User’s Guide: L.A. Street Food


“Most sidewalk vending activities within the City limits are illegal,” says the Los Angeles Community Development Department’s website. But that doesn’t stop tons of stands and trucks from opening and operating all over the city. If you want to do it the right way, expect to run into the brick wall of bureaucracy. First, get a business license ($168) from the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector. In order to ensure that the financially unstable state gets the taxes it so desperately needs, you’ll need a seller’s permit from the California State Board of Equalization. This permit is essentially in lieu of sales tax, and will run you about 9.75 percent of the truck’s taxable income per year. If you’re using a truck, be sure to get it inspected by the Department of Public Health. After you’ve obtained proof of insurance, you’ll need just one more thing: a local seller’s permit. Rule vary depending on in which city you want to sell. If all of this sounds too complicated, stick with being a customer. Check out our map of L.A.’s notable street food, below, and get more information on buying your own food truck on Grub Street New York.

How's the street-food scene elsewhere? Check out Grub Street maps in Boston, San Francisco, and New York.

Plus: How to start your own street cart.