Food Truck Etiquette

04/01/2013 07:30 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2013

Food trucks are the newest urban dining trend. They are everywhere these days, in business districts and neighborhoods, in front of art show openings and concerts, at farmers markets, and in parks and parking lots for regularly scheduled food-truck nights. Food-truck grazing is a great, casual, and often inexpensive way to dine, but it's not a free-for-all. Food-truck vendors are small business owners, and following certain rules when patronizing them makes everybody's experience more enjoyable.

The experts weigh in:

"Waiting in line is part of the food truck experience, so refrain from holding places for others."--Pat S. Kilduff, former director of marketing and external affairs at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, where trucks gather in the parking lot each Friday night

"It's annoying when people buy items from other trucks then come to ours for utensils and condiments. It's the equivalent of walking into a Mexican restaurant with tacos from somewhere else and asking to use their salsa." --Bobby Hossain, owner of the food truck Phat Thai in San Francisco (

More tips on how to get the most from the food-truck experience:

1. Follow social media for the location, time of operation, and quality of specific trucks. Everyone has an opinion on Yelp and other foodie websites.

2. If you have a favorite food truck, be sure and show up when the doors open or you might have to dine elsewhere. Supplies are limited in such limited space.

3. Bring cash in small bills and change. Have your money ready so you don't hold up the line.

4. Know what you want ahead of time so as not to keep others waiting.

5. Consider using email to preorder food, especially for lunch.

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and

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