The mobile food industry has been in a constant state of flux over the last couple of years. Ever since the Kogi BBQ food truck hit the national news in 2008, the industry has exploded with new trucks springing up around the country. We are constantly questioned by our readers and others that we speak with, about the national expansion of the mobile food industry, but up until now, we truly have not had the research to back up our belief that the majority of the country was open to mobile vendors.

Gourmet food trucks and carts have been labeled as a “fad” ( an intense but short-lived fashion; craze) by many in the restaurant industry, we had to look at the data and determine for ourselves if this rapidly growing culinary trend was just that…a fad.

If you do as we did and looked at the top 50 most populous cities in the United States, and look at the far right hand side of the chart below, you will see that the mobile food industry, has a firm hold within the culture of most of these cities.

Rank City State Population
Food Trucks Allowed
1 New York New York 8,175,133 Yes
2 Los Angeles California 3,792,621 Yes
3 Chicago Illinois 2,695,598 Yes, but no cooking on truck
4 Houston Texas 2,099,451 Yes
5 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,526,006 Yes
6 Phoenix Arizona 1,445,632 Yes
7 San Antonio Texas 1,327,407 Yes
8 San Diego California 1,307,402 Yes
9 Dallas Texas 1,197,816 Yes
10 San Jose California 945,942 Yes
11 Jacksonville Florida 821,784 Yes
12 Indianapolis Indiana 820,445 Yes
13 San Francisco California 805,235 Yes
14 Austin Texas 790,390 Yes
15 Columbus Ohio 787,033 Yes
16 Fort Worth Texas 741,206 Yes
17 Charlotte N. Carolina 731,424 Yes
18 Detroit Michigan 713,777 Yes, but very limited locations
19 El Paso Texas 649,121 Yes
20 Memphis Tennessee 646,889 No,  law to allow them is pending
21 Baltimore Maryland 620,961 Yes
22 Boston Massachusetts 617,594 Yes
23 Seattle Washington 608,660 Yes
24 Washington D of C 601,723 Yes
25 Nashville Tennessee 601,222 Yes
26 Denver Colorado 600,158 Yes
27 Louisville Kentucky 597,337 Yes
28 Milwaukee Wisconsin 594,833 Yes
29 Portland Oregon 583,776 Yes
30 Las Vegas Nevada 583,756 Yes
31 Oklahoma City Oklahoma 579,999 Yes
32 Albuquerque New Mexico 545,852 Yes
33 Tucson Arizona 520,116 Yes
34 Fresno California 494,665 Yes
35 Sacramento California 466,488 Yes
36 Long Beach California 462,257 Yes
37 Kansas City Missouri 459,787 Yes
38 Mesa Arizona 439,041 Yes
39 Virginia Beach Virginia 437,994 Yes
40 Atlanta Georgia 420,003 Yes, but only in limited areas
41 Colorado Springs Colorado 416,427 Yes
42 Omaha Nebraska 408,958 Yes, but only a dozen permit issued
43 Raleigh North Carolina 403,892 Yes, but can only operate on commercially zoned land
44 Miami Florida 399,457 Yes
45 Cleveland Ohio 396,815 Yes
46 Tulsa Oklahoma 391,906 Yes
47 Oakland California 390,724 Yes
48 Minneapolis Minnesota 382,578 Yes
49 Wichita Kansas 382,368 No
50 Arlington Texas 365,438 Yes


Of the top 50 most populous cities in our country, only two, (Memphis, TN and Wichita, KS) do not currently allow mobile food vendors within their borders. Yes there are some municipalities that have limited the scopes of work, and small areas within their cities that these mobile bistros can operate, but for the most part, the mobile food vendor has been welcomed with open arms by almost all of these communities.

Unless, there is a rash of food truck banishments throughout the country due to unforeseen causes we cannot see how mobile food trucks can be called a “fad” anymore.