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Following Seattle’s Roving Restaurants

September 17, 2010

Food trucks are big right now. Huge, even. No longer just a place to grab a sketchy taco in a drunken (or hungover) stupor, these mobile eateries are now prime showcases of seriously delicious food. Although some cities have been boasting a food truck community for quite some time, Seattle seems to be fairly new to the scene. Even so, the business is sky-rocketing. With the plethora of self-proclaimed foodies hanging around the city, it’s no wonder the craze has caught on. And there’s something about the hunt. Where will try trucks go next? How can I best intercept them? Well, I made it my duty to track down some of Seattle’s top mobile eateries so I could bring my findings to my faithful followers!

It was a tough assignment, but someone had to do it!

Skillet

This silver, streamlined bus whizzes all around town and is hard to track down! Unlike it’s fellows, skillet doesn’t always offer up it’s daily location on Twitter, so finding it often depends on serendipity. Fortunately, I had such a moment a few weeks ago. It was a Wednesday and I was heading in to work a few hours later than usually because of a dentist appointment. I happened to check Twitter and lo and behold! The Skillet truck was at the Seattle Center…right on my way to work. Any other Wednesday, and I wouldn’t have been able to go. Serendipitous indeed.

Skillet has a rather small menu of gourmet eats that changes pretty regularly. Their signature item is their grass-fed beef burger. I’ll only eat grass-fed beef after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so I’m always excited to see it on a menu. I would never expect to find it offered at a mobile food truck! I was sold. Served on baguette with bacon jam, combozola blue cheese and arugula, this was a seriously decadent burger. Was there arugula on there? I’m pretty sure it got dissolved in beef and bacon grease. Delicious? Yes. But I felt like my heart was going to stop. This was a one-time splurge. Grade: B+

Marination Mobile

Possibly Seattle’s best-known and most widely followed truck, this one dishes out Korean-Hawaiian fusion fare at very low prices! The beef, pork  chicken, and tofu tacos and the kahlua pork and spam sliders are all only $2 a piece. The sizes may be small, but they pack a lot of flavor. The best part is that you can mix and match items, and get as little or as much as you want. Super hungry? Grab four tacos and a couple sliders. Just need a snack? One or two tiny tacos might do it for ya. Or try one of their more creative offerings like kimchi fried rice, kimchi quesadillas or spam musubi. These guys park in Belltown every Monday, so they were very easy for me to visit. I opted to try a chicken taco and a pork slider as a little taster of what M.M. had to offer.

The food tasted super fresh and was very flavorful without being heavy. The chicken taco was slightly spicy with a tangy, crunchy slaw wrapped in two delicate corn tortillas. The pork on the slider was tender, slightly smoky and sweet, with the same crunchy slaw on a sweet, soft Hawaiian-style bun. Both were very tiny, though, so you need several to make a meal of it. I have plans to return and be a little more adventurous– perhaps the kimchi fried rice? Grade: A-


Where Ya At Matt?

Very new to the scene, this bright red truck offers classic Creole food like po’ boys, gumbo and beignets. The prices are a little steep, but the quality of food definitely holds up to the price. A friend of mine who hails from South Carolina said her po’ boy was very authentic. I wouldn’t know any better, but my sandwich was incredible either way! These guys visit Belltown every Tuesday and are on my direct path to school…dangerous! I’m not sure of his name, but the man who takes your order has lots of charisma and makes every customer feel special. Seeing my knife kit, he offered me a $1 off culinary student discount on my first visit!

As per his recommendation, I ordered the Pork Po’ Boy. Oh. My. God. This sandwich was incredible! The pork was salty, smoky and slightly crispy like bacon, but more more tender. The slices of tart apple, the tangy slaw and the vibrant cilantro were in perfect balance. And everything was served on a great baguette. It might have cost me $8, but this sandwich kept me full for many hours. I tweeted about the sandwich immediately. Where Ya At Matt responded with an offer of free beignets on my next visit. An excuse to go again? Heck yes! I got the shrimp po’ boy the next time and, though not as mind-blowing as the pork, it didn’t disappoint. The shrimp had a light, slightly crunchy cornmeal coating without being greasy and was complemented by crisp, fresh vegetables. And those free beignets? Warm and coated in a blizzard of powdered sugar. Hard to beat. Grade: A

Maximus Minimus

A pig-shaped bus, complete with giant sunglasses, definitely grabs your attention. You know right away that some serious pork is served. Pulled pork, to be exact. These guys make regular appearances at the Fremont Market and at events around Seattle. Everything on the menu is ordered “Maximus” or “Minimus” from the pork on your sandwich to the slaw to the drinks. It has nothing to do with size, but with flavor options. I’m a huuuuuge sucker for some good pulled pork, so I was thrilled to try this place out.

I ordered the maximus pork sandwich (hot and spicy) with minimus slaw (fennel, honey mustard, and cranberries). It hit me over the head with flavor…and covered my hand in oozy juices. This was definitely a 6-napkin sandwich, and well worth the mess! Grade: A+

Street Treats

A roving dessert truck? Sounds like heaven on wheels to me. They offer twists on comforting classics, like coconut brownies and salty rice krispy treats, but people really line up for the build-you-own ice cream sandwiches. Pick your cookie, pick your ice cream, and they make it to your order. My choice was a peanut butter cookie with coffee ice cream. Mmm sweet and salty goodness. The cookie tasted homemade and the ice cream comes from local Blue Bird. However, nothing you couldn’t put together yourself at home. Grade: B

Molly Moon’s

Already famous for their scoops up on Capitol Hill, this local ice cream company just starting rolling around in their blue truck “Leo”. I’m just glad to have another place to enjoy this incredible ice cream. These guys are always tweeting their location and their schedule stays pretty regular from week to week. When I intercepted Leo at the Bellevue Farmers Market, I was thrilled and immediately ordered up a scoop of balsamic strawberry ice cream. Oh yes. That’s right. Sweet fruit with a syrupy tang. Grade: A

Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream

Though I have yet to actually eat from their truck, I can perhaps vouch for this company above any other listed here. While working at Look Cupcakes, I’m right beside Parfait’s team in a shared kitchen on Queen Anne. I’ve seen their process and have sampled several flavors (thanks to kind employees!). Bushels of fresh mint, loads of local blueberries, bundles of fragrant vanilla beans. The quality of ingredients used by Parfait is hard to beat. I don’t even like blueberries, but after a taste of their ice cream I was ready to eat several scoops. I have yet to try their toffee flavor, but I’ve seen them make the toffee from scratch and hand smash it before loading it into their ice cream churner. Yes, please! Grade: A

Know of any other trucks I should visit? Let me know!

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