Congdon’s After Dark in Wells. Photo courtesy of Congdon’s After Dark

The rise of the food truck may not be specific to Maine, but as most any local will assure you, we’ve currently got some of the best meals on wheels in the country.

You could argue that food trucks date back to ancient Rome’s food carts, and made their next big evolutionary jump as chuckwagons in the 19th-century American West. Those didn’t morph into a modern form until taco trucks took off in L.A. in the 1970s. And it wasn’t until 2008 that they evolved again, this time as high-tech mobile kitchens armed with free Wi-Fi and social media teams.

That brings us to modern-day Maine, where our food trucks are slinging sophisticated and diverse foods from celebrated chefs who get every bit as much adoration as their brick and mortar counterparts – and have sometimes become so sought-after that they spawn full-blown restaurants.

But it’s when those topnotch mobile restaurants conglomerate in one setting that things get really exciting. The deluge of options – from world-class bluefin tartare and fragrant shawarma to pollo asado tacos – can be a little dizzying. A kind of gastronomic carnival results, and the object of the game is to strategize well enough to save room for the three or four things you most want to eat.

That’s certainly the case at Congdon’s After Dark Food Truck Park (1100 Post Road, Wells, 207-646-4219, open 4-8 p.m most nights all summer, with at least one truck staying open until 9 p.m., A couple of miles away from Wells Beach, it began in 2017 as Maine’s only food truck park where it still sits now, in the parking lot of Congdon’s Doughnuts. Among the kids’ games and makeshift beer garden (dedicated almost entirely to Maine craft brews), you’re as apt to find cult favorites like cheeseburgers topped with crab rangoon at Hoss and Mary’s Tasty Grub as you are staples like the blistered and gooey pie at Pizza by Fire.

On Thursdays or Friday nights almost every week this summer, Thompson’s Point hosts Summer Sunsets (Thompson’s Point Road, Portland, 207-747-5288, June 15, 22, 30; July 7 and 14; Aug. 4, 11, 24; Sept. 1. There, a dozen or so food trucks converge to feed the crowds lured by live music, bustling bars, and yes, gorgeous sunsets. They line up for vittles from vendors like Mr. Tuna (get there early; the tuna hand rolls sell out fast) and Falafel Mafia, for homemade hummus on pillowy pita.

A woman walks down the Eastern Prom near the Falafel Mafia food truck in the Cutter Street parking lot last year. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Both of those trucks can also be found at the Eastern Prom Food Truck Park (Cutter Street Parking Lot, Eastern Promenade, Portland, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily). Your best bet for a relaxed lunch is to bring a pal and scope out a bench on the Prom with a great view of Casco Bay. One of you can save the spot while the other lines up at trucks like Vy Bánh Mì, maker of Vietnamese baguette sandwiches piled with crunchy fresh veggies and juicy meats and seafoods.

Even with fewer vendors, the area’s fledgling parks are worth a visit – and growing. Brunswick’s Town Mall (Maine Street, 207-725-6656) is a picnic-perfect green space, steps away from Bowdoin College. It’s home to the local farmers market and this summer is hosting five food trucks, including the ever-popular Taco the Town, serving tacos like pescado ensenada (grilled haddock) and al pastor. The new Arundel Food Truck Park (1632 Portland Road, Arundel, hours vary) across Route 1 from Bentley’s Saloon is a jumble of picnic tables, parked cars, and food trucks like Something’s Fishy (fried seafood), Sprinkles (ice cream), and Mr. T’s Smoke Shack. And there’s plenty of seating at the outdoor picnic tables or under the tent at the Bridgton Food Truck Park (64-74 Portland Road, Bridgton, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, May through October, Its roster of trucks includes Mack’s Place, best known for its lobster roll laced with ginger, garlic and fiery sriracha.

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: