10 Food Truck Theme Ideas

A food truck labeled
••• stu_spivack/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Many people thought food trucks were a passing trend, but it looks like they are here to stay. These mobile restaurants have come a long way since ice cream and hot dogs, with trucks running the gamut from gourmet cupcakes to sandwiches to ethnic fusion street food. If you can dream up a menu and have a solid concept, you can carve out a food truck business. As food trucks continue to evolve—showing up in rural areas and at weddings and other private parties—so will their menus. With low startup costs and high mobility, food trucks can be a great way to share your culinary ideas with the world.

Barbecue

BBQ is a great concept because it combines low-cost food with high appeal. Carnivore BBQ out of Washington, D.C., incorporates the best of Texas-style barbecue with locally sourced foods and environmentally friendly packaging. An added benefit? That sweet, smoky smell coming from your truck is its own form of guerrilla marketing.

Cupcakes

This food trend has proved its staying power. Gourmet cupcakes can be served up plain and simple or wildly decadent. Cupcake Blvd. out of Rockville, Maryland, offers a wide selection of gourmet cupcakes, include alcoholic specialties like mojitos and strawberries and Champagne. They also offer catering services, delivering cupcakes far and wide, thus expanding their profit potential.

Ethnic Fusion

Blending one or more ethnic cuisines results in some tasty ideas. Current trends for ethnic fusion include Korean barbecue and Vietnamese cuisine. Lemongrass Truck in the nation's capital offers traditionally prepared lemongrass chicken, in a salad or a taco, for a lunch-friendly take on international classics.

Paninis

Sandwiches gone gourmet, paninis require minimal equipment (a panini press or two) and offer a huge variety of dining options, ideal for the lunch crowd and a great after-hours snack.

Organic and Local Fare

Local foods and organic produce do not have to be boring. In fact, the flavors often blow commercially grown products out of the water. Vegetables and meat can be purchased locally almost anywhere and are a great way to promote a food truck as a sustainable business. Want to take it one step further? Swap your engine for a hybrid or bio-diesel unit.

European Flavors

The Old World makes its resurgence via food trucks. The Bratwurst King out of Virginia offers bratwurst (obviously), paprika chicken, Austrian goulash, and homemade cakes and strudel. To make the most of this theme, go as far as possible with it, really selling the concept of a culinary transportation.

American Regional Cuisine

The Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck brings Maine lobster to New York City. The truck offers an assortment of authentic New England specialties, from lobster rolls to clam chowder. There gumbo trucks, taco trucks, poutine trucks, and more.

Waffles

Waffle trucks come in all types: from waffles and chicken to simple waffles with butter and maple syrup to gourmet waffles with blueberries with lemon cream cheese filling. This concept, like paninis or tacos, can be served almost all day and will be as big a hit for breakfast as it would be at 3 a.m.

Burgers

Always popular and a perennial favorite, burgers can be served plain or with panache. Burgers always sell, but they also tend to be one of the most crowded niches. Consider adding a spin from one of the other themes on this list to make your burger truck truly unique.

Ice Cream

The original food truck theme and an American classic, a benefit of an ice cream truck is that you can do whatever you want with it. You can serve creamy Italian gelato or classic American ice cream flavors like rocky road or peanut butter fudge. Some more enterprising ice cream trucks only serve their product seasonally, converting the truck for the offseason or else renting it out altogether.