Take the corn-tortilla goodness of a Mexican taco and combine it with the aromatic ingredients in a bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup, and you’ve got pho tacos, a winning combo from food truck Peasant Food Manifesto.
Owner Beth Clement stumbled upon the creation by accident, after being invited to a Cinco de Mayo event and realizing her original plan of duck confit tacos wasn’t going to yield enough to serve the crowds. She decided to put the regular menu into taco form, and thus the pho french dip became pho tacos, “partly from necessity and partly as a joke,” she says. The dish’s popularity is no joke, though; the truck sold more than 450 pho tacos that day, and the creative item became a menu staple.
Each order of three street-sized tacos is topped with fresh mung bean sprouts, thinly sliced roast beef, and pho sauce (hoisin, sriracha, sesame oil, and ginger), then garnished with minced cilantro and sliced green onions. The meat is brined for three days in five-spice powder and roasted to medium rare. A lime wedge completes the package.
“I love food,” Clement says, “and I love making people happy by feeding them.” If she can surprise them at the same time, so much the better. To find Peasant Food Manifesto’s current location, visit peasantfoodmanifesto.com/calendar.
A member of the Blackfeet Tribe, Mark McConnell grew up with family celebrations centered around Native cuisine, including the traditional fried dough called frybread. “When I met him about 14 years ago, he introduced me to it and I love it,” says Cecilia Rikard, McConnell’s girlfriend. “It’s been something we’ve bonded over trying to make together.”
Eventually, the two mastered frybread’s labor-intensive cooking process, and seven years ago they opened Off the Rez, Seattle’s first (and only) Native food truck. For the duo’s signature Indian Tacos, fresh, puffy frybread is the base for beef chili with toppings like cheddar cheese, lettuce, cumin crema, pickled red onions, and cilantro. Additional fillings include chicken chili verde, veggie chili, and pulled pork that’s smoked for 12 hours and finished with homemade barbecue sauce and cabbage slaw.
“We get to introduce people to this food that has a lot of elements that you would recognize—fried dough, chili, meat—in a way that they haven’t had before,” Rikard says. Not surprisingly, Seattle is full of frybread converts. To find where Off the Rez is currently serving its Indian Tacos, visit facebook.com/offtherez.
What started in 2009 as a big blue food truck dishing up Korean-Hawaiian fusion has turned into a beloved Seattle institution with multiple locations, including West Seattle’s Marination Ma Kai and Capitol Hill’s Marination Station.
Wherever you go, co-owner Roz Edison says you can expect “a welcoming, aloha-filled experience,” plus some delicious tacos inspired by Korean barbecued meats, with a little Hawaiian flair.
Kalua pork is available as a gluten-free option; for vegans, “Sexy Tofu” hits the spot. Kalbi beef and miso ginger chicken are popular choices, and work well in tandem, given that one leans salty and the other sweet. “There’s enough kinds that people usually find their favorite and mixing and matching is always welcome,” Edison says.
Tacos are served on two corn tortillas with slaw, house-pickled jalapenos, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, and Nunya sauce—and while the precise ingredients are, as you probably guessed, nun’ya business, Edison calls this liquid sunshine “a little spicy, but not too spicy, the perfect accompaniment to the Korean marinated meats that we have.” *Various locations
Sawyer owner and chef Mitch Mayers cut his teeth working state fairs for his family’s multi-generational concessions business—his first food job was mixing cotton candy sugar as a teenager. But in recent years he ran the kitchen at Capitol Hill’s upscale Lark, so it’s fitting that his New American restaurant in Ballard excels at refined comfort food that puts a spin on familiar classics. One of the playful dishes that benefits from his stamp is a sweet novelty of his ’90s youth: the Choco Taco, an icon from the ice cream truck.
The S’more Choco Taco comes with a graham cracker waffle cone coated in Theo chocolate, filled with peanut butter ice cream, and topped with a brûléed marshmallowy Swiss meringue. It all sits on a bed of crumbled sablé cookies. “I thought it was a fun thing we could do to make it a little more elevated and nostalgic for people,” Mayers says. Naturally, every item is meticulously made on-site.
Fun fact: The waffle cone maker Mayers has at Sawyer was owned by his grandfather and used in a booth at the Washington State Fair (then called the Puyallup Fair). “It’s awesome,” Mayers says. “They don’t make machines like this anymore.” 5309 22nd Ave NW
*Visit Seattle Partner
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