Mobile Food Units

Mobile Food Units (MFU) 

How To Start A New MFU Business

Mobile food units come in different shapes and sizes. They can range from push carts and bike carts to food trailers and drive-able food trucks. Regardless of what a unit looks like they all must follow the same rules in order to operate in San Marcos.

A new mobile food unit owner must begin by filling out the below MFU Application. This will include finding a central preparation facility (CPF) that is a permitted food establishment. Mobile food units are required to physically go to their CPF every day that they are in operation in order to refill fresh water, properly dispose of waste water, properly dispose of trash, and depending on the unit, to prepare food, store food, and clean out the unit.

Once a central preparation facility agreement has been made the owner of the establishment will need to complete the second page of the MFU application. If the CPF is located in the city limits of San Marcos no additional documentation is necessary. If a CPF is located outside the city limits of San Marcos a copy of the most recent inspection report will be required to be submitted along with the application.

If the MFU utilizes propane or will be producing food that creates grease laden vapors the unit must comply with local fire code and have a Type 1 vent hood and a fire suppression system installed. A propane pressure test, also known as a leak test, will need to be performed by a licensed professional within 90 days of the permitting inspection. Fire requirements are located at the bottom of the page and questions may be directed to Fire Prevention at (512) 805-2600 or 

 Applications can be submitted electronically to or in person at our office located at 630 E Hopkins Bldg 5 San Marcos, TX 78666.

Please note the following City ordinances:

  • MFUs are not permitted to vend from public property this includes streets, sidewalks, right of ways, and City parks (unless approval given by Parks & Recreation Department).
  • Effective January 1, 2020, MFUs must utilize recyclable or compostable single service items including straws, spoons, forks, knives, plates, and cups
    • NO styrofoam cups, plates, containers, or other styrofoam single service items will be allowed to be used or stored on mobile food units.

How to Renew an Existing MFU Permit

Mobile food units that utilize propane must have an annual propane pressure test before being able to renew their MFU permit.  MFUs currently permitted by the City that have grills, gas stoves, fryers, or other food equipment that can produce grease vapors, shall have a fire suppression system installed on the vent hood by August 1st, 2020. New Mobile Food Units shall meet this requirement before a mobile food unit permit can be re-issued.

A new MFU application will need to be submitted in order to begin the renewal process. 

Mobile food units must begin utilizing recyclable or compostable straws, spoons, forks, knives, plates, and other single service articles before January 1, 2020.

Effective January 1, 2020, NO styrofoam cups, plates, containers, or other styrofoam single service items will be allowed to be used or stored on mobile food units.

Mobile Food Unit Helpful Documents


Mobile food units must operate from an approved central preparation facility, (Residential home facility is not allowed) this central preparation facility shall meet all Texas Food Establishment Rules, and hold a current food establishment license.

The mobile food unit shall return to that central preparation facility for replenishing of supplies, and servicing of the establishment. If the central preparation facility is located outside the City of San Marcos, valid copies of the food establishment’s permit and most recent inspection are required.

Selling, vending, or soliciting cannot take place on a publicly owned right of way without an agreement with the appropriate agency.