The Ten Best Cities for Food Trucks in the United States

Food trucks are booming in cities all across the country as more and more diners discover their simple joys. See which American cities have the best scenes.

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Jessica Wei
Hopper Editor

There’s fast food, and then there’s food trucks. For the past decade, North America has seen an explosion of mobile eateries rolling out into the streets, delivering their fine goods straight to the people, ladling out heaps of pulled pork onto paper trays, gourmet sandwiches and tacos made with everything from traditional beef and cheese to BBQ pork. The days of nondescript street hot dogs are nearing to an end, and the dawn of the wanderlusting gastronomes is well underway. But some trucks are better than others; some trucks are better than other trucks mothers, and typically it’s a reflection of the culinary scenes of the city where they’re parked. For the finest of the wheeled restaurateurs, read on to find out there the best trucks keep truckin’.

10. After lots of city drama, the food trucks have finally blown into Chicago

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The Fat Shallot, Chicago – photo by rachelleb

After some years-long food truck drama going on in city hall, the Chicago food trucks have finally rolled into town, all engines firing. Certain restrictions still apply, but for such a baby scene, these wheeled restaurateurs are overcoming their obstacles in a pretty big way, hawking everything from steamed baos filled with teriyaki chicken, whole wheat edamame or basic and beautiful barbecue pork at Wow Bao’s Buns on the Run to daily-changing gourmet mac’n’cheese at the Southern Mac & Cheese Truck, to classic and simple sandwiches from the Fat Shallot. The street scene has even convinced the very restaurant lobbyists who opposed them to pimp their own rides and start truckin’ their wares.

See 6 tips, like when to book your ticket, from the Hopper research team that can save travelers hundreds on their flights to Chicago.

See three of Chicago’s best food trucks:

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The Fat Shallot
The Loop, Downtown Chicago
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"I decided to give The Fat Shallot a chance and OMG IT WAS SOOO GOOD." - rachelleb
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Wow Bao
Hyde Park, Chicago
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"If you haven’t tried WOW Bao yet, or you haven’t ever eaten bao, prepare to fall in love." - hgjones
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The Southern Mac Truck
The Loop, Downtown Chicago
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"It was one of the most delicious, if not healthiest thing I’ve eaten." - amberwrites

When it's not raining, it's food truck time in Seattle

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Where Ya At Matt, Seattle – photo by eastlakeblog

The dark horse, or dark cloud, of the food truck contest, Seattle, offers over 50 food trucks proudly displaying Seattle’s diversity – sure, everyone and their mom bit into their first truck taco a decade ago when the flames of the food truck craze spread through the country, but Seattle serves up some truly unique American fare, like Native American fry bread, dusted with icing sugar and topped with sweet vanilla pear butter or its savory counterpart, the fry bread soft taco, both up for grabs at Off-the-Rez. Marination offers both kimchi quesadillas and rice bowls and Hawaiian sliders as well as, yes, a range of Korean tacos. For a real trip, Where Ya At Matt is where it’s at for a traditional N’Orleans style po’ boy and muffuletta sandwiches and divine gumbo.

Read reviews of these three awesome Seattle food trucks:

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Off the Rez
Pioneer Square-International District , Seattle
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"The food was amazing." - Rebeka
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Where Ya At Matt
Pioneer Square-International District , Seattle
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"tried the jambalaya. Very good indeed. Smoky, spicy, but not outrageously hot" - Dave G
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Marination Mobile
Pioneer Square-International District , Seattle
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"perfect combination of great service and great food makes Marination Mobile a well-oiled machine." - Emi and Kyle

8. The food trucks are going to Miami (bienvenidos a Miami)

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Jefe's Original, Miami – photo by Raquel

Beyond its burgeoning hipster-hood and transcending of its ‘90s-formed MTV reputation as a beach town for spring breakers into a true international Art City, Miami didn’t have to tango with every single foodie trend out there, but the trucks just make sense. Bathed in the gorgeous Floridian sunlight, speckled with green spaces and home to a wide variety of international cultures, there’s simply no better place to eat outdoors than in Miami. Too many real restaurants are “No Shoes No Shirt No Service,” but ain’t nobody in this beach city got time to bother with that. Especially with the cracklin’ duck sous vide duck herb sandwich at the Bourdain-approved Dim Ssäm à go-go, the Dr. Pepper braised jerk brisket at the Rolling Stove, and Ensenada-style fish tacos from Jefe’s Original Fish Taco & Burgers parked around the parks.

A closer look at three of Miami’s awesome food trucks:

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Jefe's Original
Downtown Miami, Miami
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"partial to the pork maybe because I have an intense love for anything smothered in tomatillo sauce." - Raquel
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Rolling Stove
Overtown , Miami
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"By far it’s on my top 3 list of food trucks!" - John Carrascal
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Dim Ssäm à Go-Go
Miami, Miami Metropolitan Area
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"Perfectly tender pork, a spicy jolt of sweet chili sauce and their awesome quick pickled cucumbers." - eataduck

7. The government may shut down periodically, but Washington D.C.'s food trucks keep working

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Fojol Bros Of Merlindia, Washington D.C. – photo by DC Truck Review

It’s worth betting that if there weren’t any food trucks in Capitol Hill, those dudes would never see sunlight. D.C., with all its top-tier gourmet restaurants, dark smoky bars and trendy eateries, is also a prime location for food trucks, simply based on the fact that people in the city work a lot. And so all the president’s men need home cooking, it’ll be more likely from a place like Basil Thyme, which parks just outside the Capitol, to dig into their made-from-scratch lasagna and pasta. One of the most unique food trucks in the country is care of the Fojol Brothers, a self-described “traveling culinary carnival”, with three trucks hawking Indian, Ethiopian and Thai cuisines out of shiny metal caravans. Their employees are decked out in colorful smocks, turbans and mustaches, and the same attention to details is applied to their food packaging, which isn’t quite as flashy but uses totally biodegradable eating materials, recycled paper napkins, PET water bottles and cellophane bags made from compostable and biodegradable cellulose. Their food is not to be outdone, either – try their butter chicken or curry, followed by one of their signature Lossipops, inspired by the Mango Lassi.

Don’t miss these two food trucks in Washington D.C.:

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Fojol Bros Of Benethiopia
Shaw, North Central
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"If I measure how much I am craving another serving many hours after trying it, it must be a winner!" - DC Truck Review
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Red Hook Lobster Pound
Dupont Circle, North Central
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"had an amazing lobster roll from a food truck called Red Hook Lobster Pound" - Doug Trout

6. San Francisco brings together hundreds of diverse food trucks

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Liba Falafel Truck, San Francisco – photo by chezpei

San Francisco has proven itself in the last few decades as one of the foodie capitals of the country, and there aren’t many climates better suited for outdoor grab-and-go gourmet dining. Over 150 food trucks have parked themselves around the city, but they come together for annual food festivals and weekly truck markets. Swing by sometime for lobster clambakes by Sam’s Chowdermobile, dress-your-own falafel at Liba Falafel, or free range organically grown rotisserie chicken from the country’s first mobile rotisserie truck, Rôli Rôti.

Find out more about San Francisco’s food trucks:

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Sam’s Chowdermobile
Union Square-Financial District, San Francisco
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"The quality is truly worth your money." - Joel
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Roli Roti
Richmond District, San Francisco, The Avenues
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"this masterpiece is punctuated by the tastiest drippings and dressing." - divasoria
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Liba Falafel Truck
The Castro, Mission-Bernal Heights
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"Liba Falafel Truck is one of the most beautiful food trucks I've ever seen." - chezpei

5. New York has so much more to offer than just hot dogs

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Rickshaw Dumpling Truck, Manhattan – photo by Sherri O

It was first in 1871 that Charles Feltman, a German butcher, opened his Coney Island hot dog stand, the first of its kind in America. Now the Big Apple’s trucking out chicken and Thai basil dumplings with a spicy peanut satay dip from Rickshaw Dumplings, vegan and gluten-free fresh fig pancakes with pine nut butter and chamomile blood orange syrup from Cinnamon Snail, and spicy pork and bacon kimchi fried rice bowl from Korilla BBQ. New York started from the bottom and now they here – visitors can see the whole mobile spread at the World Financial Center daily, where a dozen vendors set up shop to serve up some business-crowd eats.

New Yorkers love these food trucks:

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Korilla BBQ
Upper East Side, Manhattan
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"And the flavor? Wow, the flavor. You get spicy, sour, sweet, and savory all in one bite" - Hungry
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The Cinnamon Snail
Manhattan Midtown, Theater District
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"Oh Cinnamon Snail, you have a new devotee in me!..." - Ellie
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Rickshaw Dumpling Truck
Upper East Side, Manhattan
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"If you want a decent variety of dumplings, that is the place to go" - M.

4. St. Louis has a burgeoning food truck scene

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Lulu’s Local Eatery, St. Louis – photo by nickidwyer

Anyone looking for down home soul food should not hesitate to consider St. Louis and their eponymous titled ribs. Doyy, of course there’s barbecue in Mound City, but there’s a ton of other stuff going on in the street scene now that the food trucks have rolled into town. Lulu’s Local Eatery serves fresh fast food, with gluten-free Falstaff and burritos, Buddha bowls and black bean burgers made from scratch in 100% biodegradable and compostable packaging. The Guerrilla Street Food, on the other hand, does not shy from meaty delights full of Filipino flavor like Beef Mechado served on a bed of jasmine rice, or Filipino Blue Crab Ceviche. Want some flavorful street meat? Meet these trucks in St. Louis.

St. Louis’ awesome food trucks:

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Guerrilla Street Food
Downtown West Saint Louis, St. Louis
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"Every dish is chock full of savory sauces and plenty of fresh veggies" - drewdigitalstl
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Lulu’s Local Eatery
Grand Center, Midtown Saint Louis
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"All of the ingredients are organic, vegan, and local, served on compostable containers." - eatinglocalinthelou
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Seoul Taco
Downtown West Saint Louis, St. Louis
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"Seoul Taco served plate after plate of delicious tacos" - nickidwyer

3. Food trucks are hip, so, of course, Portland, Oregon, is on this list

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Potato Champion, Portland – photo by jess s

Nobody is surprised that Portland is on this list. If America were a high school cafeteria, than Portland would be the original hipster with the heart of gold whose uniform of plaid shirts, cargo shorts and plastic-rimmed glasses would be borderline intolerable if it weren’t for the simple fact that they just look so damn comfortable in it all. They not only embrace their food trends, they dominate them, and make sure every ingredient is from a reliable and sustainable source. They’ve created “food pods” all over the city; basically like first-world hawker stalls peddling Portland versions of satay poutine with fries cooked in rice-bran oil (Potato Champion), tofu and kimchi fried rice burritos (Koi fusion), a bottle of Irn Bru to wash down a full haggis dinner (The Frying Scotsman) and gluten-free chicken liver Khao Man Gai (Nong’s Khao Man Gai).

Read reviews of these popular Portland food trucks:

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Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Old Town - Chinatown Portland, Portland
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"For $7, you cannot beat this deal!" - xmasbb
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Potato Champion
Downtown Portland, Portland
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"Perfect french fries, delectable cheese curds, and a perfectly adequate vegetarian gravy" - jess s
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Koi Fusion
Portland, Willamette Valley
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"Tacos from Koi Fusion" - Apron Adventures

2. Los Angeles sure knows how to pimp a food truck

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Kogi BBQ, Los Angeles – photo by solefly23

It’s true that all food trends in America start in either New York and Los Angeles – N.Y. may have always had mobile hot dog vendors, but L.A. must be given eternal props for pulling a serious Xzibit and turning the noble food cart into the full kitchen-outfitted food truck. This was back in 1974, when the King Taco reigned the street scene. Now, Los Angelenos can get their fill of Korean BBQ tacos from Kogi BBQ, hardcore hair-metal burgers from Grill ‘Em All, and New England-style seafood delights from the Lobsta Truck – all al fresco.

See 5 tips, like when to book your ticket, from the Hopper research team that can save travelers hundreds on their flights to Los Angeles.

Take a closer look at the best food trucks in Los Angeles:

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The Lobsta Truck
Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles
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"The lobster roll with butter is also nice, although the mayo was more flavorful for me." - gourmetpigs
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Grill 'Em All
Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles
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"Best food-truck burger." - shellevator
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Kogi BBQ
Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles
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"Eat this, and you can understand why Kogi started the food truck trend." - Miss Mochi

1. The live music capital of the world, Austin, delivers hardcore food trucks

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Gourdough's, Austin – photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

There’s a lot of outdoor opportunities to get in some Mexican and barbecue, but increasingly, down the trendy and colorful South of Congress Avenue (but everybody just calls it SoCo), visitors can line up and grab a bite of everything. This Texan mecca of mobile restaurateurs sets the stage and the spotlight for serious outdoor eating. For a taste of the classic Austin breakfast taco, there’s Torchy’s Taco; Southern soul food enthusiasts can carbo-load on buttermilk biscuits heaped with gravy plus a ton of cheese and other good stuff at Biscuits & Groovy, and for the sweet tooth in everyone, Gourdough serves the mother of all truck-loaded gourmet donuts out of their vintage Airstream trailer.

And finally, three of Austin’s best food trucks:

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Torchy's Tacos
Downtown Austin, Austin
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"Ask anyone in Austin where their favorite place to grab a taco is and you’ll likely hear “Torchys!”" - Tiffany
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Gourdough's
South Austin, Austin
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"it tasted good enough to eat five." - Rachel Leah Blumenthal
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Biscuits + Groovy
Downtown Austin, Austin
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"all items on the menu can be made vegan." - megmeister
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