Asheville’s food and drink scene is ever rising. Restaurants run the gamut from Appalachian and Southern staples to Spanish, Jamaican, Japanese, Ethiopian and nearly everything in between. The city is home to multiple James Beard-nominated chefs and cookbook authors. There are plentiful farms and farmers markets, culinary experiences to be had, and countless food producers making chocolate, cheese and so much more. And that’s to say nothing of the booming beer and beverage scene. Asheville has around 50 breweries, and distillers and winemakers are small in number but growing.

There is one food industry that’s still just a little off the radar and absolutely worthy of exploration: street food, aka food trucks — those roving filling stations serving a vast array of quick, affordable and satisfying bites.

Asheville is home to at least 60 food trucks — according to — and the diversity of offerings is just as varied as the city’s restaurants. You can find everything from coffee and donuts to tacos and tamales, soul food and Southern fixin’s, fresh pasta, stuffed falafels, burgers and dogs, wood-fired pizza, and more.

For reasons that have more to do with city restrictions, you’re not likely to find food trucks downtown, but where you will find them, and gladly so, is at the myriad breweries all across the city, as well as at area festivals and events or the occasional parking lot.

To seek them out might feel more like a scavenger hunt, though the reward is worthwhile. Many are run by trained cooks who enjoy the flexibility, low overhead and social interactions that come with serving their specialties in a low-pressure environment.

Food Trucks Roll Into Asheville
While the modern era of food trucks may have started on the West Coast and exploded after the 2008 recession, when many chefs were laid off or seeking low-cost opportunities to serve and sell their food, the concept didn’t take long to spread elsewhere, including to Asheville.

Cecilia Marchesini rolled out Asheville’s first food truck, Ceci’s Culinary Tour, in 2010 and is still going strong today. An Argentenian whose father is Italian and ex-husband a Frenchman, Marchesini serves a world-tour menu, including perfectly flaky Argentenian empanadas stuffed with beef, chicken, veggies and other appetizing fillings; savory and sweet French crêpes; a killer pressed Cuban sandwich; and Mexican and Nicaraguan tamales.

“I wanted to do food because it’s my passion,” she says, “but I didn’t have any money, so a food truck was an appealing option.” She’d read about the mobile restaurant trend in Portland and decided to give it a shot.

The relatively modest investment needed to start a food truck is a primary reason people get into the business. It also offers a way to build business while growing into a brick and mortar establishment, which Marchenini did in 2012. She opened Cecilia’s Kitchen on Merrimon Avenue, serving food-truck favorites on an expanded menu, and broadened her business into Black Mountain with La Guinguette in 2014.

While she’s as busy as ever, she still spends as much time as possible in the food truck. “I like the close contact with my customers,” she explains. “It’s a way for me to still be social while I cook, and it’s lucrative, especially in the summer.”


Asheville Food Trucks Find Their Footing
But not all food truck owners have a goal of one day opening a brick and mortar restaurant.

UNCA graduate Dano Holcombe had attended culinary school in New Orleans and was seeking a viable way to cook and make money while enjoying live music, and a food truck seemed like the ticket. So he brought his newly established food truck, Root Down, from Spartanburg to Asheville in 2014, at a time when the mobile dining community was just beginning to coalesce.

“They were super open-armed and helpful,” he recalls of the handful of other food truck operators at the time. “They made me feel very welcome, like it’s everybody’s territory.”

He’s since served up his creole and Southern creations at festivals, events, and breweries near and far, and loves the social aspect of running a food truck.

While Holcombe never intended to open a stationary restaurant, he’s found a model that’s a little in between. In addition to the food truck, Root Down runs a commissary kitchen and cantina-style eatery at Salvage Station, Asheville’s biggest indoor/outdoor music venue. It’s allowed the venue to focus on what it does best, while still offering a consistent menu to its patrons. For Root Down, it’s been a more reliable source of exposure and revenue without the burden of large overhead costs. And Holcombe gets to enjoy some of the biggest live shows that roll through town.

The Road Ahead for Asheville Food Trucks
Asheville’s food truck scene has ebbed and flowed since 2010, but in recent years, there have been attempts to create food truck hubs in downtown, places where multiple food trucks can set up to service hungry customers, though all have come and gone.

Food truck owners, including Marchesini and Holcombe, point to city health department regulations as one hurdle. It isn’t that they don’t want it to work, notes Holcombe. “It’s like you have a referee that goes by the book but hasn’t played the sport,” he says. “The rules just aren’t so black and white with food trucks.” He hopes to see the formation of a food truck coalition that can work toward better communication with the city.

In the meantime, we recommend checking out Asheville’s many events, festivals and breweries, and saving a little room to sample the food truck fare.

Know Where to Go for Asheville Food Trucks
Though not a comprehensive list, is the most current resource for discovering Asheville’s food trucks. It links directly to each truck’s social feed, where you can find menus and schedules.

New kids on the block
A permanent fixture at The Cellarist Beer Project in West Asheville, Cassia serves a rotating menu of elevated Asian flavors like khao soi (braised beef shank and wheat noodles in a coconut curry), Thai chili shrimp cakes, and smoked trout fried rice.

El Bodegon
This new-ish roving eatery doles out Argentinian comfort food with Italian and Spanish flare. Think creative empanadas, a chicken Milanesa sandwich with pesto pasta salad, or a chimichurri rice and beans bowl.

900 Degreez Artisan Pizza
A glassed-in shipping container on wheels, this newcomer is turning out gourmet wood-fired, brick-oven pizzas in 90 seconds and earning a loyal following in the process.

Tried & True Asheville food truck favorites
Blessed Soul Food | Southern soul food
TRY: Fried chicken with greens and mac and cheese.

Bun Intended | Thai-inspired street food
Where: Permanent stall in the S&W Market Downtown and at area breweries.

Ceci’s Culinary Tour | Latin fare, Mexican & French
TRY: Argentenian empanadas, Mexican tamales, and sweet and savory French crêpes.

Deli Llammma | Eclectic world cuisine
TRY: Korean-style steak burrito and taco pies with a dash of Llammma Spit hot sauce.

El Kimchi | Asian fusion and Mexican fare
TRY: Bibimbap, bulgogi burgers.

Guajiro | Cuban comfort food
TRY: The giant Cuban sandwich, served classic style with rice and beans.

Gypsy Queen Cuisine | Lebanese
TRY: Falafels and garlicky fried cauliflower.

Melt Your Heart | Savory grilled cheese
TRY: The Heartbreaker—smoked turkey melt with double cream brie and raspberry mustard.
Where: Wednesdays at Highland Brewing and Saturdays at New Belgium Brewery

Smashville | Smash burgers
TRY: The California, a classic burger of hand-ground, dry-aged chuck, brisket and ribeye with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and cheese on a sesame bun
Where: New Belgium Brewing, The Brew Pump, and Whistle Hop Brewing