Street food in the Emerald City is all about kalbi tacos, bacon jam, and pulled pork with a little “hurt.”

SEATTLE ISN’T KNOWN FOR making it easy on vendors trying to open a food truck, but luckily for me (and any other residents who need a good oyster po boy every now and then), these guys persevere.

Where Ya At Matt

Otherwise known as my comfort food truck. I grew up eating gumbo, jambalaya, po boys, muffulettas, and other goodies hard to find outside of New Orleans. But this truck has them all, and they’re legit.

Their po boys (aka submarine sandwiches stuffed and dripping) come with fried oyster, fried or blackened shrimp, pork, or the “Peace Maker” – oysters with bacon, cheddar, butter pickles and lemon aioli. The gumbo is perhaps the best thing you can put in your face on a winter day in Seattle. And the shrimp and grits really do stick to your ribs.

You’re not done until you try the hot beignets with a cup of coffee.

Marination Mobile
I should have to say no more than this: kimchi quesadillas. Filled with kalua pork. Come on.

This truck is some sort of fusion of Korean/Hawaiian/Central American food that I don’t understand but want to stuff my face with. Tacos are filled with kalbi, pork, miso ginger chicken, or tofu, all marinated and slow-cooked until they’re falling apart, then topped with crunchy slaw.

Try the sliders with kalua pork – or, if you’ve never sampled Hawaii’s unofficial national food, SPAM.

Skillet Street Food

This place forever has my heart (possibly literally) for creating the greatest thing to ever happen to burgers. I speak of bacon jam. Bacon rendered down with spices and onions, simmered, and pureed.

Put a healthy blob of that on a burger with arugula and cambozola and holy crap. Not in a burger mood? (What’s wrong with you?) Try the duck confit with lentils, or maybe the sockeye salmon chowder. The menu changes weekly, although bacon jam is always an option.

Buns

Between this truck and Skillet, it’s pretty accurate to say the best burgers in Seattle aren’t found in brick-and-mortar restaurants. Buns uses all-natural, organic ingredients in their gourmet burgers. Add Beecher’s flagship cheddar cheese, or go hoity-toity with bleu cheese and arugula. They also offer chicken and salmon patty options.

The french fries are not half-assed. Get them. Truffle fries. Fries with mandarano balsamic glaze. Sweet potato fries. Poutine. I repeat: get some fries at this place.

Dog Japon

Photo by dane brian

If you’re going to do a hot dog, it might as well be a gourmet Japanese-style hot dog. The most popular is the Matsuri, sausage topped with nori, teriyaki glazed onion, and green onions. I’m a fan of the weirdly undulating bonito flakes that top the Kabuki dog, along with red ginger and cabbage.

With each selection you’ve got a choice between Louisiana smoked hot link, a Kielbasa sausage, or a Tofurky dog. And if you really just want the Seattle classic – a dog slathered in cream cheese and grilled onions – they’ll hook you up.

Veraci Pizza

I first heard about this place from a friend who’d lived in Venice. She said Veraci made some of the best pizza she’d ever had. That’s got to mean something.

The dough is prepared by hand and fired with apple wood in an oven heated to 1000 degrees – pies are baked in less than two minutes, and the crust comes out light and super-thin. Veraci gets a lot of their ingredients from local farms, offering toppings like artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and chevre, spinach, red onion, and shaved parmesan, pesto, chicken, and roma tomatoes, and Cascioppo Bros sausage with sauteed bell peppers and sweet onions.

Maximus Minimus

Photo by Bob B. Brown

Braised pork. That’s really all you need to know. I see this giant metallic pig-truck at least once a week downtown, and the line of folks waiting for pulled pork sandwiches stretches down 2nd Avenue. Maximus uses all-natural ingredients and goes local when at all possible – add cheese to your sandwich and it’ll be Beecher’s; if you get the slaw, those veggies likely came from the market.

Don’t forget to add some “hurt” – aka Maximus sauce with a hefty dose of chile – to your grub.

Snout

Cuban soul food with a South Carolina sensibility – can’t be anything but good. These guys make their own rub (19 different spices) and have killer sauces like habanero-honey or ancho molasses to finish the dishes off.

Dishes like the Cuban pressed sandwich with mojo pork and sliced ham, hash with green olives and raisins over rice with plantains, a big bowl of mojo pork with black beans and smoked tomatillo-coconut sauce, or a South Carolina style BBQ pork sandwich with cracked coriander-apple slaw.

A tip: Trying to hunt down street food in Seattle? Twitter is usually the best way to figure out where they are – I’ve got a Seattle street food list you can follow.

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