Mister Softee Ice Cream Truck
Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

The Best Food Trucks in Every State in the United States

In what cities are they located?

When one is hungry for some good food, a truck is usually not the first place which comes to mind — but that has been changing in recent years, as the reputation and popularity of food trucks has been rising faster than fresh bread baked with yeast due to the quality and variety of offerings, which can rival some of the better restaurants in a city or state…

The Best Food Trucks in Every State in the United States

…but which are the best food trucks in the United States — and where are they located?

To find out the answers to those questions, Yelp was used to locate “food trucks” for each city based on this list of cities in the United States with a population of greater than 100,000 people; and they were sorted by ‘recommended’. The top food truck for each city is the highest-ranked result — as appeared on the first “page” of search results — with a minimum of 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 first “page” of search results — with a minimum of 20 reviews and a star rating equal to or higher than 4.5. To compile the top ten food trucks in the United States, the winners from the top trucks by city rankings and state rankings which had the most reviews were isolated.

This article from ZenBusiness gives more details about which food trucks in the United States are considered to be the best; and I have been given express written permission to use the maps and the verbatim text from the aforementioned article in this article. While ZenBusiness has endeavored to ensure the information provided is accurate and current, it cannot guarantee it. Neither ZenBusiness nor The Gate accept any liability — and assume no responsibility — for any and all information which is presented in this article.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here is the article.

Meals in Motion: The Best Food Trucks in the United States

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.

These Are America’s Favorite Food Trucks

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.

Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: ZenBusiness.

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.

Pasadena’s Los California Tacos Leads America’s Top 10 Food Trucks

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.

Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: ZenBusiness.

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.

The Best Food Truck in the US for Every Cuisine

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.

Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: ZenBusiness.

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.

Food Truck Small Business Advice… From the Horse’s Mouth

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…

Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: ZenBusiness.

Driving America to Work

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.

Final Boarding Call

Food trucks are not a new concept. My mother told me about all sorts of trucks which used to ply the streets of Brooklyn decades ago — including a red and white one which was called a Chow Chow Cup truck, from which the proprietor sold such items as chow mein and egg rolls in edible bowls.

Growing up as a boy in Brooklyn, I did not need to leave the street on which I lived to have my fix of various items. Trucks came down the street all day long every day from spring to fall with assorted rides, beverages, milk — and yes, ice cream, which is why a photograph of a Mister Softee truck is featured at the top of this article.

Food trucks have come a long way since then. Do you have a favorite food truck with which you prefer to patronize? Better yet: do you believe that some food trucks are missing from the list?

Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

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