The 25 Best Food Trucks In The USA

by: Esteban On  Thursday, December 13, 2012

best food trucks

Today’s list is about food trucks.

Now, for those of you who don’t understand this food truck craze, trust me, it’s more than just hipster nonsense. Sure, part of the fun is “being in the know” and tracking your favorite truck down, but there’s more to it than that, too. In the olden days (say, ten years ago), if a creative young chef or entrepreneur wanted to create unique and delectable food for the masses, that person had to open a restaurant. And that is really, really expensive. Food trucks, however, have provided a new way to do gourmet-style food—a less expensive way without as much overhead. Then, of course, if the truck is wildly successful, that chef or entrepreneur can open a permanent restaurant—but either way the food scene is improved.

So that’s why food trucks are awesome: they lead to more interesting, creative, and (most importantly) tastier food options. And today we’re going to bring you a terribly inadequate attempt to rank the top 25 food trucks in America. It barely scratches the surface of what’s out there, so you shouldn’t think of it so much as a comprehensive guide. Rather, think of it as a decent place to start.

Ready to go? Great. But be warned: you’re going to be starving by the time you get to #1.

25. Easti Boyz

25 eastie boyz pork snuggies (houston) - best food trucks

City: Houston

Cuisine: Sandwiches

Signature Dish: “Pork Snuggies” (braised pork belly in a bao—i.e., a chinese bun)

This is not your grandfather’s or even your father’s sandwich truck. In addition to the Pork Snuggies, you can get sandwiches like The Sabotage (slow roasted pork sandwich topped with braised greens on a french bagger) and the Eggman Business (maple bacon and poblano chicken sausage topped with an egg over-easy and cheddar on a challa bun).

Please excuse me while I catch my flight to Houston.

 

24. Senor Sesig

24 senor sesig (san francisco) - best food trucks

City: San Francisco

Cuisine: Filipino-Mexican Fusion

Signature Dish: California Sesig Burrito (Filipino-style braised pork shoulder with fries, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa)

Korean BBQ tacos are so five years ago. Filipino food is the next wave of trendy Asian food. Mark my words.

 

23. Smack Shack

23 smack shack lobster (minneapolis) - best food trucks

City: Minneapolis

Cuisine: Seafood

Signature Dish: Lobster Roll (lobster meat tossed with mayo and seasoning on a toasted bun)

Bon Apetit says this is one of the best lobster rolls in the country, which is weird because I don’t think they have lobsters in the Mississippi River. In any case, you can also get killer shrimp and andouille sausage po’ boys at this truck, all with house-made aiolis.

 

22. Jogoski Truck

22 jogaski (los angeles) - best food trucks

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: Sushi-Mexian Fusion

Signature Dish: Sushi Burrito (sticky rice, spicy tuna, crab meat, avocado and cucumber in your choice of flour tortilla or soy paper)

Asian-Latin fusion has been all the rage in the food truck biz for years, but this may be the first one to do it with sushi.

 

21. Guerrilla Street Food

21 guerilla street food - best food trucks

City: St. Louis

Cuisine: Filipino

Signature Dish: The Flying Pig (slow-roasted pork on rice topped with an egg, calamansi fruit, and Sriracha sauce)

No fusion going on here. Just straight Filipino fare.

 

20. LudoTruck

20 ludotruck

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: Fried Chicken & Shrimp

Signature Dish: Shrimp Po’ Boy

The guy who owns and operates this truck, Lubo Lefebvre (which is totally not a name I just made up) is a French chef with over a decade of experience at Michelin-starred restaurants. Now he makes buttermilk fried chicken out of the back of a truck, and the people of Los Angeles could not be happier.

 

19. Basil Thyme

19 basil thyme (washington d.c.) - best food trucks

City: Washington D.C.

Cuisine: Lasagna

Signature Dish: The Guiseppe (black truffle lasagna with gorgonzola and portobello truffle cream sauce

Yes, I realize “lasagna” isn’t a cuisine. However, it doesn’t seem right to say “Italian” when all this truck does is four kinds lasagna. (It’s Garfield’s wildest dream come true.)

 

18. 5411 Empanadas

18 5411 empanadas (chicago) - best food trucks

City: Chicago

Cuisine: Argentinian

Signature Dish: Empanadas (10 varieties)

Chicago’s food truck scene is severely hampered by city ordinances that don’t actually allow you to cook on the trucks. Obviously, that limits the types of food you can serve.

 

17. Staff Meal

17 staff meal (boston) chinese sausage-stuffed bun - best food trucks

City: Boston

Cuisine: Variety

Signature Dish: None

Ever wanted to try one of those fancy restaurants where you just eat whatever the chef makes for you? Yeah, me too. However, I don’t want to spend $120 on a 6-course prix fixe menu. So Staff Meal would be perfect.

A “staff meal” is whatever the chef at a restaurant makes for restaurant employees to eat—out of the kindness of his heart. The staff doesn’t get to make requests. The chef makes, they eat. So that’s where this truck gets it’s inspiration. They make, you eat. You might get a hot ham and andouille salad, or beef blood meatballs in marinara sauce. Who knows.

 

16. Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie

16 roli roti gourmet rotisserie porchetta sandwich - best food trucks

City: San Francisco

Cuisine: Rotisserie

Signature Dish: Porchetta Sandwhich

You don’t need to know what’s on the porchetta sandwich. Just look at it. If the picture doesn’t make you want to eat it, nothing I say will.

 

15. The Mighty Cone

15 the mighty cone (austin) - best food trucks

City: Austin

Cuisine: Fried Stuff

Signature Dish: Hot ‘N Crunchy coated anything (breading made from sesame seeds, almonds, chili flakes, sea salt, sugar, and corn flakes)

Hot ‘N Crunchy breading was created by a Austin chef named Courtney Swenson who worked at a restaurant called Hudson’s on the Bend. Back in 2002, the Austin City Limits Music Festival contact that restaurant’s owner, Jeff Blank, and asked him if he’d be interested in creating some kind of “festival food” to sell at the event.

He was interested. And he came up with a wonderful idea: bread stuff with Hot ‘N Crunchy, wrap it in a tortilla, and serve is in a cone.

Today, there are three basic Hot ‘N Crunchy cones: chicken, avocado, and shrimp. But you can also get Deluxe cones featuring any combination of the three.

Oh, and they also feature sliders—no Hot ‘N Crunchy, but yes, in a cone.

 

14. Maximus/Minimus

14 maximus:minimus food truck (seattle) - best food trucks

City: Seattle

Cuisine: BBQ

Signature Dish: Pulled Pork

Seattle may be the last place in America you’d expect to get a killer pulled pork sandwich, but this truck does it right. And they even give you two options—the “MAXimus” is hot and spicy with peppers, onions, and fruit juices; the “miniMUS” is sweet and tangy with tamarind and honey.

 

13. Red Hook Lobster Pound

13 red hook lobster pound (new york) - best food trucks

City: New York

Cuisine: Seafood

Signature Dish: Lobster Roll

Believe it or not, this truck is actually owned by Maury Povich’s daughter. So you know what that means: when they pick a lobster out of the tank for cookin’, they have to say something like, “Pinchy…you ARE the lobster.”

Seriously though, this place has killer Lobster rolls.

 

12. Wafels & Dinges

12 wafels & dinges pulled pork waffle (new york) - best food trucks

City: New York

Cuisine: Belgian

Signature Dish: Waffles

I decided to leave dessert trucks off this list for the same reason you don’t see bakeries on lists of “best restaurants”—namely, they lack variety. However, this is not the case with New York’s Wafels & Dinges. This perennial favorite has been around for years, and they don’t just do sweet, sugary waffles. (Though those are amazing—and in this case I do speak from experience.) They also do savory waffles, such as the BBQ Pulled Pork with a side of coleslaw (pictured here), or the corn waffle topped with chilli, sour cream, and cilantro.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

 

11. Spencer on the Go

11 spencer on the go sandwich (San Francisco) - best food trucks

City: San Francisco

Cuisine: French Bistro

Signature Dish: Braised Lamb Cheeks Sandwich

Chef Laurent Katgely is a native Frenchman whose trained in kitchens in Paris and New York and runs what some call San Francisco’s best bistro. In 2009, he decided to take his fare to the streets, and the result was a food truck unlike any other—it’s a true mobile bistro. Chef serves up stuff like Cawliflower Bisque, Foie Gras Rochon and Toast, Escargot Puff Lollipops, Far West Fungi Truffle Emulsion “Vol au Vent,” and, to finish things off, Warm Chocolate Pudding.

 

10. Fojol Brothers

10 fojol brothers (washington d.c.) - best food trucks

City: Washington D.C.

Cuisine: Indian, Thai, and Etheopian

Signature Dish: none

The Fojol Brothers food truck is a bit of  a novelty. The four owners wear turbans, fake hipster mustaches, and colorful clothes, and they purposrt to be from some faraway land called “Merlindia.” This schtick has stirred up a bit of controversy in recent months, as somebody wrote an open letter to the Bros (published in the Huffington Post) accusing them of racism.

I have no idea whether their truck is in poor taste or not since I have not experienced it first hand, but my gut tells me the “racism” accusation is probably a bit strong. In any case, all reports indicate that they do make excellent food.

 

9. India Jones Chow Truck

9 india jones chow truck (los angeles) - best food trucks

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: Indian

Signature Dish: Frankies

This truck specializes in Frankies, a popular food you would find sold on the streets of Mumbai. Basically, they’re like Indian burritos, a distant relative, perhaps, of the Caribbean’s rotis: an Indian wrap filled with chicken, lamb, beer, paneer, or mushroom and cheese. They also make them with curries (such as butter chicken).

 

8. Hapa SF

8 hapa sf (san francisco) - best food trucks

City: San Francisco

Cuisine: Mostly Filipino with touches of Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese

Signature Dish: Pork Sisig Tacos

The food at this truck is said to be superb, on top of that it’s also local and organic. So you can feel good about yourself when you eat your sisig tacos (which are made out of face meat).

 

7. The Grilled Cheese Truck

7 the grilled cheese truck (los angeles) - best food trucks

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: American

Signature Dish: duh

This is not your mom’s grilled cheese. You can get a Cheesy Mac and Rib (macaroni and cheese with cheddar and BBQ pork), a Smothers Pork Chop Melt (pork chop chunks smothered in habanero jack cheese), or even a French Onion Soup Melt (gruyere with onion soup confit and a parmesan crust, served with onion broth).

Yeow.

 

6. Roxy's Groumet Grilled Cheese

6 roxy's grilled cheese (boston) - best food trucks

City: Boston

Cuisine: American

Signature Dish: come on, really?

Roxy’s is newer than The Grilled Cheese Truck, but they get a spot ahead of their L.A. colleagues for a unique innovation: instead of butter, their sandwiches are grilled in mayonaise. Try the “Green Muenster Melt” features muenster, guacamole, and applewood bacon, or the “Mello Melt” (vermont cheddar and goat cheese with mango chutney, crunchy kale, and pickled red onion).

 

5. Grill 'Em All

5 grill 'em all (los angeles) - best food trucks

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: American

Signature Dish: the burgers

I really wasn’t looking to put a burger truck in the top five, but this one is special. For starters, it’s inspired by heavy metal music, which is awesome. More importantly, they’ve got some wild burgers. The “Molly Hatchet” features fennel sausage gravy, bacon, and maple syrup; the “Dee Snider” had penut butter and jelly, bacon, and Sriracha sauce (whoa); and the “Behemoth” has grilled cheese sandwiches for buns, cheddar, bacon, beer-soaked onions, and BBQ sauce.

 

4. Country Boys (A.K.A. the Martinez Taco Truck)

country boys martinez taco truck huarache (brooklyn) - best food trucks

City: New York

Cuisine: Mexican

Signature Dish: Huarache

AT #4 we have a truck that does straight up Mexican. No trendy world fusions; just good old-fashioned food like they make for farm workers—that means tacos and their signature dish (pictured here), huaraches.

As for the name, originally this truck was just known as the Martinez Taco Truck. However, they changed their name to Country Boys when they bought a new truck, supposedly as a nod to the type of food they make.

 

3. Where Ya At Matt?

3 where ya at matt (seattle) - best food trucks

City: Seattle

Cuisine: Creole

Signature Dish: the Peacemaker Po’ Boy (fried oysters, house-cured bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and aioli)

Seattle is very lucky to count among it’s residents chef Matthew Lewis. Lewis is a native of New Orleans, and he brings that city a serious taste of the Big Easy with classics like jambalaya, andouille gumbo, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, and, of course, 9 different types of po’ boy sandwiches.

 

2. The Buttermilk Truck

2 the buttermilk truck (los angeles) - best food trucks

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: Breakfast

Signature Dish: everthing

This truck does breakfast morning, noon, and night. However, the type of breakfast changes. In the morning you can get yoruself some red velvet chocolate chip pancakes, Hawaiian break breakfast sliders, or a brioche sandwich with a fried egg and bacon. At night, however, you can still get the pancakes and sliders, but then there’s also stuff like fried chicken and cinnamon waffles (pictured here).

I want to go to there.

 

1. Kogi BBQ

1 kogi bbq (los angeles) - best food trucks

City: Los Angeles

Cuisine: Mexian-Korean Fusion

Signature Dish: Korean short rib tacos

All across the country, one of the most common foods you’ll see offered up at food trucks are Korean tacos.

Who do we have to thank for this culinary trend? That’s right—Kogi BBQ. They started up in 2008 and initiated a Mexican-Korean fusion explosion. They are food truck pioneers who were at the forefront of the current food truck movement, and their food is still top notch. So they deserve some credit.

 





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