More than kitchens on wheels, food trucks have re-invented the street food concept across the United States. Whether gathered at a common venue or parked along sidewalks, colorful food trucks with creative names serve excitement and inventive cuisines.
How popular are food trucks? Food trucks are so popular that there is a National Eat at a Food Truck Day, June 24.
In 2015, the food truck industry was worth $1.2 billion. That number continues to grow each year as more and more mobile food vendors pop up across the country. This sampling of food truck destinations awaits hungry tour groups ready for a delicious meal, dessert or snack.
With more than 600 food carts throughout the city, Portland is a major player in the street food scene.
“Eating at a food cart is definitely something every visitor should do in Portland since we have such an amazing selection of quality carts making incredible food,” said Marcus Hibdon, Travel Portland senior media relations and PR manager.
Portland’s food cards differ from mobile food trucks found in other cities because they tend to stay put. Although they are on wheels, the majority of them are not motor vehicles.
Groups can find a selection of cuisines in Food Cart Pods around the city where multiple food trucks gather. At the city’s largest pod, Alder Pod, visitors can dine on traditional British fish and chips at The Frying Scotsman, or the jian bing (Chinese savory crepes) at Bing Mi!
Another pod, Tidbit Food Farm & Garden features carts like Garden Monster, serving salads and soup, and Pyro’s Wicked Wiches, with classic sandwiches from around the world. Mississippi Marketplace is another favorite pod, located in North Portland.
A great way for groups to experience Portland’s eclectic food cart scene is by taking a tour. Food Carts Portland takes groups on 60-90 minute culinary explorations.
A splash of culture and a pinch of seasoning add to a delicious mix of happenings on Georgia Street in Indianapolis.
Find culture in the outdoor art displays along the three blocks between the Indiana Convention Center and Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This is the heart of the capital’s historic Wholesale District; groups can discover the history of the area by reading the Story Stones that are embedded in the walkway. The pavers provide a brief history of the location and a nearby (and historic) building.
The Georgia Street pedestrian-friendly promenade serves as a stage for concerts, street performers and, most recently, parking for a rotation of food trucks.
Each day these rolling restaurants cruise through the city. It is easy to find a variety of vendors on the streets offering everything from panzanella salad and jerk chicken to tacos, pizza and cupcakes. On Food Truck Fridays, groups can find them lined up on Georgia Street
Philadelphia may be known for its cheesesteak, but the City of Brotherly Love is becoming known for other forms of street food, too.
“Groups exploring Philadelphia can enjoy a diverse variety of food truck options offered throughout the city’s vibrant neighborhoods,’ said Brian Said, PHLCVB executive director of tourism.
The Philly Mobile Food Association has 115 food truck members, serving foods like falafel, Jamaican jerk chicken, gourmet tacos, grilled cheese, savory and sweet crepes, and gourmet pork sandwiches.
Groups can find food trucks throughout the city. From July through August, food trucks gather at The Oval, located across the street from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Rocky Steps. In the summer, the area transforms into a beer garden with music and movie nights.
Other food truck locations include Love Park, City Hall and The Porch at 30th Street. Many food trucks use social media to announce where and when they’ll be at a certain location.
In warm months, The Food Trust in Philadelphia hosts ongoing street food festivals, called Night Markets. The Food Trust chooses a neighborhood, which brings 20–30 food trucks, and a mini block party occurs where groups can enjoy live music and entertainment.
[dropcap]4.[/dropcap]Tampa Bay, Florida
“Thriving.” “New.” “Out of the Box.” “Mobile food that has no boundaries.” These are all words and phrases Michael Blasco, chief eating officer at Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally, uses to describe the Food Truck scene in the Tampa Bay area.
Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally is an event and catering company that books and promotes food truck happenings in the area.
When the company was founded in 2012, there were 10–12 food trucks in the Tampa Bay area. Now, just four years later, there are more than 100.
Groups visiting Tampa Bay will find food trucks seven days a week at Cigar City Brewing. The trucks are there nightly from 5–9 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
“Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally has worked with many group tours on experiencing our burgeoning food scene while dabbling in craft beer with attractions like Cigar City Brewing and Brew Bus,” Blasco said.
[dropcap]5.[/dropcap]Los Angeles, California
In the City of Angels, more than 200 gourmet mobile food vendors roam the streets, giving groups ample opportunities to taste a variety of dishes, like lobster from Lobsta Truck, architecture-inspired ice cream from Coolhaus and spicy pork tacos from Kogi BBQ.
In LA, spotting a food truck brings about excitement similar to spotting a celebrity. Food trucks and food carts typically pull into parking lots with multiple food vendors or right up to the sidewalk.
If groups visit on the first Friday of the month, they can stop by the Abbot Kinney First Fridays event in Venice. After sampling delicious food truck treats, they can indulge in shopping along Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
Groups can even add a food truck stop to a visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Food trucks gather daily at LACMA Food Truck Park, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
More food truck fun happens at Angel City Brewery, located in the Arts District in downtown LA. Food trucks stop in front of the brewery daily.