Following our appetite to cities with the best food scenes
On the hunt to find some of the tastiest, buzz-worthy food trucks on the scene, we teamed up with Roaming Hunger, the authority on all things food trucks. They crunched the numbers and provided us with the top 15 cities with the most food trucks per 100,000 capita in 2016.
For some, the whole experience of lining up for a food truck and getting a meal to go might remind them of their childhood, waving a dollar in hand, chasing the ice cream truck down. For others, it might be the sensory experience—the rustic barbecue aroma or cheese sizzling on the grill—giving them a behind the scenes look into professional kitchens of the most unique food trucks. Whatever it is, everyone can agree, food trucks are worth all the hype, and the cities that embrace the best have a serious love affair with good food.
The following cities have well over the national average of 15 food trucks per 100,000 capita. Want more to chew on? Roaming Hunger gave us each city’s fan favorites and must-try food trucks, so don’t blame us if your stomach starts to growl.
1. Orlando, Florida: 54.99 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Caro-Bama BBQ via Yelp/Seaira K.
Don’t let the theme parks outshine Orlando’s fabulous epicurean scene. The city lays claim to six distinct dining districts, including the bistros and gastro pubs of Winter Park and the high-end, ritzy places along the much-celebrated Restaurant Row. O-Town also received high praise from the James Beard Awards, as five local chefs were chosen as semifinalists this year.
Fan-favorite food truck: Kalbi Haus*. Mexican on the outside and Asian on the inside, this food truck fusion blends the best of both worlds: Korean barbecued beef meals served in Mexican vessels like tacos, burritos, and rice bowls.
*Kalbi House is now Guacamoli Co., but the delicious food fusions continue, including their much-loved California burrito.
Must-try food truck: Caro-Bama BBQ. When Carolina and Alabama barbecue styles merge, the product is nothing short of magical. Expect bangin’ barbecue sandwiches with flavor-poppin’ sauces at this fusion food truck.
2. Charleston, South Carolina: 47.51 food trucks per 100,000 per capita
Outta My Huevos via Yelp/Phoebe H.
Farms to the west and the harbor to the east, Charleston’s awesome location helps it dish out the famous low country flavor that the region is known for. Whipping up recipes deep rooted in the city’s history and culture, the Charleston City Market is one of the go-to spots for some authentic Carolina grub. As for eateries where tradition meets innovation, stick your fork into the restaurants scattered throughout the Upper King Street Design and Dining District.
Fan-favorite food truck: Cast Iron Food Truck. Take a bite out of the South. This food trailer serves brioche buns stuffed with juicy, drool-worthy meats, from vinegar-based Carolina chopped barbecue to jerk chicken with pesto mayo. Don’t worry, lining up for seconds isn’t frowned upon.
Must-try food truck: Outta My Huevos. This bright yellow truck helps you fuel up for the day with scrumptious brunch bites like the huevos rancheros and the crispy chicken biscuits. And with names like Geechie Boy Mills cheddar grits, they’re too tempting not to try.
3. Portland, Oregon: 41.91 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Grilled Cheese Grill via Yelp/Emilee C.
The beauty of Portland is that it’s not associated with any specific cuisine or cooking style—it’s a rogue city where innovation and magic happen in the kitchen. Using the region’s bounty of fresh ingredients, Portland runs wild and free, creating cuisine without limits. Eat your way through the Portland Farmers Market, or wrap your chopsticks around the Thai food at Pok Pok, a crowd favorite, located along the popular culinary scene on Southeast Division Street.
Fan-favorite food truck: Up 'N Smoke BBQ Pit. This Northwest food truck grills up some mean barbecue meat doused in homemade sauces that gives the South a run for its money. Between the bacon-wrapped hot dogs and the slow-smoked brisket in dry rub, the eats are undoubtedly finger-lickin’ good.
Must-try food truck: The Grilled Cheese Grill. This truck knows how to get to your cheese-loving heart, whether it’s by way of a classic grilled cheddar sandwich with the crusts cut off or a refined brie sandwich with peppers and spicy mustard. Regardless of your choice, expect nothing short of ooey, gooey, heavenly cheesiness.
4. Salt Lake City, Utah: 34.77 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Cupbop Korean BBQ via Yelp/Taylor M.
Any way you slice it, Salt Lake City is an up-and-coming gastro destination for chow hounds on the hunt. Downtown, especially, is gaining traction, with its addition of trendy coffee shops, bistros, and a brewery, while The Avenues neighborhood is attracting hungry crowds to the farm-fresh meals at Avenues Proper in particular. For more fodder, belly up at one of the many noteworthy restaurants in the 9th and 9th business district.
Fan-favorite food truck: Cupbop Korean BBQ. There isn’t any MMMBop on the menu, but you will find B-Bop, Hot Bop, and KKO KKO Bop, all of which are dangerously delicious versions of rice or noodles topped with Korean barbecue, served in a to-go cup. Pick your level of spicy, chow down, and you’ll be B-Bopping on your merry way.
Must-try food truck: Fat Kid Mac N Cheese. Quick: Can you name eight cheeses off the top of your head? This food truck can, and they’ll stuff them all in their epic specialty mac ’n’ cheese monstrosity! They’re also known for topping their mac with ultra-extras like sausage, peppers, bacon, and cauliflower.
5. Washington, DC: 33.32 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Red Hook Lobster Pound via Yelp/Amanda W.
Washington, D.C. is a melting pot of cultures, so you can only imagine what’s cookin’ in the kitchen. The welcomed diversity means merged recipes and combined secret ingredients, which very well could be responsible for the district becoming the country’s fourth Michelin-starred city. The neighborhood of Logan Circle definitely belongs on your foodie radar, with new restaurants popping up left and right, while Capitol Hill is another neighborhood to feast your eyes and appetite on.
Fan-favorite food truck: Chix N Stix. At this food truck, fries are no longer just fried potatoes—they’re covered in the likes of jalapeno nacho and beer flavoring to create the most craveable snacks. Tack on some wings and tenders with the crazy special sauces, and you’ll be lining up for another helping for later.
Must-try food truck: Red Hook Lobster Pound. Hook your claws into the lobster rolls at this wicked food truck. Between spoonfuls of creamy clam chowder and bites of lobster dripping in butter, you can get a solid taste of Maine without trekking up north.
6. Denver, Colorado: 33.11 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Cilantro Truck via Roaming Hunger
You’ve always wondered if the Denver omelet really has its origins in this Colorado city, but it’s time to go beyond the breakfast staple and discover what this culinary scene is all about. In Denver, the folks are focused on the outdoors and health, and the rustic, local farm-to-table fare certainly reflects those notions. Foodies flock to the neighborhoods of RiNo and the Highlands, while Larimer Square is teeming with chef-driven restaurants.
Fan-favorite food truck: Manna From Heaven. The bread from this food truck won’t fall from the sky, but its Vietnamese-inspired creations do taste like a miracle. Order your choice of manna with flavorful grilled meat, and do save room for some Vietnamese sponge cake roll.
Must-try food truck: Cilantro Truck. If the words local and organic make your heart flutter, then step right up to this food truck, where colorful concoctions are created with strictly sustainable produce. The Southwest chipotle bean burrito and zesty-citrus quinoa salad aren’t just good for you; they taste fantastic, too.
7. Tampa, Florida: 29.26 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Hott Mess via Yelp/Misty S.
Tampa has a strong hold on the foodie scene, as it pushes the limits with innovative ideas, while still celebrating the cuisine of its earliest settlers. The past meets the future, resulting in traditional recipes with daring new twists. Fill your maw with the Tampa flavors in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood or sample the hottest new eats in the up-and-coming restaurant scene in Seminole Heights.
Fan-favorite food truck: Hott Mess. Sometimes it’s good to make a mess, especially when it involves barbecue sauce dripping from your pork tenderloin sandwich or some buffalo sauce and ranch oozing from your chicken tots. Dig in and don’t be afraid to get a little messy.
Must-try food truck: B’s Cool Treats. Not all good food is of the savory variety, and this sugary truck knows how to satisfy the meanest sweet tooth. Serving up popsicles from artisan foodies, POP Craft, they help you beat the Tampa heat with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Try the blood orange and lemon grass for a fresh, citrusy palate pleaser, or savor the tropical flavors of Key West lime or coconut cream.
8. Miami, Florida: 28.77 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Ms. Cheezious via Yelp/Monique D
Between the smell of jerk chicken wafting from the eateries along Little Haiti to the pipin’ hot ropa vieja cooking in the kitchens of Little Havana, it’s no wonder Miami has earned recognition for its fodder. All across the city, you’ll find nooks with traditional ethnic restaurants and ritzy places serving new-age cuisine. For more eats, follow the foodie trail over to the artsy Wynwood neighborhood and see why hungry patrons are bringing their appetites here.
Fan-favorite food truck: Ms. Cheezious. Build your own sandwich with your choice of seven cheeses and add-ons like spiced apples, fried eggs, and house-cured bacon, and suddenly your ordinary, plain grilled cheese just won’t cut it anymore.
Must-try food truck: Poblanos Mexican Fusion. These chimichangas and loaded nachos are everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but the sloppy Juan isn’t something you could have ever imagined—a sloppy joe slathered in poblano sauce, pico de gallo, and cilantro sauce topped with cotija cheese. Mmm mmm Mexican food!
9. Atlanta, Georgia: 28.67 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Nana G's Chicken & WafflesYelp/Daniel B.
It wasn’t until recently that people turned to Atlanta to satisfy their cravings. But now, Southern cuisine is what’s for dinner. Over the years, the city has cultivated high-end chefs, who are putting their creative spins on comfort food and creating a hungry following. Neighborhoods like Buckhead, Virginia Highlands, and Midtown have become beacons for those looking for some good ol’ comfort food in A-Town.
Fan-favorite food truck: Yumbii. Travel the world in one single bite. This wild food truck merges cultures and flavors, as it serves up burritos packed with Red Asian BBQ, spicy sliders topped with kimchi, and fries with chipotle ketchup.
Must-try food truck: Nana G’s Chicken & Waffles. Feed your soul with a chicken and waffles recipe that’s been in the family for more than 75 years. With Maplewood smoked bacon-infused Belgian waffles topped with chicken strips and maple syrup, we dare you to find a better tasting combo.
10. Provo, Utah: 28.63 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Boba Shack via Roaming Hunger
You can’t put your finger on the cuisine in Provo, and that’s what makes it so deliciously appealing. Indian cuisine? Check. Chinese fare? Check. Native-American spins on traditional Southern food? Check. With more than 60 restaurants in downtown alone, Provo is proving to be an eclectic destination where you can pull up a chair to all kinds of eateries dishing up both authentic and contemporary chow.
Fan-favorite food truck: Casa Du Soul. Deciding between the taco plate and pulled pork quesadilla might be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make all day, but you’ll never forgive yourself if you forgo the open-face, loaded tamale filled with the specialty corn cocktail. Have at it!
Must-try food truck: Boba Shack. Give your sweet tooth something to sip on at this popular food truck where you can get iced cold boba smoothies complete with tapioca balls. Honey dew and strawberry banana are solid choices, but the vanilla avocado and coconut almond are seriously something else.
11. Providence, Rhode Island: 28.46 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Portu-Galo via Roaming Hunger
When a city is home to Johnson and Wales University, practically the holy grail to chefs in training, you can expect some good eats to come out of it. That’s just the case for Providence, a city that trained the likes of Emeril Lagasse and Michelle Bernstein. Combine this culinary excellence with the freshest seafood and thousands of nearby farms, and your stomach will start to grumble. Get a taste of it yourself at one of the restaurants downtown, or bring your appetite to the annual Ocean State Oyster Festival.
Fan-favorite food truck: Rocket Fine Street Food. Indulging in some delicious grub just feels (and tastes!) better when you know there’s no trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, hormones, or antibiotics. That’s the case at this food truck, where you can plow into the 100% natural Black Angus burgers loaded with coffee barbecue sauce and jalapeno relish—now that’s what we call real food.
Must-try food truck: Portu-Galo. The best way to learn about a culture is by tasting its cuisine, and you can do just that at this food truck’s traditional Portuguese dishes. Devour a pork loin sandwich served on papo seco (a Portuguese roll), or nosh on a chachorro quente (a Portuguese-style hot dog) to get an authentic taste of Portugal.
12. Seattle, Washington: 28.34 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Skillet Street Food via Yelp/Linda M.
You’ve heard about the fresh fish and baked goods sold at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operating markets in the country, but that’s not the only thing the city has up its culinary sleeve. Neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square are prime spots to fill up your plate, while foodie festivals roll through the city throughout the year. From VegFest to Seafood Fest, you’ll want to wear your stretchy pants.
Fan-favorite food truck: Marination. The flavors at this truck are sweet, spicy, tangy, and …oh, my gosh, I can’t stop licking my fingers. The miso ginger chicken sliders and kalua pork tacos artfully combine Korean and Hawaiian styles, creating a flavor bomb in your mouth.
Must-try food truck: Skillet Street Food. We didn’t even know bacon jam was a thing, and now we can’t imagine life without it. This food truck slips its famous bacon jam between the buns of its grass-fed beef, building the kind of burger that you’ll forever compare all future burgers to.
13. Austin, Texas: 25.54 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Chi'Lantro via Yelp/Jen G.
This wacky and wonderful city has a serious commitment to keeping it weird, and its cuisine accurately represents its brave and quirky style. Sure, they’ve got that whole Texas barbecue category on lockdown, but the area’s chicken fried steak, beet fries, and Frito pies are just a few of the adventurous recipes found around town. When hunger strikes, create your own restaurant crawl through Manor Road and East Sixth to get a taste of some of the best local eats in Austin.
Fan-favorite food truck: Chi'lantro BBQ Sometimes it’s the strangest concoctions that turn out the best, and that’s exactly what happened when this food truck merged the idea of kimchi and cilantro to produce a Korean twist on Mexican staples. Burritos stuffed with rib-eye bulgogi? We only wish we had thought of it first.
Must-favorite food truck: Torchy’s Tacos This food truck takes tacos to the extreme. From the breakfast tacos cramped full with eggs and green chiles to lunch tacos laden with fried avocados, you and your taste buds will be dying to know what they dream up next.
14. New Haven, Connecticut: 25.32 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Ricky D's Rib Shack via Yelp/Ricky D's Rib Shack
It could just be what’s cooking in the kitchen, but New Haven’s restaurant scene is sizzling. The dishes are almost as prestigious as the town’s Ivy League status, as some of the most-sought after restaurants in town use fresh ingredients from local farms. What better place to pick up some produce than the Cityseed Farmers Market? Munch your way through the stands at the farmers market and then further feed your appetite at the most mouth-watering restaurants in Downtown, Wooster Square, and East Rock.
Fan-favorite food truck: Chief Brody’s Banh Mi. Just the thought of slow-roasted agave lemongrass chicken, kimchi slaw, and pickled carrots nestled in a baguette makes us start to salivate. New Haven’s first food truck makes some sinfully good Vietnamese-style sandwiches that are well worth lining up for.
Must-try food truck: Ricky D’s Rib Shack. Your nose will lead you to this simmering food truck, where Carolina and Kansas styles converge to create “KansaLina” barbecue, AKA ridiculously delicious pork ribs and beef brisket sandwiches that will have you following this truck all over town.
15. St. Louis, Missouri: 24.71 food trucks per 100,000 capita
Vincent Van Doughnut via Yelp/Raul A.
When a city is known for dishes like gooey butter cake and toasted ravioli, you’re in for a treat. St. Louis has made a name for itself thanks to its signature dishes, including its own style of thin crust pizza, but it doesn’t stop there. The Missouri city continues to thrill your taste buds at restaurants in neighborhoods, such as the Delmar Loop, Tower Grove South, and Central West End. From the gastropubs and pizza joints to chocolatiers and bakeries, your palate won’t know what hit it.
Fan-favorite food truck: Guerrilla Street Food. You’ll feel like you’ve been whisked off to the streets of the Philippines when you feast on the chicken adobo and veggie lumpias at this Filipino-inspired food truck. Who needs a plane ticket when you’ve got the most scrumptious spicy pork and beef mechado at your fingertips?
Must-try food truck: Vincent Van Doughnut. These doughnuts are masterpieces! Artfully handcrafted from scratch, the doughy delights, like chocolate salted caramel and cheesecake cookie crumble, are what sweet dreams are made of. Too pretty to eat? We think not.
What do you think are the best food trucks in America?
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