Mr Porter Eats
Seven Of The Best Food Trucks
Lobster rolls, chorizo quesadillas and pork belly steamed buns – our favourite street food from around the world
The Cheese Truck. Photograph courtesy of The Cheese Truck
As the weather turns balmy, street food comes into its own. Each summer brings an embarrassment of new dishes to try. If you want to sample the most directional plates before they hit restaurant menus, you’d best get trucking. With rents in major cities becoming prohibitively expensive, the brightest food talents are to be found creating meals on wheels.
The vehicles themselves are something to behold, too, from brightly painted, repurposed military vehicles to shiny Airstreams with Michelin-standard kitchens and proper pizza ovens.
So, from the freshest lobster rolls to roquefort and walnut toasties, here is MR PORTER’s selection of the best food trucks in the world.
Bob’s Lobster, London
Left: the Bob's Lobster camper van. Right: lobster mac’n’cheese and lobster roll. Photographs by Ms Kaylie Hards. Courtesy of Bob’s Lobster
This truck is the apex of street food gone haute, serving luxury lobster on humble paper plates from a shiny red Volkswagen camper van. Bob’s Lobster has a loyal following at Street Feast at Hawker House in southeast London. Get your claws into a lobster eggs Benedict brunch in the morning. Later on, there are classic lobster rolls and lobster mac’n’cheese. Despite the name, Bob’s isn’t limited to just one crustacean. The crab tater tots are the perfect chaser to a glass of the dry white wine.
Where to find it: Street Feast at Giant Robot, Canary Wharf
What to order: baja fish taco with papaya salsa and matcha lime seasoning
East Side King, Austin
Left: the East Side King food truck. Photograph by Mr Jim Nix. Right: brussel sprouts. Photograph courtesy of East Side King
East Side King brings together “Asian cultures, rock bands, art and Austin’s laid-back, fun-loving vibe”. Southern staples such as deep-fried chicken thigh and beets are brought up to date with lashings of Kewpie mayo, shichimi togarashi and kimchi. Founded by Messrs Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya, alumni of Austin’s slick modern Japanese Uchi and Uchiko restaurants, what was first a food truck behind the Liberty bar is now also a fully paid-up restaurant in the South Lamar neighbourhood, but the truck is still the most fun place to get your fix.
Where to find it: 2310 South Lamar Boulevard; 1618 East Sixth Street
What to order: Poor Qui’s Buns (roasted pork belly in steamed buns with hoisin sauce and cucumber kimchi) or meshi rice topped with panko-fried pork shoulder or tempura shrimp
Guerrilla Tacos, Los Angeles
Left: the Guerrilla Tacos food truck. Photograph by City Foodsters. Right: duckheart and oxtail tacos. Photograph by Mr Peter Cheng. Courtesy of Guerrilla Tacos
Guerilla Tacos serves high-end tacos full of unexpected fillings such as sea urchin, wild boar and duck breast. It was founded by Mr Wes Avila, who has form. He trained in Paris under multi-Michelin-starred Mr Alain Ducasse. He evangelically follows what is in season, pitches up in unsung parts of LA and transforms them into taste hubs, complete with a sound system and pop-up events ranging from DJ sets to wine tastings. These tacos have something of a cult following. You can buy logoed T-shirts, bags and pins of the distinctive blue truck to proudly wear while you tuck into the mushroom and chorizo quesadillas. The van can often be found outside Dinosaur Coffee on West Sunset Boulevard.
Where to find it: Blue Bottle – Arts District, 582 Mateo Street (Mondays); Cognoscenti Coffee, 6114 Washington Boulevard (Wednesdays); Dinosaur Coffee, 4334 Sunset Boulevard (Thursdays); Silverlake Wine, 2395 Glendale Boulevard (Thursdays); Blacktop 826 East Third Street (Fridays); Blue Bottle – Beverly, 8301 Beverly Boulevard (Saturdays); Blue Bottle – Venice, 1103 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (Sundays); locations change so keep your eyes peeled
What to order: kampachi tostada with white soy sauce, yuzu, micro shiso, chile morita, hazelnuts and serrano chile
The Cheese Truck, London
Left: The Cheese Truck. Right: grilled cheese sandwiches. Photographs courtesy of The Cheese Truck
This bright yellow former ice cream van is the (ahem) toastie of the town. Mr Matthew Carver’s grilled sandwiches will soothe the most frazzled of nerves and he is practically a headline act on the festival circuit. He sources the best British farmhouse cheeses and melts them into oozy perfection between generous doorstops of artisan sourdough. Established favourites include Keen’s cheddar and Montogmery’s Ogleshield with mixed onions, or Rosary Goats cheese, honey and walnut with rosemary butter. Mr Carver learned his trade at a bakery, where he consumed “unhealthy amounts of cheese” and the results are spectacular. For the full experience, try your toastie with a side of fondue fries, where cheddar, Ogleshield and Somerset cider combine into a dangerously addictive sauce that will have you queueing up for more.
Where to find it: Maltby Street market, Bermondsey
What to order: a grilled queso chihuaha, spicy chorizo and rocket sandwich
The Cinnamon Snail, New York
Left: the Cinnamon Snail truck. Right: Thai chargrilled tofu. Photographs courtesy of The Cinnamon Snail
Bold chef Mr Adam Sobel launched his truck on Valentine’s Day seven years ago, on a noble mission to bring vegan food to a wider audience. He doesn’t try to mimic the taste of meat. Instead, he celebrates the flavour of alternative ingredients in towering creations such as the indomitable Beastmode Burger Deluxe. Try to save room for dessert. There’s an impressive range of 30 decadent doughnuts and pastries each day, filled with whatever is in season. The pistachio coconut mini cakes are indulgent, but apparently also guilt free. It’s all done with humour – see the iced pigs on its meat-free pop tarts – and vegan food has never tasted so good.
Le Camion Qui Fume, Paris
Left: Le Camion qui Fume. Right: le BBQ Burger. Photographs courtesy of Le Camion Qui Fume
This is Franco-American relations at their finest. Californian expat Ms Kristin Frederick and her partner Mr Frédéric Fédière have injected new life into the French capital’s dining scene with this hamburger wagon. Ms Frederick set up Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Truck) because she wanted to recreate the burgers of her childhood with fresh French products. It has pitched up all over the city, from near the government buildings at La Defense to private parties at the American embassy. The brioche buns are the key ingredient here, freshly made by an artisan bakery each morning, and the beef is from a farm in Normandy. There are both traditional and sweet potato fries and a rotating range of imaginative sauces. Round off your meal with a s’more – biscuit, chocolate and melted marshmallow – said to be former President Barack Obama’s favourite barbecue snack.
Where to find it: MK2 Bibliothèque, 132 avenue de France; Place de la Madeleine, 11 Place de la Madeleine
What to order: le bleu, a beef patty in a brioche bun with fourme d’Ambert cheese, caramelised onions, port sauce and mayonnaise
Left: Salt. Photograph by Thuymi of AdventureFaktory.com. Right: burger and fries. Photograph courtesy of @findsalt
The founders of this truck, which serves burgers on the beach in Dubai, were tired of restaurants so they decided to take things outside. They refer to Salt as “a lifestyle movement”. That means pop-up art exhibitions and gigs with your sliders. The name refers to the salt of life, a simple and necessary ingredient. The menu is refreshingly simple, which is a balm for hard workers with decision fatigue. It’s either chicken or halal wagyu beef served in a buttery bun with fries. Brave regulars have the fire fries, with extra pickles and jalapeños. The day starts with breakfast burgers and it stays open until 3.00am for late-night sustenance. Salt delivers and is usually inundated with breakfast orders.
Where to find it: Kite Beach 2C Street, Umm Suqeim
What to order: chicken Cheetos (deep-fried chicken with melted cheese and Cheetos served in a bun)