Going Mobile: 7 Family-Friendly Food Trucks in Greater Seattle
Written by By Allison McDowell Enstrom
As you’ve probably heard, food trucks are the new hot culinary trend (and serious business) around the country. Over the last couple of years, entrepreneurs and foodies have realized that they could bring high-end street food to the lunch masses looking for good eats and convenience. In greater Seattle, the number of food trucks is increasing weekly; some local trucks, like Maximus/Minimus, have even garnered national attention.
With that in mind, my two kids and I recently embarked on a food truck taste tour around Seattle and the Eastside, from Redmond to Kirkland to South Lake Union to SoDo to Queen Anne. We found that the food is usually very kid-friendly and that a truck stop can be perfect for breaking up an otherwise uneventful summer day. We also found that if you’re not careful it can be pretty expensive. Here are the trucks (and their goodies) that earned the highest marks from us. (Note: Almost all of them roam, so check for up-to-date truck locations at seattlefoodtruck.com, Twitter and Facebook. And remember that few trucks have seating or even anywhere to stand while you eat.)
1. Tuscan Stone Pizza: This is a little shining jewel on an otherwise abandoned street corner at the intersection of Bellevue Way Northeast and Main Street — one of the few trucks that has a stationary location. The Tuscan Stone Pizza truck is closing in on its first year and a half of business and, based on the tasty pies, my guess is it will be there a long time to come. Crusts are super thin so they bake fast for the lunch rush and toppings range from the standard four cheese to meat lovers to veggie options.
The bonus for kids? Two dessert pizzas: one apple and one s’mores, which we ordered and plowed through in no time.
It’s not the cheapest lunch on the block at about $9 to $16 per pie, but it will cure a pizza craving for the whole family. You can call ahead since it takes about 10 minutes to bake, and they’ll have it ready for pick-up. There isn’t any seating now but the owner tells me a standing bar is in the works for later in the summer. Tuscan Stone takes cash and credit cards and has longer hours than most food trucks since it also caters to a dinner crowd. There’s also a second truck dedicated to catering that the owner said is great for kids’ parties.
Find more info at seattlefoodtruck.com.
2. The Jerk Station: Recently, Redmond started its first Food Truck Corral on Bear Creek Parkway, where a collection of trucks gather at one space to cater to the lunch crowd. The day we were there, so was Michael Cunningham’s Jerk Station, an interesting mash-up of Caribbean, southern and Creole food. One of the nicest guys you’ll meet made some darn good grub! My dad and I had one of his famed Jamaican patties, a pastry stuffed with seasoned meat. It was delicious street food, simple to hold and eat, tasty and inexpensive at $3.75 a pop. I had the yummy chicken patty, something a more experimental young eater would enjoy. My dad had the spicy beef patty which he’s hounding me to go back for — it was that good!
Michael’s main lunch menu consists of more interesting dishes like Jamaican curry chicken with agave-poached apples and Cubano cheese steaks and a southern classic, sweet potato pie — great for adults, tricky for kids. But as we were trying to decide what to do for my 6- and 10-year-olds, Michael offered up grilled cheese with the crusts cut off. Voilà — lunch for everyone!
Lunches range from $8 to $10 and The Jerk takes cash and credit cards .
3. Off the Rez: We found a nice little stash of food trucks in South Lake Union recently. I’ll review all three starting with my favorite. Off the Rez takes me home to my New Mexico roots. It’s about the only place (aside from Cactus restaurants) where I’ve found Indian fry bread. And it must be popular because, tragically, the day I was there, it was sold out. But even with corn tortillas, Off the Rez’s tacos were off-the-hook delicious. The Rez has some burgers and some interesting sides like a quinoa succotash, but if you’re going to hit this truck, go for the fry bread tacos or fry bread desserts. The only thing that would make this native New Mexican happier is if they could whip up some sopapillas!
Lunch options are for omnivores and vegetarians alike and range from $5 to $12; sides are a little less and Off the Rez takes cash and credit cards.
4. Urban Nomad: If ever there were a lunch truck to please kid and parent alike, this is it. You can get your fancy shrimp linguini and Caesar salad while your kids dive into alfredo (chicken, shrimp or portabella.). Just because you’re going gluten free doesn’t mean you have to forgo Urban Nomad either. You can get quinoa linguini if you ask for it.
So, minus a little Chianti and an umbrella-shaded table, you’ll feel like you’re on an Italian sidewalk enjoying pasta and garlic bread.
Prices are pretty typical of food trucks: A small salad for $3.50 to the seafood special for $9.50.
5. Buns: So, you want to skip all this ethnic street food and head straight for the all-American burger? Buns is your truck. Buns is an interesting blend of high-end organic meat and the comfort food you seek when it’s burgers and fries you crave at lunch time — my friend and I downed the balsamic fries like we hadn’t eaten in days.
Buns has a pretty good range of beef burgers and fixings, including cheddar, bleu cheese, bacon, green chile and pineapple. There’s also a chicken burger (which we had), a salmon burger, and you can sub in a veggie patty on any of the offerings. But… the fries! In addition to the fries with the delicious balsamic glaze, there are truffle fries, garlic fries, and wasabi fries — not to mention the homemade ketchup to go with them. It’s the kind of place where everyone who likes any kind of burger will find something satisfying.
Plan on dropping $10 on a burger and another $5 on fries.
6. Crisp Creperie: With my sister and our four kids in tow, we trekked from the Chihuly Glass Garden exhibit at the Seattle Center (a must see!) down to the P.I. Building to meet up with Crisp. It was worth the wander for both savory and sweet lunch treats. My sister picked a crepe with prosciutto, brie, apples (and apple butter) and arugula. I went for the more culinary conservative choice of ham and egg crepe (with a dash of maple syrup). The kids mostly zeroed in on the sweet crepes with Nutella and bananas or Nutella, marshmallow cream and graham crackers. Everyone was decidedly happy with their choices.
The two young owners of Crisp were nice and quite accommodating, especially with the kids doing a little substituting of this and eliminating of that. Crisp also offers smoothies, ice cream shakes and drinks.
Plan on spending about $10 for lunch, more if you’re adding a shake or drink, and desserts run $7 and $8 a pop. Also like most trucks around, cash or cards both work.
7. Street Treats: I would be remiss if I skipped the chance to review a dessert truck, and having visited this particular one, I might just become a Street Treats groupie. You’ll spend about $3 to $6 per dessert, but you’ll be willing to pay double for homemade cookies along the lines of chocolate chip, lemon poppy seed, snickerdoodle and fudge thumbprints. The custard-style ice cream is homemade, too. Put them together and voilà — custom ice cream sandwich made just for you.
Other treats include a sugar cookie with toasted coconut and homemade caramel and some especially attractive Rice Krispies-type treat. Really, for this review to be complete, my editors at ParentMap will surely want me to go back for more sampling, right? (Credit cards accepted here, too.)
Allison McDowell Enstrom is a freelance writer and full-time mom to two children. Before kids, she worked as a news producer and executive news producer at NorthWest Cable News, KING 5 News, and stations in Portland and the Tri-Cities.