Top 20 US Cities to Open a Food Truck

Top 20 US Cities to Open a Food Truck

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san antonio downtown

Thinking about starting a food truck business? Are you looking to stay local or is your food truck business plan open to anywhere in the United States? Recently we were wondering where a fledgling food truck would have the best chances of success.

To begin the discussion we thought to list the cities with the most food trucks, but quickly rethought heading down this path. Due to the fact that cities such as Los Angeles, Portland, Austin and Washington DC have so many well built brands based on just about any cuisine you could think of, a new food truck owner may struggle in building brand recognition.

Not only that but peeling off loyal customers to the long established mobile food businesses may also give a new vendor a more difficult road to travel.

We began the process of determining what cities in the US would be the best location to join the mobile food industry, by developing a formula based on a number factors such as:

  • City population
  • City growth predictions
  • Population demographics (age and income)
  • Weather
  • Current size of the local food truck industry
  • Licensing costs
  • Freedom to operate under existing food truck laws
  • Acceptance of small business entrepreneurs by local politicians
  • Strength of Food Truck Organization

We found that these 20 cities are the best cities to start a food truck in 2014:

Top 10

  1. San Antonio, TX

  2. Tampa, FL

  3. Raleigh, NC

  4. Albuquerque, NM

  5. Indianapolis, IN

  6. Nashville, TN

  7. Lexington, KY

  8. Charleston, SC

  9. Louisville, KY

  10. Sacramento, CA

Find the rest of our list on the next page…

27 COMMENTS

  1. I own Big E’s Southern “Q” and I am one of the food trucks moving to one of the cities listed on your site in 2014.

    • Come on over to Indianapolis Eric. We welcome you and your business with open arms, low taxes, affordable real estate and very business friendly government.
      Very easy to apply and get a permit for food trucks in Indianapolis and there are tons of events throughout the year that food trucks are welcomed in.

  2. I live here in San Antonio. We already have a problem with obesity and not enough variety. We have TOO MANY Tex-Mex food trucks and not enough diversity. And with thousands of restaurants here, we certainly do not need to add to our obesity problem. Which is why I jokingly refer to the city as FAT Antonio.

    I STRONGLY disagree with this site’s findings that SAT is the number 1 place to start a food truck. If you plan to do so here, PLEASE NOT TEX-MEX…or go somewhere else.

    • You obviously have not been to ANY of the food truck parks around town. There are so many more options than Tex-Mex it isn’t even funny.

    • You obviously haven’t realized that no one can shove food down ones throat. People eat what they want when they want. There’s plenty of fit people here just as there is obese. This city is a greatly known for colleges, where college students like to eat things things! So be it.

  3. Our county won’t allow food trucks to park on any county property. Trucks have to rent commercial space. Is this common in other areas? They site safety as an issue. We don’t know of any injuries received while trying to purchase food from a mobile food truck.
    Helpful suggestions welcome.

  4. LOL, the finding is absurd. I owned a food truck in San Antonio, about starved to death. Had pleanty of loyal customers, thanks to them, but most people in SA don’t want diversity, will eat anything that is crap and are about 10 years behind in anythnig new. Don’t even think about a unique food truck in SA unless you want to pay your customers to eat your food!

  5. This article is not an accurate representation of the FT climate in Tampa.

    Somethings to consider:
    – DBPR was very helpful into getting a truck licensed. I give them an A+
    – Local towns in the Tampa “Bay” area are far from welcoming.
    – Most trucks are struggling.
    – The Downtown Tampa Partnership, imho should not be the allowed to solely determine who gets into downtown events. It seems one sided and many trucks are left out. Why are some owners of trucks allowed to have two of their trucks into the same event? Why is one FT at the Mayor’s Fiesta allowed to always have a monthly spot, while others never get the chance. Now I know the answer to this, but it’s something to think about.
    – Laura Reily had a fairly accurate article a few months back that accessed the state of food trucks. It was titled, “Wheels get a little wobbly on food-truck culture”
    – Tampa General Hospital is not such a great place to be now that they moved the food trucks underneath a garage. Basically hidden. Some TGH employees spend 12 minutes walking to the FT row, they wait for their order and then walk 12 minutes back. Keep in mind that they only get 30 minutes for lunch. The hospital is also offering more foods than they originally led the food trucks to believe they would when they said they were doing their renovation.
    – You can join one of the food truck promoters in Tampa, if you like being pimped out and having to give him a kick back.
    – You then contend with whining businesses who target food trucks because they are looking for someone to blame because their own restaurants are not doing well. They hold more weight with City and the City’s in Tampa “Bay” allow for it to stifle entrepreneurship drive and competition. (See Clearwater, Largo, etc).
    – Food Trucks cannot access the downtown lunch crowd, but once a month. Again, you must be selected by the grand wizard, if you’re lucky. I was lucky, more lucky than most, but what about all the others out there? Why isn’t it on a lottery system?
    – The 100 truck rally is great- it promoted trucks and raised awareness. But absent of a very dense demographic of concentrated food traffic, there’s simply not enough market to justify the hours– regardless of the quality of the food.

    And San Antonio, Really? It’s not Austin, or Portland, or LA?

    Tampa and the Bay area imho has long, long way to go.

  6. […] MobileCuisine.com also published an article last week of the top 25 U.S. cities to open a food truck, and Sacramento was ranked #10. The list was based on a number of factors including city […]

  7. Its a shame that two people from Tampa- 1 with just a bad attitude and who is hardly ever present in Tampa and the other a mere Facebook holder who doesn’t even own a food and didn’t last but 20 minutes on one when given the chance, shouldn’t even be allowed to comment. The City of Tampa embraces the food truck scene. As with anything- if you have a bad attitude- complain all of the time- (like on this post)- who in their right mind would invite you back? And the other post- from some one who doesn’t even own a food truck or work on a Food Truck has no business talking about the City and it’s outstreched

  8. Welcome to the Emerald City!  Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific-Northwest and considered one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.  The metropolitan area of Seattle is home to almost 4 million inhabitants and is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country.  Here are some factors on why Seattle is a great food truck location and destination.  (Formula is care of Mobile Cuisine)

  9. I have been in the process of starting a shaved ice truck for a while now and currently live in Nashville, TN. I had plans to move back home to Kentucky, but Lexington is very food truck un-friendly. Regulations are downright ridiculous there, from the size and curve of sink pipes, drain pipes, and not to mention the rule that if you park anywhere from 1 to 14 days, you are not allowed to come back for another 30 days.

    Tennessee does not have such strict regulations. I would not even be required to have sinks since I am only selling shaved ice (makes sense to me). However, Nashville does require you to have a commissary, which I have heard is difficult to acquire. With the large amount of food trucks we have here, chances are there is another truck selling the same or similar item as you – but the city is so big (and growing) that there is enough room for us all!

    Good luck to all you food truck dreamers like me out there!

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