clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

19 Essential Los Angeles Food Trucks, Winter 2016

New, 19 comments

Where to eat on the street

The Nomad Truck
The Nomad Truck
Wonho Frank Lee

Los Angeles has no shortage of great food trucks, from gourmet options roving the high-priced neighborhoods to the workaday loncheros serving from sun up to sun down. Below is a collection of the city's most essential options, those that have made a name for themselves in a field crowded with options. Eater will update this list occasionally as trucks emerge or fall off, but these are some of the most highly qualified food truck options you should consider the next time you're hungry for a mobile meal.

LocoL

[Photo: LocoL]

Roy Choi is back on the streets with LocoL, his do-good fast food enterprise. Spot them at Smorgasburg on Sundays, Dinosaur Coffee often, and lots of other places all over the city. –FE


NoMad

Wonho Frank Lee

[photo: Wonho Frank Lee]

The upscale New Yorkers behind Eleven Madison Park have launched a food truck to herald in the arrival of NoMad hotel and restaurant in 2017. They serve a variety of awesome dishes (including an awesome chicken burger), and do rotating stints with local chefs to boot. –FE

Pico House

[Photo: Pico House]

A quartet of cooks with big backgrounds (Bestia, Blue Hill in New York) have stepped up to create Pico House, a colorful grain bowl-centric truck making stops from the Arts District to Culver City. FE

Mad Pambazos

[Photo: Mad Pambazos]

Don't let the Mad Max theme throw you off: these are straight-up pambazos, that Mexican sandwich treat with a ton of tradition. Big, rich, and powerful enough to get you through your next office work day, these sandwiches are the real deal. FE

Tumaca

[Photo: Tumaca Truck]

Who says Spanish food is dead in LA? It lives on with Tumaca, the spritely red truck currently crawling across Los Angeles serving jamon sandwiches some some seriously awesome patatas bravas. –FE

BatterFish

[Photo: BatterFish]

This brick and mortar turned truck is currently working the Santa Monica scene (though San Pedro and the South Bay happen often), turning out what is still considered to be among the best fish and chips anywhere in Los Angeles. –FE

The Rooster Truck

[Photo: The Rooster Truck]

Back after a short hiatus, The Rooster Truck is once again serving serious flavor to Venice and beyond. Known for their overclocked breakfast food, expect to find The Rooster in front of your favorite coffee shop soon. –FE

Kogi

Kogi Truck

[Photo: Yelp]

Not only did Kogi set off a food truck craze that swept the country, but Roy Choi's Korean fusion tacos helped bring Los Angeles to the forefront of the nation's culinary landscape. While some of the overall food truck hype has come and gone, Roy Choi's double-caramelized short rib tacos and kimchi quesadillas will forever represent the vibrant ethnic collision that makes LA's dining scene so great. —CC

Guerrilla Tacos

Guerrilla Tacos Truck Matthew Kang

[Photo: Yelp]

Wes Avila left a fine dining background to pursue the cuisine of his heritage: Mexican tacos with a refined twist. Instead of carne asada, you'll find fantastic sweet potato tacos with almond chile, feta cheese, and fried corn, or perhaps a lamb tongue taco with shishito peppers, chile morita, and mustard seeds.

Avila's more creative dishes don't deign to the trite "sprinkle some cotija cheese to make it look fancy" approach, but instead focus on drawing from the multitude of Mexican flavors and ingredients to present a cohesive and truly innovative set of tacos. Who else could pull off chorizo and potato tacos with raw tomatillo chiles and aged cheddar, or wild boar piccadillo with pickled stone fruit and chile de arbol? Just be prepared to hunt down the truck at their numerous stops, and pay a little bit more than your $1 taco. Trust us, it's worth it. —MK

Ta Bom Truck

Ta Bom Truck

[Photo by: Yelp]

This plucky Brazilian truck rocks classic street fare straight from Rio de Janeiro, with cravable bites like cheesy or beef-filled pastel, coxinha, and garlic fries topped with garlic herb mayo. Or more substantial, and completely authentic, plates like beef stroganoff, linguica frita, and hamburgao. For something sweet to finish, you can't go wrong with the dense, fudgy brigadeiro. Brazilian food just isn't very common in LA, but after trying some dishes from this truck, you'll wonder why it isn't on every other block.—MK

Mariscos Jalisco

Mariscos Jalisco

[Photo by: Yelp]

There's a reason everyone loves Mariscos Jalisco, from food bloggers to the Vendy Awards: they're incredible. The truck's uniquely fried shrimp tacos dorados have become the standard-bearer for quality ingredients and taco technique in this city, even as (nearby) imitators try to wedge in on the business. Thankfully, there's no substitution for doing everything right — including their sleeper hit tostadas like the Poseidon, which comes bursting with just about everything found in the ocean. — FE

Let's Be Frank

Let's Be Frank Truck

[Photo by: Yelp]

Sue Moore, who made her mark in the food world by curating and garnering Alice Waters' meats at Chez Panisse, has a solid hot dog truck parked at Culver City's Helms Bakery from Wednesdays to Sundays in the early afternoon. The snappy dogs are griddled to perfection, then topped with some grilled onions. You can rest assured that the beef franks are made with pasture-raised animals. If you're brave enough, add a spoonful of devil sauce for an extra kick. —MK

Free Range LA

[Photo: Yelp]

As part of the second wave of often breakfast-focused food trucks (following the immeasurable success of the original Eggslut iteration), Free Range has been able to grow an incredible following. It helps of course that they traffic in all things fried chicken and eggs, which helps to mob their daily AM and lunch stops with folks looking to eat well for cheap. It's well worth the wait, too, as this is some of the best bird you'll find anywhere in town, truck or not. — FE

The Lobos Truck

The Lobos Truck

[Photo by: Yelp]

The new king of the block, The Lobos Truck serves up "kick ass comfort food," the sort of thing you'd want to dig into at 2 a.m. after overindulging in your substance of choice. Want waffle fry nachos? Mac ‘n' cheese with hot wings and bacon? This is the place of dreams. —CC

Ricky's Fish Tacos

Ricky's Fish Tacos Truck

[Photo by: Yelp]

Ricky Piña started out as a stand back in 2009, before eventually graduating to a full on truck in a tiny parking lot along Virgil in Los Feliz. The praise has been nearly universal, declaring the fish taco specialist as one of the best in town. Order up a fish or shrimp taco, and pray that he has the two-handed lobster taco as a special (it's fantastic, and moderately price). Dress up the crispy tacos, laden with fresh cabbage, with salsas and crema, then chow down at the shaded eating area. It's hard to go wrong with Ricky's on a weekend afternoon. Like with most trucks, despite Ricky's general consistency of location, it's always good to check Twitter if he'll be serving that day. —MK

Leo's Tacos

Leo's Tacos truck

Leo's Tacos is perhaps the breakout star of LA taco trucks. Since opening back in 2010 on La Brea and Venice Boulevard, the al-pastor experts have opened up four trucks across the city that attract rather sizeable lines. The lines are there for good reason - the $1 tacos may be one of the best value propositions in the city, and come with the theater of watching the trompo, or spit, master skillfully sling pieces of pineapple on the deliciously charred slices of pork. —CC

Super Tortas DF

Stan Lee

South LA's Mexican food scene has always been strong, but as of late spots like the Tire Shop Taqueria and Super Tortas DF have been making waves for folks far away from the city center. On busy nights folks will drive in from all across the Southland to experience one of Super Tortas' massive namesake sandwiches, particularly the overloaded Cubana, which is made to order right on the trailer in full view of the eye-widened crowd. This is post-drinking food at its finest. — FE

El Chato

El Chato Truck

[Photo: Yelp]

Operating somewhere between an old school truck and a young gun operator, the El Chato taco truck marries the best of both worlds. Marinated pork still spins from the vertical spit and tacos still only cost $1 (though they’re certainly on the smaller side), but teems of young eaters and late night workers alike gather to get a taste. String lights and a colorful paint job keep the place looking fresh, but the marinated bin of vinegary onion-habanero slaw is as old school (and fierce) as they come. But then again, it certainly seems easy to make every demographic happy when you make food as delicious as this. — FE

Urban Oven

[Photo: Facebook]

This pizza palace on wheels has been serving up made-to-order pies for years. Owner Scott Tremonti's uncompromising rig is bulky and carries a true wood-fired oven inside, wrapped in matte black and otherwise nondescript against the side of a building. But it's what comes out from the window, hot fresh pizza made to order and served at the peak of readiness, that keeps long lines forming around their frequent stops at places like Silverlake Wine. — FE

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Los Angeles newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world