It’s easy to see why food trucks have been one of the more interesting dining fads of late: low start-up costs mean young people with great ideas can get a leg-up, while diners get all the convenience of fast-food with the quality of local produce. Plus, the atmosphere’s unbeatable.
While it’s by no means an exhaustive list, these are a few of our favourites restaurants on the road…
This little bit of New Orleans on wheels rolls around Melbourne creating a bit of a problem, frankly: once you’ve eaten a shrimp po’boy, it’s kinda hard to think about much else. Catfish, pulled pork and fried green tomato versions are also available, as of course is the van’s namesake, seafood gumbo.
One of the originals remains one of the best. Beatbox Kitchen (thus named because it looks and sounds like a giant beatbox with a kitchen inside it) keeps it simple, with one meaty burger and another mushroomy one. But who needs more when they’re this good?
Despite appearances to the contrary, there’s no law that says all food trucks must distribute American Dude Food. The point is proven with panache by Trailer Made, where a former Cumulus chef makes considered seasonal dishes taking inspiration from Mediterranean, Asian and Israeli cuisine. Good stuff that’s actually good for you. Who knew?
Do we really need a portable creme brûlée vendor? Well, given the crowds clamouring for crunchy/gooey treats every time these guys cruise into town, the answer is, apparently, yes. Using fresh eggs, cream and locally-grown vanilla from country Victoria, the White Brothers whip up these wee delights and the set fire to them to order. OK, OK: we do need a portable creme brûlée vendor.
Not strictly a food van, Fancy Hank’s is more of an itinerant barbecue oasis, popping up where it’s most needed and eventually moving on again. But, we’ll make an exception because these guys are the business: their sixteen-hour beef ribs are as moist as cake, and the smoky, sticky pulled pork is the best this side of the Carolinas. And, perhaps surprisingly for such a meat-fixated business, Hank’s salads are tasty enough to justify a visit on their own (if that were possible).
Essentially a travelling barn, The Veggie Patch Van walks (or drives) the talk: built from reclaimed timber, its kitchen is powered by PV panels and the engine runs on veggie oil. But, you’re probably less concerned with what’s in their tank than what’s in yours: think falafel burgers covered in herbs, fresh pasta, freshly-squeezed juice smoothies and home-made tarts.
Once known as Cantina Mobil (until a ‘a corporate giant stomped on their sombrero’), these amigos have been cruising Sydney streets for nigh on two years. Their chilorio pork burrito, with slaw, pinto beans, Monterrey Jack cheese, chipotle mayo and coriander in a soft tortilla is hard to go past (unless you’d prefer the chipotle beef). Apart from the roving truck, there are also two non-mobile vans in Darlo and Glebe, which have the added attraction of Mexican beer…
Two dudes in a Combi making Jaffles. It’s not complicated, but it’s testament to the power of simple pleasures. Another simple pleasure is the obvious pride the boys take in naming their creations: The Jean-Claude Van Ham (Leg Ham, Cheese, Tomato & Knock Out Sauce); The Goldie Corn (Creamed Corn & Cheese); and the David JaffleHoff (Homemade Spaghetti Bolognese & Cheese). Yep.
Don’t you dare complain about too much Mexican: it’s like complaining about having too much gold or being excessively handsome. And anyway, Al Carbón is doing something completely different – spit-roasting marinated meat over hot charcoal, Sonora-style, and serving it up with charred pineapple, salsa roja, coriander and onions in tortilla’s made fresh to order. Too much Mexican…. pfft.
Burger Theory has the distinction not only of being the most popular food truck in town, but of being one of Adelaide’s hottest food destinations full-stop. The diner does it simple: they offer two classic burgers and fries. But, because they use great local produce, like Coorong Angus Beef and Adelaide blue cheese, we can’t get enough. Although the Burgers are currently at a fixed location, they’ll be back on the road again early this year.
Papa makes hotdogs. He offers the choice of five different kinds of snags (including German Bratwurst and Aussie Wagyu, of course), then lets you pick your topping (seasoned pickles? sauteed mushrooms? homemade slaw?) and a sauce (Coopers Ale BBQ!). You should visit your Papa more often…
Combining perhaps the two most on-trend culinary obsessions of late is The Bun Mobile, which dishes out sweet and salty Chinese buns in their troupe of roving vans. Delicately constructed from seasonal ingredients, the heavenly parcels contain ingredients like twice-cooked pork and sakura pickles, or wagyu with shitake, or Louisiana spiced chicken and baby cos.
Hobart has some of the country’s best looking streets, but they only recently received their very first food truck. Taco Taco, run by two local chefs, uses handmade tortillas and Tasmanian produce, like Huon salmon with caramelised lime, 10-hour chipotle pork and Achiote chicken with ancho chilli. Hobart’s streets have the van they deserve.
West Australians love a burger, so they know what they’re talking about when they say Butty’s is among the best. These are no delicate, silver-service burgers: Butty’s send em out in foil, beef blackened by flames, oozing with cheese. Beef ribs, buffalo wings and crinkle-cut fries go pretty good too.
One of the most innovative food trucks comes in the form of Comida do Sul, which serves Perth with home-cooked Brazilian cuisine. Takes on traditional dishes like the Choripan come with a sliced chorizo, mayo, vinaigrette and chimchurri, while the Prato Feito comes with grilled beef, roasted farofa, black beans, rice, fried cassava and kale. And, because they know not to mess with a good thing, they sell fresh coconuts, straight-up.
Roy Chin’s been making people crazy for his handmade dumplings from a blend of five different flours since 2009, so he’s an elder of the food truck scene. Like any dumpling worth its broth, Jumplings’ dumplings are a showcase for great local produce, filled with scallop and truffle, kangaroo and sambal chilli tiger prawn.