Snacking in Seattle: Walk your dog to dinner!

Posted by Raja on August 10th, 2010 — Posted in Uncategorized

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This week, Raja is proud to feature a guest blog by Mary-Alice Pomputius .  Her two blogs are: Dog  Jaunt  , which offers advice about traveling with a small dog and Pet Carrier Reviews , which offers unbiased reviews of carriers and crates for dogs, cats and other pets.  Mary Alice and her adorable King Charles Spaniel Chloe are snackssperts (see left) on the Seattle street “vendors.”  Follow their lead and you’ll never sit down to eat in Seattle again!  —

Portland and Seattle are often mentioned in the same breath, and there are a lot of similarities between the two cities, but one place where they differ — greatly — is in their attitude towards street food. Portland has lots of food trucks, typically gathered together in groups on city lots, and they’re a wonderful source of delicious, quick meals. Seattle, by contrast, has moved slowly to accommodate food trucks, and the ones that exist are meeting resistance from local restaurateurs.
That’s a shame, because food trucks and walk-up windows are the perfect solution for travelers with dogs looking for a quick bite. Happily, I have good news for you. Seattle’s current line-up of food trucks is varied and growing — I started out thinking that I’d visit every existing food truck and tell you a bit about each, but I’ve realized that the best I can do is tell you about several, and point you to new ones that have rolled out over the past few weeks. Please note that only some of these trucks take credit cards; be safe and make sure you have enough cash on hand.
Lunch trucks
Probably the best-known of the Seattle food trucks is Skillet , actually a handful of customized Airstream trailers that serve outstanding gourmet burgers, an exotic alternative like this week’s banh mi, and poutine. One thing that makes their burgers so divine? Their “bacon jam,” which they’ll also sell to you in pots. Buy yourself a pot of bacon jam. Golly, it’s good. Skillet does not provide any place to sit down and eat, but typically parks its Airstreams near someplace pleasant, so you can find a seat within a couple of blocks.
Also well known is Tacos El Asadero  , a taco truck in a converted school bus parked more or less permanently in the Rainier Valley neighborhood. El Asadero serves delicious food, and they have a covered seating area, but it’s not an option for diners with dogs, since you need to board the bus to place your order.
A newer entry on the Seattle food truck scene is the Marination Mobile , featuring a menu that combines “Korean heat and aloha love.” They offer several pork and chicken options, but also have vegetarian options (tacos, rice bowls, kalbi tofu). We are far from vegetarian, so we wrapped ourselves around their Aloho and Spam sliders (yes, Spam! and I don’t even like Spam!) and their quesadillas with kalua pork, kimchi and cheese. Like Skillet, the Marination Mobile does not provide any tables, but typically parks within walking distance of someplace where you can sit down and give your sliders the attention they deserve.
The most eye-catching food truck in Seattle has to be the Maximus/Minimus   pig truck, owned by the same folks who make Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market (which is, no surprise, the cheese that appears on the Maximus/Minimus sandwiches). Here’s how it works: They have a menu of options (sandwiches, slaw, dessert, drinks), all of which (except the dessert) can be ordered either “maximus” (i.e., hot and spicy) or “minimus” (sweet and tangy). You can also add a jolt of “hurt,” if you like. We ordered the pulled-pork sandwiches, both minimus (my husband feels that a splash of hurt would have been a good thing), minimus slaw (unusual, with fennel and cranberries, and very tasty), and both kinds of drinks (my maximus lemonade had a fine gingery bite; my husband’s minimus hibiscus nectar was sweet without being cloying). My husband ordered, and approved of, the Sugar High Pie, kind of like a chess pie but with an oaty crust and almonds on top. The truck provides a couple of tall tables to rest your food on while you stand and eat.
The following three trucks are not as well known, but deserve to be. We had outstanding — outstanding, I tell you! — meals at each one. Let’s start with the one that’s farthest away from downtown. Hallava Falafal   is located in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, at the corner of S. Doris and Airport Way South, and dear heaven, it’s good. We tried the entire menu — one each of the falafel, the schwarma and the fries — and each was excellent. I liked the falafel better than the schwarma, but I will always like falafel better than schwarma. The French fries were the surprise hit — fries, covered in special spices, and accompanied by tahini and tzatziki? Um, yes. Absolutely. Two orders, please (in actuality, one order is big enough for two people). Choose Vimto as your beverage — it’s the classic Middle Eastern accompaniment for falafel, and it’s strangely perfect. A large umbrella shelters a couple of chairs that you can sit in while you wait, but you’ll likely end up eating in your car.
El Camion   is located in SoDo, just south of Rejuve (there is a second El Camion on North Aurora). The food was tasty and the portions were generous — we had the gorditas carne asada and huevos con jamon (there was a bit too much jamon, if you can imagine that). A large tent contains four big tables, as well as a foosball table.
Kaosamai serves Thai food from two trucks, one on the back side of Queen Anne, next to Seattle Pacific University, and the other in South Lake Union. When we visited, the South Lake Union truck was located on Eastlake Avenue, just across from Zymogenetics, but it appears to have moved since then to the Center for Wooden Boats. My husband’s family spent several years in Thailand and he demands a lot from Thai restaurants in the U.S.; he tells me that his Panang Curry Beef and Ba Mee Hang were just like the street food he enjoyed in Bangkok. Kaosamai does not provide any tables, but the location you’re most likely to visit — near the Center for Wooden Boats — is right on Lake Union and you’ll easily find a place to sit down.
The newest entrant on the scene is Where Ya At  , a “Creole soul food” truck that just started rolling last week. I tried to find it on the first day it served food (po boys, muffuletta, beignets), but failed to figure out where it was at. Believe me, I’ll keep trying.
Please note that until recently, there was a truck at 90th and Aurora that sold excellent Cuban sandwiches (RIP Paladar Cubano)  .
Dessert trucks
Until this week, I knew of only two dessert trucks, both offering ice cream. We found the Parfait truck in the Golden Gardens neighborhood, but it travels all over Seattle. My husband had the butter toffee crunch and I had the Meyer lemon, both in Parfait’s homemade cones. Both were excellent (please note that a “petite” is two scoops), with a homemade ice cream mouth-feel (very fresh-tasting, not particularly creamy).
Molly Moon’s truck (nicknamed “Leo”)  started rolling this summer, and we finally cornered it in the Madrona neighborhood. My husband had the Theo chocolate flavor (Theo Chocolate is located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, so it couldn’t be more local) and my mother-in-law had salted caramel. Both flavors were delicious. Molly Moon’s uses a pasteurized base from a local dairy provider, resulting in a creamier product than Parfait’s.
I now know that there’s another dessert truck in town, called Street Treats  . We haven’t found it yet, but it’s on our list.
Walk-up stands
Another good option for people traveling with dogs are walk-up stands, and Seattle has several you should know about. The best coffee in Seattle — and that’s saying something — is served by Vivace They have cafés on Capitol Hill and in South Lake Union, but they also have a sidewalk bar on Broadway, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The day we visited was rainy, so Chloe and I took shelter under an umbrella while Walter, waiting in line, photographed another patron and her dog.
Ivar’s  has been feeding Seattleites seafood since 1938. Their fish bar at Pier 54 (just in front of their Acres of Clams restaurant) would be an excellent stop for people visiting the waterfront. Consider the fish and chips, consider the excellent clam chowder, but also consider the crowds — we recommend picking up your dog before you insert yourself into the mob thronging the counter. You’ll also want to consult this article for tips on how to order like a pro.
The shoppers among you will want to visit University Village , an attractive outdoor mall with a variety of big-name and local stores. Several of the businesses are pet-friendly, and it’s an appealing place to stroll. If you’re visiting with a canine companion, grab a 100% beef hot dog with all the fixings at Dante’s Inferno Dogs (you’ll find the cart next to the children’s play area), and then walk over to Tokyo Sweets (right next to Boom Noodle) for a dessert crêpe. You could make it an all-crêpe meal, since Tokyo Sweets also offers savory crêpes, but the dessert options are the most interesting.

Thanks so much Mary-Alice and Chloe!  Raja and I (well maybe “I”) can’t wait to get back to Seattle!


Comment by Pat & Buttercup

WOW .. this all sounds so yummy and a great way to eat with your pet.. but i have a question .. are these mobile food vendors inspected at all?What is the protocol ? I know in Washington and Baltimore they have to be licensed .. but was wondering about inspections for food safety ? This also brought to mind an article i read sometime ago about a local farmer that bought a school bus and turned it into a roving vegetable stand to get vegetables to folks that don’t have the transportation to get them out . Now that was a cool idea !
Great article .. and i’d love to try some of it ! Guess i have to go to Portland and Seattle !

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 5:38 am

Comment by Raja's bro

I wish I hadn’t read this blog post at 11:00 am. I’m sooo hungry now.

I have to patiently wait till 1pm ish to get my lunch….grrr

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 9:28 am

Comment by Mary-Alice

Hello, Pat & Buttercup! The trucks do indeed get inspected (one of the links from the post didn’t survive the change in formatting, but it mentions the inspections, so here it is: ). In my experience, the trucks were impressively clean. Skillet has had some issues in the past ( ) but all seems to be well now. To be honest, it’s so good that I’d go there if it still had issues!

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Comment by Carolyn

Thanks for all the information, my 3 doggies say they wish we lived in Seattle! I’m sure with such a selection even a picky eater like me would find something delicious to eat. I wish we had places like that around here.
Tasha, Cy & CT

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm

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Posted on August 12, 2010 at 9:46 am

Comment by Sheryll & Critters.

Oh this sounds like so much fun. I can not do the travel that far, an hour drive one way is enough for me and the Critters. I personally would not like the no sit down to eat thingy. I once went to the Fernandina Shrimp Festival and hated it, because of no seating and no shade from the sun. And I have never went again… so for the ones that can hack the no sitting it sounds great. I don’t go out to eat often and if I go, I want to sit down and be waited on….. oh well.

Posted on August 19, 2010 at 7:48 am

Comment by Sheryll & Critters.

Oooh, I forgot to thank Mary Alice and Chloe for their wonderful information and the street food vendor’s review and especially for her reviews of the travel bags…. thank you so much Mary Alice and Woof to Cloe and of course to that adorable Raja who is getting stir crazy from being inside in the A/C because of the heat wave.

Posted on August 19, 2010 at 7:56 am

Comment by Lori @ According to Gus

Thanks for this post. We’ll be traveling to Seattle next year with Gus and are researching dog-friendly ideas!

Posted on November 8, 2010 at 9:30 am

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