The truck scene has been booming since the Great Recession, although operators serving tourists, festivals, and the downtown office crowd have been hit hard in the work-from-home era. Most were ineligible for the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding that would provide relief from further financial distress. But in some ways, the metro area’s food trucks may have weathered the pandemic better than some of their restaurant peers because of their mobility.
At the height of the pandemic, many operators shifted gears, pulling up at rest stops, partnering with hospitals, or signing up with UberEats. Others, like Brother Truckers, rolled through neighborhoods like old-school ice cream trucks. (Demand grew so much that Brother Truckers published a guide to suburban neighborhood associations.)
These days, you’ll find food trucks re-emerging in gym and retail lots, or even at parks designed solely for truck vendors. Southwest Detroit has long been home to many bustling food trucks, far before meals on wheels became popular following the Great Recession. El Parian, for example, has three locations serving cheese quesadillas and al pastor, chicken, and beef tongue tacos. As food-truck season rev up, consider these popular ones for a great meal.
Trevor Aronson’s barbecue food truck and catering operation, which is parked from April to October in Clarkston, is named for his dad and mentor, co-founder of the former Garden Fresh Gourmet in Ferndale. He learned from his dad how to properly grill. The result is the pulled pork, brisket, ribs (wet or dry), and award-winning jerk chicken sold in a sandwich or by the pound. Order it with macaroni and cheese, made daily with five varieties of cheese or smoked beans, flavored with peaches.
The Lobster Food Truck is parked at a different location daily but there’s always a line of vehicles for drive-up service, a setup that proved smart at the height of social distancing. Customers rave about the hot lobster rolls with garlic butter, lobster mac and cheese, loaded lobster fries, and shrimp tacos. Lobster is sourced directly from Maine and shipped overnight, so it’s always fresh. “Chef Nick” developed his talents working with seafood in Florida and other places around the country before returning home to Detroit to open the truck in 2018. He and his aunt, with whom he co-owns the truck, plan a brick-and-mortar at an undisclosed location this fall.
Polish cuisine from a food truck? Yes, please! Start with the dill pickle soup, the truck’s most famous option. The menu also includes the classics: pierogi, kielbasa, Polish sliders, Polish tacos, and potato pancakes. The meal wouldn’t be complete without a paczki to finish things off.
Brothers Kevin and Marc Kellman opened their truck serving comfort classics on St. Patrick’s Day 2018 after working 20 years in the family optical business.
The brothers are known for their trucker burger with cheese and sloppy Joes. Other dishes served include pasta with bolognese and fried mac and cheese balls. The WTT Burger is an “easy” way to try everything on the menu at once. The massive sandwich contains a hamburger patty, mac-and-cheese bites, sloppy joe, onion rings, bacon and caramelized onions.
Peanut butter and honey on a burger? Sure, why not. The PB&B is one of this truck’s claims to fame. The smashed burger is also a hit with customers. Pair one of the burgers with garlic or salt and pepper fries. There are even meals for the kids.
The Rolling Stoves have a storefront at 20780 Farmington Rd., Farmington, 248-516-3503.
Fork in Nigeria has been rapidly expanding since the winter, thanks to the social media #FufuChallenge, which sent TikTok users in search of the western African staple fufu. The truck’s owner Prej Iroegbu sells it with leafy green egusi or soup. Besides fufu, the truck serves up Nigerian staples jollof rice, suya steak, goat shank, oxtail, and snacks, for starters. Iroegbu is currently parked on the Avenue of Fashion and in Columbus, Ohio, and has plans to move into a storefront at 4219 Woodward at Willis in Detroit’s Cass Corridor this fall.
Chef Ozale amassed a clientele and buzz around Detroit by posting photographs of steak bites, fried lobster and shrimp, crab legs, pasta, and loaded steak fries on Instagram. Viral videos and a food truck soon followed. The truck moves around the city so follow its locations on its Instagram page.
Are you a fan of classic food for heroes or bold creations for villains? This fun and popular food truck creates rotating grilled made-to-order sandwiches for fans of both. Hero Or Villain sandwiches are crafted with an eye toward connecting food with iconic characters from comics, cartoons, and games.The signature Deathstroke (steak, provolone, grilled bell peppers, onions with mayo on a grilled hoagie) is always on the menu, as is the Kingpin (chicken, mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, and pesto aioli on grilled sourdough bread), which is most popular with customers.
Hassan Musselmani’s tacos blend Mexican and Mediterranean flavors, resulting ingreen chili and beer-braised chicken tacos with salsa verde, cilantro, and cream or pork shawarma tacos with El Salvadoran cream, salsa verde, queso fresco, cilantro, and curry pickled carrot with Zaatar fries. The former Hell’s Kitchen contestant is a common fixture around the downtwon food truck scene and at the food truck park Detroit Fleat in Ferndale.
Detroiters KaToya Scott and her partner Jasmine Calvin started Junk Food and Friends in 2015 to bring joy and pop to neighborhood parties. As a kid, Calvin worked on her dad’s ice cream truck, so they drew on that experience. They serve residential routes, events, and pop-ups throughout Metro Detroit. Besides ice cream dishes like sundaes, slushies, and water ice, they’re serving vegan and non-vegan tacos and nachos.
Regina’s Food Truck grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and launched her truck after graduating from college. She serves a variety of rich and flavorful Mexican tacos, ceviche, tamales, tortillas, fresh salsa, and even desserts.
Detroit 75 Kitchen is not just one of the hottest food trucks in the city—it’s one of Detroit’s most essential food destinations. Tucked permanently in a gas station lot on Fort Street in southwest Detroit, the trailer has been serving classic sandwiches, subs, po’boys, wings, and fries since 2014. It’s almost impossible to go astray with this food truck’s year round menu, but go for the 3rd Street Philly, a sandwich with tender beef, lettuce, tomato, sweet pickled jalapenos, mushrooms, sautéed peppers and onions, swiss cheese, and housemade vinaigrette. Get it with the amazing garlic cilantro fries, which are as satisfying as the company’s humanitarian mission.