City Cast

Food & Drink: Food Trucks

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on May 18   |   Updated on June 5
People gather outside a food truck

Harold's truck on Clark between Monroe and Adams streets October 2016. (Interim Archives / Getty)

Ahead of Chicago Food Truck Fest’s return at Daley Plaza Friday, we’re diving into why Chicago is still not a food truck city.

As food trucks took off in the late 2000s and early 2010s …

Local chefs and restaurateurs were slow to join the craze because of logistical challenges — time and parking restraints pushed by the restaurant industry limited when and where trucks could sell. Chicago became one of the most difficult U.S. cities to operate a food truck, according to a 2018 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report.

Then, the pandemic happened

And food trucks were hit especially hard with the loss of downtown lunch crowds and catering events.

But maybe Chicago’s food truck scene is looking up

There are 95 licensed food trucks, a city spokesperson told Hey Chicago. That’s up from last spring when the city said there were 76 trucks. (But there were 183 trucks in 2020 and 274 trucks in 2019.)

Logan Square unveiled a new plaza for food trucks last summer, which brought out crowds of hundreds in its first week, Eater reported.

What about the Chicago Food Truck Fest?

Starting this week, a rotating cast of food trucks will be at Daley Plaza on Fridays through the summer.

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