Food trucks used to be convenience food, a last effort to get food in your stomach in the fleeting free moments of a hectic day. But nowadays, trucks are mobile gourmets, dishing up the best bites in a casual setting and luckily, many trucks have Latin food on the menu.
In search of the best, TLK hit the road to find food trucks serving up the most fresh, most authentic, and best tasting Latin dishes in cities all over the country. From Puerto Rican food in Atlanta, to Brazilian in Los Angeles, Cuban in San Francisco and Mexican in Chicago and New York, here a round up of the best Latin food trucks in the United States.
From empanadas and tortas to fish sliders and Cuban sandwiches, no matter what you're craving, you'll find it here.
Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey
With multiple locations in the Northeast, The Taco Truck’s specialty is serving Mexican taqueria food, comparable to street food served in Mexico.
The trucks are focused on sustainability too, meaning they use organic and locally-grown ingredients whenever possible.
Popular items on The Taco Truck’s menu include: Pescado Tacos, loaded with catfish, red cabbage, pico de gallo, Mexican tartar sauce and chipotle salsa and Al Pastor Tacos, with chunks of adobo marinated pork with cilantro, onions, pineapple, and fresh green salsa.
Barbacoa de Costilla Tortas are another customer favorite. The dish has pasilla (chili) braised, shredded beef served in a toasted chipotle salsa torta with white onions, pickled jalapeños, avocado, crema, and black bean spread.
Currently, the trucks are in Boston, New York City’s High Line, Jersey City, and Newark NJ. There’s also a “truck-to-mortar” store in Hoboken and a new Morristown, NJ truck location is in the works.
Port Reading, N.J.
Known as the Empanada Guy, Carlos Serrano specializes in making, yes…empanadas. His “Red Truck” has a permanent spot in Port Reading, N.J., and travels to other locations for events such as carnivals, fests, and street fairs.
The Empanada Guy’s top sellers are beef, chicken, cheese, Mexican chorizo, and lobster empanadas. He also sells Cuban sandwiches served with white rice, black beans, and yuca.
“My customers are always raving about how savory and filling my empanadas are,” says Serrano. “And I believe my empanadas are unique because I use high quality meat and poultry along with fresh herbs and spices with a mild spicy kick to them.”
Follow the Empanada Guy on Twitter.
This food truck, whose name means turtle in Spanish, specializes in Mexican tortas, “with influences from Spain, South America and the Caribbean,” says Andrew Smiedala, Tortuga’s owner and chef.
The Guadalajara sandwich stacks breaded chicken, tomato, avocado, pickled vegetables, and queso Oaxaca. Another sandwich, the Havana, has roasted pork, jamon Serrano, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, and crunchy pickles.
“Our customers love Latin food because they are looking for food that is original, vibrant, spicy, savory, fresh and seasonal and most of all, adventurous,” says Smiedala.
Food trucks may be new to South Carolina, but the Asada truck is making a good impression with the locals, who track the truck’s location on Twitter.
“Our customers love that our food is fresh and made to order,” says co-owner Roberto Cortez. “We blend different spices and seasonings from different Latin American countries to make up our marinades and flavors.”
Asada is fusing “gourmet taste with street food flair.” The menu has a few specials every week but the standards include tacos, quesadillas and burritos.
The Carne Asada Taco fills corn tortillas with grilled flank steak, cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream. The Pork Asada Quesadilla is roasted pork in a flour tortilla with melted Mexican-style cheese, topped with pico de gallo and sour cream.
Buen Provecho is the only food truck in Georgia serving Puerto Rican cuisine.
“While we continue to educate Atlanta and its surrounding cities about Puerto Rican food, they have embraced the preparation, seasoning (sazón) and the final products in our diverse menu,” says truck owner Elmer Passapera, explaining Puerto Rican food has influences from Taino Indians, Africans and Spaniards.
The standard menu includes beef empanadas, Relleno de Papa (Stuffed Potato Balls) and Sorullos (Corn Fritters).
Their popular sandwich, Tripleta, which loosely translated means "triple threat," is made of steak, pork, and ham with white American cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and Potato Stix.
Buen Provecho serves desserts too, such as flan, tres leches (milk cake), quesito (cheese filled pastry), and guayaba (guava).
“Our menu embraces the authenticity of our beautiful island, so anyone who orders anything from our food truck will truly get the experience of what is offered in Puerto Rico,” says Passapera.
Find the truck’s locations on Twitter.
New York City
New York City’s Mexicue truck mixes Mexican food with “down-home” barbecue.
“We really focus on putting together unique dishes that have both a Latin influence, as well as a Southern American Barbecue,” says Thomas Kelly, Mexicue’s co-founder. “We take all the classic barbecue cooking traditions of slow and low smokes and blend them with really vibrant, exciting Latin flavors.”
Among the truck’s offerings: smoked short rib tacos, featuring Memphis mole, pickled onion, romaine and cotija; smokey BBQ bean tacos with cotija, habanero aioli slaw and cilantro; and Berkshire pulled pork sliders with red pickled onions and avocado smash.
Nashville may be known for music, but Mas Tacos Por Favor food truck is a hit too.
“We are a small taqueria with a homey feel, great energy and we take great pride in the food we prepare,” says owner Teresa Mason.
Customer favorites include Pozole Verde, a soup made with a homemade bone broth, fresh lime, and vegetables; and fried avocado tacos, which are a “vegetarian take on a Baja style fish taco,” says Mason. “Crunchy, fresh cabbage, and onions with a spicy white sauce.”
With a theme of great food and Lucha Libre Mexican wrestlers, Chicago’s Tamale Spaceship food truck is serving Mexican cuisine with character!
The truck’s specialty is tamales, serving eight to 10 variations every day. All tamales are gluten free. Vegan options are available.
“Our homemade-style food features flavors from all over Mexico,” says Manny Hernandez, the truck’s co-founder. “From complex Oaxacan mole to simple sauces, our food is all house made, we use local and seasonal ingredients to reach the quality needed to satisfy the Chicago foodies.”
Baton Rouge, La.
The Taco de Paco truck, which started in 2010, offers “Cajun/Latin fusion” food. While specials change often, one thing remains the same.
“We take the approach of the taco as a food vessel, with the tortilla as the only mandatory base,” says John Snow, co-founder of the truck. “From there, you can build some very unique, delicious, and amazing flavors with Latin influences and Cajun roots where the tortilla is the tool that brings it all together.”
In addition to tacos, the menu includes burritos, quesadillas and signature dishes like Guac Balls, fresh avocado, rolled into a ball, fried and topped with cilantro and habañero aioli; as well as Catfish Conquistador, made of fried Louisiana catfish, a sweet and tangy homemade slaw and a house chipotle mayonnaise dressing.
Located at the corner of 7th and Trinity in Austin, Llama’s Food Trailer is serving up Peruvian Creole.
“We try to offer a balance of traditional dishes and new fusions that best suits our street food trailer,” says owner Miguel Barrutia, noting Peruvian cuisine is a mix of cooking from Spain, Italy, Africa, China and Japan.
The most popular dish is the Lomo Saltado, a beef tenderloin stir-fry with tomatoes, red onions, soy sauce, fried potatoes, garlic rice, green onions, and cilantro.
Another customer favorite is the Aji de Gallina, a dish of pulled chicken in a creamy ají amarillo sauce, with Yukon gold potato, a hardboiled egg, Alfonso olive, and garlic rice.
“What all customers love about it is the execution of our dishes, the quality of our ingredients, and our attention to the taste,” says Barrutia.
Los Angeles has a lot of food trucks, but Ta Bom is L.A.’s only Brazilian food truck.
“Our customers love the different spices and flavors of our food,” Julie Kim, co-owner of the truck, which means, “It’s Good!” in Portuguese. “Brazilians love to use salt, garlic and pepper and we incorporate that on most of our menu items.”
The truck’s menu includes everything from appetizers to plates to dessert. The most popular order is coxinha, (available in original or spicy), which are croquettes filled with shredded chicken and cream cheese.
Babaloo Truck (Now Closed)
A Cuban food truck serving the Monterey Peninsula and San Francisco Bay area, Babaloo has many devotees, many of whom are probably “I Love Lucy” fans.
“I feel Babaloo loyal customers love the quality, consistency, and ‘simple, yet true flavors’ of our Cuban sandwiches,” says truck owner, Gladys Parada.
Specialties include the Ricky Ricardo, a classic Cuban sandwich; The Lucy! Lucy!, a grilled chicken with mango-avocado cream sandwich, and The Babaloo, a black bean, hummus, and grilled fresh vegetable sandwich.
The Fred and Ethel is another Babaloo special featuring fish sliders, tropical slaw, and lemon creme fraiche.
Even in Hawaii, you can find a Latin food truck.
Pacos Tacos, serving up Mexican food, has three locations on Kauai, including Kapaa (4-1638 Kuhio Highway), Kilauea (4460 Hooku Road) and Lihue (3501 Rice Street).
“Our customers love the carnitas tacos or burritos,” says truck owner Antonio Aguilar, noting fish tacos are another popular dish.