The food-truck trend has become so pervasive that restaurateurs--especially those in cities where code is unfriendly to culinary start-ups--are now spinning off mobile units. But the cart-to-shop progression is still following the natural course in Seattle, where a number of truck operators have announced plans to open permanent locations.
Marination Mobile this month debuted its motionless storefront in Capitol Hill, giving eaters an opportunity to assess how well street dishes will translate to traditional venues. If Marination Station is any indication, food-truck cuisine seems poised to roll on without wheels.
Marination Station's cramped, counter-service eatery isn't a far cry from a truck. A perpetually long line dominates the room, so most customers snag a spot in the mini-strip mall's outdoor courtyard. Situated alongside a UPS store and a tanning salon, the restaurant's retained the "What's this doing here?" charm that's made food carts so popular.
And while I haven't yet had the chance to patronize Marination Mobile's truck, the sliders and tacos I sampled at Marination Station certainly seemed worthy of all the plaudits that have been heaped upon Big Blue.
Owners Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison offer the same menu at both locations, but there's beer for sale at Marination Station. Since I visited the restaurant at lunchtime, I stuck with a can of Hawaiian Sun, which was the perfect citrus complement to my meal of one tofu taco, one kalbi taco, and a Spam slider.
Although my tacos were buried under a bushel of slaw, I loved how the three sandwiches together created a kaleidoscope of tastes and textures. The Spam, slathered with spicy mayonnaise, was assertively salty, but its Hawaiian roll was sweet. While the garlicky tofu was soft as custard, soy-rich hunks of beef had the welcome chew of freshly grilled Korean barbecue.
I'm looking forward to my return visit, and excited I don't have to carve out a special slot on my calendar for it: Unlike Marination Mobile, Marination Station is open every day until 8 p.m.