Urban Street Grill, Greensboro
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.
North Dakota, Sweeto Burrito, Various
North Dakota ain’t exactly friendly to food truck-types. State legislature makes it notoriously difficult to operate a mobile food business in the Roughrider State, with some cities banning the practice outright. Don’t tell that to Sweeto Burrito and its some dozen locations across eight states, which all started with a single trailer in the oil fields of North Dakota four years ago. The brand found success with its drool-inducing burrito varieties that include everything from the normal-ish “Carne Assassin” (grilled steak, rice, pepper jack cheese, lime, cilantro ranch, salsa, and sour cream) to the totally unique “Buff Chick” (crispy chicken, tater tots, Cheddar, cilantro ranch, and hot sauce) to the brilliant “All America” (basically a cheeseburger and fries wrapped in a tortilla). It has tacos, bowls, salads, wraps, and apps too — but can you really resist the call of the burrito?
Ohio, Wok n Roll Food Truck, Cleveland
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.
Oklahoma, Kaiteki Ramen, Oklahoma City
Bringing together cooks from some of the best Japanese restaurants in Oklahoma City, Chicago, Portland, and Houston, Kaiteki Ramen was the very first noodle truck to show up in OKC. If you’ve tried the piping hot and delicious ramen, pork belly bao, Japanese-style fried Brussels sprouts, or fried chicken thighs from its sleekly designed black and white truck, you’ll know why it is the very best truck in Oklahoma.
Oregon, The Grilled Cheese Grill, Portland
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.”
Pennsylvania, 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.
Rhode Island, Rocket Fine Street Food, Providence
Who knew such a small state had so many fantastic food trucks? (Well, actually, we did; this article about the scene in Providence was penned almost three years ago.) Maybe we’re a sucker for the sci-fi theme, but we love Rocket Fine Street Food. Using 100 percent natural Black Angus beef with no hormones or antibiotics, Rocket offers “out of this world burgers” ranging from standard options, to the double-sized “Gemini,” to crew favorites like the “Ron Swanson” (with grilled onions, a fried egg, and extra bacon) or “Roswell” (with green chile sauce, onions, pickles, lettuce, and cheese), to specials like the boar sausage or pork belly sandwiches, the food is simply stellar. Rocket also has hot dogs (with Star Wars-themed specials), egg sandwiches, and a couple vegetarian options too!
South Carolina, Pink Bellies, Charleston
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.
South Dakota, Boxcar Beef & Dogs, Sioux Falls
Like its northern neighbor, South Dakota has limited options when it comes to food trucks. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good mobile meals; Boxcar Beef & Dogs has a small menu that packs a big punch. Whether you go with a hot dog, chili cheese dog, bowl of chili, or one of the beef or sausage sandwiches, you’ll walk away already wanting to return for your next meal. Pro Tip: If you want your beef with the most amount of gravy possible, ask for it “dipped.”
Tennessee, 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 37,000 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.
Texas, 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.
Utah, 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.
Vermont, Dolce VT, Burlington
Alright, we’ll admit it, the name is a bit odd considering the fact that Dolce VT doesn’t serve any desserts — but boy is this still a sweet truck! Family-owned (a brother and sister team) and using ingredients from local Vermont farms and businesses, Dolce VT whips up dishes like vegetable pitas and truffle fries to pork carnitas, fried chicken sandwiches, and crispy Thai pig ear tacos. Don’t get too attached to any particular menu item, as the lineup can (and will) change at any time — but that’s also a good reason to keep coming back again and again.
Virginia, Karnage Asada, Norfolk
Karnage Asada has only been slinging its Latin-Asian cuisine since 2014, but its popularity in Virginia is increasing exponentially every year. In fact, the second truck just hit the road a couple weeks ago, so twice as many people can now enjoy a “Kickin’ Chicken Taco” with tomatillo salsa and queso fresco; an “Elbow Droppin’ Burrito” with rice, beans, Napa cabbage, cheese, and salsa; “Kapow Kimchos” (kimchi nachos) with black bean corn salsa; and even doughnuts with chile sugar drizzled in sriracha honey and peanut butter frosting. KA also has a habit of setting up shop outside of breweries — so there’s a boozy bonus for ya!
Washington, 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), 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.
West Virginia, Rock N Eats, Various
If you had any doubts that West Virginia has fully embraced the food truck craze, the state just held its first ever food truck festival last month, and it included a dozen delicious vendors. Our top pick? Rock N Eats, offering a number of appetizers, subs (including Philly cheesesteaks in both regular six-inch and mini three-inch varieties with red, green, and yellow peppers), sandwiches (like a BLT with green tomatoes), burgers (which are hand-pressed daily and never frozen), and hot dogs (like the “Slaw Dawg” with homemade coleslaw and homemade chili) across the entire state.
Wisconsin, 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).
Wyoming, Nipa Hut, Cheyenne
A nipa hut (also known as a “bahay kubo”) is a little house found on the islands of the Philippines, so of course the Nipa Hut food truck looks like a little bamboo shack and serves Filipino food. Featured dishes include lumpia (beef or vegetarian with celery, carrots, garlic, onions, and cilantro), chicken or pork adobo (slow-cooked in sweet soy sauce, garlic, onions, ginger, and vinegar), empanadas, and sides of fried rice and pancit noodles.