During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants shut down their indoor dining rooms and limited outdoor patios. But food trucks were able to still operate, whether it was at farmer’s markets, beach parking lots, or pop-up events.
Many of Rhode Island’s staples started as food trucks, such as Hometown Poke and Frisky Fries. Food trucks, as opposed to brick-and-mortar locations, don’t have to worry about dining rooms or being in a “bad location,” as they can travel from place to place. Even with space restrictions, they have the freedom to be innovative and pack the flavor in each to-go container.
Here are some of the best food trucks in the state, according to Globe Rhode Island readers.
A MANO PIZZA + GELATO
In Italian, “A Mano” means “by hand.” And let me tell you, A Mano’s is making everything by hand, which includes their authentic Neapolitan pizza. Each of their pizzas take about 90 to 120 seconds to cook, according to chef Simone Ferrara, who was born, raised, and classically trained in Italy. Their margherita using mozzarella fior di latte is an obvious staple, but so is La Bianca, a pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms, and garlic. They also serve calzones, specialty sandwiches, and gelato like the Gianduja (hazenut gelato with a hazelnut praline shell). Updates are posted on their Instagram. amanopizzanpt.com.
BASIL & BUNNY
Basil & Bunny goes by the philosophy that comfort can be both inspired by multicultural flavors and 100 percent plant-based. Like most good food trucks, their menu updates regularly and can range from “Bacon Ranch” burgers using two house made bean and mushroom patties with a smoky maple tempeh bacon and vegan cheese, to “Clam Cakes,” which is a vegan spin on a Rhode Island favorite using local craft beer and oyster mushrooms. Dessert is also a must: Try the S’mores MMMBop-Tart, which is a chocolate chunk brownie-filled pop-tart with marshmallow icing, graham cracker, and mini vegan marshmallows. It has your favorites, but made with plants. Updates are posted on their Instagram. basilandbunny.com.
TrapBox is a modern Latin food truck that serves up sandwiches like the El Jefe Cubano with mojo roasted pork, smoked ham, melted swiss, house pickles, Cuban spread, and an anchovy mustard. Or their popular Masa Burger with salsa verde, cotija, garlic aioli, onions, birria, and cilantro on a brioche bun. Owner chef Welbi Genao launched Trap Box after he was laid off from his job during the pandemic. He previously worked at Blackie’s, Al Forno, and the Salted Slate. Updates are posted on their Instagram.
The Cluck Truck has a specialty menu to fulfill the needs of hot fried chicken lovers, like chicken and waffles served with maple sriracha or the classic “Cluckwich” with cluck sauce and pickles. The spice levels on their sauces range from BBQ to Jamaican, Kicken’ Orange to Ghost Pepper, and up to “Cluckin’ Call 911.” Extra sauce, please. Updates are posted on their Instagram. clucktruckri.com.
La Fogata is everything you want in a churrascos y más. Try their birria tacos, overflowing with cheese, meat, and cilantro. For larger plates, order the churrasquito, or their hot Cheeto chicken fries. On cold, cloudy days, they prepare a birria ramen. They are usually stationed at 178 Thurbers Ave. in Providence. Updates are posted on their Instagram.
JA Patty was founded in 2019 by Conroy Outar and Alison Rosario, who looked to cook and sell authentic Jamaican food in Pawtucket. Since then, they’ve become the authoritative food truck of meat pies (with some vegan options) in Rhode Island. Popular dishes include their Jerk Chicken Rice Bowl, which is coconut rice topped with Jamaican slaw and sweet plantains; the Traditional Beef Patty seasoned with authentic spices and piped into their signature dough before being baked to golden perfection; or the Curry Veggie Patty, which is made with chickpeas and carrots and cooked slowly in a mild coconut curry sauce. Updates are posted on their Instagram. japatty.com.
Lotus Pepper is a Vietnamese home cooking truck serving everything from tofu summer rolls to vermicelli bowls, yellow noodle bowls with your choice of meat, and dumplings. Thang Huynh, the owner and manager, and his mother, Young Nguyen, started Lotus Pepper in 2017 when they realized that among the scores of Asian restaurants around College Hill (where they are primarily based), there was a lack of Vietnamese dining options. Nguyen grew up on the Mekong River in Vietnam. Updates are posted on their Facebook page. lotuspepper.square.site.
MING’S ASIAN STREET FOOD
In Khmer, “Ming” means auntie. And when you’re dining at Ming’s Asian Street food, you feel like family. Ming’s officially launched by Josh Burgoyne and Korn Suom in 2018 as a mobile food trailer and catering service. By 2019, they purchased a food truck and focused their menu on Korean fried chicken sandwiches, banh mi, and other Asian-inspired comfort foods. This year, they opened their first first brick and mortar location, Ming’s Sando Bar, in Pawtucket. Updates are posted on their Instagram. mingsri.com.
BLACK DOG DONUTS
Black Dog Donuts is truck based out of Exeter that serves fresh mini donuts and creative donuts across Southern New England. Their “Squad Cups” is a donut trifle, with fresh donuts layered with toppings and whipped cream served in a cup and eaten with a spoon. Updates are posted on their Instagram. blackdogdonuts.com.
The Ish is a Polish-Irish cuisine-inspired food truck by chef Steve Fuson that serves hand-made pierogis, Kopytka, kielbasa sandwiches, shepherds pie, and golabkis, among many other items. Their Irish nachos with cracked pepper and sea salt kettle-cooked chips are topped with corned beef, cheddar cheese sauce, scallions and a dollop of mashed potatoes. Their mashed potato bowl is mashed potatoes made from scratch with your choice of toppings. Updates are posted on their Instagram. theishfoodtruck.com.