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Harrisburg's Food Truck Phenomenon

Written by Savannah Marie, Community Blogger | Jul 24, 2014 1:12 PM

The food truck craze is rolling in to Harrisburg, and the offerings here are tempting to say the least. From gourmet sandwiches to barbecue, from wood-fired pizza to burritos, there’s something in the capital city for most every palate. If you’ve never tried food from a truck, now is the time to be adventurous. From following your favorite truck on social media to find out where it will be and when, to trying many options at once during festivals such as 3rd in the Burg, it’s time to hop on the food truck bandwagon.

Food trucks seem to be taking the nation by storm, but they are certainly not a passing fad. They’ve actually been around since the 1800s and have undergone many transitions and upgrades over the years. What used to be called “roach coaches” have now evolved into sophisticated eateries catering to a variety of palates.

Food Truck Facts

Here’s a brief history of the humble food truck. Before the days of indoor plumbing and, ironically, the automobile, the chuck wagon made its appearance in the American West in order to easily feed cowboys on months-long cattle drives. Around the same time, horse-drawn lunch and dinner carts catered to workers in major New England cities. Eventually horses gave way to horsepower, and the food truck continued to evolve. Southern California taco trucks put food trucks on the map, and the craze spread across the nation.


Photo by stu_spivack

Today, the food truck industry is a thriving, $804 million industry. In fact, business has grown 12.4 percent from 2009 to 2014. What started as simple lunch carts have now evolved into wheeled wonders with gourmet offerings, which have taken over major cities and smaller towns, as well. Harrisburg is cashing in on the trend and has welcomed these trucks into its downtown, turning lunch into a movable feast.

Harrisburg Highlights

A variety of food trucks call Harrisburg their home base, and 3rd in the Burg is their time to shine. This event is held on the third Friday of every month to showcase the city’s arts and culture — and food. The Harrisburg Food Truck Feast, which takes place from April to October from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., showcases various food trucks and music in the city’s midtown section. Parking is free, so you can spend your money on various foods rather than feeding those meters.

If you find a favorite during the festival, you can always follow it on social media to find out where it is parking on any given day. Here are just a few of the trucks you may find in Harrisburg:

MAD Sandwiches serve up all kinds of gourmet sandwiches, from Italian Roast Pork to Cuban sandwiches. They even offer Latin items such as empanadas and tacos.

Up in Smoke BBQ specializes in a wide variety of barbecued items, such as ribs, pulled pork and brisket. Meats are slow-roasted over apple or hickory wood.

The Chicken Truck features fried chicken and french fries. This truck features just about fried everything, including pickles, mushrooms and even Oreos.

Forno Inferno is the truck for pizza lovers. This is the truck to visit if you have a craving for wood-fired pizza made with authentic Italian ingredients.

Soul Burrito offers a wide variety of south-of-the-border favorites, from burritos to tacos to nachos. Flavor is the name of the game here, with offerings ranging from spicy to sweet. Don’t forget to load up on those toppings!


Photo by Jennifer

Potato Coop specializes in — you guessed it — fries; eight different varieties, in fact. It also serves spiral-sliced, deep-fried hot dogs called Crazy Dogs as well as chicken tenders.

Grills Goin’ Wild offers burgers, hot dogs, fries and sandwiches, with a variety of flavor options.

Baron von Schwein features comfort food with attitude, like pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and baked corn.

Bountiful Feast specializes in a wide variety of locally sourced, healthy options.

As you can see, the Harrisburg food truck scene is alive and thriving. Whether you visit during 3rd in the Burg’s Harrisburg Food Truck Feast or just get lucky during a walk through the city, you’re sure to find a favorite truck you’ll want to hunt down again and again.

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