To create our ranking of this year’s 101 Best Food Trucks in America we first constructed a list of over 200 food trucks from around the country, drawing from The Daily Meal’s previous lists as well as other food truck and city guides. From there we researched each truck individually; looking at their social media followings to judge popularity, and assessing customer reviews and ratings on various outlets such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, and Roaming Hunger. Many of the trucks on our list are longtime staples that people still can’t seem to get enough of, but we also have some new contenders like the Venezuelan Arepa Zone in Washington, D.C., and The Fat Shallot in Chicago.
Upscale ingredients and expert execution come together in the form of creative and refined dishes inside the Five Sisters Catering food truck. Poutine duck fries, barbecue pulled-pork sandwiches, 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.
SeoulFull Philly won a Vendy for Rookie of the Year in Philadelphia in 2015 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.
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.
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 grape jelly sandwiches, she also takes that sweet-salty flavor combo to the next level in the form of items like peanut butter pancakes.
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?
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 avocado. You can also opt for the “Bulgogi Cheese Steak,” which comes smothered in Cheddar, black sesame mayo, lettuce, cabbage, and pickled cucumber and jalapeños on a hoagie. Love the ingredients? Urban Street Grill also sells jars to take home.
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 Baja 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.
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 Pupay’s creations 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.
The Hotel Bel-Air's former grill chef Erwin Tjahyadi made a splash in 2010 by serving Asian-Mexican fusion that involved burritos and 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.
Aloha Plate’s claim to fame was winning the fourth season of The Great Food Truck Race, but that was just the beginning. It has since appeared on Good Morning America and received endorsements from former MLB outfielder (and native Hawaiian) Shane Victorino and the local staple 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.
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 chauvinismdeter 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.
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 mac and cheese with fresh jalapeños and The 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.
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.
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 carne asada, Baja fish, and sweet potato black bean); five quesadilla options; sides like cilantro garlic fries, and, of course, guac and chips.
The Grilled Cheese Truck has dropped out of the top 50 portion of our 101 Best Food Trucks this year, having been a mainstay there since 2012. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a must-visit stop while you’re in the LA area. 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 Pepperbelly 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.
The folks behind Philadelphia’s Surf and Turf Truck liken their mobile eatery experience to a day at the beach, allowing their customers 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, a salmon burger, and even a bacon-onion infused double quarter pound burger. Not into seafood or meat? Relax! They also have several vegetarian options.
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," pictures of whom 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 King’s 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”).
South Philly Experience 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. But there’s 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.
Cupcake Carnivale’s 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. They also create seasonal cupcakes based on available ingredients, with one dedicated to each season of the year and others such as Chocolate Pumpkin Patch, Thin Mint, Samoas, The Spiked Egg Nog, and St. Patrick’s Vanilla.
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.
Babycakes serves breakfast all day that is so good the food truck has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise and the Food Network’s website and was voted as one of the best food trucks in Chicago by Chicago Magazine in 2013. As their website notes, “Babycakes are created with passion, inspiration, and a pinch of magic.” Although they serve plenty of “mini” options, their menu is anything but. Enjoy elegant eggs, stacked mini pancakes, mini pizzas, breakfast sushi, “Breakfast Bells” (stuffed peppers), and handheld items.
Los Angeles has a few excellent trucks serving fresh Maine lobster, but Cousins appears to be one of the most popular. 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.
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 website. What’s the saying? It ain’t bragging if it’s true? Kogi BBQ has dropped on our list from the No.1 spot in 2012 and 2014, which could be because Roy Choi has extended his talents now 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 back 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.
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.
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 the “No Refunds” hot and spicy shrimp — but it’s pretty clear that the folks at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck are firing on all cylinders. Here’s to another 24 years, or at least another plate of succulent shrimp.
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. It 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.
When it comes to food trucks in America’s first state, the number one pick has got to 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.
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.
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.”
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 Liège” (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, and another coming soon to Los Angeles.
This self-described “rustic French mobile bistro” is unique, creating from-scratch dishes on the spot with “the highest quality [ingredients] from New England farms with a commitment to organic, humane, and sustainable practices.” Plouf Plouf Gastronomie has a lunch and dinner menu that changes seasonally, with gourmet offerings such as Canard Confit (a leg of duck with green peppercorn brandy sauce, and fresh hand-cut frites), Plouf Plouf duck burger (ground duck with Applewood-smoked bacon, shiitake mushrooms, demi-glace sauce, and fresh frites), and of course desserts like the vanilla bean crème brûlée.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Serving mocktails (like a Negroni with caramelized juniper water) and elevated cuisine sans pretentiousness, Boston’s Munch Mobile offers nosh such as togarashi fries with herb aioli; hummus made with NSB Santilli 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!
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 barbecue, 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!
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!
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 and the shrimp burrito. With everything on the menu priced at less than $9, you can fill up without emptying your pockets.
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.
This Miami food truck offers Mediterranean cuisine, using simple, fresh, and healthy ingredients. They have a full menu with appetizers, salads, platters, pita pockets, desserts, and even a kids’ menu truly catering to all palates. Go for something classic, like the Rolling Pita Pocket with falafel, hummus, tahini, baba ghanoush, Israeli salad and Israeli pickle, or take it up a notch with the Mix UP Platter, which samples just about everything: two falafels, two borrekas, two lajmayim, and two kibbes, accompanied by French fries, hummus, tahini, baba ghanoush, Israeli salad, Israeli pickle, and some toasted pita bread to scoop everything into.
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.
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 fish tacos with pico de gallo, bacon tacos with chile de árbol, and tostadas topped with fish (depending on the ingredients from local vendors like ahi tuna, bluefin tuna, kampachi, and uni).
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 panko fried pork shoulder with jasmine rice, kimchi, cucumber, tonkatsu sauce, green onion beni shoga, and kewpie; and deep-fried chicken with sweet and spicy sauce, basil, cilantro, mint, onion and jalapeño.
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.
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 four brick-and-mortar locations in Chicago and Champaign, Illinois, as well as Columbia and St. Louis, Missouri, which is a testament to both Seoul Taco’s success and deliciousness.
Counter to the food truck’s name, they don’t serve sundaes. They do, however, serve amazing burgers, hot dogs, and sides. The burgers are made as a single, double, or triple with classic American cheese and any toppings you’d like (bacon and chili are extra). There’s only one hot dog on the menu: Brooklyn-style hot dog, deep fried. You can add any topping to that as well, or wrap the entire hot dog in bacon for an extra $4.
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 Vongerichten’s JoJo. Ingredients are organic when possible — sourced 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 ranges seasonally 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.
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 current spring specials also impress: Thai basil chicken, cucumber apple salad, and a coconut chia pudding. As for sides, let’s hope you get the chance to try their black tea-soaked deviled eggs.
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), 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 need a Homeroom (cheddar cheeseburger, bacon, “tipsy onions,” chipotle aïoli, and a fried egg) or you’ll go to Detention (two bacon grilled cheese sandwiches used as the bun, two patties, Cheddar, "tipsy onions," and all the classic burger 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 last year’s list (at No. 38) of America’s 50 best French fries.
Arepa Zone takes pride in serving the Washington, D.C., area authentic Venezuelan cuisine. They serve up — you guessed it — arepas with all sorts of meat and cheese fillings. Try the classic jamón y queso, with your choice of white or yellow cheese, or go for the sifrina, stuffed with chicken avocado salad and shredded yellow cheese. If you don’t want an arepa, go with the cachapa, which is a corn pancake prepared with ham, chicken, beef, or a combination of any meat with the classic queso de mano cheese. However, regardless of what you order, you can’t leave the truck without Arepa Zone’s 2015 Curbside Cookoff Food Truck Awards winner for Breakthrough Dish, tequeños — which are gourmet cheese sticks that come with their “famous” AZ dipping sauce.
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.
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.
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 Le 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.
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 describe 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.
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.
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 wildflower honey and green onions) and a third of a rack of 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.
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 bánh mì sandwiches; and unique specialties, like “Krab Rangoon” with cream cheese and sweet chile sauce, that 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.
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 Scott McGinnis makes all six of his salsas from scratch.
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 you 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.
You’ll find the Yeti Dogs food truck during the summer in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park. This Alaskan gem serves locally made sausages with a daily menu that includes everything from bratwurst and hot dogs to reindeer and buffalo sausages. They’ll also offer special sausage and condiment options, but you’ll have to keep up with them on social media to find out.
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.K.F.R. (bacon kimchi fried rice) or sticky rice; and various toppings.
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 40,000 Twitter followers. Why? Well, it could be the fantastic specialty melts, among them a pimento mac and cheese, a spinach and artichoke melt, the “B&B of Tennessee” (with buttermilk Cheddar, bacon, and caramelized apple jam), and the “Buffalo South” (with pepper jack, pulled chicken, buffalo sauce, pickled celery, and a blue cheese aïoli on sourdough bread). In the world of food trucks (and food truck rankings), creative takes on classics are always a good thing.
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. 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.
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.
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.
This food truck used to be the cleverly named “Chairman Bao,” but dropped the “bao” when New York restaurateur–turned–cultural icon Eddie Huang (founder of the sandwich shop Baohaus) indicated he might sue them. 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. Their pink guava soda is also a must.
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.
The interesting thing about Chef Ray’s Street Eats 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.
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?
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 “#FeelTheBern” with homemade guacamole, braised beef tongue, cheese, tomato and corn pico, and a sunny local egg, or the “Hurman Merman” with braised local short-run or farm-raised pork, creole mac and cheese, and homemade kimchi, represent an immense variety of cuisines.
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.
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 that Culinerdy Cruzer should make this list.
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.
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.
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?
The number of votes to add this food truck to our list last year blew us away, and we’re glad to say that it’s still as popular a year later. 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.
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 Nick’s 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.
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 a version 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
"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 (a Hawaii favorite) SPAM.
Husband and wife Sam Barron and Sarah Weitz are a foodie match made in heaven that fell in love over their shared passion for “all things delicious.” After making food for parties, pop-up dinner, and catering events around the world the duo opened up The Fat Shallot in their hometown in 2013 serving up delicious sandwiches and sides. Order their grilled cheese, which is made with Muenster cheese, sautéed spinach, and caramelized onions on sourdough, or the buffalo chicken sandwich served on an egg bun with blue cheese sauce and a celery salad. For a side, don’t forget the truffle fries or the spicy sesame fries, which are topped with black sesame seeds and a spicy sesame aïoli.
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. 11 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.
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.
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.”
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 continues to be at the top of our lists.
What started as an ice cream pushcart has blossomed into the King of Pops food truck (which is still technically a cart). Two brothers began this journey in 2010, and instead of spreading themselves across the country they’ve decided to stay put in the South to support the community that has supported them and “have a greater impact on the place [they] call home.” They’re transparent with where they get their ingredients and what they offer, listing everything on their website. If you happen to be near one of their several locations, grab one of their creamy pops (like banana pudding), a fruity pop (such as grapefruit mint), or a “poptail” (with strawberries, water, evaporated cane juice, lemon juice, sea salt, and a refreshing popsicle to top it off).
Ms. Cheezious isn’t just another grilled cheese truck; it was the No. 1 food truck in America for 2015, and No. 3 for 2016. 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.
Fans of Philadelphia’s Mama’s Meatballs almost broke our survey last year 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? 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, reviews for this food truck have remained strong, which is why it’s even higher in our ranking for 2017. 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.
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.
Stationed in the heart of Temple University’s main campus, The Creperie’s offerings are so creative that even if you show up with a particular crêpe in mind, you’ll most likely end up choosing one of their other 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.
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.
Pink Bellies serves Vietnamese favorites like phở and bánh mì 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” bánh mì 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 satay. Pair it with a Vietnamese iced coffee or toasted sweet iced tea (matcha green tea, ginger, toasted rice), and your belly will be happy.
Even though The Cinnamon Snail is often more active in Red Bank, New Jersey, nowadays, this city-born truck is still a New York original (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 red curry grilled tofu on a grilled pretzel bun with pickled jalapeños and carrots, curried cashews, arugula, and Sriracha mayonnaise. How about a burger? Go for the smoked sage seitan burger with a sage seitan sausage baked ziti, marinated kale, smoked chili coconut bacon, and roasted garlic aïoli. Gluten-free? Replace any bun or bread with millet flax bread or have your meal served 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.
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 with menus that continue to change daily and seasonally.
Enjoy six styles of lobster rolls at Bite into Maine, using the freshest locally sourced Maine lobsters, bread, and butter for each. Styles include Connecticut, Maine, curry, wasabi, chipotle, and their “signature picnic style” — which comes with coleslaw as the lobster’s base, celery salt, and hot butter. From the truck’s location you’ll have an oceanside view of the Portland Headlight. Although Bite into Maine is closed at the moment, it will open again on May 7th for lobster lovers to flock to. When you visit, be sure to get one of their seasonal desserts and a Moxie soda to wash it all down.
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.
You asked for it, and we heard you: Food Fix is 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 and Preztel,” “Root Beer Pulled Pork,” and “Angry Bleubird” with mesquite grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese, and homemade blue cheese dressing. Food Fix also offers some salads, but that would mean missing out on the sandwiches!