The Insider’s Guide to Phoenix Food Trucks

September 29, 2015

Phoenix Food Truck Guide

The modern food truck craze hit the United States in 2008, when the Kogi barbeque truck began crisscrossing Los Angeles, bringing delicious, gourmet eats to hungry customers instead of forcing them to go to a restaurant.
The idea took off immediately. Soon other trucks were popping up around LA, and it didn’t take long for the trend to spread to other cities. Within the next few years, hundreds of food trucks popped up in cities across the country, offering everything from Mexican to Asian to fusion cuisine.

Here in Phoenix, we are lucky to have quite a few excellent food truck choices. Many have been selling their tantalizing lunches, dinners and sometimes even breakfasts for years. Others are newer to the scene but no less tasty.

At our dental office in Glendale, AZ, we have frequent debates about the best food trucks in Phoenix. We often hear about new ones from our patients, and we’re always eager to check out their fare.

Of course, not all food trucks in Phoenix deliver healthy food, which is why it’s important to eat smart and exercise smart portion control while avoiding the most sugary treats. With that in mind, we’ve prepared this insider’s guide to the best food truck experiences in Phoenix. Come along on this gastro tour with us, and be sure to tell us your favorite Phoenix food trucks in the comments section below.

What Is a Food Truck?

In case you’re not familiar with the phenomenon, a food truck is essentially a traveling restaurant. It’s often a truck tricked out with a full restaurant-quality kitchen where people can cook and prepare food that’s fresh, made-to-order, and often cheaper than similar foods from a sit-down restaurant.

Over the years, food trucks have included hot dog carts, ice cream trucks and even the chuck wagons that dotted the South after the Civil War. But these days, food trucks are associated with urban areas. Some, though not all, are tied to restaurants with physical locations. Many credit the recession with sparking the food truck boom: Since opening a food truck is far cheaper than financing a restaurant, many would-be restaurateurs went into the food truck business.

Social media has made it easier to track food trucks. An owner will post their location on Facebook and Twitter each morning, and by noon people have seen the announcement and flocked to the right place.
Food trucks often visit:

  • Downtown areas
  • Colleges
  • Shopping centers
  • Airports
  • Open-air markets
  • Industrial parks
  • Movie sets

In Phoenix, you can find food trucks practically anywhere. A great place to sample is at food truck events, such as Food Truck Friday at the Peoria Sports Complex, where more than two dozen food trucks gather each week. You can try many different foods without chasing the trucks around town. The Scottsdale Food Van Caravan and the Gilbert Food Truck Food Court are other great places to sample many diverse food truck offerings.

Food Trucks: Phoenix’s Top Picks

Of course, there are dozens of food trucks across Phoenix, making it difficult to pick just a few favorites. These ones stand out because of their unique flavors, good customer service and easy accessibility. While we’d love to claim they’re all healthy, the truth is that sometimes it’s okay to indulge — just try to keep it in check. Don’t hit up a dessert waffle truck every single day!

Read on for our food truck picks.

1. Constantino’s Italian Kitchen

Food fare: Constantino’s serves up a delicious array of Italian dishes, including pasta, sandwiches and cannoli.

Why it’s unique: Homemade Italian fare brought out of the restaurant directly to consumers on the street.

When and where to find it: Constantino’s offers its food for both lunch and dinner at a variety of different locations in the area.

How to find it: Tune in to their Twitter page to learn where the truck is headed!

2. Livin’ Lite

Food fare: That name is no lie: Livin’ Lite serves up the healthiest food truck goodies you will ever find, from free-range chicken and vegetables to organic salad with a serving of beans on the side.

Why it’s unique: Most food truck fare is decadent and heavy. But Livin’ Lite even offers calorie counts and a full nutritional breakdown on every item.

When and where to find it: Most days Livin’ Lite offers lunch at places such as Phoenix Plaza or Arizona State University. On the weekends it opens for dinner and parks at Arizona Cardinals football games.

How to find it: Check out the Livin’ Lite website for a monthly calendar of upcoming locations.

3. The Grilled Cheese Truck

Food fare: It’s grilled cheese with a twist. You won’t find American on Wonder Bread here — instead, enjoy imaginative sandwiches with piled-on extras such as Fritos, basil and sliced apples. Healthier options include beans and vegetables.

Why it’s unique: The Grilled Cheese Truck subscribes to the concept of doing one thing and doing it right. You won’t find a better grilled cheese anywhere in town.

When and where to find it: The Grilled Cheese Truck serves both days and evenings, and you can often find it at sporting events in the area such as Arizona Cardinals games or local college soccer tournaments.

How to find it: On Facebook, where it posts current and upcoming destinations.

4. Saffron Jak Original Stonebread Pizzas

Food fare: Think of Saffron Jak’s as grown-up pizza. The thin crust has just the right amount of crunch, coupled with a unique bite that comes from the Persian sourdough flatbread.

Why it’s unique: No one else in town can match Saffron Jak’s toppings, which include shrimp, buffalo mozzarella, roasted corn, grey squash and BratHaus Brats.

When and where to find it: Saffron Jak’s starts serving lunch between 10 and 11 a.m. most weekdays, and it also does a handful of evening engagements each month. Locations include Scottsdale, Peoria and schools.

How to find it: Check out the Twitter feed, @SaffronJAKpizza, for each day’s location.

5. Cousins Maine Lobster

Food fare: A variety of tasty lobster dishes, including rolls and tacos.

Why it’s unique: This truck gives Phoenix a chance to taste authentic Maine lobster dishes from across the country.

When and where to find it: Cousins serves both lunch and dinner at a variety of locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

How to find it: Check out the Twitter feed, @CMLobsterPHX, for regular updates. 

6. The Tasty Tangerine

Food fare: Not every dessert truck serves up heavy, indulgent sweets. The Tasty Tangerine serves snowcones with a flair: The juices are made from local fruits. The truck also offers salads and breakfast toast.

Why it’s unique: How many places have you ever seen advertise breakfast snowcones? Tasty Tangerine will probably be the first.

When and where to find it: Tasty Tangerine covers a lot of ground, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It may drop by a pet adoption event in the morning and close out the evening at the Tempe campus of Grand Canyon University.

How to find it: Tasty Tangerine updates its location daily on Facebook.

7. Kruzin’ Cuisine

Food fare: Kruzin’ Cuisine has a diverse menu that rotates frequently. A sampling of dishes includes chicken and waffles, a Mexican twist on shrimp cocktail, tacos and a kimchi sandwich.

Why it’s unique: For its utter decadence. Kruzin’ Cuisine’s tagline is, “Our apologies to your diet.” It offers the kind of food you’ll be talking about for days, even if you couldn’t eat it every day — it’s too rich.

When and where to find it: The truck frequents busy locations such as local community colleges in Mesa or Tempe. The truck also stops by street festivals and businesses. It provides both lunch and dinner.

How to find it: The Kruzin’ Cuisine T
witter feed, @kruzincuisine, is the best place to find the truck’s next location.

8. The Great Pho King

Food fare: Gourmet Asian food, with a Mexican flare. The menu includes items such as blackened fish tacos made with a Cajun remoulade, and veggie stir fry. And of course it serves pho, the famous Vietnamese noodle soup.

Why it’s unique: Pho King’s food is a bit lighter than many of the other food trucks. It includes a lot of vegetables in each dish, and Asian cuisine is naturally lower in calories because it lacks the cheeses or heavy sauces that so many other ethnic foods have.

When and where to find it: Pho King travels to a lot of area businesses as part of a brigade of food trucks for lunch. Most days it serves only lunch, but sometimes it does double engagements, hosting a dinner hour as well.

How to find it: The Pho King website offers an up-to-date calendar showing upcoming food truck stops.

9. BuzznBeez Good Food

Food fare: Think of BuzznBeez as the food truck for foodies. It takes classic dishes, such as blackened catfish, fish ‘n chips or fried chicken and spices them up with special ingredients, such as a local desert wild flower honey that’s used on the coating for the fried chicken.

Why it’s unique: BuzznBeez was once featured on Food Network, lending it a neat distinction.

When and where to find it: The truck travels regularly to the Phoenix Public Market and Rhythm Room Phoenix, as well as several food truck caravans. It also hits up special events. BuzznBeez mostly offers lunch.

How to find it: BuzznBeez keeps a Google Calendar on its website that’s updated with its upcoming destinations.

10. Jamburritos

Food fare: Think Cajun food at its most inviting. The Jamburritos menu features red beans, jambalaya and anything else you’d hope to find in New Orleans.

Why it’s unique: Jamburritos owner and chef Michael J. Brown prides himself on offering all of the flavor and little of the fat traditionally associated with New Orleans cooking. He achieves this by using fresh, local ingredients.

When and where to find it: Jamburritos is one of the oldest — and busiest — food trucks in Phoenix. Its schedule is jam-packed, with lunch dates across the Phoenix region on weekdays and multiple events on weekends, often including dinner. Jamburritos makes a weekly Saturday morning appearance at the Phoenix Public Market.

How to find it: Consult the frequently updated calendar on the Jamburritos website.

Food Truck Etiquette

Now that you know the best places to eat, let’s go over a few matters of etiquette. Eating at and ordering from a food truck is very different from a typical restaurant experience. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Use cash when you can. Although some trucks take plastic, cash is quicker.
  • Leave a tip. This is not required but is appreciated, given how difficult it is to make food in the small confines of a truck.
  • Be patient. Food trucks aren’t fast-food establishments. They offer higher-quality fare than you’d get at a drive-in window, and that takes time to make.
  • Clean up after yourself. There’s no busboy here. Throw away your trash and tidy up so that the next people coming through can have a similarly pleasant experience.

Tips for Eating Healthy at Phoenix Food Trucks

You’re bound to be tempted by many delicious but not entirely healthy options when you try out Phoenix food trucks. It’s perfectly fine to indulge, but make sure you’re not overindulging, especially on sugary fare that can land you in our office with cavities.

These are five healthy eating tricks we use to make sure our love of food trucks doesn’t have unhealthy consequences.

  1. Share a Meal: The portion sizes at most food trucks are large. You can easily get two meals out of one serving.
  2. Stick to Appetizers: Appetizers tend to have fewer calories than a full lunch.
  3. Do a Family-Style Meal: Much of the fun of food trucks is sampling lots of new and different foods. The best way to do this: Get a group together and order lots of different things from different trucks to share. Sample a bite or two of an entrée before moving on.
  4. Try the Soup: Soups tend to have fewer calories than entrees, especially broth-based soups.
  5. Stick With Fruits and Vegetables: Anything that’s fried or smothered in heavy sauce is going to be a calorie bomb, but if you stick with fruits and veggies, your calorie count will generally stay down and you’ll help your teeth stay strong by eating foods that nourish them.

Which Food Trucks in Phoenix Do You Love?

We’re always looking for new places to try. Leave us a comment with your favorite Phoenix food truck. Or you can discuss your preferences the next time you come in to get your teeth cleaned. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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