When historians look back on the 21st century, they will find out many things, some good and some bad. But one thing they will surely discover: how much people in the Pacific Northwest loved to eat food out of the back of a truck. New options seem to be rolling into town all the time and all over the city. It can be difficult to keep up. Well, lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list—with the help of our friends at SeattleFoodTruck.com—of the 10 newest trucks in Seattle, all of which turned their ignition key for the first time in 2017. With fare ranging from Hawaiian poke bowls to secret-recipe chicken katsu to barbecued jackfruit, this list is all that the hungry diner on the go needs to catch up on all the new mobile meal options in the Emerald City. Enjoy!
Island Blends There are nearly 50,000 native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders in Washington state, and many reside in Seattle. The Emerald City is plentiful with great brick-and-mortar Hawaiian restaurants, many of which specialize in rich comfort food (fried rice, chicken loco moco with gravy). But Island Blends offers healthy Hawaiian options on wheels. Started by Alisher Bazarov and Richie Mitchell, self-described “avid watermen,” the truck’s menu includes options like poke bowls (fresh fish over rice), acai (Brazilian berry) bowls, and smoothies. Island Blends, its owners say, was founded with two ideas in mind: to offer fresh, healthy food and to create a place where parents could happily eat with their kids.
Slide Thru Started by three best friends inspired by the food-truck movie Chef, this real-life version offers an “array of Asian-fusion comfort foods,” says co-owner Tan Tang. “We love that we are not confined into one specific category.” Slide Thru’s founders have Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Filipino-Hawaiian backgrounds, and their food is as eclectic as their histories. Standout items include their katsu chicken-loaded fries with nacho cheese, bacon, and jalapeno cream; the 808 Bao with “secret katsu chicken recipe,” seaweed, and red cabbage; and the pulled-pork-loaded fries with spicy barbecue sauce.
Cocina Buena This operation is directly influenced by several big-name Seattle kitchens. Nate Fifield, Cocina Buena’s owner and operator, worked on the line at Damn the Weather and Stoneburner before transitioning to a spot cooking on the beloved burger-and-sandwich truck Bread and Circuses. There he learned the mobile trade, which includes regular face-to-face interactions with customers and the community. Inspired by Oaxaca, Mexico, and its rich street food, Cocina Buena’s menu includes barbecued jackfruit, yucca frita, and Oaxacan grasshoppers. Recent daily specials have included pork mole chilaquiles and green za’atar fried chickpeas.
Grass & Root Juice Co. In the beginning, Sara Johnson’s homemade juices were just for her. But then her co-workers at real-estate company Redfin started noticing her morning sipping routine. “I got so many requests for juice and juice cleanses that I wasn’t able to carry them into the office anymore,” she says. In total, she sold some 2,000 juices at work before she decided to begin building a business plan. Specializing in fresh produce and new seasonal recipes, Johnson works with local farmers to create juices like the Roaring Orange (carrot, orange, grapefruit, turmeric, ginger) and Beetsmode (beet, cucumber, apple, kale, cabbage, celery, lemon). Non-juice items include smashed avocado toast and a maple-bacon energy bar. “It feels good to serve people a product that I know is going to make their day a little healthier,” Johnson says. “This raw, cold-pressed juice is made for the mind, body, and soul.”
Xanders Sandwiches Guess what they serve here? That’s right. Sandwiches! And they’re eclectic and delicious. Check out their Almost Maine Lobster Roll, which, owners say, has a “cult following and sells out at every service” and was created in conjunction with actual Maine lobster shops. “Our concept is to offer incredible sandwiches from other regions,” says Scott Valen, a PR representative for Xanders. Other options include their Orange County-inspired tri-tip sandwich and a mozzarella, spinach, and roasted red pepper sandwich for vegetarians. And while Xanders serves all their offerings on buns, customers who want fewer carbs can order them on a tortilla—proving the eternal point that you can make anything into a burrito.
Tabassum An Uzbek mobile eatery specializing in Central Asian hand pies, or samsa, Tabassum (which means “smile” in Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi) offers something most diners don’t encounter every day. “In Central Asia, home cooks make samsa,” says owner Suriya Yunusov. “Plus they are hugely popular street food. So when I first got the idea, I immediately thought: food truck!” Popular dishes, born of Yunusov’s family recipes, include beef and butternut-squash samsas and plov, a rice-and-garbanzo bean dish laced with cumin and sweet raisins and topped with halal beef. “Cumin is the backbone,” says Yunusov, who recently created a sweet samsa with honey, cherries, and a poppy-seed paste.
Byte Owners and operators Yoyo and Tim wanted to open a business that they could “afford financially, spend time doing together all day long, and have short work days so we could spend more time with our two girls.” It didn’t quite work out that way: In their first three months, the married couple worked 12-hour days serving their Asian fare, including Hawaiian chipotle mochiko chicken rice bowls, Korean spicy pork belly rice bowls, and curry beef rice bowls. The bonus, though, is that they’ve found themselves a welcoming foodie community. “All the food-truck owners we met are really amazing,” Yoyo says. Maybe they’re just hoping a little kindness will translate into some free Byte bites.
Road Chef Global Bistro Offering an eclectic array of sandwiches inspired by comfort-food recipes from all over the world—as the name might suggest—this eatery on wheels regularly rotates its offerings. The truck runs on a mantra: If it sounds good, put it on the menu. Options have included New York Reubens, German pork sausage on a toasted hoagie bun, French chicken cordon bleu baguettes with ham and Swiss cheese, and a Vietnamese pork-belly bahn mi. “The truck,” says chef Danny, Road Chef’s owner, “allows me to be mobile, meet a lot of different types of people, and blends my fine dining and catering background into a whole new concept.”
Green Tree Specializing in shawarma, or cooking meats on a spit and slicing chunks off for things like sandwiches, Green Tree’s Middle Eastern cuisine includes gyro sandwiches (lamb or chicken) served on a pita with tzatziki yogurt sauce; falafel sandwiches with fresh hummus and grilled tomato; and the generously portioned lamb, chicken, or vegetarian plates, served with fresh vegetables, salad, dolmah (stuffed grape leaves), and baba ganoush. But the best part about walking up to this bright-green truck is watching the people behind the counter slice off chunk after chunk of dripping hot lamb meat. It’s a kind of dinner theater.
The Roll Pod Offering authentic Indian street food, this nimble eatery blends local ingredients with traditional, delicious recipes. Offering both meat-friendly and vegetarian-friendly options, diners should make sure to sample the warm and delicate chicken, paneer, or mushroom paratha rolls—hand-held Indian-style quasi-burritos—from the food truck offering Indian food with a local twist. The spirit of this eatery is exactly what you’d want from a modern food-truck experience: Its roots are deep but its fruits modern and unique, and you can savor them while on the go.