Top 10 San Diego Food Trucks

It's no secret that I'm a legitimately crazy person- just most notably when food trucks are involved. If I could eat at a food truck for every meal every day, I would without hesitation. I'm not quite sure what my fascination with the mobile revolution is, but maybe I'm just enthusiastic about any major trend in American dining and I happen to live in a place where it's nice outside constantly. Maybe.

Anyhoo, this list has been a long time coming for me personally. I'm sure that many, many people would disagree my list below or want to throw me off a cliff for not mentioning their absolute favorite San Diego food truck, but no matter. I've done the research (a.k.a. stuffing my face) as much as I can, and with my (limited) knowledge and (unlimited) enthusiasm, I've come up with what I think are the best San Diego food trucks around.

My somewhat loose criteria are things like a mix of menu options (creativity, number of dishes, rotation, etc.), locations (more mobility is a good thing), cost (over the top gourmet food trucks really might just be missing the point), taste (duh, but also very arbitrary), friendliness (you can tell the legit people who are stoked on what they're doing vs. those cashing in on a trend who carry the shit kitchen attitude to the streets), and marketing (some have got it and some don't. Not a dealbreaker, but everyone likes a fun truck gimmick). I didn't make an actual grading scale or anything. I just know what I like and have no qualms about telling you what you SHOULD like.

I'll also note that I personally tend to gravitate towards the more gratuitous trucks (sorry MIHO - I tend to dig cheeseburgers more than beet salads) and more savory than sweet, so even though there are some BOMB dessert trucks on there, I'm gonna lean towards the lunch/dinner ones and leave the dessert trucks to another post. Last disclaimer: I haven't eaten at EVERY SINGLE food truck in San Diego. If there's one that I absolutely MUST TRY and I really should kill myself for writing this without trying them, then let me know (minus the death threats, please). There's always time for Round 2!

Without further ado... the top 10 San Diego food trucks.  

10. Asian Persuasion
This truck is solid. Their pork sliders are seriously amazing, their sauces are great, and even their complimentary won ton chips with sweet and sour dipping sauce aren't your run of the mill stale chip shards so often served at shitty Chinese restaurants. There's certainly a time and place for cheap Chinese food (you know the kind- the farty, bloat-inducing, MSG-laden limp beef with soggy broccoli that you really shouldn't enjoy as much as you do), but Asian Persuasion hits it right every time. They really could work on changing up their menu a bit, and I've heard a few horror stories about working with them to arrange an event, but overall, top notch stuff. Definitely the best Asian food truck in San Diego.  

9. Mangia Mangia
Italian staple of San Diego. They're at every food truck gathering and their staff always has big smiles on their faces. There's no real surprises (ever) on the menu, but what you get it always stationary-restaurant quality fresh ingredients from friendly people. Two thumbs up.  

8. MIHO Gastrotruck
O.G. S.D. food truck. Everyone knows 'em, everyone loves 'em. As far as I'm concerned, MIHO speared the food truck revolution in San Diego. They are to San Diego what Kogi is to LA. They're all over the place, they give a crap about sustainability and local sourcing, and they are creative as hell on their ever-changing menu. A little pricier than run-of-the-mill trucks, and this isn't the place for gluttons (woe is me), but their marketing hits it spot on. Not to be missed.  

7. Operacaffe
Their meatball sandwich made me want to cry. Placing them over MIHO will be sacrilege for some (despite their excellent cuisine), but what can I say. I'm a sucker for them. I also tend to run into them more than other trucks, which makes me pretty brand loyal. Seriously. Get the meatball sandwich.  

6. New York on Rye
Most legit Jewish deli style sandwiches in San Diego since the German deli on 30th in North Park closed. They don't toast their bread (legit!), they have big ass pickles (legit!), and they pile their thinly sliced meat to the sky. LEGIT. Pastrami on rye and Ruebens are NOT to be passed up. Dammit. I'm salivating.  

5. Devilicious
Another San Diego fave! They're nationally known and adored, plus babes man the truck. My only qualm with them is they steer a little too far over into the crass gratuitousness with their signature butter poached lobster grilled cheese sandwich, but I mean, seriously? What's not to like? I'm SUPER bummed that their kimchi dog didn't stay long on the menu because OMIGOD, but you will never, ever, EVER be disappointed with ANYTHING you get off this truck. Plus, their logo of a baby devil eating a sandwich is rad.  

4. Mariscos on Texas
Yup. I gave a "roach coach" the #4 spot. Wanna know why? EVERYTHING HERE IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING YOU'VE EVER EATEN. What they lack in marketing or even menu rotation is 100% made up with their food, plain and simple. Do yourself a favor. Drop what you're doing and drive to the liquor store on Texas and Meade. Park. Get ceviche. Also everything else on the menu. Do not trust the white man with your ceviche. Only trust Mariscos with your ceviche. Eat it. Order more. You'll thank me.  

3. Super Q
BBQ fans from the South, rejoice! Your time has come to SoCal on 4 wheels with Southern hospitality to boot. Best BBQ truck in San Diego. Everything is slow cooked and an extra bonus is they don't take forever to make it for you. It's not fussy and it's not rocket science. It's just damn fine eatin'.  

2. Hoangies
Banh mi sandwiches are maaaaaaaaaaaaybe my favorite food ever, so I'm perhaps a little biased on Hoangies. Nah, it's just that good. The menu is straightforward, and even though I have to admit that it's not the most unbelievably authentic banh mi in the entire universe, it does the trick and then some. It's family owned, they roll all over town, and it legitimately makes me weep when I see them. I'm ALL about Hoangies. I want everyone and their mom to patronize it. The people rock and are always super appreciative, plus they remember you! I may or may not have freaked out with ecstasy in front of them more than once (which tends to make an impression), but I think I bankroll them pretty hard so whatever. Fun fact: I almost wrecked my car when I drove by them one time, started screaming, pulled an illegal U-Turn, and then hopped my way across the street in glee. I. Fucking. Love. Hoangies. They ALMOST made it to my #1 absolute favorite food truck in San Diego spot, but there's only one other place that is higher in my heart.  

1. Tabe BBQ
Korean BBQ. Are there any sweeter words in the English culinary language? I'm honestly having a hard time not jumping in front of a car because I don't have a plate of sweet pork in front of me. Tabe's marketing sucks, they're hard to find, and their menu never changes. WHO CARES. It's absolutely, unequivocally, the best truck in San Diego, I'd wager it would give any truck in the country a run for its money. It gets overlooked because their branding is garbage and it honestly could pass for a roach coach, but it's so, so, so much more than that. I honestly pity you if you've never experienced the glory of Tabe. I VIVIDLY remember eating it for the first time and after my first bite I had a revelation. I've eaten some damn fine food in my life, but there are very few things that come close to Tabe. Tabe, I love you.

PLEASE feel free to recommend your favorite food trucks and dishes to me! I can always use a good excuse to check out a new place.

Fleet of Eats: 57 Degrees 3rd Friday Food Truck Gathering

Food truck fever has hit San Diego HARD, and this is in no way depressing. Besides the individual truck schedules, there's plenty of "gatherings" where an assortment of trucks get together and create a mobile food court to the delight of locals. One of the ones that I kept missing was the 3rd Friday Gathering at 57 Degrees in Little Italy, but NOT THIS TIME! Parking was a challenge, especially since the closest trolley stop is out of commission for awhile, but we managed to hoof it, fork over the $2 entrance fee, and beeline it through the wine bar to their back parking lot filled from end to end with mobile yumminess!

I knew that I wanted to see what every truck had to offer before committing to anything, so we started with the Eat at Recess Truck, Operacaffe, CurioCity, Tabe BBQ, MangiaMangia, Food Farm, the Gathering Spot, etc. etc. etc. (one immediate complaint is that the list on the 57 Degrees website wasn't really accurate). However, that didn't REALLY matter since there was plenty to choose from and to kick things off we got the Fried Pizza Dough stuffed with cheese from Operacaffe Mobile.

It was pretty much exactly what you'd expect- doughy balls of fried goodness with bubbling cheese spewing from the tops like tiny volcanoes with a side of marinara for dipping. Hot, cheesy balls. What's not to like? We munched on these as we studied the rest of the boards for our entrees. One noteworthy trend is that almost every single truck had some version of sliders and/or parmesan fries (some with, some without truffles). I guess it makes sense since sliders are a little more manageable on the go, but come on people! A little variety would be nice!

Next up was the Spicy Brat from The Gathering Spot Bistrotruck. It seemed to be the recommended dog, and it sounded pretty unusual/great with cream cheese spread and a jalapeno/onion mix. When we got it, I was pretty disappointed with the grayness of the brat, generic cream cheese, and limp, leech-like jalapenos that looked more like sad kelp than spicy pepper. It wasn't spicy in ANY respect, and was just pretty bland. Disappointing. (HOWEVER - we did run into this truck the next day at Green Flash Brewery and decided to give it another go. Their Slidertini with angus beef, dill aioli, sauteed mushrooms & onions with a block of cheddar toothpicked on top was GREAT. Shockingly tender and the perfect amount of dill - which I find can be easily overdone. Not to be missed!)

By now Ashton-the-sweet-tooth was itching for some dessert, so he headed over to The Chubby Truck for their fried cheesecake with either strawberry compote or chocolate dip. He brought back what appeared to be two egg rolls with a cup of fudge, and I felt like I was back at the gluttonous state fair in Del Mar all over again! Things like this are fine in their own way, I suppose... I mean, yes, it was fried cheesecake. Great. Nothing surprising, and honestly just a little gratuitous. The rest of their menu looked pretty amazing, so I'm anxious to give this new truck another go and get one of their tasty-looking burgers next time!

Last on the list was Tabe Korean BBQ, which I'd had once before and LOVED. To wrap things up we got their Tabe Asada Fries with the sweet pork, and let me just tell you that I give it the rating of "Die, die, must try!" Perfectly tender, sweet and just a little spicy, their pork is drippingly fantastic in everything they offer. It's going to be difficult for me to get any other their other meats because their pork is stellar! The little side cups of hot sauce, chili garlic spread, and spicy aioli were all delightful in their own right, so just do yourself a favor and get some Tabe. Korean BBQ, my new favorite food group?

Ramblin' on with SD Food Trucks

There's just something about the fast-paced food slingin' and militant compactness of food trucks that completely appeals to me. With a smaller menu, I feel like creativity, seasonality, and just plain fun come into play more than stationary eateries. I've already raved about San Diego's Devilicious truck (and I think I'm just one voice in a crowd on that one), but at this year's La Mesa Oktoberfest I noticed that the Asian Persuasion truck was parked next to Devilicious. Being the indecisive fatty that I am, I decided to get something from both trucks just to piss my muffin top off just a LITTLE more.

After a few of my friends embarrassed themselves by being totally unoriginal and getting the Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese from Devilicious (I'm just being a bitch- it's #&(*@&ing amazing), I got an order of the Parmesan Truffle Fries to share with the group and the Shrimp PoBoy for me. It was the pickles that really sealed the deal for me on that one, and I was NOT disappointed. HUGE breaded shrimp were falling out of the baguette, which was smeared with a delicious aioli and red onion with a dark green salad on the side. Seriously. Really, really good. The fries had more of a truffle flavor than I was expecting, but believe me that's not a complaint. Utter bliss.

The $6 Bankok pork sliders from Asian Persuasion came dolloped with spicy mayo and daikon, and with their hint of ginger and side of wonton chips + sweet & sour dipping sauce I was SOLD. Hands down the best dish of the night. I was BLOWN AWAY with how tender the pork was, how wonderful the Hawaiian buns were, how perfectly seasoned everything was, and even how fresh the wonton chips were! Seriously! Home run! I can't WAIT to try that truck again, and maybe get the FOB tacos or the burrito. I don't know, I just can't decide. I just love how San Diego food trucks keep delivering.

MIHO Gastrotuck @ Ballast Point Home Brew Mart

I could make excuses as to my abysmal lack of updates, but I won't. I could tell you about the insanity of going live with a new system at work, plus planning a wedding on the opposite coast, along with inexcusable preoccupation, but it won't do any good. I'll just avoid the whole thing.

The perfect thing to take my mind off of my lack of foodshare was of course to eat and drink. Citybeat always alerts me to the choicest tidbits of activities around San Diego, and my eye was caught by the ad containing both the phrases "MIHO gastrotruck" and "Ballast Point & the Home Brew Mart". As regulars to the Home Brew Mart off Morena for Ashton's alcoholic adventures and as wannabe food truck groupies, we, along with about a hundred other people with the same idea, flocked to the quickly-overrun space to sample specially brewed editions of some of Ballast Point's finest paired with the culinary stylings of the celebrated gastrotruck.

The food menu was small (3 entree options, a salad, and fries were the only advertised items), but with hellish concoctions like Serrano Yellowtail Pale Ale and Dried Habanero Piper Down Scottish Ale to wash down the trashy-chic fusion, we were game. My selection was the Short Rib Sandwich, braised with the Chipotle-Cocoa New Black Marlin Porter, all natural Brandt beef short rib, local arugula, organic firehouse cheddar, and balsamic red onion. The meat was wonderfully tender and lent itself more to a savory, buttery mouthfeel than anything you'd expect from the back of a vehicle. I washed it down with the Chipotle Cocoa and Coriander Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale, which I found to be much too aggressive for anything beyond shock value and a mouthful to boot. Unless you like the smell and lingering taste of an overaddition of liquid smoke and an unrecognizable allusion to "hot cocoa beer", stay away. Second up was the Chipotle-Cocoa New Black Marlin Porter, which despite a danger of repetition actually revealed itself to move past the kitschy small batch collaboration of heat for heat rather than flavors' sake. Still very much a sipping beer, I found this of all the beers created for the evening to be the most creative and well balanced.

Ashton enjoyed the Burger of the night, made with grass fed beef, all natural cheddar, grilled balsamic, red onion (far superior to the limply half-cooked onion on the short rib sandwich), hand made French dressing, and local brioche. I felt that the brioche stood out as the simplest yet masterful ingredient of the entire plate (paper as it was), but all in all the burger could stand proudly next to any stationary restaurant's with pride. We split the side of Belgian-style fries with chipotle ketchup, which at the low price of $3.25 established itself as a crowd favorite. These certainly weren't bargains with the sandwich weighing in at $8.25 and the burger at $7.75, but the quality, experience, and fresh air appropriately complimented the cost.



The beers ultimately enjoyed with the burger were the Dried Habanero Piper Down Scottish Ale, which I found to be unexpectedly smooth for such an intensely flavored pepper. Ditto for his next beer, the Serrano Yelllowtail Pale Ale, in which the heat completely dominated the hop for a complete blindside upset. The beers would have paired better with a much higher Asian cuisine influence, but the Americana feel reminiscent of a Fourth of July cookout (despite being January) washed over the crowd and spun the night air into a raucous feeling of friendly camaraderie and most certainly a desire to judiciously follow the Gastrotruck's weekly revolving exploits and menu. I most certainly plan to stop more often at its normal service stop near the Whistle Stop on Friday evenings. Recommended for those who care about what they eat, and don't mind paying a bit more to eat curbside!