If it seems like food trucks are taking over, you’re not wrong. From big city bites to all out festivals, outdoor on-the-go dining has come a long way from a greasy slice of pizza or luke-warm sandwich.
The entire concept of these meals on wheels started in 1872 when a guy named Walter Scott cut some windows into a small covered wagon and parked directly in front of the newspaper office in Providence, R.I. Scott knew people in the journalism trade worked long hours and he figured they probably got hungry. He sold them sandwiches, pie, and coffee. The idea soon spread as “lunch wagons” began popping up everywhere. The bright gleaming food trucks we see all over America today are the offspring, and, my, how times have changed.
Larger cities traditionally see a greater consolidation of food trucks and their menus vary as much if not more than the local indoor restaurants. And what these trucks serve is just as tasty, if not better. But of all the cities in the US, there are some which stand out as having the best of the best rolling restaurants. From gourmet fare to the best chili dogs in existence, let’s find out which cities lead the pack.
1 Honolulu, Hawaii
Surprised? Lunch wagons have long been a part of Honolulu’s culture and at one time served only rice, macaroni salad, and some type of meat buried under gravy. Then along came a truck called Melt Honolulu which specialized in various grilled cheeses sandwiches including one called “Melt of Shame”.
Hunger these days can be appeased at a vast number of specialty food trucks. In the mood for shrimp and grits? Go to Soul Patrol. How about a fresh wood-fired pizza? Stroll on over to Infernos.
Honolulu’s year-round warm weather makes it an ideal location for food truck owners, many of whom park along the beaches so sun worshippers need not travel more than a few steps to fill their bellies with some scrumptious vittles.
2 Seattle, Washington
At one time Portland, Oregon had far more food trucks than its northern neighbor Seattle, but all of this has changed over the years. Seattle not only has more, they have some of the best to be found anywhere.
Continuously rated as one of the best food trucks in America, Where Ya’ At serves up its tribute to New Orleans cooking in the form of fried oyster po’boys, hot sweet beignets, and other soulful Creole dishes. Another truck receiving country-wide accolades is Marination with its eclectic creations of Hawaiin/Korean cuisine.
Go to Seattle’s annual Independent Food and Crafts Festival for a palette pleasing time. Almost every food truck in town will be there.
3 San Francisco, California
No huge surprise here. Go anywhere in San Francisco and you’re sure to find a food truck that will literally shock you with their menu. Curry goat tacos, Vietnamese caramel rolls, Mid-Eastern tabooli, and fried oyster and bacon sandwiches don’t begin to scratch the surface of all that is available.
When searching for the ultimate place in town to find the largest variety of trucks, head to SoMa Streat Food Park. If what you’re looking for isn’t there you’re being too picky. More than a dozen trucks fall in line every day, and they rotate vendors. There is daily entertainment and picnic tables to enjoy your meal.
For sustainable meat and veggies, after all, this is San Francisco, Go Streatery is the place for you. Try a brisket sandwich finished off with one of their mouthwatering savory jams.
4 Tampa, Florida
Tampa is all about food trucks. Food Truck Rally not only features events all over the city where long lines of trucks await hungry guests, they also host seminars for potential new food truck owners and promote local cuisine. The Florida State Fairgrounds, located in the Tampa Bay area, annually hosts the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally.
Go to Wicked Witches for some jalapeno waffles. Vegans and Vegetarians should go to Taco Bus, or for a local favorite try the world-famous Gorilla Balls (mushroom risotto filled with beef and blue cheese) at Fire Monkey Food Truck.
5 Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is an up and comer but it’s coming into its own at the speed of light. Of course, southern comfort food graces many of the menus, but also in great abundance is Mexican and Asian food.
The Good Food Truck is highly popular. It’s painted bright red and features a “Poodle Sandwich” which is hot dog smothered in apple-maple slaw and spicy mustard. Blaxican serves up buffalo meat tacos along with collard green quesadillas.
Atlanta enacted new friendly food truck laws so it’s much easier for them to go places they couldn’t before. This is largely responsible for the city rapidly becoming a food truck mecca.
6 Denver, Colorado
Currently, Denver has over 100 food trucks from which to choose, and that number is growing rapidly. No matter where someone travels in the city they won’t be far from one. Probably several.
From something as simple as a gourmet pb&j sandwich go to Hey pb&j. Try their peanut butter, jelly, applewood smoked bacon, sliced banana and honey sandwich called “The King”. Or the bright pink Comida truck will make you a taco or quesadilla completely from scratch. Denver has everything from fried chicken to a green chili burger to lots of new and unique creations just waiting to be tried.
7 Minneapolis, Minnesota
Food trucks are found everywhere in Minneapolis. Whether parked on a street, at a farmers market or camped outside of a brewery, nobody will ever go hungry from a lack of availability. The toughest part is deciding which one to try.
TOT BOSS serves not only, of course, tater tots, but other creations such as a tater tot and beer burritos. Grass-fed beef sliders and candied maple bacon are all the rage at Butcher Salt. If you’re in the mood for an authentic gourmet meal, head over to Get Sauced for locally sourced and organic foods whipped into 5-star meals.
8 Orlando, Florida
Orlando has more food trucks per capita than any other city in America. Year-round great weather and the annual influx of visitors play a major role in this. Plus, the locals love the variety so as far as they are concerned, the more trucks the better.
For a gourmet meal without the expense which can be enjoyed in shorts and flip-flops, go to Twisted Plates. The menu changes with the seasons so everything is guaranteed to be as fresh as it gets. For a taste of Cajun, Dixieland Diner will make you holler, “Aiyeee”. The truck experiences long lines because of their sheer awesomeness and healthy portions, but no one ever minds waiting in that line for their reward.
Food trucks have fast become the restaurants of choice for many hungry diners. If you have yet to climb on board, you’ll be in for a huge surprise once you finally do. Of course, these mobile taste makers come and go, there’s always something new to try. Do you have any favorite food trucks in these cities or elsewhere? Let us know in the comments.