Before 2009 food trucks didn’t have much of a reputation in Melbourne but now Melbourne’s famed culinary scene includes food trucks serving a huge variety of quality cuisine – Louisiana po’ boys, Cantonese dim sum and Wagyu beef burgers – as well as specialty coffees the city famously obsesses over. Gone are the deep-fried fast-food options of yesteryear, food trucks are upmarket in Melbourne.
Around the same time that the Californian food-truck scene exploded, some entrepreneurial Melburnians realised: ‘We can do that here, mate.’ Up until then food trucks were the domain of a late-night burger or souvlaki (popular Greek grilled meats) vendors, mainly catering to the inebriated on their way home from a big night out. A smattering of food trucks also served doughnuts, ice creams and cheap and heavily fried foods at football games, fun fairs and music festivals.
Now Wherethetruck.at lists 81 (!) food trucks roaming Melbourne's city streets. Trucks generally operate near public parks and other public spaces as they are generally not allowed to operate within 100m of an existing food business. Setting up near parks also allows people space to dine, and it’s not uncommon for lawns to fill up come spring and summer. When the weather’s good, business tends to follow suit.
Social media is crucial to the success of food trucks in Melbourne. Facebook and Twitter are used to announce their location for the day. Taking things one step further, some websites have consolidated the locations of all the food trucks onto a single map. Wherethetruck.at even has its own smart phone app.
Of course, the food-truck craze isn’t limited to Melbourne. While it is hands-down Australia’s food capital, you’ll also find food trucks (in reduced numbers) in Brisbane and Sydney.
So, next time you’re in Melbourne, make a beeline for some of the city’s best food trucks for an entirely delicious culinary experience. There are so many food trucks, and the number seems to keep growing each year. Here are some of our favourites.
Melbourne’s first proper food truck, which sparked the phenomenon, serves up superb burgers and fries. Its 28,000 Facebook likes attest to its popularity! The owner also runs the Taco Truck.
White Guy Cooks Thai
Zingy Thai classics such as green curry share the menu with other Asian dishes such as beef bulgogi (grilled marinated meat), spring rolls and Korean fried chicken.
Greek Street Food
Owner George Karanikos serves up Greek favourites such as falafel, souvlaki, and salads with a modern spin.
Founded in 2011, Gumbo Kitchen brings a bit of New Orleans soul to Melbourne. Expect Louisiana po’ boys, gumbo, buffalo fried chicken and even hush puppies.
The Devil roams around Melbourne in a fiery red vintage ex–Country Fire Association truck, delivering Mexican faves such as tacos and tortillas.
Happy Camper Pizza
The gorgeous shiny 1960s airstream is home to tasty thin-crust pizzas topped with ingredients such as gorgonzola, fig, prosciutto… Leave some room for their desert pizzas too.
Little Mushroom Co
Vegetarians are the target market for this solar-powered truck. The mushroom burgers are marinated in unsalted butter, rock salt, garlic and spices. Also popular are the haloumi and slow-cooked ratatouille burgers. Gluten-free options available.
Bahn Mi Boys
A well-kitted-out truck serving delicious Vietnamese bread rolls stuffed with lemongrass pork belly and other choice fillings.
Feel-good African soul food such as Ugandan rolex (chapati stuffed with eggs, and vegetables) and South African bunny chow (bread stuffed with curry). You’ll find dishes you probably didn’t know existed.
Let’s Do Yum Cha
Yes, let’s tuck into yum cha staples such as BBQ pork buns, spring rolls, and more than half a dozen different types of dumplings.
Look for the bright orange food truck that is Mr Burger. The popular burgers are well made, well priced and very popular. It has 40,000 Facebook likes.
The Brûlée Cart
Crème brûlée…from a van. Salted caramel, chocolate Cointreau and, of course, the classic French vanilla. Crust blow torched to crispy perfection.
Round the Way Bagels
Proper New York–style bagels overloaded with an inventive range of ingredients such as pulled pork, saganaki, cevapi beef, or chicken breast marinated in Cuban rum.