Food & Drink May 28, 2009 at 4:00 am

Can Seattle Finally Become a Decent Street-Food City?

Out of the bureaucratic morass and into your mouth. Kelly O


Good timing.I just read(watched, rather) a(nother) piece on Portland on the NY Times website- this time about the street food scene.…

Good timing.I just read(watched, rather) a(nother) piece on Portland on the NY Times website- this time about the street food scene. I guess since I'm anon for now, the link is verboten, but it the Frugal Traveler blog...…

I would love to be able to get something on the street besides a sausage. I know stuff needs to be sanitary to a point, but if no one is getting food poisoning, what is the foul?
can these two get people involved who will sell affordable, read - under $7.00, food? last time i hit skillet my burger, drink and shared desert along with a tip was $15 - or, too fucking expensive! edgy or not, affordable and accessible is what the city needs not some faux street food scene...haven't these guys been to LA, PDX or SF...or, malaysia, singapore or ? we don't need music and some multimedia circus guys...just bring the good affordable food and everybody will come.

and the hot dog in front of the comet is outstanding!
This is awesome news. And street vending is huge for immigrant families. Lets do this!
"'You go to a city like San Francisco, you see carts grilling meats and selling tacos,' Foster says. 'You go to Portland, you see people assembling burritos from carts. You can have a reason to actually sit out on the street and enjoy being in the city.'" The Stranger, May 27, 2009

"Gail Lillian, a restaurant chef and former cafe owner, has spent the past three months trying to get a spot on a San Francisco city street for her new falafel and salad truck, Liba, but finally gave up because of the bureaucracy involved. 'Cities like Austin, New York, Portland and Seattle have really thriving street-food scenes,' she said. 'San Francisco has such amazing food, and I'd really like to see us step up on the street food.'" SF Chronicle, May 26, 2009

Are people in PDX bitching about the lack of street food in their town, too, while saying it's great in Seattle and SF?
It's finally happening -- Seattle's maybe, just maybe, going to turn into a real city. The stories and fears about "the eighties and early nineties" are ridiculously overblown -- the clampdown had nothing to do with safety, which was never at risk, but about competition from nearby fixed-abode businesses -- few of whom can compete on price OR QUALITY with good street food.

Look what's happening at the street fairs and farmer's markets -- Veraci Pizza BLOWS Via Tribunali or Ciao Bella OUT OF THE WATER (seriously, no contest); no restaurant north of South Park is serving better or more interesting Mexican food than those guys at the Fremont Sunday Market. This is where culture comes from: food in the street. And look at all the taco trucks!

And it spills over into new restaurants: Veraci and Rancho Bravo have set up in storefronts. Look at what's happening elsewhere in retail here: street food is SAVING SEATTLE. The mayor and the council should be making it MANDATORY.

I too go to skillet and grimace at the $12+ tab..I know Ill catch guff for this but I started limiting my tip for my walk up food experience to $1, at a maximum always. I figure these guys are making a killing on the food (at least 50% profit) so to tip the owners seems redundant..they are making most of their money off of volume anyhow. If they want to make some killer money start selling draft beer where they can--a killing is made off that shit.

I highly doubt that these two outfits can do a good everyman so-called street food for $7 and under. That food in LA is ridiculous (korean BBQ burritos? awesome), the stuff in SF is good but more expensive, and Portland's street scene is pretty good for the size of that town. All of it even the gourmet stuff goes for way less than Skillet's offerings.

I hope the food fair succeeds and will hit it at least twice, but there are so many restaurants out there especially now that can give you a decent, honest operation for under $30 for a sit down experience..paying that for street food seems like the rental market here in town--meaning Seattle, as great of a place as it is to live in--thinks its cooler and more in demand than it is. Kinda like SIFF.
under $7? No way, these two outfits are dying to up the ante and the prices here...already bigoted against the standard boring fare you think they are going to be helpful in making it easier and cheaper for people to put food in their mouths? If they have a nice sized piece of entree for $7 on their menu I'll eat my hat.

And tipping the owners for walk-up street? rarely.
"Edgy" chefs like Claycamp are out there to please the elitist foodie crowd. Legitimate (and legal, wow!) street food already exists (try white center). I can't wait for the day working-class Seattle revolts and the $7 gravy crusted french fry vendor and charcuterie fanatic have to re-think their super cool edgy ideas about food.
I was just wondering when Seattle might loosen its regulations on vendor food in the city. After watching such great things on the food network like: vendors lining up along beaches to sell food and people selling food right out of their house--an unregulated food truck seems tame. Street food is great for the economy we are in right now. Wonder though if it sounds like a better idea in the Summer! It is too bad that food reputations aren't self regulating. Why does the government have to be involved? And the bite? BOOOOOO-RING! Same food as Folk life, Bumbershoot and basically any other Seattle event with few exceptions. Let's get in some variety and allow others into the food scene. Let's make Seattle famous for some kind of delicious street food like NY and hot dogs. Portland and Burritos. California and Taco trucks. Seattle and ???? who knows!
One of my first jobs in Seattle was selling popcorn from a cart at Rainier Square, right at the corner of Fourth and Union. The guy who owned the cart also owned one at Union Square (I dont' think there was yet a Two Union Square back in those days) and at another place down across from The Central Building.

That was one of the best jobs I ever had, and I was constantly busy. A few years ago I noticed that they were gone, and I wondered what had happened. Were they victims of the "crackdown"?
As a Portlander likely moving to Seattle in the fall, I was both excited and horrified to read this. As food carts have spread from the West Side over to the East Side in the past decade here, they have come to be a staple of my life, and the corner of Hawthorne & 12th (featuring a bunch of great things, but most notable the amazing frites cart Potato Champion) is one of the things I am advance-nostalgic for. These carts are open until 3am and the vibe in the lot is one of the most pleasant around. The food cart options in Portland really ARE fantastic. In the past couple weeks we've had a fried pie cart open, as well as Korean-Mexican fusion deal.

I keep looking for reasons to be excited about Seattle, but I feel like every time I check out the Stranger I encounter negative comparisons of the city to Portland. There must be some good carts in Seattle, no? Vegetarian, please. If not, well, I'm glad that some regulations may be changing to fix that. Street culture is an important component of livability, and, at least in Portland, the carts contribute to that greatly.

Also, incidentally, what's the best pizza in Seattle?
It is a needed thing to have street food in a city this size. It is a crime that this happened, but good that it is being fixed. It is up to the vendors to make sure that it is good food being brought to our streets. Not relying on pre-made cash n carry or costco foods. But it is also up to the consumer to patronize those that do their foods well and uniquely.
The Bite has gotten a bit boring...but I would not make a blanket statement about the food. Places know what they do well, and why would they change...the shortcake, Kalinka(which is damn good and has been the same throughout my life, I am 34 now)and many others. But I have had alligator on a stick, some of the best ribs I have had, deep fried okra and hush puppies from Southern Kitchen in Tacoma, and a seafood stuffed Bayou pocket all at "the Bite". Vendors change and some comeback year after year. I think it is more that the function is not folklife or Bumbershoot, that once you have your food there is less entertaining entertainment.
Did somebody say Costco? Because Costco's huge food counter in Kirkland started as a hot dog cart and a cooler full of Pepsis.
We should get rid of all the health regulations and let people make their own judgements as to what's safe and what's not.
@13, the best pizza in Seattle by a long, long ways is Veraci, in Ballard. Not at all coincidentally, they started as street food, towing their clay oven to the Ballard Farmer's Market and other places. Now they have a sit-down shop, with an even more amazing oven. Other places with the same style of clay oven, like the mediocre and overpriced Via Tribunali, and the frankly pretty horrible Tutta Bella, can't come within a mile of them.

As for price, Skillet's going to have trouble competing with the hoped-for wave of immigrant street food that's coming. If this city didn't have the world's largest stick up its ass, we'd already be competing with Portland; as it stands, they ABSOLUTELY DESTROY US on the street-food front.
Screw the Bite of Seattle. Every day should be the Bite of Seattle, everywhere in the city.
Why would anyone invest in a regular restaurant business now when these people can drive up, take your business and roll away.
I think this'll limit the variety and number of interesting restaurants in the areas that these trucks will operate. A lot of the existing restaurants will close. I mean these truckers don't pay rent, utilities, garbage removal, triple nets, etc. Who could compete with that?
When the existing resturants start closing and the city starts losing tax revenue, I hope they can collect it from the truckers. If they can find them.
@19 - Some people like to go to restaurants to sit down to eat, street food is just that, STREET food. It doesn't compete with a sit-down restaurant because it's OUTSIDE. You don't happen to own Smarty Pants down in Georgetown do you? Because that jackass seemed to have the same problem with the falafel truck that was operating near his establishment. And guess what - the street vendor also pays taxes. Fuck, I hate the idiots in Seattle.
About fucking time.

I live in Asia now, which is street food heaven. When I go back to Seattle, I shudder at how boring and regulated it is. I like a good hot dog, but come on? How about some muthafuckin' tacos, or some spicy Korean dukbokey?
#20. Pretend for a second (yes, you probably are going to have to go deep into "make believe" land for this) that you have ever had more then a couple hundred dollars to your name. Pretend that you have spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to open a small food establishment. Because of rent, utilities, garbage, recycling, a multitude of permits and countless other costs, you have to sell a thousand dollars worth of food before you even start to make money on any given day. Despite this, you are doing it and you are starting to pay down that big debt. Now here comes the city of Seattle, suddenly OK'ing street food vendors to park right outside your business. This guy doesn't have to deal with 1/10th of your expenses, so he can undercut you in a big way. Bye, bye business. Bye, bye a whole lot of revenue for Seattle. Hello unemployment for a hell of a lot of people. Not all of us operate sit down restaurants. Street vendors will create direct competition for many of us and probably put us out of business. It is deeply unfair and changes the rules in the middle of the game.
Better @19: So I guess the restaurants in NYC and Paris are probably fucked, huh? cuz they got lots of good street food to compete with there. but since they aren't, what's up with that? um, they work hard?

and beyond that, man, despising street food on almost on principle- move to Bend, i guess.
@22 try harder. good for everyone. 19th century over. cheaper food=more savings=better economy, lower unemployment. i AM tired of tipping people for doing things i could and am willing to do for myself just to leave the house. basically, i'm paying their wages so their employer doesn't have to. people go to half-assed restaurants and bars because they don't have any other option for a night out, even though we're all tired of the shabby interiors and menus of all but a few places.
#24. i guarantee i've been to more places on this planet then you know how to spell. my main problem is this changing of the rules after the fact. i located in seattle where i did after researching the competition. i looked at street vendor rules and saw that basically hot dogs were the only ones that were approved. now, after dropping a couple hundred g's the city is going to pull the rug from under me and allow someone to park a truck in front of my business and undercut me? that is bullshit.
#26 well, i guess we'll see how good it is for this already almost bankrupt city and state when the tax revenue dries up. how many cash registers do you see at the hot dog carts? what do you think that means - underreporting maybe? if my business goes under it will mean 12 more unemployed people out there - will street vendors hire them? i don't really know what the rest of your comment is about.
I'm not sure exactly what people are envisioning here when we use the ward "cart." I know that many cities feature mobile taco trucks and things like that but, for what it's worth, the food carts in Portland are almost all stationary. They are clustered in otherwise empty, eyesore parking lots downtown. They are hooked up to plumbing, pay taxes, permit fees and all that kind of thing. Some of the owners I've spoken with recently are investigating the option of getting some smaller mobile units so as to be able to serve at festivals, fairs and things of that nature; as it us, they are reluctant to leave their established spots even for a night so as not to confuse customers. I guess my point is that, at least in Portland, food carts are not some fly-by-night shadow operation like some commentators assume; rather, they contribute greatly to their surrounding communities and attract pedestrians and cyclists - something we have a lot of. A fried pie or bowl of veggie poutine at 2am after a show (when most sit-down restaurants aren't even open) is the perfect cap to a night out. Street food and sit-down restaurants are decidedly different entities and thinking that they are in direct competition with one another - at least in my experience - seems really inaccurate.
#25, I wish I knew which place was yours, so I'd know which to avoid. Really, though, it doesn't matter, because whatever it is, I guarantee you I can't afford it. We haven't been out to eat on our own dime since my wife's birthday in November. You know where we went? An f'ing taco truck. And I'd go there again, 100 times, over someplace that thinks $18 lunch tabs for food that's had 6 peoples' fingers all over it should be the only option. As it is, your rules have consigned me to a lifetime of brownbagging. How's that working out for ya?
In culinary school they taught us that 1 out of every 9 restaurants will stay open after the first year. It also cost over $1,900 to train a new employee. If you start small you can eventually get a brick and mortar place because of success. And intelligence. Don't whine and complain because you opened up more than you can handle. It is and was your choice to start a place based off of stupid laws like only selling hot dogs. In the game of life you're losing because you don't know how to win.
Are steakhouses in Seattle like the Keg closing down? We've got bunches of restaurants calling it quits up here, largely because a lot of people--largely poor college kids on outrageous student loans at mafia interest rates---can't afford to eat out anymore.

So-o-o-----is this the Dawn of the Rising Street Vendor?
@ 13 & 17.

The Best Pizza in Seattle?

I'd say ignore Fnarf on his child like rant on this subject. Veraci is ... Okay. They do a decent attempt at a Neopolitan pizza. For some reason Fnarf has zoned in on this as a poster child an up an coming Pizza empire that far suprasses any pizza every made in Seattle.

Veraci opened a storefront in Ballard that just absolutely cries as a place that will be out of business by the end of the year. They may do a good job at Street fares but that a far cry from operating a restaurant. I've never seen this restaurant even remotely full, they have an awful location and they've don't have anything unique enough to cause a stir.

In response to the original question of What's the best Pizza in Seattle? All depends on what you are looking for in a Pizza and where you grew up, no? NY Style, Chicago..., California, or are you looking for Neoplitan as was already suggested. Pizza is a comfort food and your going to always elevate for that favorite Pizza you had as a kid.

PaulinBallard, step up fool.
Talkin like you know shit about za, how about throwin out your favorite places and why?
Cuz if you can't back up your typing finger here, you're just full of shit.
And by the way, as a restaurant professional, Veraci is kicking ass, and is going to be around for a while.
I don't think their pies are the best in town, but they are pretty good for Napoli style. The best Margherita pizza is at the old Lakeside Tavern down Rainier on the way to Renton. Pizzeria Pulcinella!
Providence Cicero has a good write up in the Times on them.

What do you get paid the big bucks for? Food critic?
Don't I see you at Pizza Hut scavenging everybody's leftover crusts?
Dont listen to Fnarf - that troll has no idea what the fuck he's talking about.

Best pizza - Mr P's frozen pizza at Grocery Outlet. .69 cents each.
31 - VERACI SUCKS, unless you like eating a $25 designer cardboard turd.
Veraci is actually pretty damn good (expensive, but damn good). It's thin crispy crust and not too much sauce.

If you like NY Style, there's another pretty damn good place, but you have to go to Westwood Village Shopping Center way the hell down in SW Seattle to get it. The place is called Giannoni's Pizzeria. Not cheap either, but the pies are 18 inches, so at least you're getting the right size large.

Been on a quest for the best Pizza in Seattle since we moved here 2 years ago. Most of the pizza in this town sucks. The above two don't.

There's also some joint named Post Alley Pizza downtown close to the waterfront. Good if you're near there.
thank god, we need more 3-4$ snacks, less pathetic 12$ plates

more regional food, less poorly done "fusion"
This comment thread is so totally Seattle/Slog. I love it here. You people arguing about what neo-P is the best slay me. Its not at all "green" with all those spendy Italian ingredients and imported wood. Hell when is the next question, where's the best paella? It's all really too expensive to be eating anyhow. GO to NY or Italy to try it..find your local pizzeria that does a great job and tell em so. Boston Wood fired is great for the money..but these readers tend to avoid the east side or even reading about it. Guess what? Its called the Puget Sound region. Explore it.
Yeah, street carts are a great idea in a town where it rains 9 months out of the year.

Clearly you don't even live here, because it doesn't rain 9 months out of the year...

Seattle city council = premature group of morons.
The main point of this article, the street food fair, is being missed. We are NYC ex-pats that moved here with business plan in hand. Seattle is awesome and so is the food scene. Adjustments were necessary due to the economy. Now with a second business plan in hand, this fair seemed like an awesome idea. Until the coordinator emailed the "application". Seriously, a bankrupt food snob wants me to send him a check for $35, and I can't even get a list of requirements prior? The time commitments are completely unrealistic, If I have to actually work for a living while attempting a start-up, I don't have three full days(plus prep time) to devote for two months. If I did I would already have a restaurant. How about a one shot deal to see if it goes somewhere. This is exactly how Culinary Communion got in over their heads. Talk about a sketchy proposition. Anyone want to attempt something realistic before summer is over?
@ #3: That's what SHE said.
Relatedly, this article about Portland's SE 12th & Hawthorne cart zone just ran in The Oregonian:…
I go to a resturant so I can sit down, hang out with friends, and be waited on. I eat street food when I'm in a hurry and am in the mood to eat in my car or standing on a sidewalk. I don't get resturant owners being worried about street vendors - if the experience of going to your resturant and being watied on is no better than huddling on a sidewalk snarfing down street food, then you should probably think about how you are running your business.

By the way, where is the "Gabriel Claycamp is a douchebag" rant? I read all they way through the comments, but no money shot.
so is it still illegal to park by school zone area?
Any progress yet?????
Any progress yet?????

Please wait...

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