7 BBQ food trucks you must try in Melbourne
You don’t get named the world’s most liveable city six years in a row by having a sub-par food scene – here’s some of our picks for a good feed.
Anyone who has lived or visited the European-style city will know that Melbourne’s dining industry, along with the booming barbecue scene, doesn’t disappoint.
But did you know Melbourne’s barbecue food truck culture is just as lively as its dine-in counterparts?
With an overwhelming number of tasty trucks available on the go, we decided to put together our list of must-try BBQ Food Trucks in Melbourne.
They’re often difficult to miss by sight or smell – you’ll be able to track them down in the most unusual places, or stumble upon them during a casual night out at the Queen Victoria Night Markets.
Be wary – there are a lot of diverse and incredible trucks, head out with an open mind and empty stomach.
Smokin’ Barry’s Slow Cooked BBQ Food Truck.
With the motto ‘You don’t need teeth to eat our meat’ it’s not hard to see why Smokin’ Barry’s got our attention!
Started by Jim White and his wife after a year of caravanning around Australia, Smokin’ Barry’s was inspired by the barbecued foods the Whites saw – and their menu (each of their twelve items is named after a different Barry) definitely reflects that.
Smokin’ Barry’s Food Truck smokes their food using a variety of Australian hard woods, and mop their meats with a special spice rub marinade to give a smoky, Carolina flavour.
‘The process took about six months to perfect, and we started practicing while we were travelling out in our caravan,’ says Jim about his street food style menu.
If you spot the truck travelling around Melbourne and Victoria we’ve heard the ribs, pulled pork and chilli fries are a must try! And if you’ve got an appetite for the top pick of the menu, Jim recommends giving the Drew Barrymore roll a tumble – it’s their roll with the lot.
Regular spots: Tues to Fridays @ Port Melbourne Bunnings, Office Works in South Melbourne, and The Block filming building (164 Ingle St, Port Melbourne).
For weekly updates on other locations, follow them on Facebook.
Digging for Fire BBQ Food Truck.
There’s something incredible about the feeling and flavour of cooking your food with fire, and owner and chef of Digging for Fire BBQ, Dave Walsh, knows this well.
‘We have a custom built charcoal grill in our truck, and some people question our sanity. But it adds an incomparable taste,’ says Dave.
The well-travelled Dave Walsh found his passion for barbecue over ten years ago, where he spent time touring across the world through festivals like Glastonbury, Fuji Rock and Meredith.
‘I saw great food at music festivals, and felt they were the perfect combination of travel, music and good food,’ says Walsh, ‘Food trucks felt like the next obvious progression, so I put the idea of Digging for Fire BBQ on wheels and followed through.’
The truck’s fiery cooking methods are fuelled by mallee root charcoal, with Australian red gum for smoking – a method that has taken years to perfect, but has progressed due to his talented and creative team.
The menu is inspired by the global love of barbecue – food from Pakistani clay ovens, beach barbecues in Italy and, of course, from our own backyard here in Oz. Digging for Fire’s motto is ‘good food out of a truck’, and they certainly don’t disappoint – serving everything from North African and Pan Asian to Hawaiian and vegan dishes. Word on the road is that their 12 hour slow cooked lamb with Israeli couscous, tahini and pomegranate is one not to be missed.
Here’s a Digging for Fire BBQ fun fact – the team also run the Hawaiian Grill, which you can find at various markets and events.
Regular spots: You’ll see the truck regularly around Welcome to Thornbury, Hank Marvin Market, the Queen Victoria Market (weekends) and, for those who are keen for a drive, in Upwey – where the food is fresher and the air is cleaner.
For weekly updates on other locations, follow them on Facebook.
Senor BBQ Food Truck.
Nineteen years ago, an Argentinian man named Herman arrived in Australia and began sharing the unique flavours of his home town with friends. Ten years later, the same man quit his restaurant job, hired a tiny commercial kitchen space behind the former Pure Pop Records store in St Kilda, and began trading from a window. From here the business exploded, first with a pop up, then catering and now into Senor BBQ – a business that travels around Victoria and Adelaide, serving authentic Argentinian barbecue.
‘We do traditional cooking and play music, to try and share Latin American culture,’ shares Herman, ‘We also have a performer, and I also sing and perform.’
Senor BBQ mixes up the menu, depending on event and venue – they consciously use locally sourced meats from North Carlton Quality Meats, and fuel their fire with mangrove stick charcoal.
According to Herman, cooking is ‘a learning curve – you can always learn new things. Depending on how many people come we will start cooking three hours before we start service, to keep up with demand. If it’s a wedding, we cook for around two hours before – we cook lamb and pig, whole animals – in the traditional asado style. It takes four or five hours [and] you play with the wind and smoke, and the size of the animal. It’s beautiful’.
Senor BBQ fans will recommend the Choripans – a fresh chorizo on crusty bread – and the Asado (of course!), both with chimichurri sauce.
Regular spots: Senor BBQ moves around a lot, so to keep up to date with where the truck the truck is by visiting their Where the Truck profile.
Boeri Bros Food Truck.
It’s a mouthful to say, as much as it is to eat – but the food cooked by South African father-son duo Lionel and Luke, also known as the Boeri Bros, is definitely worth the stop.
If you’re a fan of a juicy Kransky or Bratwurst then you’re sure to love a boerewors (pronounced bor-we-vors), a barbecued South African sausage traditionally coiled and cooked over hot coals or on a braai (barbecue).
Each boerewors is brushed with a special marinade to really make the flavours pop, and served on a fresh roll with salad and a variety of sauces.
While former founder of steak chain Squires Loft, Lionel Miller, developed the menu and heads up the grill, much of the Boeri Bros was the dream of his son Luke, who desired nothing more than working with his father.
‘I’ve always wanted to work alongside him,’ says Luke about his father, ‘When I finished school I actually got a scholarship to study at Swinburne [but] I wasn’t enjoying it – then I watched the movie Chef.’
Here, Lionel interjects, ‘I had just sold out of the Squires Loft chain, and the movie [Chef] was exciting. We came back from a holiday, and bought the food truck.’
It only took three months for the Boeri Bros trailer to be built, registered, OHS approved and trading. Only one appliance is fitted on the trailer – the braai – which everything is cooked on, even vegetable platters. LPG gas is used to ignite the charcoal grill, and once lit, the coals are left to burn for a clean and pure taste – avoiding interference with the flavourful marinade.
It’s no secret that the best meal of the menu is their Boeri roll, but it might not be the way you expect it.
‘We eat our sausage differently to the way we sell it,’ says Lionel, ‘I have The Lot with sriracha and peach relish’.
‘And I have it same as Dad, but I don’t put any sauce on it,’ elaborates the younger Boeri, ‘The sausage is very juicy, so it kind of explodes in your mouth.’
Regular spots: You can find the Boeri Bros at Princes Park in South Caulfield (Saturday), every second Saturday at Dainton Family Brewery, Caulfield Park in Caulfield North (Sunday PM), and Moorabbin on Fridays from 12pm. Their online calendar is very up-to-date, so you can catch their other whereabouts online.
Brazillian Bites Food Truck.
Brazilian Bites began with good timing and a passionate couple’s desire to share a piece of their home with the world.
‘We talked about it for five years before we started doing it,’ explains Lea, one half of the Brazilian Bites mobile, ‘It started as an idea about what they have in Brazil – esky’s filled with meat and drum barbecues. We couldn’t do that in Australia, but we thought about…a custom truck; so we travelled back to Brazil to get ideas for recipes, and while we were away the company I worked for folded. So we thought, let’s do it now.’
Now their brightly painted truck, fitted with a skewer-friendly, custom charcoal BBQ (with the help of AMB Food Truck Outfitters), travels around Melbourne serving up sizzling coal-cooked skewers, fried cheese balls and buttery corn – recipes that took a lot of taste-tests with family and friends to perfect, and plenty of trial and error.
‘We [cooked] as close as we could to Aldo’s family recipes, didn’t tell anyone what they were and did surveys. A majority went with the [recipes] we have now.’
From here, Lea and Aldo worked to perfect marinades – and the art of cooking 50kgs of meat at a time over a strictly charcoal barbecue, paying close attention to variations in wind and temperature.
While the cheese balls are a hot, molten favourite – Lea tells us the picanha steak special, served on a bed of lettuce with their famous green sauce and chips, is a comparable rival.
‘It started off as a steak special. It’s a particular cut of meat we had to source, most people don’t do it here, but in Brazil if you order a steak the picanha steak is what you would get. People describe it as a marshmallow – it’s tender, easy to eat.’
If you’re a regular food truck tracker, you can also find Brazilian Bites at Welcome to Thornbury.
Fancy Hank’s Roadhouse Food Truck.
Fancy Hank’s BBQ requires little introduction to local Melburnians, but did you know that Hank’s began with roaming roots?
Started by Kent Bell in 2012, Hank’s has grown from a pop-up in Richmond to Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint – with a permanent restaurant, and their travelling food trailer, Roadhouse.
Like Fancy Hank’s, Roadhouse serves southern-style barbecue fare from their rusty truck. The team cook with free range, locally sourced meats using ‘all smoke, and no mirrors’ in custom-built smokers – using only salvaged native timbers and chestnut, sometimes over an entire day.
‘It’s certainly an art form that has taken years to perfect,’ says Nicola of Fancy Hank’s, ‘some…meats smoke up to 22 hours, and need a lot of time to rest once [they are] cooked.’
While their on-the-go menu is tight, the Roadhouse crew recommends the Junkyard Sandwich – a chopped pork, pulled beef, slaw sandwich with the lot and garnished with a hot wing.
Regular spots: Like most trucks, Roadhouse is regularly on the move; but you can catch your own Fancy roadie at Welcome to Thornbury or the South Melbourne Markets. Over the next few months Roadhouse will be hanging out at the Banksy Art Exhibition near Federation Square. Check out Fancy Hank’s Facebook page for other trucking good Roadhouse locations.
And here’s a smokin’ hot tip for die-hard Hank’s fans – a new two storey Fancy Hank’s will be opening on Bourke St soon, equipped with a rooftop bar named ‘Good Heavens’.
Greenwood Barbecue Food Truck.
Greenwood Barbecue are the crew who have put the real Texas-style low n’ slow on wheels – to share with meat lovers throughout Victoria, and it’s a drool-worthy tale to be told.
‘Like most, I ate a lot of what I thought was barbecue,’ says Greenwood pit boss Dan Greenwood, ‘I had some great stuff overseas and jumped online when I got back and bought a small smoker. There were some terrible cook ups, and some good ones – when you get that good one you’re hooked pretty quickly. So, I went for a bigger smoker, better meat, and more information.’
Unlike the other trucks we’ve mentioned, Greenwood are truck free – instead rolling about town with their Radarhill Smoker, powered by lump charcoal and smoking woods (iron bark and various fruitwoods, from mandarin and cherry to chestnut wood).
While low n’ slow methods do ensure a more tender meat, learning the result of different meats and methods is a whole other science.
‘Each cook you learn something different, whether it’s fully loaded or you’re just cooking one [piece of meat]. In earlier days we wouldn’t know until the end; but now with brisket and things like that, it’s much easier to know where I’m going.’
Greenwood Barbecue’s menu and cook method will vary depending on the gig they’re working. When the team aren’t smoking, curing or slow cooking they’re spit roasting or flipping wagyu burgers to satiate the masses. There have even been stories of Greenwood team members sleeping next to the smoker, and waking throughout the night to check how the meat was cooking.
While the menu ranges from chicken wings to lamb ribs and burgers – die-hard barbecue lovers can’t get enough of Greenwood’s brisket, and Dan concurs:
‘I’m really proud of our [Ranges Valley] brisket. It’s consistent in size, shape, has lots of marbling. It takes a long time, but when it’s ready to cut it’s all worth it.’
The lamb ribs are also not to be forgotten, ‘It’s our Aussie twist on barbecue, and they’re great for feeding lots of people.’
Regular spots: While Greenwood Barbecue are a fantastic edition to your private function, you can also find them at the Batman Market in Coburg ever Saturday, and they’ll soon be hanging out at the Yarrambat Park Gold Club Twilight Food Truck Night starting Sundays in November.
Hungry for more?
There’s never an excuse not to have barbecue foods around you all of the time. With summer coming up, all of Melbourne’s finest food trucks are rolling out for longer days and warmer nights. Don’t miss out on giving every single one of these trucks a red hot go, and get along to a food truck event near you:
- Welcome to Thornbury
- South Melbourne Markets
- Food Truck Park
- Knox Food Truck Carnival (Nov)
- Doncaster Food Truck Carnival (Nov)
- Twilight Food Truck, Sunday nights in November