The days of sit-down lunches appear numbered. Americans are succumbing to a more fast-paced life, and the only way for vendors to catch up is to put meals on wheels. From Minneapolis to Atlanta, New York to Los Angeles, the food-truck craze has swept our nation off its feet, with hundreds of roaming restaurants catering to the appetites of any given city.
To help move this trend along, restaurateurs have had to revolutionize not only the industry, but also their menus. After surveying food-truck offerings across the country, we've found which vehicles serve the quirkiest cuisine. Don't let the unknown deter you. Regular customers guarantee that a meal from these food trucks will blow your taste buds out of the water.
Claiming to be Atlanta's "first and finest food truck," Yumbii has taken the smorgasbord to the streets, serving up a funky fusion of Asian, Mexican, and Southern flavors. Operated by Big Peach native Carson Young, this colorful food truck roams Atlanta's streets, serving up a twist on a foodie favorite, tacos. Yelp.com users can't get enough of Yumbii's specialty, which come with your choice of Asian rib-eye beef, spicy pulled pork, or even stir-fried tofu. Add to that a unique blend of Asian barbeque sauce, sesame salad, and shredded cheese, and your taste buds are sure to plotz. The fish taco is also a big hit: Panko-crusted Tilapia fills the shell, along with tartar sauce and Korean barbecue sauce. You can make any of Yumbii's saucy entrees into a combo by adding an order of sesame fries, but then, diners insist that you top your potatoes off with Yumbii's signature chipotle-infused ketchup.
At most eateries, fries are just a side dish, but at Erik Cho and Brook Howell's mobile eatery in Los Angeles, fries are the main event. Although these potato sticks are usually adorned with ketchup, Frysmith embellishes this savory favorite with incredibly unique, incredibly delicious toppings. Using the fries as a foundation, Frysmith chefs layer on hearty helpings of kimchi with Kurobuta pork belly and tomatillo-tamarind sauce and cashews. However, according to Yelp.com users, this food truck's must-try dish is the Rajas fries–crispy potato stalks with marinated Angus skirt steak, fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions, and gooey Monterey Jack cheese. Frysmith promises "fries that eat as a meal," and it holds true to its word.
Mac 'n' cheese is the ultimate feel-good food—a staple of childhood diets and a lifesaver for cash-strapped college students. Just when you thought the cheesy goodness couldn't get any better, Chef Brian Arnoff threw in a game-changer: Cheez-Its. When you order a steamy bowl of mac from Arnoff's Washington, D.C.-based food truck, CapMac, it comes topped with crumbles of this popular snack. But CapMac doesn't just serve dorm-style cuisine. A more refined palate will appreciate a bowl of goat cheese macaroni with crispy onions, fall greens, and (if you're feeling carnivorous) braised pork. The menu also includes Marco Bolo, a traditional beef bolognaise with Parmesan cheese and cream, as well as hand-made chicken and parmesan meatballs.
New York and Chicago have long rumbled over who has the best pizza, but now a new party has entered the fray. Milwaukee may not conjure up as much tourist hype as other U.S. cities. But it has earned bragging rights as home to Streetza, recently named America's Best Food Truck by Bloomberg Businessweek. Streetza's operaters, Scott Baitinger and Steve Mai, have reinvented the wheel (or the pie), serving up massive slices with unconventional toppings. Sure, you'll find more traditional styles, like cheese, veggies, and pepperoni, but Streetza's seasonal pies—like pumpkin pizza, crab leg pizza, and s'mores pizza—are the talk of the town. In fact, Streetza made such a good impression on the Midwest that Baitinger and Mai premiered a second truck in Cleveland in 2010.
America's unofficial street-food capital serves up some pretty creative roadside fare, but for a truly memorable meal, track down Solar Waffle Works at the intersection of North Williams and Northeast Tillamook streets in Portland. This food truck dishes out quirky concoctions of sweet jams and maple syrup, as well as savory flavors like Gouda cheese and bacon. You'll find all these ingredients atop a thick and crispy Belgian waffle. But while this fully loaded breakfast staple earns rave reviews from Portland's Yelp.com users, the motives behind Solar Waffle Works are even more impressive. Its solar-powered truck has partnered with SolTrekker, a nonprofit organization that provides free renewable energy education to low-income schools. And if that isn't enough, Solar Waffle Works also supports the Portland Public Schools Community Transition Program, which helps students grow accustomed to post high-school life through workplace training.
Named one of the Twin Cities' best restaurants of 2011 by Mpls St. Paul Magazine, this food truck has taken Minneapolis - St. Paul by storm. Sure, the menu may appear a little random at first glance: Plates come loaded with everything from burgers and hot dogs to beef tongue tacos and curry dishes. (Yelp.com users strongly recommend the bacon beer brats, watermelon gazpacho, and Indian-spiced mini donuts.) One thing that unites Chef Shack's offerings: All of the ingredients originate from local family farms and co-ops. Chef Shack operators Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson switch up the menu on a regular basis, tailoring it to the season's prime ingredients. This means that your taste buds are guaranteed a flavorful punch no matter which dish you order.
Summertime means warm, sunny weather, several weeks of vacation, long days on the beach, and, best of all, ice cream. Nothing draws children together like the tinkering tunes of a roaming ice cream truck. And good news, folks: Just because we're all grown up doesn't mean we can't still keep our eyes peeled for this roaming goody. Coolhaus—an ice cream truck franchise serving Austin, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami—has modified the treat for the more refined palate, churning out made-to-order ice cream sandwiches for the young at heart. Customers choose from 12 types of cookies and 45 types of ice cream. But you won't find tried-and-true flavors here: Layer some White Russian ice cream on a red velvet cookie, or try some strawberry jalapeno squished between two snickerdoodles. Either way, it's sheer delight.
We're not the only ones who crave a snack while out and about: Dogs do, too. And now, thanks to Bocce's Bakery founder Andrea Tovar, New York pooches can stave off the munchies during a mid-afternoon walk. It's not exactly a food truck, but Tovar's three-wheeled Biscuit Bike can be found patrolling the Big Apple fully stocked with Fido's favorites. It serves treat-time basics, but other options include doggie ice cream and even "pup-cakes" (the doggie version of cupcakes). However, it's the chicken cordon bleu biscuit—a gourmet twist on a simple treat—that really puts Biscuit Bike on the map. These tasty treats are made from white-meat chicken, organic mozzarella, and turkey bacon. The fish-and-chips biscuit is also popular with its flavorful blend of whitefish, sweet potatoes, olive oil, and parsley, winning dogs over from Central Park to Union Square.
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