There’s just something about a meal prepared inside of a truck. Maybe it’s the efficiency of the experience, the perceived affordability, or just the sheer fun of strolling up to a colorful Mystery Machine clone and walking away with a handful of fish tacos. Whatever the reason, the love for food trucks and changing food service laws have led to an explosion in popularity all across the US.
Today, food truck festivals are worthy of a Google calendar alert, and the divine appearance of an ice cream sandwich truck in July will result in a line two blocks long. Gone are the days of food trucks as a novelty or solely a late-night drunk food option. These are the US cities with a food truck scene as delicious as it is unexpected.
Orlando is more known for its world-famous theme parks, but it’s also the “food truck capital” of the US. By some counts, there are more than 200 food trucks currently in operation in Orlando. While food trucks are pretty ubiquitous, you’ll find the greatest concentration downtown, specifically in the Milk District and Williamsburg. And if you just can’t decide, visit the Food Truck Bazaar in Windermere to sample several at once.
Orlando food trucks to try:
- The Pastrami Project — Perfect for all the snowbirds out there, this truck serves up New York-style deli meat hand-cut right in front of you. New York classics like corned beef, pastrami, bagels, and lox, are of course on the menu.
- SMAC Food Truck — The premier stop for mac and cheese in Orlando. Serving South Carolina-style mac and cheese, the SMAC truck offers the classic SMAC, SMAC with layers of bacon, lobster SMAC, pulled pork SMAC, and more.
- Little Blue Donut Truck — Doughnuts aren’t just for bakeries. In Orlando, the best doughnuts come from this blue truck, which has a host of creative flavors from caramel apple crunch to snickerdoodle cookie.
Minneapolis often flies under the radar when it comes to its food truck scene. While Minneapolis might not be the country’s food truck capital, it’s far cheaper than in other cities, meaning you can try more of your favorite four-wheeled foods without breaking the bank. Although many of the trucks are seasonal (temperatures in Minneapolis can get pretty nippy in winter), there are still plenty of options to choose from that serve dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world.
Minneapolis food trucks to try:
- Tot Boss — Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, tater tots are always a good idea. Tot Boss incorporates tater tots into nachos, poutine, burritos, and other dishes.
- Foxy Falafel — A place that’s famous around the city for its falafels made with local, organic ingredients, and a variety of bowl options.
- R Taco — You might be far from SoCal, but you’re not far from a good taco. R Taco is one of Minneapolis’ favorite Tex-Mex spots, as it can always be counted on to warm your stomach even in the frigid winter temperatures.
Indianapolis might not be at the top of your list of cities to visit for culinary delights, but it should be. It’s listed by CityLab as the fifth-most food-truck-friendly city in the country due to its laws that benefit small businesses, and it certainly lives up to the ranking. From creative salads to jerk chicken, pizza, and cupcakes, the Indy food truck scene has the same diversity you’d expect in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Indianapolis food trucks to try:
- Brozinni — This pizza truck is basically a full-fledged restaurant on wheels. It’s equipped with a full stainless steel pizza oven and kitchen, and frequently caters events and parties. New Yorkers may take issue with this, but the truck promises a crust that tastes just like the ones in the Big Apple, as well as a range of other Italian snacks.
- Caveman Truck — The longest-running paleo food truck, in operation since 2012, Caveman Truck believes that eating “like a caveman” can produce astounding nutritional results. Serving local fruits, vegetables, and pasture-raised proteins, the truck is perfect for those on a paleo diet or looking to take the plunge for the first time.
- Da Blue Lagoon — Indianapolis isn’t exactly the Kingston of the Midwest, so you might be surprised to find some pretty delicious Jamaican food here. Using family recipes from Jamaica, this truck brings the authentic jerk flavor of the Caribbean to the streets of Indianapolis, particularly with the signature Jamaican jerk patties.
Everyone knows Austin as Texas’ “weird” city, but Houston is quickly becoming the state’s city of food trucks. One of the most culturally rich cities in Texas, Houston is home to a diverse restaurant scene, which is also reflected in the abundance of food truck options. From classic southern burgers to Vietnamese fare, Houston’s food truck scene has it all.
Houston food trucks to try:
- Bernie’s Burger Bus — This is the happiest you’ll ever be to see a school bus. Bernie’s is a Houston favorite for its classic approach to homemade burgers and condiments. Served out of a big yellow school bus turned food truck, Bernie’s Burgers prides itself on making fresh burgers daily with no preservatives.
- Nom Mi Street — Houston is a hub for some of the best Vietnamese food in the country, and the place of origin for modern classics like Viet-Cajun crawfish. A Houston staple since 2012, Nom Mi Street serves locally famous Vietnamese sandwiches, tacos, and quesadillas. The truck regularly appears at the City Hall Farmers Market on Wednesdays, so keep an eye out.
- Cousins Maine Lobster — It may feel unnatural to eat lobster anywhere outside New England, but the Cousins Maine Lobster truck deserves a pass. With funding from Shark Tank, this truck brings Maine lobster rolls, tacos, and quesadillas to the streets of Houston. Cousins Maine Lobster is one of many food trucks in Houston’s Museum District and Hermann Park, which has become a thriving area for both culture and street food.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh’s food truck scene is a blend of Northern and Southern cuisine, and many trucks do a modern twist on traditional Southern recipes. It’s not unheard of for ideas created in food truck kitchens to find popularity in restaurants across the city, showing how Raleigh’s food truck and restaurant communities are truly interlinked.
Raleigh food trucks to try:
- Stuft — If you’re a potato-lover, look no further. Stuft serves gourmet baked potatoes in more varieties than you can imagine. That means baked potatoes stuffed with buffalo chicken, creamed spinach, garlic roasted veggies, barbecue chicken, and more.
- CockADoodleMoo — This husband-and-wife-operated truck serves up sandwiches made with local, all natural ingredients, with a wide range of traditionally Southern menu items. The brisket and short rib sandwiches are crowd favorites. Check out the truck’s schedule to see when and where it will be roaming the city.
- Not Just Icing — True to its name, Not Just Icing provides some of the area’s most delicious cupcakes and cookie dough. They use real fruit instead of flavored extracts, and the cookie doughs are made with heated flower and without eggs.
Everyone knows about Columbus’ thriving brewery scene, and it’s only natural that a solid food truck culture would follow. The city has some of the best food trucks in the Midwest that are operated by local families and chefs passionate about bringing their unique brand of culinary flair to the streets of Columbus.
Columbus food trucks to try:
- Por’Ketta — This truck specializes in comfort food, meaning you’ll probably be full for the next three days. But that’s a good thing. Its rotisserie pulled chicken sandwich is a thing of legend in Columbus, and most ingredients are sourced from local farms. The Pork Sundae is another fan favorite, stacked with slow braised pulled pork, barbecue sauce, chili lime crema, onions, cherry peppers, corn bread, and potato salad.
- Mya’s Fried Chicken This fried chicken truck is locally famous for its buttermilk brined chicken, homestyle biscuits, and chicken and waffles.
- Buckeye Donuts — A Columbus institution since 1969, Buckeye started as a doughnut shop on the Ohio State campus. The food truck’s long history of doughnuts is supplemented by heartier meals like chicken and waffles sandwiches, tater tots, and gyros.
Philadelphia might be known for its cheesesteaks, but with more than 150 food trucks roaming the city during the warmer months, cheesesteak is only the beginning. The areas near UPenn, Drexel, and Temple are sure bets for finding an abundance of food trucks that cater to students, while those in Center City serve the professional crowd.
Philadelphia food trucks to try:
- Spot Burgers — You’re in Philadelphia and want to try a whole range of foods (not just cheesesteak), but let’s face it. You’re probably looking for the cheesesteak first. The Spot Burgers truck has traditional cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, and buffalo chicken cheesesteak, and you can customize your sandwich with a variety of cheeses, toppings, and condiments, including the signature “Spot Sauce.”
- Foolish Waffles — Waffles might sound like breakfast, but in Philadelphia, they’re part of any balanced meal. Foolish Waffles serves waffles with eggs and bacon, as well as fried chicken, banh mi, and pretty much any other creative accompaniment you can imagine.
- Sugar Philly — There’s always room for dessert. Sugar Philly combines French culinary tradition with a Philly way of life, and serves up accessible versions of gourmet desserts. The salted caramel macarons are among the most popular items, along with the crème brulée and crème fraîche cheesecake.
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