One side effect of the pandemic was that Seattle’s culinary focus shifted slightly: from brick-and-mortar restaurants — which pivoted to takeout-only for most of last year — to pop-ups, food carts, and food trucks. Chefs who were suddenly underemployed sought out safer ways of reaching diners with new, inventive recipes, and even entrepreneurs with little traditional restaurant experience were inspired to branch out with a pop-up inspired by family recipes.
Food trucks have been on the rise in Seattle in recent years, despite high costs and other barriers. For many up-and-coming chefs and restaurateurs, a mobile eatery is a lower-cost way to break into the market and build a fan base ahead of a more permanent restaurant. Others do the reverse, rolling out a food truck spin-off so their restaurant can go where the crowds are and reach a wider audience. Regardless of the reason, there’s something exciting about discovering a new food truck at your local farmers market, outside of your workplace on lunch hour, or on a regular rotation at your favorite pub. Here’s a list of some of Seattle’s most essential food trucks, and links to where you can find them next.
Dining outdoors is a lower-risk activity for COVID-19 transmission, but current King County guidelines require the use of masks and face coverings when social distancing is not possible and at outdoor events with large crowds. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours is required for all dine-in establishments. Visit the King County website for more information, including a list of vaccination locations.
CheBogz Filipino Food Truck
CheBogz serves classic Filipino favorites like chicken adobo, pancit, and lumpia in semi-regular rotations at South Lake Union, Beacon Hill’s Sinclair gas station, Ravenna Brewery, and Ridgecrest Public House. CheBogz is the project of sisters Trixia and Paula of the Paraiso family — known for their Beacon Hill restaurant Kusina Filipina, which shuttered in 2017 after the building was sold and the rent was raised. The Paraisos acquired other turnkey Filipino restaurants in Federal Way and Tacoma, and the sisters branched out with a food truck business. Expect to see CheBogz expand to a brick and mortar at Beacon Hill’s Colina Apartments in the near future.
Where Ya At Matt
Serving scores of adoring fans since 2010, Where Ya At Matt dishes up legit Cajun and Creole dishes like jambalaya, po' boys, and beignets. Now that his restaurant Roux has closed, the food truck is the only way to nab chef Matt Lewis's sought-after Cajun and Creole food. Follow Where Ya At Matt on Instagram for the most recent schedule announcements.
Off the Rez
Seattle’s first Native food truck, Off the Rez offers fry bread, Indian tacos, burgers, quinoa salads, and chili. For dessert, try the sweet frybread with cinnamon sugar, lemon curd, Nutella, or strawberry preserves options. Follow Off the Rez on Facebook to find out about current food truck locations. If you’re in the University District, catch Off the Rez at its cafe location inside the Burke Museum.
Looking for mouthwatering crispy egg rolls? Food truck Mami Tran sells exceptional fried egg rolls (with both pork and vegan options) made from scratch, as well as bahn mi and vermicelli rice noodle bowls. Sisters Lizz Eng and Cindy Tran named their food truck after their mother, Mami Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant and single mother of five, whose home-cooked meals helped sustain the family in their new country. Catch Mami Tran in and around the Seattle area, including Maple Valley, Seatac, and Issaquah.
El Camion is cheap and delicious, with some of the best Mexican food in Seattle. It’s impossible to go wrong with the stuffed mulitas, beef cheek tacos, or a breakfast burrito. Check out El Camion at any of their four food trucks, stationed in north Seattle, Sandpoint, West Seattle, and Roosevelt locations.
Bread and Circuses
A gastropub on wheels, Bread and Circuses serves an ever-changing menu featuring upscale comfort food like the Circus burger, with a bone marrow bun and house-ground beef, or lamb curry poutine. The company also runs a walk-up window inside Seattle Cider Co. and Two Beers' The Woods tasting room in SoDo.
Big Boys Kainan
Big Boys Kainan serves Filipino and Hawaiian food at their brick and mortar in Kent, and also via their food truck. Billed as Filipino food with a twist, Big Boys Kainan’s Kent location offers menu items like poke, spam musubi, lumpia, and Adobo Moco — fried chicken and egg covered in adobo gravy. The condensed food truck menu sells jalapeno poppers, poke and rice bowls, lumpia, and burritos.
Wood Shop BBQ
Now with a full-fledged restaurant in the Central District, Wood Shop BBQ hasn’t forgotten its humble origins as a food truck. The mobile version serves a slew of smoked meats, with the standout mac-and-cheese bowls — which layer jalapeño mac and cheese with meat and sauce — a top choice. Follow Wood Shop’s Instagram account for an up-to-date truck schedule.
Hot, crispy falafel is the mainstay at this truck, which used its mobile success to launch a restaurant in West Seattle, where the company makes virtually every ingredient on-site. The popular fried chickpea patties are complemented by lamb gyro, shawarma, hummus, dolmas, and more.
Okay, it’s not technically a food truck, but Midnite Ramen’s present-day spin on a late-night Japanese food cart tradition has some of the best ramen in Seattle. Setting up shop at Ballard’s Obec Brew (on Wednesday) and Magnolia’s Figurehead Brewing (Thursday through Saturday) Midnite Ramen serves over nine styles of regional Japanese ramen, including specials like Abashiri Kani Miso Ramen and Takeoka Style Black Shoyu Chashu Men. Make sure to try the Yakitori skewers (only on Fridays) and popular Sapporo Miso.
Seattle Biscuit Company
Using Northwest ingredients for gut-busting biscuit sandwiches, Seattle Biscuit Company is always a good bet. Creative combinations involve jams, butters, mustard, and other spreads with generous heaps of meat. There’s a new Frelard shop, too, with fried chicken and whiskey in the mix.
This plant-based vegan doughnut truck has been making devotees of vegans and veg-curious doughnut lovers alike with its yeast-raised doughnuts and creative flavors like strawberry lemonade and mango con chile. Owners Christopher Ballard and Sean Willis have secured a brick-and-mortar location for Dough Joy in Capitol Hill — slated to open in December — but still plan on maintaining their Ballard food truck location at 5401 17th Avenue NW, as well as popping up at various locations around Seattle.
According to its website, BeanFish is the first Taiyaki food truck in the U.S. Serving up fish-shaped cakes — a lot like waffles — a common Japanese street food, BeanFish offers creative options for fillings like peanut butter and banana (the Elvis); or spam, pineapple and pepper jack cheese (the Big Kahuna); as well as vanilla custard and traditional red bean paste filling. Find BeanFish often at the Fremont Sunday Market, or on Saturdays at Uwajimaya.