Food trucks have come a long way from their early days of selling plastic-wrapped sandwiches and bland coffee to factory workers looking for something cheap and quick. Today these mobile eateries feature unique offerings of every type — from freshly caught seafood and gourmet burgers to gluten-free and vegan sandwiches, sides and desserts. And their popularity is growing. According to Technomic, a research firm specializing in the food-service industry, sales for the food truck segment — comprised predominately by independent operators — are growing about 15 percent annually, compared with around 5 percent a year for the casual dining segment.
The popularity of food trucks got a big boost after the recession when folks, laid off from corporate jobs, decided to take a risk running their own business, explains Brett Lindenberg, founder of the Food Truck Empire, a site dedicated to the food truck industry. These mobile restaurants are more affordable than a brick-and-mortar location (a new truck can cost anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000, according to Technomic, versus nearly $1 million to open a stand-alone restaurant). And because food trucks run on volume, they can reach $400,000 or more in sales a year pretty quickly.
Here are the top 10 most popular food trucks in the United States, according to the latest survey by The Daily Meal, a service that provides research on dining news and trends. (Warning: Don't be surprised if you're hungry after reading this.)