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.)
The U.S. food truck industry rakes in $1.2 billion in annual revenue, according to figures from IBIS Marketing. Revenue grew 7.5 percent from 2016-2021, outpacing the broader food-service sector.
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.
Upcoming food truck events
Detroit Fleat, a food truck park with some of the top trucks, a full bar, and outdoor seating, operates year round, 1820 Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale
Downtown Street Eats, 11 a.m-3 p.m. weekdays at Cadillac Square and Woodward Esplanade, Detroit, website
East Eats Food Truck Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays July 22, Aug. 5, and 19, 1018 Navahoe St., Detroit
Royal Oak Farmers Market, 5-9 p.m. second Wednesday of each month. 316 E. 11 Mile, 248-246-3276
Canterbury Village, Oct. 2-3. 2369 Joslyn Court, Lake Orion, website