Food Trucks

The 10 Best Food Trucks Right Now

While plenty of newcomers are hitting the food truck scene, you just can't beat the classics.

By Katharine Shilcutt March 3, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The classic fried avocado taco at H-Town StrEATs.

Bare Bowls

$ • • 713-589-6526

Bucking the notion that all fancy food trucks are purveyors of fatty foods, James Ashley, owner/chef of Bare Bowls, serves healthy food with big, bold flavors. Not surprisingly, “Bowls” are the thing to get here (though the truck also offers salads and sandwiches); we love the Moroccan chicken bowl with saffron-infused brown rice and the Bolivian vegan bowl featuring potatoes topped with roasted sweet corn, black beans, aji verde chiles, avocado cream, and heirloom tomatoes. Whenever possible, Ashley buys local produce; fittingly, you’ll often find Bare Bowls posted up at the city’s farmers markets.

Bernie’s Burger Bus

$ • • 281-386-2447

When Justin Turner opened his first Burger Bus—named for his grandfather, Bernie—in 2010, he’d just left a cushy job as personal chef for former Houston Rocket Shane Battier to enter unfamiliar territory. His concept, however, was such a success—delicious, beefy, handmade burgers with names such as “The Detention” and “The Principal” served out of a cute, converted school bus—that four years later, Turner has a fleet of three buses serving the Houston area and a brick-and-mortar location on the way in Bellaire. Even his homemade ketchup proved so popular it’s now sold in retail outlets such as Revival Market and Phoenicia.

Flip ‘n Patties

$ • • 832-409-7580

Filipino fast food and street food collide at the Flip ‘n Patties food truck, where grass-fed–beef burgers are served alongside traditional favorites. Try the Jeepney burger topped with longanisa sausage (a Filipino version similar to chorizo) and a fried egg, or the asado pork–filled steamed buns called siopao. No meal here is complete, however, without a side of hand-cut French fries topped with tangy mayonnaise. Save room for dessert? Try the ice cream burger or the halo-halo, made with shaved ice and evaporated milk.

H-Town StrEATs

$ • • 832-605-2009

One of the “old guard” fancy food trucks, H-Town StrEATs has also been called the ugliest food truck in town. But don’t let the hand-painted art (which was actually commissioned from Hunting Art Prize winner Lane Hagood) dissuade you from trying the ultra-tasty, ultra-fun food. Chefs/owners Jason Hill and Matt Opaleski are famous for their fried avocado tacos, deep-fried risotto balls, and a “Shorty Mac” that stacks beef-short-rib debris on top of macaroni and cheese in one gorgeous grilled sandwich. Equally popular lately are the “Crazy Ass Tacos” with a rotating slate of ingredients: grilled za’atar shrimp one day, fried alligator with orange-horseradish sauce the next.

Happy Endings

$ • • 713-498-8082

Husband and wife Emily Ng and Ryan Javier mix their cultural backgrounds—Ng is Chinese; Javier, Filipino—into a fun fusion hot dog truck known for its dogs topped with kimchi, cream cheese, bacon, seaweed, sweet katsu sauce, and other innovative ingredients. If you can’t choose between the Zen dog, the Geisha dog, and the Tsunami dog, there’s always the “Anything U Like” dog—your own original creation.

Customers order at the Muiishi Makirritos truck.

Monster PBJ

$ • • 855-725-5683

A truck that only makes peanut butter–and–jelly sandwiches? How could that be more than a one-trick pony? The answer is that PB&Js are endlessly satisfying—not to mention kid-friendly—and when they’re made with as much love and care as the ones at Monster PBJ, it’s like having a sandwich made by Mom. The truck ups the ante by offering an assortment of locally made jellies, jams, and nut butters (try the almond and cashew), as well as various fresh-baked breads—yes, even a gluten-free variety. Trick your sandwich out by adding slices of banana or a schmear of Nutella; you can even have Monster PBJ grill it up for you.

Muiishi Makirritos

$ • • 832-868-6777

Admit it; you’ve always wanted to try a macaroni-and-cheese–stuffed egg roll. Your dream can become a reality at Muishii Makirritos, where owner/chef Matt Mui gleefully turns Asian and American staples on their ears. In addition to dishes such as shrimp and grits topped with a fried egg and pork belly, Muishii also serves maki rolls—hence the name—making it the only “sushi” truck in town. Try the “Creamy Smoked Salmon Tempura Roll” or the Korean-inspired “Kibimbap” stuffed with beef bulgogi, kimchi, and fried shiitake mushrooms.

Phamily Bites

$ • • 832-598-8746

Van Pham is one of the godfathers of the current “fancy food truck” scene (so called to distinguish it from our beloved old-school taco trucks). After a stint in San Francisco, Pham returned to his hometown in 2011 to start Phamily Bites, soon cultivating a loyal audience with his home-style Vietnamese food and the cheeky slogan painted on the side of his cheerful yellow truck: “Let’s get pho cup’d.” As the slogan would indicate, cups of pho are a popular choice here, as is “The Vandalizer,” a banh mi sandwich filled with Vietnamese “shaking beef” (bo luc lac, or juicy cubes of garlic-marinated filet mignon).

Pi Pizza

$ • • 713-478-0374

Anthony Calleo had no experience running a food truck—or even a kitchen—before he opened Pi Pizza in 2011, but you’d never know it from his nimble blending of flavors on such pies as the “Forager” with wild boar and blueberry sausage and a porcini ragu, or his “Spring Fling” with goat cheese, dried oranges, and fennel pollen. Everything here, including the dough, is handmade, and your pizza is cooked to order, so get comfy while you wait.

The Rice Box

$ • • 832-643-7994

Sometimes you just crave good, old-fashioned, Americanized Chinese food. You know the stuff: General Tso’s chicken, spicy kung pao, sweet-and-sour sauce, egg rolls with bubbly wrappers. That’s what John Peterson sought to offer when he opened The Rice Box in 2011—except with a commitment to high-quality ingredients, serious sauces, and a menu with something for just about everyone. There’s no pork or beef served here (making it both halal/kosher and Hindu-friendly), and there are several thoughtful vegetarian dishes as well. For the carnivores, though, The Rice Box makes some of the best fried chicken in town, naturally served with an egg roll and a fortune cookie.

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