London is a city of rich tradition and international influence, with food that defies borders, enlightens the palate and goes great with a pint of beer. However, despite the city's status as a cutting-edge trendsetter (not just for the UK but for the world), it's been relatively late to embrace the food truck scene. Only getting officially approved in 2015, food trucks in London were slow to trickle in at first. But that trickle turned into an overnight deluge.
Now all at once, food trucks have been turning London on its head, upending the city's established restaurant culture to craft a new, mobile market of street cafes exploding in popularity. It's almost like the city's been starved for it.
In record time, some UK street food chefs have gotten so popular in specific areas that they've established permanent food stands, while conversely, some brick-and-mortar restaurants have taken to the London streets in food trucks all their own, shaking up the status quo on both ends. It's a city where old world influence is crumbling to a new food order, and rules of service are getting re-written by the day. Needless to say, it's also a rather exciting time to be living here, and even more exciting to be eating here.
To start off, Rainbo's a collection of everything that makes London's food truck culture uniquely beautiful. Operating from a glistening, vintage 1948 Ford pick-up, Rainbo stamps Japanese flavors with UK accents to craft street food fusion that's both positively addictive and addictively positive(20% of all proceeds go towards rescuing and rehabilitating child laborers in Nepal). Gyoza is the truck's star attraction, stuffed with fillings that range from shiitake and tofu (for the vegan crowd) to hoison duck and miso chicken with green chili (for the decidedly un-vegan).
Chicken, beef and prawn yakitori skewers provide options (or simply compliments) to the dumplings, and are just as mobile, ensuring you can eat your whole meal on the go. Which is lucky, since once you get ahold of it, you'll be more tempted to walk and chomp than you will be to scope for seats.
The US gave birth to the UK food truck movement, so it's only fitting that a wave of distinctly American comforts lead the pack of trucks lighting up the London streets. Bleecker Street Burger predictably imports all the flavor of gourmet burger bliss all the way from Manhattan, without losing an ounce of authenticity at customs. Handmade patties sit under American cheese and next to fresh-cut fries, finished with milkshakes that'll make you feel all Norman Rockwell. Not to mention just.....joyfully full.
If you're demanding a little more authenticity to your American eats, it's tough to top Mother Clucker, which serves cajun-spiced chicken out of a converted US Army ambulance. Authentic bayou flavor blankets tea-brined, buttermilk chicken strips that hit you with heat and depth in equal supply. Or opt for the Cluckwich if your hunger is Texas-sized, with breaded chicken thigh and pickled pepper set atop Texas toast and finished with lime mayo. Cajun fries finish off every order, making sure every meal is a complete blast of southern American swagger.
Finally, Anna Mae's takes mac & cheese, a dish that's actually British by invention (believe it or not) and returns it home brand new again, with a Dixie twist and fancy new taste notes. It's a trader in the purest sense, and altogether it's the finest alliance between the US and the UK since the Allied Powers. Between bacon, jalapeno and even....er..."Kanye Western" varieties (hot dogs, crispy onions and homemade BBQ sauce), there's no lack of ways to get your fill of soulful, creamy goodness. It's a homecoming worth celebrating.
Hot dogs make for a handy street eat, and in a city as practical as London, handiness breeds popularity. But these aren't your typical hot dogs - much like food trucks in London themselves, these dogs are all dressed up and bursting with as much new invention as they are meat. From Popdogs, which balances loads of toppings with barrels of irreverence (the Jamaican Me Horny, for one, tops chicken sausage with homemade slaw and a thick jerk marinade) to Engine Hot Dogs, which dispenses its goods from a tricked-out vintage fire truck, to the truly novel Fishdog, which mashes up street food favorites to craft a breaded fish finger (smothered in a pea/mint/tartar medley) and squeezes it into a hotdog bun. All in all, London has no lack of ways to devour its most mobile comfort, and no lack of young talent cranking it out.
Well Kneaded brings wood-baked pizza, or "firebreads", to the streets, staffed by local youths from Wandsworth learning the ropes of business, with well-heeled hospitality to match their great tasting Italian goods. Meanwhile, Bhangra Burger takes the big flavors of India (arguably the UK's favorite speciality cuisine) and makes them a whole lot more portable, with juicy burgers that balance savory bliss and exotic spice. Finally, Poutine Cantine introduces London to Canadian-style gravy and curd-smothered fries, ensuring no street food niche goes un-cornered.
All in all, London's food truck revolution may have lagged behind the one out west, but it's here now, and primed to reflect the city's status as a global hub and trend-setter. And in the end, that's the role London's always been most comfortable in.
Check out the live food map above or on the Roaming Hunger app to find the most accurate, up-to-the-minute location info for all the food trucks in London listed, alongside countless more options.
South London's become the most popular destination for food trucks to roam, but street food chefs are popping up in nooks and crannies all over town these days, after years of restrictions keeping them at bay. For a sure bet, KERB Camden's a permanent street food festival, open 24/7, perched next to the gorgeous Regent's Canal, and is home to some of the most inspired traders in town (including Mother Clucker), while Hawker House in Canada Water is open pretty much all week as well. Greenwich Market remains a powerhouse venue for street food vendors (now in food trucks and food stalls alike), while a wide variety of regular night markets take over on the weekend, from Shoreditch to Tooting to Lewisham.
Of course, if you'd like to eliminate chance altogether and call the shots yourself, every truck mentioned here's available to book anytime. Whether it's for your casual office mixer or your meticulously arranged wedding, there's a truck with your name on it waiting to feed you the UK's best, and by association, the best of global cuisine. Click here to book a food truck.