Why does food truck food taste so good? Is it that the chefs in the drivers’ seats of these roaming kitchens are free-spirited, make-their-own-rules types that cannot be pinned down, geographically or creatively? These gypsy-hearted, culinary artists know that the world’s best food is often served on paper plates or from a tiny kitchen. “I love that the food truck allows us to visit ‘the people’ rather than wait for them to come through the doors of one of our restaurants,” says Saw’s Street Kitchen owner Michael Brandon. “We get to go out and meet our customers on their own turf. Whether it’s an office park, driveway, brewery or baptism, it’s a pleasure to roll on in Alabama.”
And there is just something thrilling and of-the-moment about crossing paths with one of these elusive traveling kitchens, too. If you run into one, carpe diem! Grab a plate of their delicious food before it’s gone! Or take the bull by the horns and track down your favorite traveling eatery. Follow your food truck bliss with this roundup of Birmingham’s favorite savory food trucks — and keep up with their whereabouts by following them on Facebook (F), Twitter (T) or Instagram (I), all handles included below.
Your Guide to Birmingham’s Favorite Food Trucks
GOURMET GAS GUZZLERS
David Woods and Fiona Marshall, both Free the Hops members and longtime wrestling fans, created The Hot Tag food truck — named for a wrestling term — as a way to give back to Birmingham’s brewery circuit. “We modeled the menu concept around local beer and even utilized their beverages in the food itself. We try to keep a ‘pub’ atmosphere to some of our concepts, leaning on roasts, braising, grilling and frying to complement the local beer,” says Fiona, the chef of the truck. “Sometimes, our concepts are based off wrestlers or other aspects of wrestling entertainment, too.” They are always looking for new ways to push culinary boundaries by producing new menus every month and specials every week.
With one-of-a-kind menu items like bacon-wrapped hot dogs and beer-battered Nutella and fried banana sandwiches with beer caramel, it can be hard to decide what to order. The current favorite this month is the “Bad Guy Cuban,” made with grilled pork loin and a mojo dipping sauce. However, the owners say to always check for the latest specials because those are the real stars of the menu. “We love every venue, we really do. Each one is unique,” says Fiona of each brewery. “The one we think most people might not know about would be Redemptive Cycles (a bicycle advocacy organization). They are the finest batch of warmhearted, crazy people you will ever find. And we love sharing our food and ideas with the city around us, and hope we can do more as we grow. We also get to work together — we’re a tag team!” There is always something new and exciting brewing up at the Hot Tag, so make sure you grab a bottle and a bite to eat real soon.
Shindigs food truck is committed to providing Birmingham neighborhoods with fast-service food without compromising the quality of their ingredients. “Shindigs uses fresh, seasonal ingredients and quality fast-food service that fuels people to grow spiritually, personally, professionally and emotionally,” says chef and owner Mac Russell. They combine flavors to create creative, simple dishes that anyone can appreciate. It’s important to them to use different ethnic backgrounds, trends and science to create a unique culinary experience.
Shindigs’ most popular dish is the Korean steamed bun with crispy pork belly, followed closely by their most popular side: truffle fries. Fans of Shindigs also love the Willis burger, made of grass-fed beef, apple-smoked bacon, Gorgonzola, blueberry mostarda, upland cress and truffle yogurt; or try the fried oysters over lady pea succotash with lobster aioli. Shindigs provides healthy, fresh and seasonal meals perfect for any time of year!
THE BBQ BOYS
Full Moon Bar-B-Que is a seasoned veteran when it comes to sauces, sandwiches and slow-roasting. Their Ultimate Food Truck is the latest project of the award-winning restaurant, bringing everyone’s favorite barbecue nachos and scratch-made half-moon cookies to a street near you! “We start with the chopped pork and homemade chips and add creamy queso, lettuce, tomato, jalapeño peppers, sour cream, salsa, Full Moon Bar-B-Que sauce and more,” says David Maluff, owner of Full Moon Bar-B-Que. “They’re definitely a fan favorite.” Their famous slaw is the most popular side dish, a fresh, crisp, vinegar-based slaw, which was named one of the “100 Things to Eat in Alabama” by the Alabama Tourism Department. This truck can be tracked down through social media but they can likely be found serving University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children’s of Alabama, their favorite spots to set up shop.
When you come to the truck, you can expect to find the same kind of menu as their 12 storefront locations. However, if you’re lucky, you might catch some seasonal dessert items not offered at their brick-and-mortar locations. “When people see the huge blue truck and our Moon Man, they come for the same delicious barbecue they are used to getting in our restaurants, which is exactly what they get,” says David. “We like being able to attend community events and cater to our friends in a unique way.”
Tommy and Sherrie Pippin started Lazy Boy BBQ as a husband-and-wife competitive barbecue team that won their way through local cook-offs. The couple decided to start a food truck business on the side for weekends and special events but they soon got so many demands that it became their full-time gig! “Our smoked meat is authentic. It slow-smokes the entire time on a stick smoker, not an electric one,” says Tommy. “It’s real and it’s unbeatable.” Their amazing BBQ nachos are a favorite with slow-smoked pork or chicken, nacho cheese, queso fresco, sour cream, jalapeños and their in-house barbecue sauce. But Tommy and Sherrie say that their BBQ in a cup is their best kept secret. “It has a cult-like following. People who try it love it and crave it,” says Tommy. “It’s our beans, topped with meat, topped with slaw, layered in a cup. The way our ingredients taste together is amazing! Sherrie created it for festivals because no one wants to walk around with a whole plate of barbecue. It has really taken off.”
Lazy Boy also serves homemade desserts like banana pudding and seasonal pies to satisfy that sweet tooth, as well. Try this authentic, smoky goodness around town, or visit their new brick-and-mortar location in Old Town Helena. “We have met so many awesome people and made some true friendships and connections,” says Sherrie. The owners love their customers just as much as their food, so come in and chat with some of the best slow-cookers in town.
Saw’s Street Kitchen food truck brings Saw’s delicious barbecue with that Southern and soul food twist we know and love in the Magic City. While their original pork sandwich and French fries is their best seller, they get the most compliments on their cheese grits and turnip greens. But owner Michael Brandon is adamant about their sandwiches. “The meatloaf sandwich is awesome! We serve it ‘Roll Tide’-style, covered in Saw’s white barbecue sauce with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles,” he says. “The second runner-up would be the ‘Boss Hog pork sandwich’ with pimiento cheese, cole slaw, pickles and Saw’s Sauce.” If you get lucky and catch them when they’re serving a signature dessert, make sure to order it! They occasionally have treats like banana pudding, peach cobbler and lemon buttermilk pie — and they are to die for!
“We are track stars with marathon mindsets. We offer a menu that any brick-and-mortar restaurant would envy, and serve it with lightning speed and accuracy,” says Michael. “Our favorite spots in town are the ones where people come with smiles on their faces and growling stomachs because we love to make people happy with our great barbecue.”
SlapHappy’s food truck came about simply as a way to sell the company’s three signature barbecue sauces: sweet, heat and fire. SlapHappy’s owners, Patrick Jackson, Pernell Williams and Donald Heard, loved how cooking and debating the art of grilling enhanced their friendships. The trio wanted to create memorable sauces that would, in turn, create memories for others through backyard barbecues and game-day tailgates.
That simplicity has translated into focusing on doing a few things really well and this food truck makes up for its small menu with big flavors. The truck serves pulled pork and chicken, ribs and wings along with Southern sides. SlapHappy’s pulled pork sandwich and side of baked beans has become a local favorite, smothered with one of their amazing sauces, of course. Be sure to check out SlapHappy’s delicious Southern slow-cooking for yourself.
The Old Town Pizza truck was formed with perfection in mind. This family-owned mobile eatery began when T.J. and Tiffany Hagan visited Italy and got a true taste of original pizza. They immediately wanted to share this experience with their community and, once a mobile brick oven was discovered, the coveted taste of authentic Italian pies was ready to be shared through all of the amazing neighborhoods in the Magic City! The truck and brick oven are pulled by T.J.’s green 1962 Ford F-350 that was originally sold in Cullman County by Hagan’s great-grandfather. Years later, T.J. spotted the Ford in a barn, bought and restored it, and the Old Town Pizza truck was born!
Old Town’s most popular pies include “The Big Cheese,” which serves all cheese lovers’ needs with provolone, cheddar, Monterey jack and feta cheese, as well as the the Margherita and “The Whole Hog,” which is a meat lover’s pizza dream-come-true. A specialty pie is served on the truck and varies by day. Don’t overlook the Southern Hawaii, a perfect mix of Conecuh sausage, fresh-cut pineapple and a mix of provolone and mozzarella that is the best Hawaiian pizza you can imagine.
The Slice Stone Pizza and Brewhouse food truck came about when Slice took notice of the booming food truck industry in Birmingham. The food truck gives Slice an alternative to catering and takes them to new customers. “Having the food truck allows us to come to new customers at events around Birmingham instead of relying on them to come to us,” says Jeff Bajalieh, co-owner of Slice, as well as Sky Castle Gastro Lounge, both in Lakeview. “We are always looking for new members to add to the Slice fan club!” Customers get to experience a slice of what it’s like to dine at their brick-and-mortar location. They even have a wood-fired oven inside the food truck to ensure the quality and consistency of their slices.
The food truck always offers their most popular “Perfect Pepperoni” as well as the “Super Cheese” and a specialty pie. “Whenever the ‘Very Veggie’ pizza is featured as the specialty pie on the truck, some people hesitate to try it. That is until we list all of the delicious toppings,” says Jeff. “You can’t go wrong with artichoke hearts, spinach, mushroom, kalamata olives, onion, jalapeños, bell pepper, banana pepper, tomato, garlic and feta.” Occasionally, they set up shop in Lakeview after 11 p.m. on the weekends so that loyal Slice customers can get a taste of their pies after hours.
Off The Hook food truck’s mission is to bring only the freshest ingredients and highest quality to Magic City residents in order to serve “serious street food” for any type of occasion. They are available around town for lunch every weekday, as well as for catering and special events.
On the menu at Off The Hook is a variety of fresh seafood options — from their classically delicious shrimp po’ boy to their insanely good fish or shrimp tacos. They serve freshly made kettle chips, Southern slaw or French fries as the perfect side to each dish and have an extensive variety of desserts including pecan pie, apple pie, chocolate cake and banana pudding. One dish that should definitely not be overlooked is the crab cake sliders, two Maryland-style crab cakes served on a country roll with homemade remoulade sauce, capers and lettuce. They even do a Taco Tuesday special that brings a bunch of different seafood-filled taco options to the streets.
Snapper Grabber’s Coastal Kitchen food truck is a traveling seafood kitchen that began with Snapper Grabber’s Seafood Market, a fresh retail seafood market in Vestavia Hills. The owners wanted to bring their “hook to fork” seafood from the Gulf to the neighborhoods of Birmingham. “We love to see the smiles on our customers’ faces when they take a big bite and taste how fresh and delicious our seafood really is,” says Chef Patrick McCown, who manages and operates the food truck side of the family business.
Snapper’s most popular food truck item is their Alabama wild-caught shrimp po’ boy topped with their market-made remoulade sauce. Enjoy it with a bag of Zapp’s kettle chips as the tasty side to all of their sandwiches. One item that tends to get overlooked is their grouper cake gliders. Snappers recommends these almost-famous, original grouper cakes that are served on a toasted slider bun and topped with delicious Creole cole slaw. If you catch this truck, be sure to try their delicious, coastal delights or visit their retail seafood market in Vestavia!
Cantina On Wheels is the perfect place for on-the-go, delicious Mexican food. Getting its start as a laid-back Mexican eatery with a unique and fun atmosphere, the 10-year-old restaurant has established itself in the Magic City as a local favorite! With the restaurant’s major success, Cantina wanted to bring their made-fresh daily eats to the streets, so Cantina On Wheels was born!
Cantina On Wheels serves a variety of tacos from the typical options to a Cuban Taco that includes roasted park shoulder, cilantro mayo, dill pickles and Manchego cheese. They also serve club, fire or black bean tacos, which put a different and spicy twist on the classics, and the ever popular nachos with your choice of toppings. One of our favorite items on the menu is the Mexican street corn, which is made-to-order grilled corn on the cob topped with cilantro mayo, cheese and spices. Cantina On Wheels also serves their popular garlic and garlic-cheese fries, as well as “truck fries” topped with chicken or steak, queso dip and pico de gallo. Basically, Cantina On Wheels has something special and unique for every person and all of it is seriously mouthwateringly delicious!
P: (205) 424-4530
Also referred to simply as “The Taco Truck,” this cash-only truck serves up some of the best Mexican food in the city. Situated in a gas station parking lot along West Valley Avenue and a sister truck downtown, the long line of construction workers, families, business people and folks in scrubs says it all. All walks of life are in agreement that the fabulous flavors of their tacos, burritos, quesadillas, torts and tostadas are hands-down, quite possibly the best in the state. Even renowned food writer John T. Edge visited this food truck for a piece that aired on NPR, and “Southern Living” ranked it at number six in their list of the South’s best food trucks.
With familiar fillings like steak, chicken and pork, and more exotic ones like beef cheek, cow tongue, fried tripe and chorizo — and at $2 per taco — this out-of-this-world cuisine will please the most buttoned-up eater, as well as the adventurous epicure. It’s definitely worth the trip!
“Not just an ordinary taco” is the tagline for this roaming kitchen, and when you take a look at their menu, you’ll know why. Taco Tech fuses Asian flavors into the classic taco, such as their Nippon chicken taco, jerk chicken taco, Thai beef taco or beef rendang taco. They also have quesadillas, loaded nachos or loaded waffle fries, nacho salad and their very popular crispy tempura green beans. Fans of exotic cuisine and bold new flavors are sure to love this truck!
COMFORT FOOD COACHES
When Zebbie Carney discovered his beloved hot chicken was a phenomenon that only existed in his East Nashville hometown, he knew she had to do something to share it with the masses. After moving to Birmingham seven years ago, Zebbie’s dream has come to life by bringing hot chicken to Alabama with Eugene’s Hot Chicken food truck. Not only does Eugene’s serve some of the most flavorful chicken south of Music City, it also serves fresh vegetables like sautéed corn and heirloom tomatoes, as well as their popular Southern cole slaw. Eugene’s mild chicken tenders and fries is the best seller, but Zebbie recommends the sandwich. “People should try our hot chicken sandwich. It has the perfect balance of flavors,” say Zebbie. “Flavor sets us apart from the competition. We keep it simple but we try to bring different amazing flavors to every meal.” Eugene’s offers homemade banana pudding and also is in the works to begin selling homemade ice cream soon.
Every Monday morning, Eugene’s Hot Chicken posts a weekly schedule on social media and makes sure to stop at Good People Brewing Company every Tuesday night to pair up some Nashville eats with Birmingham brews. “My favorite thing about Eugene’s is when people try us for the first time and come back to the truck to tell us how much they enjoyed it, or that it’s some of the best fried chicken they’ve had in years,” Zebbie says. Make sure you come on out to try this latest Southern food trend; and if you’re not keen on spice, try this buzz-worthy fried chicken Southern style, or sans the spice!
MELT Food Truck was founded by Harriet Reis and Paget Pizitz in the hopes of creating something special and different before they opened a brick-and-mortar eatery, MELT — followed by the recent opening of their second eatery, Fancy’s on 5th. “The food truck was a great way for us to get a feel for what different communities in Birmingham were missing,” says Paget. “It also helped lead us to our permanent home in Avondale, so it was a win-win situation!” The best part about MELT Food Truck? She has a name and a personality! “Matilda” is a well-known staple in the community who shows her grumpy side in the winter and her slower side in the hot, summer months. Iron City residents refer to Matilda by name and thus, the truck has established its own uniqueness in a sea of creative food trucks.
MELT has every grilled cheese option you could possibly imagine but their most popular item is the classic melt with bacon. The Buffalo chicken melt is a close second and both are staples on the MELT menu. Fries and tomato basil soup also hit the spot as the most popular side dishes. If you’re hungry for MELT and looking to meet Matilda, the best way is to call MELT at (205) 917-5000 and ask where she is! “Our favorite thing about the food truck is that it is where we came from,” says Paget. “She is our roots and we won’t ever forget that. What started as an idea became a food truck and two restaurants, and we are very thankful for the community for their love and support.”
Travis Chicago Style
News of this food truck went viral when one of our favorite foodie writers at What to Eat in Birmingham finally tracked down the elusive yet wildly popular truck and wrote about it. Reportedly Birmingham’s first food truck, Travis Chicago Style has been around for about 40 years, making Chicago-style Polish sausages and their famous Travis burgers — all smothered in owner Travis’ homemade barbecue sauce with onions, peppers and mustard. Long lines of hungry and loyal fans follow this hard-to-find truck by word of mouth but you can usually find Travis Chicago Style at the Bessemer flea market on Saturdays and Sundays starting at around 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday nights on 2nd Avenue North across from Platinum starting around 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.; and, according to one of What to Eat in Birmingham’s sources, “west of I-65 on Lakeshore at a big Regions bank office by the lake with the walking trail around it on Thursdays and Fridays.” And look out for their second truck and a possible brick-and-mortar location in Avondale!
We were excited to learn of this new food truck that just christened their wheels last week with a launch party at Hop City! Tot Spot offers dishes where tater tots serve as the base for gourmet toppings. Birmingham native and owner Michael Cannova reveres tater tots as the top starch, and he’s had a ball dreaming up new recipes where tasty tots replace the traditional starch. Expect to find super creative dishes where tots are topped with carnitas, spicy country sausage gravy, egg and bacon, barbecue sauce and buffalo chicken. They even have “PB&J tots” and “cinnatots,” sweet potato tater tots tossed in cinnamon and sugar and drizzled in cream cheese icing. Or try their “campfire tots” with marshmallow Fluff and Nutella sprinkled with sea salt. For an even more creative experience, express your inner artist on the chalkboard-painted food truck!
So, like your favorite food trucks on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Twitter or call them up to find out where they’ll be this week, for a tasty bite on the streets of Birmingham! And make sure to tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!