The Best Food Truck in Every State and US City
When you’re a kid, the best food is picnic food. The taste of the outdoors, the sense of adventure, the feel of being ‘in the moment.’
As an adult, you can live without the ants in your sandwiches. But that’s okay because there’s something better to eat, and it has the same appeal as the childhood picnic: food truck food.
Even the healthiest food truck food feels wrong in a very right way. A meal from a truck? That’s the culinary equivalent of a nap on a sunny park bench! A truck meal is a snatched moment, a tasty triumph for the urban hunter-gatherer. The appeal and versatility of the food truck have helped the industry to survive even as bricks-and-mortar eateries have gone under.
“Food trucks were well-equipped to withstand pandemic restrictions, as they’re naturally to-go and socially distanced businesses,” says Luz Urrutia, chief executive of small business charity, Accion Opportunity Fund. “Many food truck owners stepped forward to seize opportunity during a time of great uncertainty.”
While food truckers lost sales like any other business, many beat the odds by paring down to focus on their core service and appeal. Now, the trucks have a head-start in the post-Covid economy. They may disappear back home every night, but food trucks are here to stay – so ZenBusiness has found the best one in every state and city (according to Yelp recommendations) and America’s best food truck in every category. And we’ve sourced some top tips from food truck owners for chefs looking to start a food truck business.
Would you track a food truck across Louisiana for five-star Mexican cuisine? There’s no need! You can usually find Rollin Fatties on Tulane Avenue, New Orleans. Fast, friendly service, a vegan-friendly menu, and “a very unique burrito experience with the basmati rice and pickled cabbage” make Rollin Fatties the best food truck in the Pelican State.
It would be remiss not to mention the best-named food truck in America, New Jersey’s No Forks Given. (Peppered Pig in Alabama comes a close second, although you can’t take your preschooler there without facing some difficult questions.) No Forks Given promises “Gourmet Handheld Creations” with a “worldly twist.” A menu of tacos, grilled cheese paninis, and fried chicken sandwiches ensures that, indeed, no forks are needed.
To identify the ten best food trucks in America, we chose the ten most-reviewed trucks from our city and state rankings.
Californian trucks dominate in four positions, with the pace set by Los California Tacos. In 1979, Victor and Juana Garcia were among early food truck pioneers, gearing up a 1959 Ford Step-Van as Pasadena’s first tacos-on-wheels. Today, 985 reviews and a 4.5-star rating make them America’s favorite, with their two-buck taco bringing all the boys to the yard.
The Burnt Truck is not burnt at all. In fact, the Irvine, CA, meal on wheels offers “distinctively upscale taste to the streets of Orange County without all the fuss and nonsense of a high-end restaurant.” Highly-trained chefs offer American classics (sloppy joes, fried chicken) and Asian fusion (Vietnamese pork, chicken katsu) and keep it unpretentious by delivering every dish as a slider.
If the US is “known more for fast food than for street food,” its food truck landscape thrives on cultural variety. The most common truck cuisines include Middle Eastern, Chinese, Indian and Japanese styles, as well as Halal and vegan. We found the most recommended in the US for each cuisine.
Bing Mi Food Truck is America’s top Chinese food on wheels, serving only variations on Jianbing – a
“Chinese street wrap freshly made in a savory crepe with scrambled egg and your choice of
delicious, fresh Asian ingredients.” Reviewers point out that while there’s often a queue, this is a testament to a deliciousness that can bring you to tears.
Despite a battered economy, analysts predict the food truck business to double from $3.93 billion in 2020 to $6.2 billion globally by 2027.
A food truck can be good business. But it is also enjoyable work, attracting first-time entrepreneurs who know their way around the kitchen better than they do around permit regulations. Before you get caught up in the romance of the open road and the wrapped sandwich, make sure to do your research – and ask for help if you need it.
To get you started, we’ve unpacked the top food truck tips from entrepreneurs who’ve been there. “There” being the food truck park, the farmer’s market, the big game, the college campus…
America’s food truck culture is America in miniature. Food can be a great leveler – you’ve got to eat lunch, right? – but it often takes an outsider to appreciate how thoughtful recipes delivered with love at a decent price can bring folk together.
Says entrepreneur and author Nathalie Molina Niño: “The inextricably connected stories of food trucks and Covid are a perfect microcosm of the undeniable reality that women, immigrants and people of color, historically relegated to the edges of the economy, are actually the foundation upon which the next economy must be built.”
For inspiration on how you might play a part in it – or just to find the best-loved taco near you – check out our city and state data below.
We used Yelp to locate “food trucks” in every city with a population of over 100,000 and sorted them by recommended, ranking, and number of reviews. We ranked food trucks with at least 20 reviews and a star rating equal or higher than 4.5 based on the highest-ranked results for each location (as appeared on the 1st page of search results).
Arkansas didn’t have any enough food trucks within its major cities that hit the minimum reviews threshold, so we omitted it from the dataset
The list of cities was based on this list of US cities with a population of over 100,000.
For each city, we used Yelp to locate “food trucks” and sorted them by ‘recommended.’ The top food truck for each city is the highest-ranked result (as appeared on the 1st page of search results) with at least 20 reviews and a star rating equal to or higher than 4.5.
The top food truck for each state and each cuisine is the highest-ranked result (as appeared on the 1st page of search results) with at least 20 reviews and a star rating equal to or higher than 4.5. To compile the top 10 Food Trucks in the US, we isolated the winners from the top trucks by city/state rankings that had the most reviews.
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Goldberg. B. (2021). How Starting The New York Food Truck Association Resulted In A $200K/Month Business. starterstory.com
Lindenberg, B. and Bedell, M. (2014). Why Food Trucks Fail. Thirty Two Experts Sound Off. foodtruckempire.com
Roaming Hunger. (2020). 61 Owners Share Secrets to Starting a Food Truck Business. roaminghunger.com