If you want to start a food truck, consider one of these cities. They’ve become the top destinations for great street food.
1. New York City, New York
New York City has had street vendors for decades. How else would a busy Manhattanite grab a hot dog between meetings?
Recently, though, food trucks have taken New York’s street-side dining in a gourmet direction. Everywhere from SoHo to Brooklyn Heights, you can find exquisite food trucks with unique menus.
- Calexico, which serves California-style Mexican cuisine at SoHo and Flatiron locations
- Morris Truck, which serves a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, and house-made sodas
- Kimchi Taco Truck, which arranges traditional Korean foods with fare from all over the world. Some top lunch options include the BBQ Short Rib Tacos and the Tofu Edamame Falafel Bowl
Thanks to New York’s large population of adventurous eaters, food trucks have flourished throughout the city. If you own a food truck, it’s a great place to establish your business.
2. Los Angeles, California
Some say that food trucks started in Los Angeles. Considering that King Taco has been operating its East LA taco truck since 1974,
Today, food trucks offer much more than tacos (although you should never skip a good taco or burrito while visiting southern California). An increasingly diverse group of food trucks has flooded the city because people want to try new foods.
Granted, LA does have a few confusing laws about food truck regulation, especially when it comes to parking in certain areas of the city. If you can navigate the red tape, though, you can find the same level of success as food trucks like:
- Jogasaki Sushi Burrito Truck, sushi-inspired burritos cannot go wrong
- Lobsta Truck, where you can get one of the country’s best lobster rolls
- Grill ‘Em All, which will literally top any sandwich with deep-fried bacon
- Kogi BBQ, when you want some of LA’s best Asian tacos, you don’t need to reserve a table
3. Austin, Texas
Austin is one of the few Texas cities that attracts hipsters from all over the country. It’s a cool town that offers a lot of fun things to do. It’s thriving music and bar scene (not to mention the gigantic conferences that have latched on to SXSW) also make it a magnet for good food trucks.
Happy, semi-drunk people love food trucks. That’s a law of nature.
If you’re taking your food truck to Austin, then you need to know about your competition. Some top contenders for the city’s best food trucks include:
- Micklethwait Craft Meats, which makes homemade sausage from duck, lamp, cherries, and other unbelievable combinations that taste more amazing than they sound
- Via 313, believe it or not, this proves that Austin has one of the best pizzas in the country
- Love Balls, where dinners will find Japanese pancake balls stuffed with all kinds of ingredients, including octopus
4. Portland, Oregon
Image via Flickr by 4nitsirk
Everyone knows that Portland, OR is today’s hipster capital of the United States. When your high school dreams died, they all moved to Portland. Today, those dreams are living cooler lives in an awesome city that’s progressive in every way imaginable.
Not surprisingly, you’ll even find some food vendors that avoid the typical truck in favor of eco-friendly bicycles.
When you want the best street food in Portland, look for:
- Treat Machine, a vegetarian taco cart that keeps its recipes simple and delicious
- The Dump Truck, which has just about any type of dumpling you can imagine
- Solar Waffle Works, where the all-volunteer staff will make you fresh waffles using power from solar panels
- Big-Ass Sandwiches, which has pretty much what the name says.
5. Miami, Florida
Miami has everything a new food truck owner could want: a big population, plenty of tourists (over 13 million of them), awesome nightlife, and an outdoor season that never shuts down to cold weather (although you might have to flee the occasional tropical storm).
Everything about Miami has a hint of Latin flavor. That goes for the food trucks as much as everything else. You’ll also find a handful of food trucks serving their versions of Southern cooking and BBQ.
If you head to Miami to check out the competition, you’ll want to track down:
- Rolling Stove, where you’ll burgers, sandwiches made with Texas toast, and a lot of fried sides
- El Rey de la Fritas, which takes your typical French fries and turns them into a wonderful Cuban sandwich
- Gastropod, which has everything from grits and poached eggs to s’mores made with Nutella, rose water marshmallows, and graham crackers.
6. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is an odd city when it comes to food trucks. First, you should know that there are some great chefs in Chicago doing great work with their mobile carts and trucks. Second, you should know that Chicago has some regulations that will drive any food truck owner insane.
For instance, you can’t cook any food in your truck unless you have a special license. Considering that only one or two trucks actually have this special license, it’s probably not easy to get one. That’s why most vendors prepare food offsite. They just use their trucks and carts as places to sell. (Before 2012, you couldn’t even get a license to cook inside your truck, so count yourself lucky that the city has at least become a little more reasonable.)
So, why would anyone bother with Chicago’s crazy rules?
Chicago is the biggest city in the Mid-West, so it’s worth doing business there. It attracts all kinds of people; has a wide range of neighborhoods; and attracts plenty of visitors.
If you’re tough enough, you can make it in Chicago. But it will test you.
Chicago’s food truck survivors include:
- Taquero Fusion, where the chef adds a pan-Latin spin to tacos
- Wow Bao, which has potstickers, steamed buns, and other Asian delights
- Beavers Coffee and Donuts, where you get excellent coffee and donuts without going near a cafe.
Now that you’ve seen the list of top cities, do you think you might take a trip? Share your experiences in the comments below.