Serving just about everything from sizzling pork tacos to gourmet gelato flavors, food trucks have become all the rage in U.S. cities. Today, there are more than 4,000 food trucks throughout the country, changing what it means to eat out in America and bringing a blast of new cuisines and fusions from coast to coast.
Contrary to what you might expect, major cities like New York City, Boston and Chicago are not the food truck capitals of the country. The numbers vary, but by several accounts, the top cities for food trucks and carts are metropolises that aren’t typically known for their cuisine.
Last year, the highest concentration of food trucks per capita in U.S. cities was in Orlando, Florida, which had more than 37 food trucks per 100,000 people, data compiled by Business Insider showed. Miami was next, with about 34 food trucks per 100,000 people, followed by Washington, D.C., with 27; Minneapolis and Minnesota with 22 each, and Austin, Texas, with 19 trucks. In all, roughly 272 food trucks line the streets of Miami; Austin has a whopping 268; 185 are in Orlando; D.C. has 96; and Minneapolis has 61, according to the website Urban Spoon. Portland, Oregon, leads the pack with 343 food trucks or carts.
Below is a sampling of the major food truck cities in America and their most beloved joints.
Orlando, 185 food trucks:
The immensely popular Melissa’s Chicken and Waffles promises exactly what it says: classic Southern fare of fried chicken and waffles, or waffles with other delectable toppings. Pinones en Orlando is also highly rated, as are the Crepe Company and SwedeDISH, which sells Scandinavian fare – just a fraction of the wide array of cuisines.
Miami, 272 food trucks:
The truck Dim Ssam a GoGo serves hard-core gourmet sandwiches, with ingredients such as foie gras, kimchi and pork, plus blends of Asian and Latino fare. The wildly popular HipPOPS has a vast array of flavors, dips and “poppings” from which customers create their very own custom-made popsicle. (Think Mexican Chocolate Chipotle gelato coated in dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed pistachios.) Meanwhile, Latin Burger serves tacos and burgers, including the recommended Macho Burger, made with chorizo, chuck and sirloin, plus caramelized onions and Oaxaca cheese.
— HipPOPs® Truck (@HipPOPsTruck) April 30, 2015
Washington, D.C., area, 96 food trucks:
The top-rated Pepe serves sandwiches layered with fine meats and cheeses, including Serrano ham and Manchego cheese. There’s the BBQ Bus, which smokes its meats for 10 to 12 hours and makes sides from scratch. Meanwhile, Fava Pot serves Middle Eastern fare, including crispy spiced falafel, lavash chips and a marinated Cornish game hen.
— Fava Pot (@FavaPot) April 11, 2015
Minneapolis, 61 food trucks:
Hola Arepa is one place where Twin City residents can get their fill of Latin fusion cuisine. Get Sauced, meanwhile, serves locally sourced and organic foods, all transformed from scratch into gourmet dishes. Southern foodies will take comfort in Cajun 2 Geaux in nearby St. Paul, which sells gourmet Cajun cuisine from a truck painted lime-green.
— Cajun2Geaux (@Cajun2geauxTim) August 14, 2014
Austin, 268 food trucks:
Via 313 boasts pizza with a reportedly “thick and fluffy” crust, plus two varieties of pepperoni. John Mueller Meat Co. is renowned for its top-notch smoked meats, from pork shoulder to beef brisket. Chi’lantro, meanwhile, is a blend of Korean and Mexican foods such as Korean BBQ topped with cheese.
— Chi'Lantro (@ChiLantroBBQ) April 11, 2015
Portland, 343 food trucks:
Portland has a food truck scene so robust that you can take tours of all the different eateries. Despite its reputation for being populated with vegan hippies, this northwestern city’s roving restaurants offer everything from gourmet grilled cheese at the aptly named Grilled Cheese Grill to Weenies From Another World, which serves locally made hot dogs and bread. There’s also Miss Kate’s Southern Kitchen, which doles out comfort food like macaroni and cheese and biscuits.
It’s no coincidence that Portland and Austin’s food truck industries in particular appear to be thriving. They have been “at the forefront of the food truck revolution” because both cities amended zoning and regulations to foster the culture of food trucks, according to a January report by IBIS World.
Nationwide, the food truck business is flourishing. These itinerant restaurants increased by nearly 200 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to Roaming Hunger, a website that tracks street food trucks, carts and wagons. This year, the industry is expected to generate $857 million in revenues, according to IBIS World.