The area’s mobile food scene just keeps on trucking—and resident expert Willy Dely is on a mission to highlight everything that it has to offer.
“I want to remove the stereotype of food trucks only selling grilled cheese,” says Dely, former chief marketing officer for Kooper’s Restaurant Group. “We’re far beyond that. We have trucks that have been on national television. There’s such quality here.”
Dely started delving into the local food truck industry when Kooper’s launched its signature burger wagon in 2009, and has since become even more invested as a special advisor to the Maryland Mobile Food Vending Association, and a board member of the National Food Truck Association. He now owns consulting firm Au Jus Solutions, which helps local food businesses market their products.
“A lot of people are migrating to food trucks because they see it as a smaller investment than a finer restaurant,” he says. “But people don’t know what the food truck business is really about. It’s not just looking at numbers. You have to be organized, and have great customer and cooking skills. It’s all hands on everything.”
Dely’s passion for the area’s kitchens-on-wheels is what prompted him to organize the inaugural Baltimore Food Truck Week, which will run in Charm City and surrounding counties November 6-12. He says that the timing of the event is strategic, as food truck business typically slows down during the colder months.
Not only will the week be an opportunity for foodies to grab lunch or dinner from their favorite trucks at various hubs and business parks (Dely is encouraging chefs to offer special dishes and pairings), but it will also boast a handful of events to celebrate the breadth of the mobile vending scene.
Among the gatherings to look forward to will be a food truck-inspired wine supper at Gramercy Mansion benefitting TasteWise Kids on November 9, a Remington rally celebrating The Baltimore Whiskey Company’s second birthday on November 12, and a signature Baltimore Food Truck Week festival in Patterson Park on Friday, November 10. The main event will feature live music, local beer and spirits, and eats from more than 20 trucks.
Above all, Dely is enthusiastic about spotlighting the diversity of the mobile vendors—akin to what the bi-annual Baltimore Restaurant Week does for brick-and-mortar businesses during the summer and winter.
“We have talent,” he says. “I want to see people blown away by what they didn’t think a food truck could produce.”
In an effort to break down all of the options, we’ve rounded up a list of the top trucks in Baltimore, though not all will be participating in Baltimore Food Truck Week. (Participants are indicated with an asterisk.) From pizza and pasta to crab cakes and calzones, these mouthwatering mobiles offer plenty of options to satisfy on-the-go hunger pangs.
Crossroads Bistro: Keep your eyes peeled for this mobile kitchen that serves fun takes on worldly fare—like Irish Reuben quesadillas, Greek salad spring rolls, and Hawaiian pulled pork tacos.*410-477-6000
Cruisin Cafe: You’ve probably spotted this veteran vendor posted up a various local festivals throughout the years. The crabby fries are a must, but the menu also lists standouts like fried shrimp baskets and chipotle burgers.443-744-1764
Greek on the Street: If the pita wraps and chargrilled lamb chops aren’t enough to tempt you, catch a whiff of the Greek fries—tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, and hunks of feta cheese.* 443-463-9544
Gypsy Queen: Two words: crab cones. Gypsy Queen keeps the praise coming with its gyros, wraps, and signature handheld waffle cones filled with French fries and topped with a crab cake.*410-905-9954
Jimmy’s Famous Seafood: You can’t go wrong with the crab-inspired snacks (think crab soup, fries, pretzels, and cakes) from this Dundalk institution, whose food truck frequents everywhere from Harbor Point to Owings Mills.*410-633-4040
The Jolly Pig: Pulled pork reigns supreme at this pink truck, which prides itself on its mix-and-match taco options. Try the “Jamaican Jerk” (spicy pulled pork with pineapple salsa), “Carolina” (southern pulled pork with creamy coleslaw), or the Korean barbecue tacos topped with spicy sauce, scallions, and Asian slaw.*410-984-5789
Koco Truck: Track down this truck to satisfy all of your Korean cravings. The menu lists traditional bibimbap bowls, bulgogi (marinated beef) burritos, and japchae—a classic glass noodle stir-fry dish.*443-285-1841
Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon: You can’t go wrong with a classic burger and fries from this longtime favorite, which tops its patties with everything from bacon and cheddar to mushrooms and aioli.* 410-563-5423.
Pasta La Vista Baby: From traditional antipasti to hearty meatball subs, this kitchen on wheels boasts a bevy of Boot Country bites. The pasta dishes particularly shine, with options including penne marinara and mushroom ravioli with gorgonzola cheese.* 410-693-4190
Pizza di Joey: Owner Joey Vanoni’s pizzeria-on-wheels is an homage to the neighborhood joints he grew up frequenting with his family in New Jersey. Not only does the business produce a plethora of pies, but it also promotes a mission of employing veterans. 732-585-8911
The Smoking Swine: Chef L. Drew Pumphrey’s fingerlickin’ fare landed him a segment on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Drives last year. Look out for the silver truck to chow down on pulled pork, ribs, and a signature macaroni and cheese topped with Goldfish crackers. 410-869-2554
Upslide Down Dave: Owner Dave Pulford produces specialty sliders on board this recognizable black truck designed with pink flames. Favorites range from bite-sized burgers to petite chicken salad sandwiches.* 410-707-7545
WOLO Food Truck: This gourmet eatery-on-wheels preps its signature chili, mac and cheese, and truffle asiago fries at new communal space Share Kitchen in Locust Point. Be sure to save room for the scratch-made ice cream sandwiches.* 202-854-9656
Wieland’s BBQ: This Catonsville-based ’cue truck takes things low and slow, with all of its specialty brisket and pulled pork prepared in a custom-built rotisserie smoker. 410-593-1245
2 Bold Chefs and a Truck: Made-to-order Mediterranean cuisine abounds at this truck, which serves kabobs, salads, shawarma, and spinach pie.* 443-630-8851
Bombay Kitchen: Look no further if you have a hankering for Indian food. Aside from classic curries and kabobs, the truck also makes a mean mango lassi—a yogurt-based fruit drink flavored with a blend of spices.*240-534-8963
Dèjá Roux: Get a taste of the Big Easy with cajun and Creole classics like jambalaya, seafood gumbo, and crawfish etouffee.* 443-821-7689
El Gringo: Earlier this year, chef Steve Carey left his post at Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point to hit the road on this new taco truck—which frequents Sinai Hospital, The Johns Hopkins University, and The Rotunda in Hampden. Among the locally sourced options are signature steak tacos topped with queso fresco and peppery arugula.*
Flat Chance: This cleverly named newbie makes use of scratch-made flatbreads for its signature sandwiches. Favorites include the “Crazy Cuban” (pulled pork, fried pickles, and pepper jack cheese) and the crab cake-filled “Crabby Flatty.”* 443-442-7904
Mexican on the Run: Chef/co-owner Jimmy Longoria serves up steak, chorizo, and chicken tacos inspired by his native San Luis Potosí—a city in Central Mexico. Be sure to make use of the two tiny tubs of signature verde and roja salsas that come with every order. 443-800-3275
Mindgrub Cafe: An offshoot of local tech firm Mindgrub, this truck focuses on creative recipes that satisfy both your brain and your stomach. Chef Nikki Marks highlights a rotating menu of soups, sandwiches, and tacos.
Pablo’s Toc O’s: Take a trip to Tijuana by way of Baltimore with eats from this truck, which focuses on Mexican street food. Operating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service, the truck serves various bowls, tacos, and platters. Don’t forget to try the elote.*617-331-3469
Well Crafted Pizza: This vintage 1949 Dodge pickup truck is equipped with built-in draft taps and a 1,000-degree wood-fire oven for it's made-from-scratch pizzas. Popular offerings include a banh mi pie topped with local cucumbers and radishes, and a caramel-apple dessert pie. 410-929-4547
Bistro Lunch Box: Follow the trail of pinto beans painted on the exterior of this favorite truck to order leafy salads, hand-cut fries, and handhelds like a falafel wrap with citrus-curry mayo.* 443-286-4684
Farm to Charm: The chalkboard menu attached to this chic truck lists farm-to-fork fare including crispy Brussels sprouts, locally sourced burgers, and “The Charm City” sandwich with roasted turkey, cheddar, apples, and basil aioli. The truffle fries are also not to be missed.*443-392-2688
GoGanics: Nureya Monroe—wife of former Ravens player Eugene Monroe—abides by an all-organic mantra on board her eco-friendly truck. Among her best-sellers are organic lemon pepper wings, veggie burgers topped with pesto, and a wild-caught shrimp wrap topped with mango salsa.* 443-738-4738
The Green Bowl: Since hitting the streets in 2014, this green machine has become a go-to for Asian and Latin-fusion fare including bibimbap and mofongo—a Puerto Rican dish of fried mashed plantains in a stewed tomato sauce.*662-476-2695
Wilde Thyme: Be sure to track down this artsy truck, which works with local farms to craft dishes like carrot-ginger soup, fall chickpea stew, and sweet potato latkes*. 202-390-5323
Deddle’s Donuts: This roaming sweets shop highlights baby-sized donuts flavored with cinnamon, powdered sugar, caramel, chocolate, and strawberry drizzle. Order a baker’s dozen, or indulge in specialty flavors like the “Flying Pig” (bacon, honey, and caramel) and the “Fruity Pebble Delight.”*443-738-4844
IcedGems: The praise keeps on coming for this Reisterstown bakery, whose pink cupcakerie-on-wheels peddles flavors including mocha, chocolate salted caramel, vanilla raspberry, and French toast.* 443-690-7056
Miss Twist: No festival is complete without a cone from this ice cream queen. You can’t go wrong with a soft serve swirl, but Miss Twist also offers ice cream sandwiches, milkshakes, Italian ice, and massive banana splits. 443-564-1736
Quinn’s Ice: Though some might be skeptical about lactose-free ice cream, this sweet spot knocks it out of the park with its soft serve, milkshakes, sundaes, soda floats, and ice cream sandwiches.* 443-742-3537
T&J Waffles: Satisfy sweet tooth cravings with these Liege-style Belgian waffles from French born chef Thierry Reboullet. Though the truck does boast savory options (think grilled chicken waffle sandwiches topped with bacon and avocado), the sweet stuff shines with toppings ranging from berries and whipped cream to Nutella and Speculoos.*240-280-2050
Taharka Bros.: Not only is Taharka Bros. delicious (the honey graham will change your life), but the brand has also become known for its mission of using its ice cream as a mechanism for social change. The truck, better known as the “Change Maker Mobile,” was funded via a viral Kickstarter campaign that attracted noteworthy backers like Russell Simmons and Shaquille O’Neal. 410-889-1885