The Food Truck Explosion: Ireland’s best dining experiences don’t have Michelin stars.

Image Credit: Lucy Warmington

With the rising popularity of food trucks in Ireland, Food and Drink editor Lucy Warmington considers why we just can’t get enough.

Food trucks: they’re a rising phenomenon. Whilst they’ve been an important part of the food scene in Ireland for a long time now, they grew exponentially throughout the pandemic. They started popping up everywhere you went, from the street corner to the parking lot of your nearest Covid testing centre (maybe this was just near me?). Without restaurant dining being a possibility, it’s easy to see why food trucks became a popular choice for vendors and customers. But with dining now back in full swing, why have they stuck around?  

I have a few theories about this. Firstly, it’s a flexible way to eat food. You aren’t tied into a reservation or table service, and they’re suited for a quick bite or food on the go. It’s simply easier, especially for students with a hectic lifestyle. This is true for vendors as well, the entire character of a food truck makes it possible to chase markets, events, atmosphere, and people. 

However, I think the majority of food trucks' success is owed to how they simply serve better food. Perhaps due to a refined and simplified menu, or a passionate, small core staff, food from a truck always seems to have an edge that warms the soul. Delicious and hearty, the flavour and most importantly, the food takes centre place. This seems an overly reductive assessment of the food truck industry, but Griolladh is a testament to this. Specialising in (insanely good) grilled cheese sandwiches, Griolladh began as a food truck set up in a front garden between lockdowns in 2021. Now, it has three permanent locations in Dublin City Centre. 

Food from a truck always seems to have an edge that warms the soul. 

Food trucks also promise an exciting aesthetic, and they don’t necessarily come in a truck. There’s a double-decker bus on Inishbofin called ‘Inishwallah’, and another in Donegal called ‘The Only Plaice’, which just happen to double up as restaurants. ‘Misunderstood Heron’, which sits in the Killary fjord, earned a place on Lonely Planet’s ‘10 of the world’s coolest food trucks’. In Dublin alone, there’s the Eatyard beside the Bernard Shaw in Phibsborough, and The Place at Grand Canal Dock which hosts the likes of Dosa Dosa and TacoMan. 

Ireland’s best dining experiences may not have Michelin stars, but many of them do have McKenna Guide awards. We are lucky that we are so spoiled for choice, and that food trucks are clearly here to stay.