The Best Food Trucks in Seattle

We present our top picks from the latest food truck models

By Jen Chiu June 16, 2014


This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Seattle magazine.

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pspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[grilled cheese]/spanbrstrongimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/0814_foodtruck_2.jpg” style=”float: left; margin: 10px;” height=”232″ width=”350″Cheese Wizards/strongbrThe Seattle tech community welcomed with open arms Bo and his little brother Tom Saxbe’s playful double-decker safety-yellow grilled-cheese truck two years ago. (Cheese Wizards now stops regularly in and around South Lake Union as well as twice monthly in Bellevue and on Thursday nights in Ballard.) All menu items—sandwiches are priced just under $9—have a sci-fi/fantasy theme. The Gobblin’ King (à la Labyrinth, pictured left), one of their top sellers, features spicy turkey on low-crumb pullman-style bread from Tall Grass Bakery. Surprisingly for a big sandwich, it stays neatly intact. If you have a sweet tooth, order the Sweetums (as in the Muppet), with mascarpone, Brie, lingonberry and Grand Marnier vanilla orange cream icing on top. And if you’ve ever wondered what’s in the pop-top portion of the double decker, the short answer is: more fun. Bo, a former biotech researcher, and Tom, a college administrator, installed two chandeliers that once hung at the EMP and 1977 Polk Audio Monitor 10 speakers. Says Bo, “This business has been like mixing a super-fun art project, a mechanic’s garage for the criminally insane and a dinner party where all of Seattle is invited!” Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Cheese Wizards/a”; Twitter, @CheeseWizards brspan style=”color: #ff6600;”br[crêpes]/spanbrstrongCrisp Creperie /strongnbsp;brTwenty-something Jonathan Amato and Evan Mayer are food industry veterans. Mayer owned a restaurant in Montana, and Amato slung pies at Portland’s beloved Pyro Pizza’s food cart before they opened their white, retro-looking truck and began serving up crêpes, with an emphasis on the savory. “We offer something for every level of hunger,” says Amato. “It’s the reason we have groups of women next to young Amazon dudes behind burly construction workers.” Don’t miss thenbsp; prosciutto and Brie ($12), served with sliced apples and house-made apple butter. For a full-on sweet crêpe, try the Nutella crêpe with torched marshmallows ($8). Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Crisp Seattle/a”; Twitter, @CrispSeattle brbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[sushi]/spanbrstrongGarden Sushi/strongbrWith a permanent spot just off Market Street at 54th Street and 17th Avenue NW in Ballard, Garden Sushi is a haven for people who love a good deal. At this blue-flame-adorned eatery on wheels, with an adjoining “cottage” for indoor seating, you’ll find the same nigiri and rolls you would at a sit-down joint, but for a lot less. The $25 omakase (chef’s pick) fills two bellies with a hefty serving of sashimi, nigiri and rolls. Miso soup is $1. Owner Tsering Lama, who spent more than 10 years working in sushi restaurants in New York City and Las Vegas, recently began offering a daily special of two rolls for $6.99. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Garden Sushi/a”brnbsp;brspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[coffee]/spanbrstrongMotofish Coffee/strongbrGreg Sweney and Chris Cumming, owners of commercial photography studio Motofish Images, are also avid cyclo-cross cyclists. The duo was bummed that at races, which can sometimes be held out in the woods in the middle of nowhere, it was impossible to find a good cup of coffee. So they bought a utilitarian 1979 Unimog truck, decked it out in cool camo tones, put a bird on it and turned it into a mobile coffee truck serving some single-origin brews. The Unimog will be a welcome addition at next season’s cyclo-cross races; for now, you can find it every week at the Fremont Sunday Market. Not an espresso fan? Try their homemade spicy chai or seasonal lemonade. A list of more locations is to be released soon. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Motofish Coffee/a”; Twitter, @motofishcoffeebrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[sweets] /spanbrstrongMy Sweet Lil Cakes/strongbrKilling the idea that iconic carnival treats such as funnel cakes and corn dogs are heavy on the nostalgia and light on actual deliciousness, My Sweet Lil Cakes reinvents food on a stick. Each skewered and stuffed waffle is made fresh to order and accompanied with a special sauce on the side. The free-range chicken and waffle with maple butter ($8) is righteous, but the all-time sweet treat is a waffle rendition of the red velvet buttermilk cake with dark cherries ($7). The sweet cream cheese is so good, you might consider ordering it on the side and eating it straight. Pair with Sheena’s Hush-Hush chai tea to preempt the carb crash. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”My Sweet Lil Cakes/a”; Twitter, @mysweetlilcakesbrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[gluten-free]/spanbrstrongNapkin Friends/strongbrGluten-free sandwiches generally haven’t been able to compete with their glutenous brethren—until now. Chef/owner Jonny Silverberg’s truck, less than 1 year old, transforms latkes—a Jewish potato pancake—into a courier for meats, cheese, vegetables or anything else that would normally fit between two slices of bread. All his gargantuan sandwiches are held together by latkes and pressed in a panini grill. Pair your sandwich with a matzo ball soup for the full-meal deal. The Original Gangster (O.G.) sandwich ($9) is the most popular and our favorite, too: house pastrami (Painted Hills brisket, brined for four days, smoked for four hours and braised for four hours), Mama Lil’s peppers, arugula, Thousand Island dressing, horseradish cream and Gruyère cheese. Bread, we hardly miss ye. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Napkin Friends/a”; Twitter, @napkinfriendsbrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[caribbean]/spanbrstrongPapa Bois/strongbrSeattle native Trey Lamont spent his teen years job-shadowing at The Westin and Wild Ginger. He went on to attend culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu before starting Papa Bois, a food truck specializing in Caribbean street food. Whenever he’d visit relatives in New York or the Caribbean, he’d always return to Seattle wishing he had a go-to place to get an authentic jerk chicken sandwich. His black-and-orange trailer is now that place, and his version of the sandwich is our favorite item on the menu. The Jerk, dry-rubbed jerk chicken, is a flavor explosion, filled with house-made slaw, two different types of house-made sauces, caramelized onions, and tamarind sauce ($9). They’re notoriously messy, so to avoid looking like you’ve been in a food fight, Lamont advises pulling “the wrapper down as you eat it.” Pair the jerk chicken with a papaya salad ($4), shreds of green unripe papaya seasoned with lime and Thai basil. For a sweet finish, complete your meal with the lychee lemonade palate cleanser ($2). Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”“Papa Bois Food Truck/a”; Twitter, @PapaBois_Foodbrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[british]/spanbrstrongNosh/strongbrWhere can you find the best English-style fish and chips? According to British expats, Nosh’s rendition ($10 plus tax) reminds them of home. It all makes sense when you realize owner Harvey Wolff is from London and has an extensive food résumé, including helping to open Minneapolis food truck, AZ Canteen, for Andrew Zimmern (of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern). Menu items include more Brit comfort food with a twist—Nosh’s meatloaf sandwich combines ground pork and beef, and is served with roasted tomatoes, olives, arugula and an herb aioli—as well as some of the most adventurous food truck menu items we’ve seen. The fried rabbit ($10), roasted bone marrow ($7) and foie gras milkshakes ($12 for a 16-ounce), with a velvety texture and a slight mineral aftertaste, set a new bar for rolling variety. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Nosh/a”; Twitter, @NoshTheTruckbrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[vegetarian/vegan]/spanbrstrongPlum Burgers/strongbrIf you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you will view the emergence of Makini Howell’s vegan organic blue-gray truck, an offshoot of her successful restaurant on Capitol Hill, as the best thing since the invention of quinoa. Howell, a longtime vegan, left the fashion industry to pursue her passion for creating plant-based food. But even if you don’t eschew animal products, you’ll still walk away happy with your order of a burger and shake. The panko-crusted portobello buffalo burger ($12) will make you wonder why beef was ever in the picture. It’s juicy, hefty and best eaten with a lot of napkins close by. The Jamaican jerk yam burger ($12) packs a mean flavor punch. And leave room for a strawberry shake with coconut ice cream and rice milk ($6). Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “Plum Bistro”; Twitter, @plumrestaurantsbrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[biscuits]/spanbrstrongSeattle Biscuit Company/strongbr“Southern born, Northwest raised” is the stark white truck’s motto, and it handsomely describes owners and food service newbies Sam Thompson and David Hanson, who serve up biscuit sandwiches in their uniform of blue bow ties, white button-down shirts and sneakers. Thompson, who is from Mississippi, and Hanson, who is from Georgia, wanted to bring the culinary tradition of buttery biscuits to Seattle. Sourcing local is important to these guys, and their list of local purveyors is as long as those of some of the finest restaurants in town: Ballard Bee Company honey and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, to name two. Biscuit traditionalists, go with The Big Al biscuits and gravy ($7). Biscuit adventurers, proceed to the Ché (egg, bacon cheese, ham, pickles, sweet onion mustard and apple butter, $9) or the Lunch Pail (CB’s Nuts peanut butter, apples and house-made jelly, $6). Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Seattle Biscuit Company/a”; Twitter, @SeattleBisCo/p
pspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[mexican]/spanbrstrongEl Camión/strongbrSouthern California native Scott McGinnis grew up loving Mexican food, which prompted him to open a sleek, black taco truck and park it in a Home Depot parking lot on Aurora Avenue N. That was in 2007. Since then, he has expanded his truck offerings to SoDo and Ballard, where he opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant last year. Every customer seems to have a favorite menu item: Some people can’t get enough of the $4.15 mulitas (two corn tortillas stuffed with your choice of meat, melted cheese, sliced avocado and salsa verde). It’s so filling, you can eat half of it there and take the other half home with you. Others are loyal to El Camión’s taco variations, ranging from the classic carne asada to the fish (which has a cult following) and cabeza (beef cheeks). At $1.45 a pop (fish tacos are $2 each), why not try them all? Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Twitter, @elcamionseattlebrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[middle eastern] /spanbrstrongHalláva Falafel/strongbrIn the summer of 2006, a falafel food cart popped up in Georgetown. That cart has since evolved into a bona fide truck, serving people working and living in the neighborhood who are clamoring for quick and delicious lunch options for less than $10. Newcomers and regulars alike come for the falafel ($7.50) and the mix of lamb and beef shwarma ($8), although the deep-fried Brussels sprouts ($3) always steal the spotlight when they’re featured as a special on the menu. Owner James Barrington is the falafel master, and makes all of his own sauces, including a tzatziki and his signature Russian red relish (slow-roasted beets finished in sour cream). Lucky regulars may even be given access to off-the-menu specials. You can find the bright yellow truck in Georgetown six days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Follow it:a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Hallava Falafel/a”brbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[hawaiian/korean]/spanbrstrongMarination/strongbrIt doesn’t matter how long this 5-year-old truck has been on the road and how frequently people go to it. Rated two years ago as the number-one food truck in North America by Good Morning America, this magazine and others, customers always approach the navy blue truck with the same twinkle in their eye, praying their Korean-fusion favorites don’t run out before they get to the front of the line. The binding factor in hits such as the kalbi beef tacos ($2.50 each) and Spam sliders ($2.50 each) is the Nunya sauce, a creamy and tangy dressing that Food Wine magazine has hailed as the next Sriracha. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Marination/a”; Twitter, @curb_cuisinebrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”brimg src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/0814_food-trucks_3.jpg” style=”vertical-align: middle;” height=”398″ width=”600″bremspan style=”color: #000000;”Fry bread haven—Off the Rez; Courtesy of Off the Rez/span/embrbr[native american/southwest]/spanbrstrongOff the Rez/strongbrThere are many reasons to visit this electric blue truck, but the fry bread is the main one. Fry bread, as its name suggests, is a flat circular piece of fried flour-based bread either eaten plain or topped with powdered sugar or honey. You’ll spot fry bread in Arizona, New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest, but finding a proper place in Seattle for this carbo treat has historically been as easy as locating Sasquatch. The $3 sweet fry breads are the star of this show, and we like to keep ours simple with honey and powdered sugar (other toppings include cinnamon sugar, strawberry preserves, lemon curd and Nutella). To make it a proper meal, add a chicken chili verde taco ($4.50) to your order. Find it: Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Off the Rez/a”; Twitter, br@OffTheRezTruck brbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[ice cream]/spanbrstrongParfait Ice Cream/strongbrOwner and French-trained pastry chef Adria Shimada launched her organic “made from scratch” ice cream shop on wheels—Seattle’s very first dessert truck—in 2009, which quickly developed a loyal following for favorite flavors, such as the chocolate peanut butter cup with house-made dark chocolate peanut butter cups; Meyer lemon; and Ballard Bee Honey. We dig Shimada’s handmade cones, each marked with their elegant signature swirl, as much as her ice cream creations. The truck is also stocked with brownie ice cream sandwiches, push-up pops and other popular items she sells at her Ballard store. The brown Parfait truck rolls over to the Queen Anne Farmers’ Market this summer on Thursday evenings, and will also make Friday appearances on Capitol Hill, outside Environmental Works (402 15th Ave. E), across the street from the Wandering Goose. Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Parfait Ice Cream/a”; Twitter, @ParfaitIceCreambrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”br[mexican]/spanbrstrongTaqueria Guadalajara/strongbrThis old-school food truck (more than 15 years!), perpetually located at the 76 gas station at the intersection of 148th Street and NE 24th Avenue on the Eastside, predates both the food truck trend and many of the techies in the Redmond/Bellevue area. Around the lunch hour, it commands a diverse crowd, ranging from bleary-eyed coders to construction workers and people in the restaurant industry. It’s befitting then that the hefty torta ($5.50), a Mexican sandwich loaded with ham, sour cream, jalapeños, cilantro, onions and cheese that is revered as the go-to late-night snack in the Guadalajara region of Mexico, is a customer favorite. All of the tasty tacosnbsp; cost a buck and change. No website, Facebook page or Twitter accountbrbrspan style=”color: #ff6600;”[new orleans]/spanbrstrongWhere Ya At Matt/strongbrWhen Matt Lewis, creator of the famed Where Ya At Matt truck, opened his long anticipated brick-and-mortar Roux (voted Best New Restaurant in Seattle magazine’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards), people shuddered: Will the restaurant be as good as the truck? (It is.) You’ll often see customers (many of whom have been loyal supporters since the truck opened in August 2010) with big ol’ smiles plastered on their faces as they walk away from the beloved maroon truck armed with their enormous steaming po’ boy sandwiches ($9–$13) and white bags filled with a trio of pillowy, powdered-sugar-coated beignets ($4). Cult followers go for everything from the shrimp and grits ($5) to the muffuletta ($9). Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Where Ya At Matt/a”; Twitter, @WhereYaAtMattbrbrstrongspan style=”color: #ff6600;”img src=”/sites/default/files/newfiles/0814_foodtruck_4.jpg” style=”vertical-align: middle;” height=”398″ width=”600″brbrWHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE PIG TRUCK?/span/strongbrWe’ve seen crazy, colorful trucks, but nothing tops the giant pig on wheels. Maximus/Minimus’ big, gray, pig-shaped steel tank draws huge crowds, and some say it’s as iconic as the Fremont Troll. Fittingly, the menu is barbecued pork and (less fittingly) chicken sandwiches (both, $6.36). Find it: a href=”” target=”_blank”; Facebook, “a href=”” target=”_blank”Maximus/Minimus/a”; Twitter, @somepigseattlebrbr/p


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