The Southern Gourmasion parked downtown recently.

It wasn’t too long ago that the food truck was nothing more than a novelty.  If you lunched at a food truck, it likely wasn’t because you were in search of high-quality food at a reasonable price. Instead, it was a special event, when a literal version of “Meals on Wheels” pulled up near your job. You and your co-workers probably treated those days like an impromptu company picnic, and at a picnic, you rarely expect the best food.

But those days are long gone. Oh sure, the food truck still provides a mildly interesting environment for dining, but the novelty is no more. Instead, today’s food trucks in Little Rock are attracting customers by focusing on quality, serving up a plethora of outstanding eats at a very reasonable price. There is only one reason you should go eat at these trucks: they’re all making really good food.

1. Beast Food Truck

Why it’s unique: Beast Food Truck is the newest truck on this list, and also the smallest. Gwen Jones and Michael Qandah only serve food that is considered “paleo.” The paleo diet avoids grains, gluten and processed foods and instead focuses on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. At Beast, you’ll discover most of the food comes from farmers right here in Arkansas, meaning it’s not only good for you, but it’s also local.

What to eat: Beast’s signature dish is its tacos, which use tortillas made out of tapioca flour. Options include chorizo, ground beef and barbacoa. If you get there in time for breakfast, try anything with bacon; Jones and Qandah make it themselves.

Where to find them: Beast Food Truck maintains an active Facebook page and posts its locations every day. 

2. kBird

Why it’s unique: There aren’t many restaurants doing Thai food in central Arkansas, but one of the few is kBird. Richard Glasgow learned how to cook Thai food while in Washington, D.C., and brought his talents back to Little Rock in 2012. Glasgow cooks in a classic Thai style, meaning anything you get from kBird is as authentic as you can find in Arkansas.

What to eat: kBird’s classic dish is the Pad Thai, a stir-fried rice noodle dish which you can get with tofu or with Falling Sky Farms chicken. If you’re feeling adventurous, try anything with the green curry. It’s a spicy concoction made with fresh green chiles that will certainly make an impression.

Where to find them: kBird usually sets up at 611 Beechwood St. behind Mrs. Polka Dot’s in Hillcrest. Glasgow also frequents the food truck festivals and kBird is active on Facebook.

Chicken Pad Thai from kBird.

3. Pizzeria Santa Lucia

Why it’s unique: You won’t find a food truck like Santa Lucia anywhere else in Arkansas. Jeremy and Jacquelyn Pittman, owners of Palette Catering Company, have installed a traditional brick oven pizza on the back of a trailer. The result is a mobile wood-burning oven that can reach temperatures in excess of 900 degrees. That heat is necessary for Santa Lucia’s Neapolitan-style pizzas, which some foodies say are the greatest pizzas available anywhere in Little Rock.

What to eat: All of Santa Lucia’s pizzas are good, but the quattro formaggi’s four cheeses make for a wonderful meal. If you like a traditional Italian pie, try the margherita. If you aren’t feeling adventurous, Santa Lucia also offers the American standby pepperoni.

Where to find them: Santa Lucia is not out every day, so make sure you check Facebook for the latest. The Pittmans are also opening a permanent location inside Terry’s Finer Foods later this summer.

4. The Southern Gourmasian

Why it’s unique: The Southern Gourmasian is the oldest, most successful truck on this list. Justin Patterson mixes traditional Southern fare with Asian cuisine, resulting in delicious food you can’t find anywhere else. The Southern Gourmasian has topped several “best of” lists in Arkansas, and has even been recognized as one of the best food trucks in the South by Deep South Magazine.

What to eat: There are no bad choices on the menu. The steamed buns are savory, pillowy delights, available with chicken, pork or short rib. The chicken and dumplings are different, but dangerously addictive, with rice dumplings and spicy gravy. For breakfast, try the Loco Moco, with pulled pork, rice and a perfectly fried egg.

Where to find them: Patterson keeps moving every day, so check out TheSouthernGourmasian.com for updates. Patterson is also working on a permanent location, which he hopes to formally announce soon.

The vegetarian barbecue sandwich found at the inviting Southern Salt truck.

5. The Southern Salt Company

Why it’s unique: You won’t find a more eclectic food truck anywhere. Southern Salt features adornments that include a speed limit decal, old kitchen tools and a Dad’s Root Beer sign. And the food is just as interesting as the truck itself. Every dish that Lauren Mccants makes is a fusion of two cultures, but no two fusions are alike. One dish might combine Thai and Southern, while the next will fuse Italian with Philadelphia.

What to eat: It’s rare that a vegetarian offering will make foodies excited, but one bite of the vegetarian BBQ sandwich will change your mind. It’s a delectable blend of grilled vegetables with a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce that makes for a great meal. Want meat? Go with the loaded bratwurst, which marries a local brat with a fresh hoagie and a wonderful vegetable blend.

Where to find them: Southern Salt typically sets up in Hillcrest, but Mccants will move around, so be sure to check Facebook for the truck’s daily location.

The Waffle Wagon truck; classic chicken and waffles from the Waffle Wagon.

6. Waffle Wagon

Why it’s unique: Matt Clark’s Waffle Wagon is all about waffles. These thick, fluffy Belgian-style waffles serve as the base for some amazing creations that make the most of Arkansas meats and produce. The Waffle Wagon is also the anchor truck for Westover Wednesdays, a food truck meet on the second Wednesday of every month at Westover Hills Presbyterian Church in the Heights.

What to eat: You haven’t tried chicken and waffles until you’ve had the Waffle Wagon’s version. Spicy chicken tenders with sweet maple syrup make for a perfectly balanced meal. The Waffle Wagon rotates the rest of its menu pretty regularly, with choices including a banana waffle, a Nutella waffle and one called “Pigs in a Blanket.”

Where to find them: Waffle Wagon really gets around, including a regular stop in Jacksonville. Be sure to check Facebook to get the daily location.

Shrimp and grits from The Southern Gourmasian