Ultimate Guide to Area Champaign-Urbana Area Food Trucks
Find your favorite food truck with our guide to all the eats on wheels in Champaign-Urbana and Beyond
Champaign-Urbana never ceases to amaze me. We are consistently on target for big-city trends, and we are early adopters of what’s current and relevant. What does surprise me, however, is the consistent popularity of food trucks.
The food truck (and trailer) concept is still going strong. Each year a few hang up their keys, and a few new concepts come on the scene. Even more incredible is the amount of trucks that have added storefronts to their repertoire! It’s a sign of the dedication and talent behind the steering wheels and flat tops in these mobile restaurants.
Thank you to Dragon Fire Pizza, Champaign’s mobile pizzeria, for being the Champaign-Urbana Area Food Trucks Guide presenting sponsor.
When you visit Dragon Fire Pizza, it’s a festival every day! Dragon Fire Pizza is a homegrown Champaign-Urbana business that serves up delicious individual artisan oven-fired pizza using the finest, local ingredients we can source — hot and ready in UNDER FIVE minutes. Depending on the day they are open for lunch, dinner, or late night snacking. This is the hottest, freshest, fastest pizza around! Find it at Research Park, Springfield/Mathews Avenues, Urbana’s Market at the Square, The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays and Triptych Brewing in Savoy on Thursday nights from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Where to Find Food Trucks in Champaign-Urbana
The C-U area is home to some great rolling restaurants. In our area there are a few mobile hotspots. Food trucks often congregate at special events; festivals; and markets, such as The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market (Neil and Main Street parking lot on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.), Urbana’s Market at the Square (Lincoln Square Mall parking lot at 301 S. Vine St. on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon); Rantoul; and Homer.
Other places trucks hang out: Research Park on First Street in Champaign, Riggs Beer Company in Urbana, Triptych in Savoy, downtown Champaign, and the area around Prospect/Bradley in Champaign. On campus, a prime location is Springfield/Mathews Avenues in Urbana, as well as right in front of Krannert Center.
Find these places and events to check out what cuisine is rolling around our towns.
Also, the Champaign Public Library (CPL) is hosting a food truck rally on August 8 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. outside the library—200 W. Green St. Check out many of our local trucks, and live music, in one spot.
Before diving in, check the linked truck names to see where they are regularly located; locations are subject to change often and without notice, so always check in to see. Most of these trucks are social media savvy and update often. Be aware that sometimes, the trucks go into hiding (anyone know where Fired and Smoked are?). And prices are subject to change without notice.
Chocolatier Marleen Hendrickx, part of the Urbana-based Rubens Chocolates family, created the Bent Bean Mobile Trike. Hendrickx uses the tricycle to expand her business into the summer. During the warmer months, they sell frozen bananas dipped in fine Belgian chocolate ($4), frozen truffles ($2) and unsweetened items like the all-natural watermelon or strawberry-banana popsicles ($2). They are confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
The creator of Broadway Food Hall has spun a simple concept into a 78 Volkswagen Bus. Bento serves, you guessed it, Bento boxed lunches around town. This concept is just starting—keep on the lookout. Look out for Bento on Instagram.
This farm-to-table themed truck serves food harvested from Hendrick House farm. Its menu focuses on burgers and sandwiches. The most popular is the 25 percent bacon burger. The bacon is actually ground into the 1/3-pound patty. Want something lighter? Try the vegetarian option made with edamame burger with sweet Asian slaw. All options come with “house chips” and condiments. Some version of Betsy’s Bistro can be found inside Parkland College and within the Carle Administration Building, Betsy’s Bistro @ The Fields. Find the rolling Betsy at area markets.
There’s nothing like beans, meat and cheese wrapped in a handy tortilla. You’ll find these portable creations in the Burrito King Food Truck. The truck was born from the popular Green Street establishment. Find the truck at Urbana’s Market at the Square, on weekends in downtown Champaign from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and on Goodwin Avenue and Green Street in Urbana on school days. In the summer, they also stop at Parkland College and Research Park.
Brother George’s BBQ
Kankakee-based BBQ joint doesn’t come down often. However, try them when you spot them! You can get items like half a chicken and a side for $7.50. You can count on seeing them at the Champaign Park District’s Champaign-Urbana Day at Douglass Park August 10, and you can find them at the Canaan Baptist Church fundraiser at Hessel Park August 25.
Make sure to try the popular applewood-pulled-pork sandwich with a side for $8. Add the pulled-pork-BBQ nachos for $8. The truck travels to area fairs and festivals. During the occasional weekday lunch, grab a bite on Fox Drive in Champaign, Triptych Brewing in Savoy Wednesday nights, Tumble Inn in Champaign on Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and it will be downtown Champaign/Bentley’s Fridays/Saturdays late night at 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Also, catch them during lunch at Research Park. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally. Try the popular pork dishes at the restaurant—Project 47 Smokehouse Pub & Patio in Mahomet.
Come and Get This Food Truck
This truck is fairly new to the Champaign scene. It serves traditional fare such as burgers and hot dogs (VIENNA BEEF!). They do have one unique item we haven’t seen on a truck often: Central Illinois horseshoes. Find them hanging out at Bradley/Prospect and sometimes at Riggs Brewery in Urbana.
Cool Bliss Popped Bliss
This candy-colored truck is going to keep it moving this summer. Popped Bliss sells 250 flavors of shaved ice and handmade popcorn in caramel, cheese, kettle and mixed flavors. The popcorn is made the old-fashioned way with no machines. They will not have a consistent location this summer. You will see them at events throughout Champaign and the Midwest. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally! You can also visit the new storefront location at 1506 S. Neil St. in Champaign. The storefront has 17 flavors of popcorn, tons of shaved ice flavors and handmade confections for purchase.
A few self-proclaimed foodies brought this egg-themed food truck to campus. When you catch them, try the popular “Morning Bender” sandwich with a fried egg, hash browns, cheddar and cream cheese on crusty bread. Cracked on Green is now serving a grilled cheese menu, tomato soup and freshly brewed coffee drinks at their brick-and-mortar location. During the summer, the TWO trucks can be seen at state-wide festivals. They are most often parked, however, on their home turf—campus on Mathews Avenue and on Goodwin Avenue and Oregon Street in Urbana. You can also spot the yellow trucks regularly at Urbana’s Market at the Square.
This simple concept is a slam dunk. All-beef hot dogs are served with all the goodies that make a Chicago dog (minus the tomato) from a trailer. These condiments are included in the $3 per dog price, or you can get two dogs for $5. In addition, Dave serves nachos, brats and pulled pork with chips and drinks. If the students are in town, you can find the simple concept Thursday through Saturday across from Joe’s Brewery on Fifth/Green Street. Also, Dave will more than likely be at Riggs Beer Company. Dave hopes to be at the Allerton Summer Concert Series this summer, too. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
Dragon Fire Pizza
Dragon Fire is not just the only pizza truck in town – it’s some of the BEST pizza in town, hands down. Handcrafting individual cooked-to-order artisan pizzas with as many local ingredients as possible. This truck is the first wood-fired pizza oven in C-U, and it’s mobile. Dragon Fire makes its own dough and sauce. Combining precise preparation and a 1,000-degree oven means Dragon Fire can cook a pizza in 90 seconds! Try the signature “Dragon Fire” pizza with fiery green dragon sauce, sausage, locally grown peppers, onions, cheese and jalapeños. Individual, 10-inch pizzas range in price from $8 to $12. This rolling pizza place is ALL over our area. Find it at Research Park, Springfield/Mathews Avenues, Urbana’s Market at the Square, The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays and Triptych Brewing in Savoy on Thursday nights from 5 to 7:30 p.m. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
Who wouldn’t like dough stuffed with a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables? Yes, please! What about empanadas made with some ingredients from the owner’s own garden—high quality and organic. This year the owner is expanding on that locally sourced concept! Try specialty combinations like the ham and cheese or spinach and feta for $2. Find the truck on campus, The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market and at Urbana’s Market at the Square.
Fernando’s Food Truck
Folks rave about Fernando’s! Burritos, quesadillas, nachos, tacos—Mexican style. For $2 even you can try an authentic taco on a soft-corn shell. The boss is committed to serving authentic Mexican street food because he has strong roots in Mexico City. If you are visiting campus, stop into its brand new 612 E. Daniel St. location. Find the truck in downtown Champaign or rolling at Riggs Beer Company. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
Fusilli Tony’s Italian Food
It’s hard to miss this red and green Italian stallion. Try their Italian version of the sloppy joe. The “Sloppy Giuseppe Sandwich” is topped with parmesan and mozzarella on a 6-inch French roll with a choice of chips, Italian coleslaw or bread/olive oil for $6. The truck will be other places in town all summer long—check the link for real-time updates. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
Hunger Force Mobile Food Kitchen
This truck debuted in 2018. They serve authentic Filipino street food, something you can’t find anywhere else in Champaign-Urbana. They have dishes such as pork sisig & chicken sisig tacos; Ginisang munggo; Pork adobo & fried rice; dessert egg rolls and more. Menu items change regularly, and they use a lot of fresh vegetables and spices, so be flexible when you go. We hear it’s all delicious. Find them in Champaign (at the Asian Supermarket on North Prospect), or at Riggs, or some other places; they actively post on Facebook.
This owner is busy. He owns the aforementioned Empanadas House truck and the popular Green Street establishment—Jurassic Grill, and now he is taking the Jurassic Grill menu to the streets. You’ll find a similar menu of dino-themed burgers, french fries and hot dogs. We really like the veggie burger. Find them often in the summer at Research Park.
Kona Ice of Champaign
A refreshing twist on the food truck, or rather a modern version of the old-school ice cream truck, Kona Ice is a rolling shaved-ice Kona Entertainment Vehicle (KEV). You may have seen (or heard) the colorful vehicle rolling through your neighborhood this summer playing tropical tunes. Now there are two identical trucks serving our area. Choose from dozens of flavors like strawberry daiquiri or banana-colada. An attendant inside the truck can help you, or you can make your own creation from the “Flavorwave” system on the side of the truck. Prices range from $2 for a kid’s cup to $5 for a color-changing cup. Kona Ice is now offering flavors geared towards adults. Try the blackberry mojito, sangria and white wine spritzer flavors! (Sorry, they DO NOT contain alcohol). They are confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally!
La Paloma (formerly Juanito’s Tacos)
One of our favorite things about this taco truck is the fresh watermelon that often is sitting outside when they are set up at Research Park, just waiting for customers. Our other favorite thing is the friendly service that can’t be beat. Grab a taco bowl with avocados, beans, cheese, shredded lettuce and sour cream. Or, whatever you want, says the owner of the authentic Mexican food truck. When school is in session, spot them all day during the week at Springfield/Mathews Avenues; during the summer they hand out at Research Park and at Triptych in Savoy.. On Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., they will be on the corner of Third and Green Streets in Champaign.
Maize Mexican Grill
This successful restaurant has a truck to bring their authentic Mexican cuisine closer to the students. This spring they will take over the infamous and retired food truck, Derald’s, revered spot on campus (Mathews by the Union). They will stay in that spot until the foot traffic dies down. When you visit, try the most popular pork taco Mexica ($3.50). Find them at bigger events and doing catering gigs as the season continues.
Mamma D’s Smokehouse
Oklahoma native, Sharon Davis-Devine created a mobile, condensed version of her popular Weldon, IL restaurant on weekends. If you are wanting a hot meal, you can order the beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches for $6, gourmet macaroni and cheese for $3 or Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings for $3. The dumplings are crescent-wrapped apples baked with sugar, cinnamon, butter, two secret ingredients and Mountain Dew! While the truck mostly sticks to the Dewitt-Piatt area, you can find pre-packaged goods every other Saturday at Urbana’s Market at the Square and West Side Park’s Taste of Champaign-Urbana on August 16-17. You can find the physical truck at Alto Vineyards summer concert series, the August 8 CPL food truck rally and the Mahomet Music Festival on August 23/24.
The Mas Amigos Taco Truck
Catch a taste of the former Urbana-based Mexican restaurant in an abbreviated form around town. This truck recently was sold, and the owner bought a new truck with the Mas Amigos name still attached. Watch for this truck when it officially finds its new home.
The aforementioned Mas Amigos truck sold to the new Mo’s Burritos. This truck is located on the corner of Prospect and Bradley Avenues in Champaign (the Boost mobile parking lot), which has been home to amazing tacos and burritos for many years. Some people say Mo’s rivals Fernando’s, Maize, and Burrito King.
NitroCup is a great way to enjoy (locally roasted) high-quality coffee, fast. FROM A BIKE! Their bike is equipped with stout taps and a cooler. They can pour icy Nitro coffee on the spot. Their brewing process cuts all acidity and bitterness from the brew. They add nitrogen to give a creamy mouthfeel—like Guinness and stout beers. No cream or sugar necessary. The cold brew is available in 12 and 16 ounces for $3.60/$4.50. Find NitroCup at Urbana’s Market at the Square.
Oh, Honey Pie
This duo is fulfilling the dream of a vintage pie shop. Combine that dream with the inspiration from a deceased grandfather—a baker. Inspired, they thought it was time to take the risk, and this sweet treat truck is rolling out for their second season. They serve pies 4-inch pies ($5) and standard 9-inch pies run $20 to $30 (need to preorder). Look for the salted honey pie; this old-fashioned recipe is made with local honey. Find them around downtown Champaign, fairs and festivals and Urbana’s Market at the Square. Clark Bar also sells the large pies. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
This doughy delight is perpetually sold out—everywhere. Get in line first and fast! Pandamonium bakes both cake and yeast style using fresh, real (organic if at all possible) ingredients with vegan options available. Try the cookie dough, banana split, orange creamsicle or the popular strawberry slider. The flavors vary, and they bake small batches in limited numbers. Find them this summer on Goodwin Avenue/Oregon Street on Wednesday and Thursdays, downtown Champaign on Friday and Urbana’s Market at the Square. The truck stays wherever it is until selling out—and it will sell out. This sweet panda has a permanent home in the same strip mall as Sun Singer Wine and Spirits.
Piato To Go
The popular Urbana-based, catering kitchen, Piato, does not shy away from change and reinvention. Offering catering and food nanny service—they do it all. Try the Hawaiian nachos topped with Modelo chicken, pineapple salsa and Hawaiian BBQ sauce for $8. All sauces are handmade. Their food truck steps out Urbana’s Market at the Square, and can also be found at Research Park and various events.
Sidney Dairy Barn
If you can’t make it to Sidney to visit the Sidney Dairy Barn, a Chambanamoms C-U Essential, you can stop by the “Moo Mobile.” Try a cup for $3.50, a tornado (ice cream with candy mixed in, usually cookie dough) for $5, an ice cream sandwich for $3. On occasion they serve a non-dairy Italian Ice option. The “Moo Mobile” carries around many flavors of ice cream for Urbana’s Market at the Square most Saturdays until September. This season they are expanding to The Land Connection Champaign Farmers’ Market, the Wednesday (5 to 7 p.m.) market in Homer and grazing campus. The spotted cow will also be at many Champaign County festivals.
The Snack Shack
Jenkins Catering with The Snack Shack’s specialties include no-churn ice cream, cake pops, cream cheese cake cups and warm cookies. That’s just the dessert. They have an eclectic savory menu that changes often. Try the chicken-bacon-ranch sandwich for $6.75 or yummy popcorn for just a buck. You’ll often see the Snack Shack at various festivals in the area. They are confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
This one is easy to catch as it stays put! The owner has acquired another truck to travel around. Look at Grubhub/OrderUp for their menu. Find the authentic taco truck on Bloomington Road in front of El Progresso at 1001 W. Bloomington Rd. in Champaign from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This family-owned truck specializes in delivering fresh-to-order Mexican food right to your door. But, you can find them sitting outside of La Morenita Mexican store at 607 N. Cunningham in Urbana, too, right by the McDonalds. Try traditional tortas (sandwiches), nachos, tacos and burritos from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Unlike most food trucks turned restaurants, this one started in a mobile unit. Now, there success has led to two trucks, and they have a popular Rantoul eatery by the same name. Try their Philly Cheesesteak for $5.99. The owner uses a 6-inch hoagie roll, American/Swiss cheese, green pepper, onion, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mushrooms. Find them in C-U at Springfield/Mathews Avenues or Rigg’s. They are also confirmed for the August 8 CPL food truck rally.
Under the bovine sign of the Prospect Meat Market (near the corner of N. Prospect Avenue and Bradley), you’ll see a newer addition to the truck scene. The appropriately placed Weiner Wagon sells … you guessed it, hot dogs! Try the chili cheese dog ($3.50), grilled tenderloin ($5) or pizza puff ($2.50). You can’t miss them! They are often at this prime location.
Wings and Things
On football game days in the fall, you’ll see this truck in the old IGA parking lot on Neil Street, across from Custard Cup. Grab an ice cream and some hot wings before heading to the game!
Some of these trucks are gleaming and shiny while some are older and faded. However, one thing is consistent—passion. Each of the drivers shows undying commitment and love for the product, and it shows in the end result. Any of these trucks are going to provide you something special and unique. So, be daring! Forget sit-down dining and eat from a rolling restaurant.
OTHER TRAILS IN OUR SERIES:
Did we miss any other food-on-wheels in the area? Send us an email: email@example.com.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie. She left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job in communications so that she could be a 24/7 mom to two busy boys. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Emily usually finds herself engulfed in balls, blue and belly laughs.