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10 Must-Try Food Trucks in San Diego

Skip the wait at sit-down restaurants and order from the best trucks, stands, and catering our city has to offer
Courtesy of Salt + Lime Food Truck
Salt + Lime Food Truck

Salt + Lime Food Truck

Courtesy of Salt + Lime Food Truck

The first time I tried a food truck meal years ago in Portland—the food truck capital of America—I instantly fell in love. Dedicated chefs maximizing tiny workspaces to share their passion with passerbyers—no glitz, no glamour, no white-table-clothed tables. The only thing between you and your next meal is a window and an outstretched arm. That’s pretty cool. Since then, I’ve been chasing the best meals on wheels wherever I go. Thankfully, San Diego has no shortage of amazing food trucks. If you’re looking to try something new, here are 10 of the best food trucks in San Diego, no reservations required.

Shawarma Guys, food truck

Shawarma Guys, food truck

Courtesy of Shawarma Guys

The Shawarma Guys

The Shawarma Guys food truck is no longer a secret. Their inclusion as both the reader’s and critic’s pick for the “Best Food Truck” in SDM’s Best Restaurants of 2023 list is evidence of San Diego’s love for them. They have also gained national fame—they were awarded Yelp’s Restaurant of the Year in 2020. Even our own content chief, Troy Johnson, teamed up with Guy Fieri to feature them on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.Helmed by Bryan Zeta, the South Park–based food truck offers a variety of Mediterranean flavors, including favorites like shawarma wraps, falafel plates, and their irresistible beef shawarma egg rolls. Like another truck on this list, they have achieved enough success to transform their mobile operation into a permanent brick-and-mortar location, opening in early 2024. | South Park

Kikos Place Seafood

Kikos Place Seafood

Courtesy of Kikos Place Seafood

Kiko’s Place Seafood

Kiko’s Place Seafood brings classic Baja California cuisine and seafood to Mission Valley just off of Mission Center Road. Shrimp ceviche, fish tacos, clams, octopus, it’s a seafood lover’s paradise. Many of their entrees are topped with a creamy chipotle sauce with just the right level of spice to tantalize your taste buds. During lunchtime the wait can be long, but the generous portions and service make this food truck well worth the wait. Try Kiko’s the next time you’re stuck at work daydreaming of your last trip to Baja and enjoy some of the best ceviche San Diego has to offer. | Mission Valley

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Rice or Death

Rice or Death has perhaps the most radical name in food truck history. Their menu items are inspired by the culture of punk rock, ska, and reggae, with dishes dubbed Rice Above, Punk Rice Cowboy, and Seoul Inferno. Each dish features fried rice base combined with a variety of grilled meats, eggs, seafood, green onions, garlic, onions, green beans, and more. Their entrees are served in either 20-ounce or 32-ounce containers, so show up super hungry or ready to share. Patrons can also order their entrees wrapped in a warm tortilla as a burrito—the perfect portable bite before your next moshing session at Soma. | National City

Birria El Rey

The aroma of sizzling, slow-cooked birria permeates 25th Street in Golden Hill thanks to Birria El Rey. The menu consists almost exclusively of birria options (sorry, vegans and vegetarians), ranging from quesadillas, burritos, and tacos to fries and even ramen. The truck’s enormous popularity has allowed its owners to open their first brick-and-mortar location this summer in Golden Hill. Make sure to order a side of consome (a traditional beef broth with cilantro). | Golden Hill

Salt & Lime Food Truck, SD

Salt & Lime Food Truck, SD

Courtesy of Salt + Lime Food Truck

Salt and Lime

Salt and Lime is a modern Mexican food truck serving picture-worthy craft tacos in University Heights. Try the al pastor, topped with guacamole, pickled onions, jalapeño, and a delicious chipotle-mayo sauce. Patrons can also create custom bowls with their choice of spicy shrimp, al pastor, or marinated steak, crowned with a variety of toppings and sauces. Don’t overlook the truck’s sides, which truly shine—such as the cactus salad (perfect with chips) and creamy corn in a cup. Wrap up lunch with an order of the inspired Nutella tacos. | University Heights

Mangia Mangia

Mangia Mangia serves Italian—a rare breed in the world of food-truck quick bites. Their menu features dishes more often found at fancy sit-down spots: apple and walnut gorgonzola Salads, chicken fettuccine, and chicken prosciutto sandwiches, among others. Many of the truck’s meals come topped with an assortment of mushrooms, arugula, truffle oil, and garlic. And if fine-dining-worthy Italian isn’t your mood for the day, you can always order their pesto fries and a lasagna grilled cheese. That’s the great thing about food trucks—there’s always something for everyone. | Serra Mesa

Taco Love

Taco Love

Courtesy of Taco Love

Taco Love

Taco Love takes food-truck dining to the next level. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, their menu offers a vast assortment of options for entrées (tacos, burritos, enchiladas, plates), each with your pick of protein or veggies, plus your choice of two sides (including poblano rice, green salad, charro beans, and pumpkin soup).Carnivores can select from a variety of expertly seasoned meats, such as carne asada, pollo adobado, and braised carnitas; meanwhile, vegetarians can opt for calabacitas with rajas or soyrizo with nopales. If you’re dining with a group, try their street taco sampler, potato taquitos, and loaded fries. And don’t forget to order their fried ice cream buñuelo, a local favorite. | Mt. Love

Mariscos Mi Gusto Es

Mariscos Mi Gusto Es

Courtesy of Mariscos Mi Gusto Es

Mariscos Mi Gusto Es

Mariscos Mi Gusto Es is an unsuspecting food truck that brings more flavor than meets the eye. Their menu is written in Spanish (always a good sign) and features tacos, tostadas, shrimp cocktails, oysters, soups, and clams, often capped with a creamy tartar sauce, avocado, and tomato. While they offer many meat options, we recommend sticking to their seafood favorites, such as battered fish, marlin, and shrimp tacos along with their excellent ceviche tostadas or a rich seafood soup like caldo de camarón (shrimp soup), perfect for curing that Saturday morning hangover. If you’re feeling ambitious, order a tower of seafood and wash it down with a Mexican coke in true Baja fashion. | Oak Park

Underdog

Forget rubbery frankfurters made of mystery meat—Underdog slings an array of vegan hot dogs packed with garnishes, golden brown corn dogs covered in sauces, steaming burgers made with Beyond patties, and truly loaded fries. Their core entrées feature a variety of irresistible toppings, including caramelized onions, pickles, housemade chili, jalapeños, and kimchi, adding much-needed fusion to ballpark classics. | University Heights

Full Metal Burgers

Full Metal Burgers

Courtesy of Full Metal Burgers

Full Metal Burgers

Another food truck bursting at the seams with angst and style, Full Metal Burgers is as metal as you’d imagine. Picture pentagrams on the burgers in the form of sauces and toppings and merchandise to rival that of your favorite hardcore band. With locations in Escondido and Oceanside, the truck grills up quarter-pound burgers featuring accompaniments like grilled onions, mushrooms, pickles, jalapeños, bacon, cucumber, and peppers, plus flavorful sauces like the house thousand-island or the bear sauce (Full Metal’s take on béarnaise sauce). While the outpost does have a couple of veggie options, this food truck is the real deal for the meat-lovers and metalheads in your life. Rock on. | Oceanside & Escondido

By Cole Novak

With years of experience developing digital strategies for agencies and companies, he loves helping local businesses and local non-profits bring their digital content to life. A lifelong San Diegan, he’s passionate about storytelling, photography, surfing, food, music, filmmaking, technology, and the great outdoors.

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