Food trucks are a long-standing Los Angeles tradition that caught fire after chef Roy Choi and partners rolled out Kogi BBQ in 2008. Since then, we’ve seen concepts reach far beyond tacos to pretty much every cuisine on the planet. Learn about 10 of the best food trucks currently roaming L.A. Track them on social media to make sure you get fed.
Chef Christopher Bautista drives a tan truck that spotlights beignets, the fluffy, pillow-shaped fritters made famous in New Orleans. He fries airy beignets in cottonseed oil, just like the iconic Café du Monde, and tosses them with either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. Have these sweet bites solo, or add a dipping sauce of the day, which could include salted caramel, spiced maple, or molten dark chocolate. Coffee brewed with spicy chicory, an herbal method used in times of subsistence to stretch the base ingredient, is still going strong in New Orleans and on The Beignet Truck.
Perry Santos and son Joe are Cuban-Americans and have been on the road selling their homeland’s most famous sandwich from a retooled trolley. The family patterned their Cubanos after the long-cut versions that Perry enjoyed as a kid from La Cochinita in New York City. The Crispy Cuban features slow roasted pork, house-cured ham, Swiss cheese, punchy thin-sliced dill pickle, and mustard butter pressed on crispy Cuban baguette. Tampa Cuban adds Genoa salami. Midnight Cuban comes on a sweet Cuban roll. Juban adds pastrami and comes with pineapple coleslaw. Con Culo! Goes bigger on pastrami.
Shachar “Tony” Weiner specializes in rich, creamy garbanzo bean dip that’s so tantalizing that the concept carries twin mottos: “the beast from the Middle East” and “an addiction that is good for you.” Hummus comes with your choice of cooked and flavored garbanzo beans, fava beans (ful), tahini, flavored mushrooms or shak’shuka. Each plate comes with puffy pita bread, sliced tomato, raw onion, green olives, pickles, and pepperoncini. Hummus Mach'lutta tops hummus with flavored fava beans and garbanzo beans, a squeeze of house dressing, nutty tahini sauce, and a shower of chopped parsley. Hummus Shak’shuka involves hummus topped with egg cooked in red pepper and tomato sauce, plus more chopped parsley. Order a side of falafel and receive six garbanzo bean balls that are the size of Gobstoppers, but with far more give and tahini sauce.
Chef Bryan Kidwell and business partner Macks Collins run this jet-black truck, featuring pambazos, a style of griddled, chile-soaked sandwich that originated in Mexico City. The Mad Pambazos website describes an apocalyptic parallel universe where pambazos revolt, and mutate from nuclear fallout, causing, “a whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear.” These real-life sandwiches apparently morphed as well given these specimens don’t resemble anything you’d find in D.F. Toecutter combines guajillo-braised goat shoulder, white Oaxaca cheese, cabbage salad, pickled jalapeno, cotija, and crema. Blackfinger’s Jerk sounds like something a pirate might eat in Jamaica with smoked jerk chicken, spicy ketchup, mint, cucumber, coconut pickled onion, cabbage, and yogurt. They also serve globally inspired tacos and soups. Mad Pambazos even makes hot sauces like yellow chile-beet-grapefruit, lemongrass habanero, and grilled Calabrian chile. Help yourself.
Chef Daniel Humm and front of house partner Will Guidara run Eleven Madison Park, the Manhattan restaurant that San Pellegrino named #1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. The NoMad is their more populist concept, which will expand from New York to Los Angeles in 2017. Chef Ashley Abodeely is on the advance team, drumming up support through the sea-blue NoMad Truck. They sell a popular chicken burger, and have been collaborating each month on a unique version with chefs like Roy Choi, Jeremy Fox, and Ludo Lefebvre. Their fried fish sandwich is nearly as thoughtful, with flaky, golden-coated ling cod paired with piquant piquillo aioli and crunchy cabbage slaw on a toasted potato bun. Humm dog is a Hebrew National all-beef hot dog that’s garnished with luxurious black truffle & celery relish. Sides include French fries dressed with rosemary and lemon and a refreshing cucumber salad with avocado, buttermilk, chives, and hidden cache of quinoa. Save room for a riff on NoMad’s famed milk & honey soft serve with buckwheat honey, honey-oat shortbread, and brittle.
Gemma Matsuyama, Chris Chi, Mavis J. Sanders, Qudoe Lee, and Phil Moses worked in top restaurants like Bestia and Blue Hill at Stone Barns before launching Pico House, a food truck coated with colorful geometric shapes. The name refers to place on Pico Boulevard where several owners roomed together. Grain bowls combine barley, farro, rye, Glenn wheat berries, red winter and white wheat and honor different L.A. neighborhoods. Robertson Short Rib combines tangy marinated beef “bacon,” pasilla, broccoli, Swiss chard, radicchio, tomato chutney, and crispy shallots. Crenshaw Meatballs complement seared and torn pork & chicken meatballs with coconut curry, garbanzo beans, jicama slaw, and honey roasted peanuts. Ugly Fruit Drank features whatever “seconds” (ugly produce) that they find at the farmers market, possibly peach lemon or grape, made into a delicious beverage. Bonus: all packaging is eco-friendly.
Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia’s grandfather was last king of Italy, making him the Prince of Venice. In 2016, he launched a regal blue food truck with a mural of Venice and a motto that reads, “Life is a Combination of Magic & Pasta.” Prince of Venice houses a premium pasta machine right on the truck, alongside baskets of fresh pasta, all visible behind Plexiglas. Head chef Alberto Bertoncin now mans the machine for opening chef Mirko Paderno and presents truck-made pasta in cardboard containers sporting blue belts and handles that resembles gondola tails. Rotating options may include papalina, a ridged al dente ziti tossed with peas, cream, Parmesan cheese, and ham. Octopus pasta features ridged shells stained black with squid ink, piled with octopus ragu and tomatoes.
Palisades Park, the cliff-top Santa Monica park with views of the Pacific Ocean, is where you’ll find Sanook Soi 38, a yellow truck sporting a cartoon elephant that’s sells Thai street food. Sanook translates from Thai as "fun," an ethos that extends to dishes like kao kha muu - tender pork hock braised with five spices for an equal number of hours that’s plated with Asian kale and pickled mustard greens over steamed jasmine rice. Kao man gai is a famed chicken and rice dish featuring boiled chicken served over white rice steamed in chicken broth, garlic, and ginger. Pad kra paow is a ground meat dish - choose from chicken, pork, beef, or tofu - stir-fried with garlic, chilies, yellow onion, red pepper, holy basil, soy and fish sauce. A fried egg completes a “recipe for instant comfort food.” Favor standbys? Pad si ew and garlic pepper meat are available as well.
Evan Fox launched Yeastie Boys, a bagel sandwich truck, in 2014, featuring hand-rolled, boiled and baked rings. These self-described #BagelLords produce five different types of chewy bagels – plain, poppy, sesame, Cheddar, and everything – available with or without schmear, or in sandwiches. The Game Over stacks soft-scrambled egg, sliced tomato, apple-wood smoked bacon, beer cheese (Ballast Point Pilsner with Tillamook cheddar and cream cheese), and jalapeño spread on a Cheddar bagel. The Lox pairs smoked salmon & dill spread with crunchy Persian cucumber, radish, and caper pesto on a sesame seed bagel. At Yeastie Boys, The MILF isn’t nearly as risqué as it sounds. Yeastie Boys rotates between specialty coffee bars like Alfred Coffee in West Hollywood, Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the DTLA Arts District and Dinosaur Coffee in Silver Lake.
Julio Cesar Falcon Palacios steers the black Zema Food Truck with wordy wrap and cartoon corn that dispenses Venezuelan comfort food. Arepas, griddled masa pancakes, are split and filled with savory combos. Machu Picchu is stuffed with grilled shrimp and topped with Peruvian huancaina sauce. Pabellon involves shredded beef sautéed with veggies, black beans, grated white cheese, and sweet plantain. Zema provides the option to add avocado. Do it. They also sell sweet corn pancakes known as cachapas filled with any ingredient(s) you like. Tequeños are crunchy, deep-fried cheese “fingers” wrapped with flaky dough.