Competition | February 2011 | By Daniel P. Smith

America’s Top 20 Food Trucks

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Food trucks serve city streets from coast to coast.
image used with permission.

Second Team All-American

The Buttermilk Truck

Hometown: Los Angeles
Serving: Decadent breakfast
www.buttermilktruck.com

Those clamoring for all-day breakfast have a friend in the Buttermilk Truck, a curbside operation created to appease breakfast-craving tastes. Serving homemade breakfast classics with a twist (red velvet pancake bites, cake donut holes, and biscuit breakfast sandwiches), Buttermilk introduces new pancake flavors each month and debuted cider donuts last fall.

The Grilled Cheese Truck

Hometown: Los Angeles
Serving: A new take on grilled cheese
www.thegrilledcheesetruck.com

The Grilled Cheese Truck quickly generated a loyal base for its grilled cheese concoctions, which chef Dave Danhi describes as the “culinary common denominator.” Popular selections include the Cheesy Mac & Rib, the Brie Melt, and the Caprese Melt. Customers can also customize their melt by selecting from a list of additions that includes bacon, avocado, pickles, and turkey.

Pi on the Spot

Hometown: St. Louis
Serving: Pizza
www.restaurantpi.com

Serving the “best of” deep-dish, cornmeal-crust pizza from its brick-and-mortar stores, Pi on the Spot blends award-winning dishes with philanthropy and business savvy.
Pi uses an iPad as its POS, constructs a mini-park with bistro tables and artificial turf for diners, offers WiFi access, donates remaining product to local food banks, and makes weekly stops at charitable fundraisers, all of which cements
its spot as a St. Louis wonder.

Frysmith

Hometown: Los Angeles
Serving: French fries
www.eatfrysmith.com

Frysmith’s french fry dishes eat as a meal, topped with all sorts of cheesy, meaty goodness, led by the best-selling Rajas Fries, which feature fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions, and marinated Angus skirt steak with Monterrey Jack cheese.

“Rather than asking, ‘What type of food can I do that isn’t already on a truck?’ … we created a new food concept and decided to use a truck to present it,” Frysmith’s Brook Howell says.

Kelvin Natural Slush Co.

Hometown: New York City
Serving: Slushies
www.kelvinslush.com

Seeking a sophisticated alternative to the convenience-store slushies he loved as a kid, Alex Rein serves his “grown-up” slushies to nearly 500 New Yorkers every day. The customized, all-natural frozen drinks feature real puréed fruit (raspberry, white peach, and others) as well as other natural mix-ins, such as chopped mint or basil. Customers can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a float.

Nom Nom Truck

Hometown: Los Angeles
Serving: Vietnamese
www.nomnomtruck.com

A baguette with mayonnaise and pâté stuffed with Vietnamese-style meats, like lemongrass chicken or honey-grilled pork, the Banh Mi headlines L.A.’s Nom Nom Truck menu. The popular mobile concept, dubbed “the Nominator,” is outfitted in neon green with a happy face. Fans of the truck, who call themselves “Nomsters,” will soon be able to enjoy new specials, including Cajun shrimp and barbecue chicken.

Sam’s Chowdermobile

Hometown: Half Moon Bay, California
Serving: Seafood
www.samschowdermobile.com

A 24-foot-long, lobster-red truck, Sam’s became the San Francisco Bay Area’s first gourmet seafood truck when it opened in June 2009. A mobile takeoff of the Sam’s Chowder House restaurant, overseen by celebrated chef Paul Shenkman, the two-fryer Chowdermobile delights with its New England clam chowder and Maine lobster roll, recently named one of America’s top five sandwiches by NBC’s Today Show.

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Comments

Portland is the food truck/cart capital of the free world. All 20 of your choices could have come from here!

How is Kogi BBQ not on here?

they are not actually that good....since Kogi was the grandfather of all gourmet food trucks there menu lacks in improvement. all the other trucks that have come after them have had a chance to improve on the quality of their food. take Dos Chinos for example. dos chinos is also a latin asian food truck and their food is wayyyyyy better. try them out sometime and you will see what i mean. http://doschinos.com

Where is Grill 'Em All?????? Hands down the best food truck in the country!

There are hundreds of great gourmet food trucks. QSR limited themselves to 20, I'm sure they are aware that there are many more great choices!http://www.foodtrucktalk.com

Not sure why In-N-Out didn't make your list. Not only do they have the best Burgers in the country - but they practially invented the idea of a real restaurant operating a CLEAN and high QUALITY Food truck!!

okay in n out is good, but they are simple. if you want to increase the IQ of your taste pallet you can't use in-n-out as a baseline. I will admit that in-n-out is extremely successful and delicious, but you will never get a real thick juicy burger from them

Congrats to the Munchie Machine! I love this truck.

Where's the BV Nomad on this list??

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck on Oahu is LEGENDARY and has developed a passionate cult following. One of it's unique features is the fact that guests are invited to graffiti their names and any message they may have on the side of the truck. This tradition goes back for years. Giovanni's definitely deserves a mention on this list!!

Big ups to Dim Sum-a-gogo, holding the 305 hard with killa Asian fare. Miami, FL is on the food truck map! Believe it!

Where is grill em all....and nom nom is a joke their food is not even worth it.

you can get a better Banh Mi in Alhambra, CA that is 100x better than Nom Nom

Your Los Angeles picks are a joke... Nom Nom really? Do you even know who won the great food truck race? GrillEmAllTruck!!! all the way. Sorry Nom Nom but you serve an overpriced Banh mi that doesn't compare to the 2.50 one I can get at Banh mi & Che Cali.But really how can grill em all not be on this list. I frequent all these food trucks and hands down your los Angeles choices should have included kogi BBQ and the great grill em all! Btw did I mention grill em all!!!!!

Your Los Angeles picks are a joke... Nom Nom really? Do you even know who won the great food truck race? GrillEmAllTruck!!! all the way. Sorry Nom Nom but you serve an overpriced Banh mi that doesn't compare to the 2.50 one I can get at Banh mi & Che Cali.But really how can grill em all not be on this list. I frequent all these food trucks and hands down your los Angeles choices should have included kogi BBQ and the great grill em all! Btw did I mention grill em all!!!!!

what is with everyone and kogi? they are NOT THAT GOOD, try a better truck like dos chinos or something.

Two of the BEST are missing from the OC/LA regional picks. Nom Nom is overpriced and gross half the time (un-reliable!)

LOVE you guys! and I cannot WAIT for the ethiopian truck - lamb tibs!

The judges sure didn't come to Hawaii. The Kahuku Shrimp trucks; Gee a Deli, and nearly every beach park has a truck worthy of entry.

Thanks for the suggestions, I am definitely going to try them when i make it out there

Where are the Chicago food trucks? Gaztro-Wagon and the new Southern Mac truck are just a few of the great ones rolling around the windy city!

The Justice League of Street Food may have to serve you a big helping of pain.

What about Florida. You Forgot about the Nosh Truck

What about Florida. You Forgot about the Nosh Truck

What about Florida. You Forgot about the Nosh Truck

Some of the trucks listed are definitely worthy. Others to me are fully second rate to what is available. I mean Lake Street Creamery and Chunk-n-Chip are far superior to Coolhaus in LA. Lake Street makes their own ice cream right on the truck. Chunk-n-Chip makes their own cookies and serve them warm.And many valid points in the comments. With the ridiculous number of food trucks out there I don't think you can make this list without having a popular vote. You left off Chef Ludo too!

that one is tough though...i am a huge fan of chunk-n-chip, but coolhaus is also awesome as well.

Name the five best quarterbacks of all time. The ten greatest composers. The five best presidents. Etc. All lists are subjective. What does "best" mean? While I might not personally agree with some selections and want to see some of my own personal favorites get their just due, I look thru the comments and think this story did exactly what it was supposed to. It got people talking. People are tossing out trucks I've never heard of, but will be sure to look for in my travels. And it also highlighted the momentum of trucks in the restaurant industry, which is pretty interesting. We'll all wonder how X, Y, or Z were left off, but lists always open up debate. Frankly, I like the diversity of this list (hello, there is a food truck culture outside of NYC and LA), the fact that there are so many different concepts and food types represented, and how it seems that the entirety of the experience was valued (consider Food Shark's dining car--don't know if that makes it better than others, but certainly something unique and a value added).

like in garden grove, ca. or when people follow a postal truck delivering packages and then steal them from dootstop? or home invasion robberies at christmas? this is happening all the time in so. calif, which makes this the garbage pit of humanity in america? which includes a greedy, inept governor?

I think a lot is just marketing! but be warned, HUGE CORPORATIONS like ARAMARK and SYDEXO are jumping in the Food truck game. They hate small great trucks taking away from their profit margins, they control tons of corporate and university clientele for food service. i bet they'll have a say in stricter parking regulation too, be careful with your votes.

Do you really feel that Syria spying on dissidents?

The Gourmelt food truck (the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches!) in Reno serves the best versions of grilled cheese sandwiches that I have ever had!

Now days, food trucks are becoming more popular than multi-star restaurants because of its different food dish or services. These all above mentioned are best of Americas food trucks which offers best food and services to people. I think it can be the best place for food to street food lovers. I also like to eat from food trucks.

Now days, Food Trucks are becoming more and more popular than big restaurants because of its different food dishes and services. Above mentioned Food Trucks are very popular in America. They offers best services as well as best food to people. I also like to eat from Food Trucks or small shop of street.

Now days, Food Trucks are becoming more and more popular than big restaurants because of its different food dishes and services. Above mentioned Food Trucks are very popular in America. There are also other Food Tracks available which also provide best food services to people. I also like to eat from Food Trucks or small shop of street.

you forgot the busiest truck in OC.....Burger Monster. Seriously their lines are the longest at every lot i see them at. check them out for yourself http://www.burgermonster.net

El Guapo in Detroit

Hey, check out this exciting new brand that just launched in the Miami Market called HipPOPs handcrafted gelato bars ( www.HipPOPs.com and www.Facebook.com/HipPOPsTruck ). Quickly becoming a local favorite. Searching for the right group to expand the brand.

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