Editor's note: We updated this article for 2013 and added a number of new food trucks that are reader favorites (scroll to bottom). Happy eating!
As you’ve probably heard, food trucks are the a hot culinary trend (and serious business) around the country. 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.
1. Tuscan Stone Pizza: The Tuscan Stone Pizza truck offers pizzas with super thin crusts, 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.
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 but there is a standing bar. There’s also a second truck dedicated to catering that the owner recommends for kids’ parties.
Price range: $9 to $16 per pie. Cash and credit cards accepted.
Find more info at seattlefoodtruck.com.
2. The Jerk Station: The Jerk Station, an interesting mash-up of Caribbean, southern and Creole food is owned by one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. 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!
The 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!
Price: Lunches range from $8 to $10 and The Jerk takes cash and credit cards .
Location: The truck is mobile and location varies across Redmond and surrounding areas. Check their Facebook page for updates.
Hours: Varying; check Facebook for details.
3. Off the Rez: 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. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Readers' Food Truck Picks
We also asked readers for their food truck faves via Facebook and our Golden Teddy poll. Here are some of their picks:
Moonie Icy Tunes (Golden Teddy Award Winner) —"Awesome truck, amazing people and a great experience for everyone. The service is amazing and they have anything you could imagine! They are fantastic!! No extra fees, tasty treats!."
El Camión — "Delicious, cheap, authentic, large menu, laid back, easy. My 5-year-old loves it! Fish taco, fish taco, fish taco!!!!" "Got me through my last pregnancy"
Maximus/Minimus — "Good food, delicious coleslaw and lemonade."
Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream — "Kids love ice cream!"
Skillet Street Food — "Such yummy food! The burger is the BEST burger in Seattle."
Where Ya At Matt — "Delicious. Simply delicious."
Narwhal Oyster Truck — "The name says it all."
Ballard Mini-Pod — "Rotating truck choices, space to play, tables to eat at, great people."
Burrito Boy — "It's at Puyallup Farmers Market! Excellent food and service too!"
Happy Grillmore — "Fast and very friendly service."
Also, check out other winners and finalists for local food in our reader-voted Golden Teddy Awards! Tell us about your favorite food truck in the comments below.