Take a healthy, innovative, sustainable, and gourmet approach
By Nicole McDermott | Greatist.com
Eating street meat straight out of a roach coach — not exactly the most glamorous outpost for people looking for a quick bite. But lucky us, street vendors are hitting the road and glamming up fast food. We rounded up 26 of the best food trucks across the U.S. with meals on wheels that take a healthy, innovative, sustainable, and gourmet approach to standard street fare. Good Humor trucks may have been at the forefront of mobile treats, but now gourmet sandwiches, smoothies and salads are taking over. Here’s where to find the best of the best:
1. Blenders and Bowls — Austin, TX
Photo: Blenders and Bowls
Look out for this bright yellow truck with matching bananas strewn across the service window. Blenders and Bowls specialize in organic açaí bowls — a thick blend of the açaí berry topped with hemp granola, a variety of fresh fruit, and a drizzle of honey. These guys are all about the superfoods like cacao, chia seeds, goji berries, hemp, and yerba mate (just to name a few). Right now, the seasonal bowl is the Peach Won, which is topped with genuine Texas peaches. A cold treat that can be made vegan or gluten free, the bowls go for $7 each.
Track ‘em down: @BlendersBowls, or visit the brick and mortar store at 206 East 4thSt., Austin, TX.
2. Bon Me Truck — Boston, MA
Photo: Jennifer Ngo
This baby blue truck makes the majority of its drinks, dressings, and desserts from scratch. Popular beverages like the Thai basil limeade and ginger lemonade add some spice to standard warm weather drinks. Main menu offerings include rice bowls (brown rice available!), the Bon Me sandwich, and noodle salads (all $6). The most popular choice? The soba noodle salad with tofu and shiitake mushrooms drizzled with toasted sesame dressing, says Bon Me team member Jenn Ngo. Aside from daily protein specials, the truck always has Chinese BBQ pork, spice rubbed chicken, and tofu and shiitake mushrooms.
Track ‘em down: @bonme
3. The Cinnamon Snail — New York, NY
Photo: The Cinnamon Snail
With a vegan and organic menu that changes seasonally, the snail features breakfast burritos and some pretty gourmet sandwiches when lunchtime rolls around. With no escargot actually on the menu, the snail gets its name from the truck’s signature cinnamon rolls. Expect to pay around $7 to $8 for sandwiches (like the maple mustard tempeh), and $2 to $4 for desserts like the miniature cheesecakes and vegan donuts, (and duh, those rolls).
Track ‘em down: @VeganLunchTruck
4. Clover Truck — Boston, MA
Photo: Clover Food Lab
These trucks (in 11 locations!) feature a changing menu focusing on freshness with juices, summer salads, and winter soups. The food truck fleet serves local, vegetarian, mostly organic meals. Clover jazzes up old favorites in fun ways like the hand-cut French fries with rosemary, zucchini fritters, and chilled cucumber and mint soup. The trucks themselves run on recycled vegetable oil, and all the utensils, napkins, and other items are compostable. (Now that’s green!) All sandwiches, which sell for $6 each, come in a thick hunk of warm pita bread.
Track ‘em down: @cloverfoodtruck, or visit the brick and mortar store at 7 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA.
5. Food Farm — San Diego, CA
Photo: Chris Tate
It’s hard to miss the big green reno-ed school bus that is Food Farm. Chef and owner Kari Rich puts a gourmet touch (she trained at Le Cordon Bleu California) on street food. Rich is all about local, organic, sustainable food — and most of it happens to be healthy too. They shell out staples like grass-fed beef sliders with caramelized onions, and a baby greens salad with citrus and candied nuts. Entrees go for $7, and sides for $4.
Track ‘em down: @foodfarmsd
6. GMonkey – Durham, CT
This vegetarian, eco-friendly food truck (it runs on biofuel), promises to source most of their ingredients from local farms and food producers. GMonkey offers vegan and gluten-free options, too! Vegan donuts, locally produced cheeses, sweet potato fries (cooked in 100 percent vegetarian canola oil), and organic smoothies are just a few options. Why the name? “G” for the truck’s sustainability (g for green), and “monkey” for the animal’s high intelligence and mostly vegetarian diet. The truck also features a raw food line, with items like the curried un-chicken salad (made from sprouted nuts and seeds). Meals range from $8 to $10.
Track ‘em down: @gmonkeymoblie
7. Good Food – Madison, WI
Photo: Melanie Nelson
This truck serves scratch-made soups when it’s cold, and offers daily special salads and wraps made with fresh herbs year round. “A little fresh basil or cilantro (or both) makes everything better,” says founder Melanie Nelson. While Madison has a lot of ethnic food carts, hot dog food carts, and all sorts of street-side fried treats, Nelson wanted to provide a truck focusing on leafy greens, veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and lean proteins with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Good Food vends if it’s 10 degrees or 100 degrees, and whips up custom meals with choice of a fresh apple or banana. The “Meal Deal” — the soup of the day plus a small wrap or salad — goes for $7.
Track ‘em down: @thegoodfoodcart
8. The Green Pirate Juice Truck — New York, NY
Photo: Green Pirate Juice Truck
These guys offer fresh, healthy, delicious refreshments. Green Pirate not only pumps its customers with nutritious beverages — they teach what they preach. Founder Deborah Smith, a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, offers one-on-one juicing guidance. Try the fan favorite, Pear Essentials (pear, cantaloupe, lime, cucumber, mint), or The McCarrot Park (carrot, ginger, apple). Aside from fresh juices, the truck recently added a shake made with homemade organic raw almond milk, blueberries, dates, raw cacao nibs, organic vanilla, and raw honey to the menu. Green Pirate also offers classes on healthy cooking, composting, and cleansing. Get a .50 cent discount with your own 16 oz. cup from home.
Track ‘em down: @juicepirate
8. Green Truck — Los Angeles and San Diego, CA
Photo: Kam Miceli
Green Truck believes in providing healthy, fresh, organic food — but also spreads the green past the plate. Recycled vegetable oil from the previous day’s cooking powers the trucks, and solar panels provide extra energy. They also use either recyclable or compostable utensils and packaging, which are then composted and delivered back to the farms that provide the truck’s ingredients. Burgers, like the vegan Mother Trucker (gluten-free patty, tomato, local sunflower sprouts, beet sauce, and goat’s milk feta, aged cheddar, or smoked gouda), and entrees like heirloom beet and quinoa salad sell for $7 to $10.
Track ‘em down: @GreenTruck_SD
9. Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen — Atlanta, GA
Photo: Happy Belly
This farm-to-street truck focuses on fresh, affordable food and donates 5 percent of its profits to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta. Some of the inventive creations include the happy belly signature kale Waldorf salad, with green apples, blue cheese, pecans, applewood smoked bacon, and honey dressing, and the puffin paleo (free-range chicken on a bed of sautéed zucchini noodles, pine nuts, and fresh basil pesto). Meals are $8 to $10.
Track ‘em down: @happybellytruck
10. Hola Arepa — Minneapolis, MN
Photo: Christina Nguyen
This truck sticks to mostly sustainable Latin cuisine, and uses only locally raised all-natural meats. They specialize in arepas, Venezuelan cornmeal patties cooked on a griddle, split open like a pita, and stuffed with deliciousness. And by deliciousness, we mean a choice of beans, tasty sauces, cheese, veggies, and proteins like pesto chicken or slow-roasted pork. All of the arepas — just six bucks a pop — are also gluten-free. Find Hola Arepa in downtown Minneapolis, most weekdays, and once a week in downtown St. Paul.
Track ‘em down: @holaarepa
11. Igo Vego — Madison, WI
Photo: Lu Venus Mayas
This cart, built by its owners from a bare metal frame and solar panels, pumps out hearty harvest salads full of seasonal ingredients (for just $3 a pop). And with food sensitivities in mind, the cart offers four vegan burgers ($7) with different bases. Try the Mystic Mushroom (made from Portobello, button, and crimini mushrooms with barley and kale), or the rice-based Veg-Out burger with a black and brown rice patty and topped with the truck’s secret sauce. “We try to maximize nutriciousness and deliciousness,” says founder Tammy Markee-Mayas. The cart favors local and organic ingredients and serves its dishes in compostable packaging.
Track ‘em down: @IgoVego
12. Let’s Be Frank — San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA
Photo: Let’s Be Frank
Let’s be frank here — hot dogs aren’t usually considered healthy. (See: This. Yuck!) But these dogs and sausages ($5) come from grass-fed animals and are free of hormones, antibiotics, nitrates, and nitrites. When LBF started, they sought to support California ranchers who raised their cattle on pasture. So what’s so good about pasture-raised meat? Studies show it’s got more vitamins like A, E and Omega-3s. Make sure to try the big red truck’s signature Devil Sauce, too.
Track ‘em down: @letsbefrank, or visit the shop at 3318 Steiner St. in San Francisco.
13. Momogoose — Boston and Cambridge, MA
Photo: Vivian C, Yelp.com
This truck has been around for over 20 years and specializes in healthy gourmet Southeast Asian cuisine. And they’ve got it all: vegan, vegetarian, and meatatarian (well, non-vegetarian). So what’s with the name? Goose comes from the owners’ old Cambridge restaurant called Poppa & Goose, and momo is short for more eating, more sharing. The more food Momogoose pumps out, the more they give to local and global charities. Plus, the truck’s own meal-for-meal initiative, it donates a meal to the World Food Programme for each one sold. Choose from a baguette, rice bowl, noodle bowl, or salad bowl, add a choice of protein ($5 for tofu, $6 for meats), and top with mixed greens, veggies, herbs, and sauces.
Track ‘em down: @momogoose
14. Native Bowl — Portland, OR
Photo: Native Bowl
All the food at Native Bowl is made from scratch, with influences from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the Middle East. Each bowl starts with jasmine rice and gets topped with choices of fresh veggies, garlic tofu, and sauces (like fire-breathing dragon, house-made ranch, or house-made lemon tahini). The bowls have fun names like “The Couch” (jasmine rice, garlic tofu, sweet and spicy gochujang sauce, bean sprouts, organic spinach, shredded carrots, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds), and “The Broadway” (jasmine rice, garlic tofu, house-made peanut ginger sauce, cilantro, shredded red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds), and sell for $6.50 each. House brewed teas — like peach rooibos and bourbon vanilla rooibos — and dessert specials round out the menu. Owners Julie and Jay Hasson suggest stirring up the layers of ingredients before digging in (and re-using the bowl at your next visit)!
Track ‘em down:@nativebowl
15. Nom Nom Truck — Los Angeles, CA
Photo: Misa Chien
Om nom nom! This eloquently named truck specializes in classic grilled pork banh mi, a light, pillowy Vietnamese (vegan) baguette filled with simply marinated fresh vegetables and grilled pork. Their best seller? The honey-grilled pork banh mi ($6.75), which is one of owner Jennifer Green’s family recipes. Nom Nom also sells tacos ($3), served on two corn tortillas with pickled carrot and daikon radish, julienned cucumber, cilantro, and house sriracha aioli. Nomnivores can also try a variety of fresh lemonades from the rotating weekly menu.
Track ‘em down: @nomnomtruck
16. Nectar — Atlanta, GA
Photo: Naruna Rangel
Pick up raw, fresh juice, made to order. The smoothies (16 oz. for $4) have no added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, and no canned ingredients. What they do have are superfoods like kava, coconut, acai, flax, gingko, and spirulina. There’s also nectar shots, like the “flu shot” with lemon, ginger, and cayenne pepper. The green pastel truck also serves up soup, salad, and paninis ($7). Chicken pesto Panini and a flu shot, anyone?
Track ‘em down: @nectarga
17. Organic Oasis — Los Angeles, CA
These guys — who say they’re the world’s first solar powered smoothie truck — use whole fruits and veggies, and fresh coconut water to make their signature blended delights. The smoothies are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and contain no processed sugar or filler ice. They range from the triple berry (acai, goji, blueberry) to the Mayan chocolate (coconut water, cacao powder, almond milk, banana, dates, and vanilla). In addition to running partially on solar energy, the Oasis truck serves up their cool bevs in biodegradable cups. Flavors change seasonally and sell for $6 to $9 (depending on size). The truck offers a few sandwiches, like the vegan vegetable melt ($10) or the tuna melt ($8), as well as fun snacks like the avocado bowl ($7) — Hass avocado topped with kale chips and Himalayan sea salt.
Track ‘em down: @OrganicOasis
18. Phat Salads and Wraps — Napa, FL
Photo: Phat Salads and Wraps
Phat, which stands for “pretty healthy and tasty,” serves salads tossed in a bowl or bundled up in a tortilla wrap, and soup. Early in the morning, try the breakfast wrap — scrambled eggs, cheddar, and bacon, sausage, or ham for $5. And for lunch, the truck serves up a few great selections like the Santa Fe (romaine, grilled chicken or steak, avocado, black beans, cilantro, tomato, cheddar, bell pepper, crunchy tortilla strips, and chipotle-lime dressing) for $6.75, or the Napa (romaine, tomato, carrot, green onion, and cucumber) for $5. Toss it or ask for a whole-wheat tortilla. For extra protein, ask to “make it phat” and get additional chicken or steak.
Track ‘em down: 707-363-9658
19. Rouge Tomate — New York, NY
Photo: Evan Sung
The philosophy behind this gourmet truck (only in its second season) is to incorporate seasonal inspiration into dishes that rely heavily on local ingredients. To land its prime location in Central Park, Rouge Tomate got its certification from the Green Restaurant Association, thanks to its recycled materials, solar panels, and biodegradable paper products. Get classy with a grass-fed buffalo burger or homemade ice cream sandwiches. Gourmet sandwiches, like the Moroccan chicken — Amish country chicken, North African spices, sweet peppers and onion, harissa, tomato, wild arugula, and minted yogurt — sell for $6 to $8.
Track ‘em down: @RougeTomateNYC for the Central Park Cart, or check out the restaurant at 10 E. 60th Street in New York.
20. Sea Birds — Los Angeles, CA
Photo: Shelby Steen
With a dream for vegan street food and the passion to provide healthy, local, affordable food, the birds decided to stick to 100 percent vegan and organic fare. Enjoy a menu (changed weekly) filled with salads like the beet and apple ($4), and tacos like the Jack Asada with marinated jackfruit, cilantro, onion and truck made salsa verde ($7). Lots of the options are gluten-free and soy-free, too. And for dessert, try organic vegan cupcakes from Life is Sweet Bakeshop.
Track ‘em down: @SeabirdsTruck
21. Starfruit Café — Chicago, IL
Photo: Vince Bozman
The Starfruit (while not being one of their flavors) serves frozen kefir ($4), a thick yogurt-like product originally from Iceland packed full of belly-healthy probiotics. The traveling treats onboard include low-fat smoothies, frozen treats, and parfaits. Starfruit calls their concoctions “the lighthearted lovechildren of taste and nutrition.” The truck offers two tart-n’-tangy flavors each day, including fruity varieties like mango, pomegranate, peach, and cherry, and others like chocolate truffle and birthday cake. If that doesn’t do it for ya, have at it with the toppings, like cereals, nuts, and goji berries ($1.00 for the first, and $0.50 for any additional).
Track ‘em down: @starfruitcafe, or visit one of the shops (locations listed here)
22. Taim Mobile — New York, NY
Photo: Taim Mobile
For smoothies and falafel (a fantastic combo) Taim Mobile is it. The falafel is gluten-free and cooked to order in trans-fat free vegetable oil. Husband and wife team Einat Admony and Stefan Nafziger created a mostly vegan menu influenced by Tel Aviv street food. Choose from salads, sandwiches, and platters ($4 to $11), all made with fresh veggies, too! Wash it down with a creative smoothie like the pear, mint, and lemon or the date, lime, and banana ($5).
Track ‘em down: @TaimMobile, or visit the brick-n’-mortar at 222 Waverly Place in New York.
23. TaKorean — Washington, DC
This hybrid of Korean BBQ and Mexican fare offers a choice of Korean style Bulgogi beef, tangy chicken, or caramelized tofu tacos topped with fresh spicy or mild slaw, cool lime crème, Sriracha Chili sauce, fresh cilantro, and sesame seeds. The best seller is the Bulgogi steak taco, which is thin sliced fresh ribeye steak marinated in a sweet and spicy soy-based sauce. Founder Mike Lendard says he’s set on providing healthy reasonably priced meals while also giving back to the community. Takorean donates 1 percent of sales to local environmental and youth based non-profit organizations. Tacos sell for $3.50 each (or three for $9), and bowls also go for $9.
Track ‘em down: @TaKorean
25. Vellee Deli — Minneapolis, MN
Photo: Velle Deli
The Vellee peeps fuse Pan-Asian and Mexican food, creatively merging fresh ingredients with not so conventional flavors. Choose from baguettes, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and eggrolls. This truck doesn’t offer the biggest menu, but sticks to a few options for each category, ranging from $4 to $8 each. While tacos and burritos may not exactly sound like typical healthy fare, owner Will Xiong says instead of loading the goods with fillers like beans, tons of cheese, and sour cream, they use fresh vegetables, kimchi, and light sauces. “Our goal is simple,” he says, “we want to fill you up, but not weigh you down.” Ask for some extra “kicks” for a customized spiciness level. And if Vellee’s food serves up too serious a spicy butt kicking, try the strawberry lemonade to wash it all down.
Track ‘em down: @VelleeDeli
26. Sweetflow Mobile — DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania
Photo: Sweetflow Mobile
For fun, fashionable food, hit up Sweetgreen. Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru, all Georgetown students and food lovers, decided to create simple, healthy, fast options, and in 2007, Sweetgreen was born. The menu includes all sorts of salads and wraps ($8 to $11), with fresh locally sourced ingredients, like the “bondi” — mesclun and baby arugula with roasted chicken, avocado, corn, hearts of palm, wasabi peas, topped with a miso sesame ginger vinaigrette. For dessert, try the fro yo ($4 for a small, $6 for a large). And because sharing is caring, the sweetgreen dudes have been known to hand out free salads (after notifying twitter and Facebook followers). They also like to spread the green love with free food at weekend markets.
Track ‘em down: @SweetflowMobile, or visit one of the store locations all over DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania (locations listed here).
Have a favorite healthy food truck option not mentioned here? Want to sing one of the list members praises? Join the conversation by commenting below!