Over the past few decades, food trucks and carts have evolved far past the boring old hot dog stand to full-scale eateries where you can chow down on any food imaginable. No need to sit down at the best Japanese restaurants in America, the best breakfast restaurants in America or the best BBQ restaurants in America: these days, you can grab excellent sushi, egg sandwiches, Thai food, pizza, burgers and tacos on the go when visiting the best food trucks in America.
Best food trucks in America
One of the most venerated heroes of the old-school taco trucks, Mariscos Jalisco has earned a deservedly devoted following. The signature tacos dorado de camaron more than live up to the hype, with fresh shrimp folded into a corn tortilla that’s fried to a golden brown, topped with thick slices of avocado and drizzled with vibrant red salsa. Save room, too, for the legendary tostadas, like the Poseidon topped with shrimp ceviche, octopus and a spicy red aguachile of shrimp.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ferby S.
A former sous chef at white-tablecloth French resto Le Comptoir, Wes Avila now applies his weighty talent and fine dining expertise to LA’s favorite food: the taco. The truck features a short menu of tacos filled with ingredients normally found only at top-notch restaurants. Weisser Farm potatoes paired with chorizo; braised lamb neck nestled into root vegetables and topped with a fried egg; Bay scallops with a tomatillo-tomato confit: these are some seriously elevated tacos.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Christopher C.
The eponymous dish served at much-loved Portland cart Nong’s Kaho Man Gai is a seemingly simple plate: a scoop of white rice crowned with sliced poached chicken and accompanied by green onion-garnished broth and a small bowl of pungently garlicky dipping sauce. But Nong Poonsukwattana, a Bangkok native and Chopped champion, elevates the dish to transcendence, rendering each component perfectly and adding super-flavorful touches including nuggets of crispy fried chicken skin and a bowl of creamy chicken livers. Her sauce—so addictive that Poonsukwattana bottles it for retail sale—is an exceptionally balanced mix featuring fermented soybeans, Thai chilis, and mountains of ginger and garlic.
Formerly parked in distant Mill Basin, Brooklyn, this exceptional burger truck quickly achieved a cult status among patty lovers that has propelled it onward and upward to easier-to-access Williamsburg. Ground beef purist Andrew Zurica now grills up his juicy single-, double- and triple-stacked burgers from behind the Pfizer Building. Get 'em hot with free raw or grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles and jalapenos, or scrounge up an extra $1.25 for a helping of crispy bacon.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Arthur B.
Bite into Maine in Portland, ME
This warm-weather food truck parks itself in Portland’s beautiful shoreside Fort Williams Park each spring and summer, serving up fresh Maine lobster that’s pristine and perfectly cooked. Three types of lobster rolls are available, and they’re all exceptional: Maine style, with fresh chives and just a hint of mayo; Connecticut style, with drawn butter; or picnic style, with fresh coleslaw and celery salt.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Neilsen K.
Texas’ wide open spaces lend themselves to a highly developed food truck culture, and Austin is no exception: the city boasts more than 1,000 of them. Even in such a competitive arena, Micklethwait’s Central Texas-style BBQ distinguishes itself: its highly flavored cuts of beef, pork and chicken would satisfy any meat-lover. Choose from tender beef or pork ribs, juicy brisket, piles of pulled pork and more, and be on the lookout for the Saturday special: rich, smoky pulled goat.
Del Popolo’s truck is a feat of mobile engineering, housing a full-sized, wood-burning pizza oven that consistently turns out stupefyingly good pies no matter where it’s parked. You can’t go wrong with the pizzas, which feature chewy, blistered crusts and a variety of excellently sourced ingredients: a Margherita di Bufala with Italian buffalo mozzarella, a Brussels sprouts pie with grana Padano and an anchovy number with Calabrian chile.
Bruges Brothers in Chicago, IL
Frites stuffed into paper cones come to us from Belgium, but the dish translates perfectly to Chicago, a city that loves its fried foods. Even Bruges Brothers’ most basic fries are phenomenal: perfectly sizzled in a mixture of beef and duck fat, they’re served with a choice of sauces, including housemade dijon aioli and Indian curry. The main event here, though, is the “entree cone:” massive takes on classic dishes such as papas bravas (with chorizo and roasted peppers, bravas sauce, garlic aioli and crisp ham) and roquefort steak (with grilled steak, warm blue cheese butter and crispy leeks).
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Bruges Brothers
Chef Jamil Aziz Johnson, a New Orleans native, brings some Big Easy flavor to the Pacific Northwest at his Seattle truck, which dishes up Cajun and Creole classics—red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo and more—daily. The food is fresh and generously portioned, and doesn’t skimp on the bold tastes provided by ingredients such as red pepper, ham hock and smoked sausage.
From this roving truck, self-taught chef Adam Sobel dispatches surprisingly craveable vegan dishes like Korean barbecue seitan, miso-grilled tofu and miso-maple tempeh. Don’t sleep on the acclaimed desserts, including a custardy crème brulee doughnut, a peanut butter-chocolate chip cookie doughnut and the massive, signature cinnamon roll.