Best Food Trucks in the South
The Deep South list of 47 trucks serving up restaurant-quality eats across 10 states.
The revolution took a while to roll into some places, but now almost every major Southern city has a group of food trucks serving up restaurant-quality eats. From biscuits in Nashville to donuts in Florida, dumplings in Durham, crepes in Arkansas, empanadas in New Orleans, barbecue in South Carolina and chicken and waffles in Atlanta, the variety of cuisine coming from the South’s food trucks is endless. Use our list of the Top 47 to find one near you and get in line for a taste. We’ve included where these trucks usually hang out, but almost all of them use Facebook and Twitter to announce their locations and menus for the week, so check before you go. Remember, finding them is all part of the fun and “mobile” doesn’t necessarily mean fast. These trucks are making their dishes from scratch, and the goodness they’re serving up is worth a wait in the sunshine.
One-of-a-kind, authentic Cuban food catering to its Miami clientele, this truck serves up Freedom Fritters filled with cod, conch, salted corn, sweet corn and malanga and rellenos filled with a choice of lobster, pulled pork or ground beef. Mixing American staples with Cuban traditions, this truck is the place to be in North Miami Beach.
American Meltdown serves far more than the typical grilled cheese sandwich. Try menu staples like The Matador – sourdough bread, Manchego cheese and Romesco sauce – or a special like the Kubla Khan with pulled pork smoked all day and added to sourdough with Asian coleslaw, Dijon mustard and provolone.
This truck’s name pretty much says it all, but we’ll tell you a bit more. Specializing in biscuit sandwiches, like “The Princess” with Nashville’s own hot chicken, honey, house-made pickles and mustard, Biscuit Love also allows customers to make their own biscuit and add sides of cheese grits or sweet potato fries with sausage gravy. You can usually find them parked at the Franklin Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Chef Patrick Harris is self-taught, but you would never know it. After being published and ranked nationally as one of the “Top 10 Chefs of Tomorrow,” he moved to Richmond and started Boka Tako, where he mixes Asian and American flavors and serves them taco-style. The menu offers breakfast options like Mexican toast (French toast with a corn tortilla cooked on top) with agave butter, cinnamon sugar and banana, and lunch specials like a fennel ribeye taco with sweet potato hash, jalapeno remoulade and cheddar cheese.
Serving up brisket in delicious new ways, this gourmet delicatessen features signature sandwiches like the Texas (smoked brisket and BBQ sauce on Texas toast) and the Baltimore (smoked brisket, green apple horseradish, mayo and raw onion on a toasted French roll). Or, just snack on items like Bacon Caramel Popcorn. Find them at the city’s monthly food truck roundups and around UCF.
6. Charlie’s Donut Truck
Alys Beach, Florida
Located on the north side of scenic Highway 30A, this truck specializes in fresh pastries and donuts, that is, until they run out. This truck is the perfect place to grab breakfast to-go before hitting the beach. Opening up bright and early at 6:30 a.m. daily, Charlie’s also serves coffee, milk and other breakfast beverages until noon. Find it parked next to the amphitheatre on Somerset Street.
At Chirba Chirba – literally translated as “eat, eat” in Mandarin – you’ll find Asian street fare specializing in Chinese dumplings. Try the Porkedame, a traditional pork and scallion dumpling with edamame, or Fluffy Buns of sweet, doughy bread filled stuffed with filling. The truck travels around Raleigh-Durham but can often be found on Duke’s West Campus and at Cliff’s Meat Market in Carrboro on the weekends.
Serving hand-held, French crepes right off the square in Bentonville, Crepes Paulette serves both sweet and savory versions, or build your own. Food writer Kat Robinson recommends La Reubenesque with turkey pastrami and cheese, and we recommend taking advantage of the truck’s outdoor seating area. Find them at 213 NE A St. for lunch Wednesday through Sunday.
Curbside Chef/Owner Nick Hufft is taking burgers to a new level. He grinds his own beef, cuts his own fries and buys all his produce from a local organic farm. With topping options like the Pork Belly Preserves and Praline Bacon, it’s hard to doubt the claim that “Curbside makes the best burgers and sausages you’ve ever put in your mouth!” Find them on the LSU campus, downtown or at the city’s Wednesday Food Truck Wround-Up.
10. Dolce Vita
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Romanian native Bogdan Mocanu’s signature white chef coat might be the first indication that his pizza is far from ordinary. Mocanu came to the food truck business after working in fine dining restaurants in New York and New Orleans. His passion for gourmet food and dedication to fresh ingredients have many claiming this is the best pizza in Baton Rouge. You can select a traditional slice of pepperoni or pay a mere $3 for one of Mocanu’s specials like shrimp and crawfish au gratin or roasted duck with sliced peaches, buffalo mozzarella and a drizzle of Wild Turkey glaze. Dolce Vita can usually be found at the corner of North and North 4th streets.
A less-guilty pleasure, Diggity Doughnuts are all-natural, vegan and whole grain, but that doesn’t mean they’re boring. Try the Bailey’s & Coffee flavor or a more exotic combination like peanut butter and Sriracha. With regular appearances at the Sunday Brunch Farmers Market in Medway Park, it’s easy to taste Diggity Doughnuts a dozen at a time. (Sugar- and gluten-free versions are also available.)
This locally-owned bakery in Edgewood serves up some of the tastiest treats in the South. Their two cupcake trucks can be found around the city serving daily specials. Cult favorites include Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” in tribute to “The King” (a mix of moist banana cake with peanut butter buttercream, crispy pieces of bacon, a drizzle of chocolate and sprinkle of salt), Mississippi Mud (chocolate cake with a chocolate fudge frosting poured over mini marshmallows) or Roll Tide Red Velvet (moist “crimson” velvet cake topped with cream cheese frosting, red sprinkles and an Alabama “A”). Find them regularly at The Summit.
Though the menu changes daily, you can be certain you’ll find something eclectic at New Orleans’ first solar-electric food truck. Some menu favorites have included The SaSquash, and empanada filled with roasted butternut and summer squash with caramelized onions and sharp cheddar, and the Bean-a Vista Social Club with Cuban black beans cooked in citrus with fried plantains and coconut “Jazzmen” rice. This trucks moves all over the city, so best to check their Facebook page.
Farmhand Foods is a North Carolina company that connects the state’s pasture-based livestock farmers with local restaurants and retailers. Though several food trucks serve their meat (like Sympathy for the Deli and American Meltdown), the Sausage Wagon is their very own truck. The wagon’s menu includes sandwiches of fresh-baked rolls from local Guglhupf Bakery like the country breakfast link with maple butter and apples or spicy Italian sausage with fennel chow-chow and mustard. Find them at Full Steam Brewery and other spots throughout the area.
With a menu inspired by chef-style street food, this truck’s specialties range from the Paella Dog of chorizo, saffron rice, pequillo and Spanish onion relish to the Shorty, a braised short rib topped with horseradish Dijon aioli, pickled red onions and shaved fennel on a toasted baguette. For dessert, there’s the Dounut-wich: seasonal flavors of ice cream wedged between two slices of fresh donut. Find them at Promo Only and the local food truck bazaar events held monthly.
Lafayette’s French fry truck has quickly become a favorite, hailing from the Freetown neighborhood near downtown but willing to travel just about anywhere. Right now, their King Cake Fries topped with cream cheese and colored sugars are the thing to order, but if you’d rather save them for dessert, start with the “Poo-Yie Fry” with beef roast gravy or “Ballpark” with chili and cheddar cheese. Lately, this truck has been parked in the lot at Johnston and Roselawn.
A mobile addition to the existing cafe, Fuel food truck serves seasonal items like softshell crab sandwiches, in addition to tacos, traditional breakfast and organic chicken noodle soup with grilled cheese. This truck moves around a lot, but does frequent the Memphis Farmers Market.
Named Atlanta’s Best Food Truck in 2011 by Creative Loafing, Good Food Truck is not just a truck, but also a trike and rickshaw/curry cart. This family of vehicles serves easy-to-carry street food with a Southern comfort feel, as well as Indian, Mexican and Asian flavors. The truck is also never seen without The Poodle, a French toast hot dog bun with a beef dog, apple-maple slaw, spicy mustard and maple syrup. With its fleet of vehicles and trusty dog, the Good Food Truck can go almost anywhere, including your home, but you can find its Soup Cart every Wednesday at the Goat Farm Arts Center at 1200 Foster St. from noon-2:30 p.m.
Voted “Best Food Truck” in the Nashville Scene and The Tennessean, this gourmet grilled cheese truck definitely lives up to the hype. Featuring seasonal dishes, this truck’s specialties range from The B & B of Tennessee — buttermilk cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and apple jam — to the delectable Pimento Mac & Cheese with truck-made pimento cheese. Often set up downtown or at Vanderbilt, The Grilled Cheeserie also posts a weekly schedule on its website.
Livin’ off the griddle, Hello My Name is BBQ lives up to its name and introduces your mouth to Holy City beer-braised barbecue served on brioche. If that’s not enough, you can top it with barbecued bacon. If you like to hunt your food, then try to stalk the food truck at all points in the Greater Charleston area. Not a hunter? Visit the Hello my Name is BBQ World Headquarters located at 616 Meeting St. Monday-Saturday from 11 am.-4 p.m. for a sit-down experience without snootiness.
Southern-inspired, Honeysuckle Gelato is made from scratch with fresh dairy from local Georgia Farms. Flavors come in Southern accents, like Pecan and Bourbon and “The Kang” of all gelato: Banana with Peanut Butter Caramel. For those who are lactose intolerant, Honeysuckle uses whole fruits to create sorbets like Mango-Peach and Salted Watermelon. Look for them around the area as the weather starts to warm up, and check the calendar on their website for their full schedule.
Run by a husband and wife with a passion for barbecue, The Humble Pig serves some of the best pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked chicken wings in the Triangle area. Find sandwiches, Carolina Ribs, Brunswick Stew and Texas Cheese Fries aboard the truck, which parks every Thursday night at Deep South Bar.
Named after an island off the coast of Spain, Ibiza Bites serves up “SoLa,” a new global brand of cuisine that combines Latin American flavors with good ‘ole Deep South favorites. There’s signature dishes like Lobster Mac & Cheese, Pumpkin Raviolis on the Bayou and Sweet Georgia Fried Chicken. When not busy with private events, Ibiza Bites can be found at Woodruff Art Center’s Street Food Thursdays for lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
24. Los Dos Hermanos
Arguably some of the best Mexican food in a city that has a plethora of Tex-Mex cuisine, this cash-only taco truck has become a staple in the Magic City. Located at 215 W. Valley Ave., with a second truck Downtown at 1st Ave. North and 14th St., Los Dos Hermanos sells tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas and tostadas filled with everything from the conventional (steak, chicken and pork) to the more adventurous (chorizo, cow tongue and cow cheek).
Asheville native Nate Kelly serves Southern sandwich favorites with a twist. Though the menu is small, he considers each option a work of art. Try the Pesto Grilled Cheese, served with provolone, colby jack, heirloom tomatoes and pumpkin seed pesto, with an order of curly fries. Nate usually hangs out at The Bywater, Pisgah Brewery and local festivals.
At the corner of Amite and West streets in downtown Jackson, you’ll find the city’s first food truck serving “street food with a Southern flair.” Lauren Davis, known as Lurny D, offers up favorite like The Goober Burger, topped with peanut butter and bacon, and the Sloppy Jalopy with American cheese, sloppy joe and deep fried jalapenos. Just look for a brightly colored truck resembling The Mystery Machine from “Scooby Doo.”
27. The Meltdown on 30A
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
If leaving the beautiful Gulf Coast beaches for lunch is too much to stomach, head over to this convenient food truck. Cheesy creations include The Meatball Melt, Grilled Pimento Cheese and Bacon and the Brown Bag Ham and Smoked Gouda. Roasted Tomato Soup is also available on the side. Find The Meltdown at 2235 E. County Hwy. 30A, trailer C, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
28. Nalu’s Tropical Takeout
St. Augustine, Florida
Fresh fish tacos and burritos with wild-caught Mahi Mahi and Ahi tuna, plus a ton of homemade sauces and salsa for topping are what you’ll find at Nalu’s. There’s also fish jerky, chowder, burritos, burgers and sashimi, but this truck was voted “Best of St. Augustine” for its tacos. Find the original taco stand in the parking lot of The Surf Station at 1020 Anastasia Blvd. near the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
Although Nana G’s Chicken and Waffles is “newer” to the street food scene, this truck’s recipes go back 75 years. Nana G’s grandson took her simple recipes for items Belgian-style waffles and 48-hour fried chicken to the streets. Did we mention the waffles are infused with bacon? Try to catch the truck on Mondays at Dinner at the Depot in downtown Kennesaw, at Food Truck Wednesdays at The Stove Works (112 Krog St. in Atlanta) or Food Truck Thursdays in Midtown.
As their website proclaims, this is “quite simply the only burger you’ll ever want.” Each burger is made with Piedmontese fresh ground chuck, and menu favorites like The Fried Green Tomato Burger with egg and pimento cheese and Carolina Burger topped with cheese, onion, slaw and mustard have made the truck so popular they’ve recently opened a stationary restaurant. Find them throughout the Triangle at all hours of the day and night, and don’t leave without a side of hand-cut onion rings.
Nashville’s 2012 Battle of the Food Trucks winner, Riff’s motto is “Eat Good Food.” With a menu that changes weekly, this truck is always serving what’s fresh and in-season, whether it be a Thai noodle salad, fish tacos or jerk chicken. Often parked at the Nashville Farmers Market, Riff’s also has a pop-up restaurant dinner coming up February 1 with Smoke Et Al.
Knoxville’s first gourmet food truck and an East Tennessee favorite, Savory and Sweet’s menu is just that. Offering everything from Pumpkin Ravioli in a garden fresh sage butter sauce to roasted butternut squash salad with spiced pecans and cranberries, the sweet comes into play with iced apricot tea and made-from-scratch chocolate crinkle cookies. Savory and Sweet can often be found at the Market Square Farmers’ Market and Bearden Beer Market on Fridays.
Comfort food that’s good for you? Shindigs is serving it from in and around downtown Birmingham. Grass-fed beef burgers, steamed buns, grilled cheese and tomato soup, vegan spaghetti, crispy chicken livers and candied bacon and whipped cream for dessert all grace the current menu, which could be why Andrew Zimmern recently tweeted that Shindigs is a “superb B’ham food truck.”
34. Sit ‘N Stay Pet Cafe
The only truck on our list catering to four-legged diners, this mobile gourmet pet treat and doggie “pupsicle” truck, known around town as the “mutt truck,” sets up at Orlando-area farmers’ markets, dog parks and social and food truck events. All treats are made with human-grade, natural and organic ingredients. Recent specials have included chicken pot pie-flavored treats, Poochi Sushi and peanut butter, carob and banana popsicles.
This smokin’ food truck goes way beyond barbecue. Try choosing between the Fiddlers Biscuit (sour cream sage biscuit with shredded smoked chicken, Tennessee wildflower honey and green onions) or the Pimento Brisket Tacos. Then, there’s the sides. Will it be fried pickled okra, local collard slaw or taters with smoked habanero Ketchup? Smoke Et Al can often be found in Centennial or Church Street Park, but check their website calendar for locations.
36. Smoke-N-Hot BBQ
Located at 230 Self Road, this 2011 Taste of Calhoun BBQ winner and fan favorite is known for its exceptional plates with an Irish twist. Order the the rib tip, pulled pork sandwich or slab of ribs paired with traditional sides of coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad.
New to Little Rock, this truck specializes in steamed buns but also serves sandwiches like the Umami Burger, BBALT with Benton’s Bacon, Arkansas heirloom lettuces and tomatoes, and The Razorback with shredded pork, local ham and Shiro mustard. Then there’s the bowls of chicken and dumplings, country hash and shrimp and grits that make choosing just one item very difficult. Try and save room for a truck-made fried pie for dessert. Southern Gourmasian frequents Food Truck Fridays downtown but can be found all over Little Rock during the rest of the week.
Incorporating flavors from the South and Southwest, dishes from this truck include the Southern Soul Bowl of roasted sweet potatoes, collard greens, slow-roasted pork and tomato chutney and the Blackened Fish Sandwich with farm-raised tilapia topped with charred green onion and jalapeno tartar sauce. The truck is usually downtown, in Cahaba Heights or Avondale, but track it on their website for exact locations.
This Memphis truck has found its niche by serving up a variety of dishes – kabob-style. Most include meats and are served on a skewer, but there’s also shrimp, tofu and salads. Locations can vary, but the truck is most often found at 855 Ridge Lake or Downtown at Jefferson and Main from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Run by hamburger connoisseur and Executive Chef Rebecca Kelly, this truck is known for its twists on comfort food. Shepherd’s Pie comes in a wrap, grilled cheese isn’t your mama’s with tomato, pesto and bacon, and The Ritz is a burger to lust after. Find Street Chefs at Food Truck Thursdays on Tharpe Street and around town for lunch during the week.
Health food for the soul, Sweet Auburn BBQ is Southern barbecue with French, Asian and Mexican inspirations. Pair some meaty brisket or slow-smoked ribs with top-selling Spicy Jamaican Collards, Crunchy Asian Pear Coleslaw or double-roasted sweet potatoes. Otherwise, try the high-fat and highly recommended mac and cheese with French-style Béchamel sauce. Sweet Auburn parks in the historic Curb Market at 209 Edgewood Ave. Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Though Sympathy for the Deli is less than a year old, they’re already a local favorite for sandwiches in the Triangle. Find deli classics like the Reuben, BLT and Grilled Caprese aboard this truck, all made with meats from local organic farms. A side of Peakles (house-made, pickled sugar snap peas) or coleslaw completes the meal. They’re often parked at Full Steam Brewery and local food truck events.
One of the Red Stick’s longest-running food trucks and voted “the favorite” in a recent poll by Country Roads Magazine, Taco de Paco is extremely accessible and its bright orange color is hard to miss. Chef Aaron Brown creates interesting taco combinations with Louisiana-centric ingredients and, according to Baton Rouge food blogger Jay Ducote, is known for going out on a limb with his nachos. Watch for the Holy Mole and Bite and Barbequez versions at the city’s weekly Wednesday Food Truck Wround-Up and around the LSU campus.
Serving up childhood favorites from a 1965 camper named Doris, Tin Can Treats is loaded with vintage glass bottle sodas, summer treats like Creamsicles and ice cream sandwiches and hot chocolate, caramel apples and cotton candy for winter. There’s also popcorn and jars full of retro candies. Look for this truck as the weather starts to warm up and satisfy that sweet tooth.
We hated to close out the list without a coffee truck, so were thrilled to find this one in The Big Easy, serving from a 1949 classic Woody Teardrop trailer no less. Espresso, lattes, iced coffee, homemade pop tarts, scones and teacakes are all available. Find them in the 3700 block or Magazine Street or serving coffee to starts like Oprah and Forest Whitaker on local movie sets.
Arguably Lafayette’s most popular food truck, Viva La Waffle lives up to its name serving waffle sandwiches like the Rosceaux – buttermilk fried chicken with spicy honey drizzle – and the Figgy Piggy, layered with Louisiana fig preserves, prosciutto, goat cheese and arugula. For Mardi Gras season, a King Cake Waffle sandwich with buttery icing and your choice of filling has been on special. Location and specials change daily, but the truck can often be found next to Burger King on St. Mary Street near the UL Lafayette campus. Regular hours are 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and they usually sell out fast.
Made famous by Anthony Bourdain when he visited New Orleans for his Cajun Country episode of “No Reservations” in 2011, the Yakamein Lady Linda Green’s cups of spicy noodle soup are still one of the city’s most popular street foods. Green and her cart can be found at street food roundups, along the parade route during Mardi Gras season, Jazz Fest and the Crescent City Farmer’s Market.
Thanks to Deep South interns Rebecca Lynn Aulph, Kayla Smith and Anna Cox for helping to compile this list and to everyone on Twitter who shared their favorite food trucks with us!
Notes: Trucks are listed in alphabetical order, not ranked by goodness. The state of Texas is not included, because Austin alone has more than 1,000 food trucks, making it hard to narrow them down and be fair to other cities. There were some trucks we wanted to include that just weren’t regular or accessible enough so we left them out. Trucks that recently converted to brick-and-mortar locations didn’t qualify. Did we leave out your favorite truck or include one that’s recently stopped rolling? Please let us know by commenting on this list or e-mailing [email protected]
Photo Credits: All photos (except for Freetown Fries by Deep South) pulled from food truck Facebook pages. From top: C&S Brisket Bus, American Meltdown Patty Melt, Chirba Chirba dumplings, Curbside burger, Diggity Doughnuts, Farmhand Foods Sausage Wagon, Freetown Fries King Cake Fries, Good Food Truck, Honeysuckle Gelato, Ibiza Bites Venezuelan Carne Mecheda over stone-ground cheddar grits with a fried plantain ribbon, Meltdown on 30A grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and bacon, Nalu’s Tropical Takeout truck, Only Burger’s Sloppy Tommy, Shindigs menu, Sit ‘N Stay Pet Cafe truck, Sweet Auburn barbecue plate, Taco de Paco taco, Velvet to Geaux trailer and American Meltdown truck.