There’s a craze gripping the foodie industry, and it’s coming in a form that you may have not been expecting: on wheels. That’s right, food trucks, the staple once only limited to dingy carnival fairways and sketchy festivals on the fringe are stepping into the limelight, no doubt spurned by the wild successes that Portland, OR has seen as a food truck mecca.
The concept has been spreading like wildfire, partially fueled by the ease of setting up a food truck and hitting the road and partly hindered by the local laws and regulations surrounding “food served out of a truck.” But love them or hate them, they’re a trend that’s catching fire, and if you haven’t been to your local joint for a few tacos al dente or noodles con pastor then you’re way behind the cutting edge.
As we mentioned, you can probably find a food truck in any corner of these great United States in this day and age (have you checked the artist’s district?) but certain cities are better conducive towards food truck fanatics. We’ve rounded up a few here for your pleasure.
1. Portland. Number one in the country has to be Portland. It’s where the craze got traction, where thousands of food truck videos have been churned and where the best of the best get their ideas and motivation. Walk down any street in the downtown area and you’re likely to fall upon a food truck community hosting the broadest spectrum of fare, from mouth-watering Thai to tantalizing Americana to a new take on Vietnamese Pho. If you need help getting oriented, check out Audrey’s Food Cart Map which should give you a head start on (and some shocking insight into) the whole scene.
2. As savy twitter-pointer-outer Gordon McGregor tells us, a Google search of “Austin food truck” returns around 1M hits while a similar search on Portland yields only 750k. There’s not doubt about it: the food truck industry in Austin is massive, and one hasn’t completely experienced the bluest city in Texas without eating at one of these fine establishments. Our personal favorite? Torchy’s Tacos. While Torchy’s has a few analog (non-rolling) establishments around the city, the most unique and exciting are among the food truck community. Make sure you get the breakfast taco for the best return on your investment — but to be honest with you, you’ll be happy with anything that you choose.
3. Los Angeles, There are over 6000 food trucks in this Californian metropolis, which can make grazing a bit difficult, so go with the recommendation of Los Angeles native Kate Martin and give First Fridays a look out in Venice. Besides being in an allstar location, First Fridays bring together the city’s best cuisine in one, compact spot, all equating to an experience that you’ll never forget.
4. New Yorkers take pride in having (or purporting to have) the best food culture in the nation, so it’s a logical extension that they’ve got some serious food carts to boot. Converse to some of the other national leaders, New York tends to focus more on the dessert (read: tourist baiting) scene, so if you want a unique experience look up one of these properties. Local foodie and gastrocrat Jeremy Kressmann highly recommends the noms at Wafels and Dinges, where the Belgian style waffles will melt in your mouth and will win your heart over with deliciousness.
5. Miami. With warm weather year-round (notice a trend yet?) the Floridian environment is perfect for outdoor dining, and Miami most certainly gets the sauce right. Our own Michelle Catin in the Suite Trip cabal gushes swimmingly on the topic and for good reason: the scene here is unparalleled in the south.
Perhaps most impressive is the manner in which the community is presented. A great resource for Miami food-truck-fustigation can be found at miami-food-trucks.com, where simple 1-5 star ratings are overlaid onto a well designed, aesthetically impressive site. No, it hasn’t got every single review and picture from every single property, but it’s a great place to start your reserach, and if you aren’t starving by the time you’re done perusing the page then you just aren’t a food lover.
Still not convinced? Check out Leif Pettersen‘s Top Six US Cities for Street Food for a better written spectrum of food trucks around the country. Between Mr. Pettersen and the Suite Trip Cabal you should be in good hands.