Food trucks combine the all the ambiance of a street fair with the artisanal taste of a cafe. Prices are reasonable and the food is almost always something to write home about. And plenty do just that: a quick search on Yelp or Facebook reveals the names and high praise of more than a few local gems.

Finding Your Favorite Food Truck

Finding a food truck, though, can be like finding a diamond in the rough if you don’t know where to look. Some of us have never even seen them in the wild. Where are they all hiding, you might ask? That’s where sites like Food Truck Tacoma come in, keeping hungry food lovers hip to what’s on offer in their area.

Tacoma Food Trucks
Be on the lookout for your city’s local food truck festival, the open house of the travelling restaurant business. Farmers markets are another great place to sample food truck fare.
Photo courtesy: Metro Parks Tacoma

Another resource is the Washington State Food Truck Association. Launched in April of 2015, this nonprofit organization offers catering and referral information as well as listings and contact info for participating members. Longtime food truck owners invest in membership to create longevity and community partnerships, and to increase their visibility. Anyone who owns a food truck or has been thinking about owning a food truck can find plenty of info, resources and ideas to grow at WSFTAs website.

Rain or shine, food truck-lovers can now find a handful of trucks during the week in one central Tacoma location. Beginning March 7, 2017, trucks will be on-site at a dedicated lot from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 1210 Tacoma Avenue. WSFTAs Executive Director, Lori Johnson, says that the location, chosen because of its convenient locale, will offer plentiful parking and maintain a variety of rotating trucks for ever-changing selection.

“This pod and dedicated truck lot promise to bring a variety of new food options to an underserved area, and to bring people together who would likely not meet and offer a unique experience,” says Lori.

Street fare that ranges from gyros and tacos to cotton candy and elephant ears are part and parcel to fun and festivity. You can count on finding food trucks at large events like the state fair, but another great place to catch these meals on wheels is your local farmers market. Dishes that range from gyros and tacos to cotton candy and elephant ears are part and parcel with fun and festivity. Still just wishing there was some way and somewhere to catch all of your favorite food trucks all in one place? Be on the lookout for your city’s local food truck festival, the open house of the travelling restaurant business. These events are a great way to see the best of what your community trucks have to offer, side by side, and to figure out which trucks you’ll want to visit again.

Boss Mama's Kitchen
Boss Mama’s Kitchen offers an eclectic menu of boutique comfort food that diners would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Photo courtesy: WSFTA

There are a few dos and don’ts that promise to make finding your favorite food truck easier. Do call ahead once you know where you want to go or check out your truck of choice’s social media accounts for locations. Trucks move or lose their spaces often, so don’t count on your favorite fare being right where you found it last. Don’t wait until later in the afternoon or evening to set out for samples. Storage space is at a premium for mobile restaurants and their supply of food and drinks is finite. Making it down to a food truck just in time for them to be sold out of a favorite dish is nobody’s idea of a good time. Fans of the moveable feast will also advise that you do bring some cash, just in case, because these local businesses aren’t always equipped to run your card.

Noteworthy South Sound Food Trucks

Boss Mama’s Kitchen offers an eclectic menu of comfort food that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. One-of-a-kind specialties such as a peanut butter and bacon burger and a grilled cheese remixed with jalapenos are some of the most popular dishes. Owner Jen Gustin came to the food truck biz after 17 years in customer service. At the urging of friends and family—including her co-workers, who gave Jen the nickname that is now the name of her truck—she quit her job to introduce this distinctive brand of comfort food to the South Sound community. Her colorful truck is easy to spot and features a fully loaded kitchen with all new equipment that’s ready and raring to whip up entrees you won’t find anywhere else.

Lowrider Dog Food Truck
Stumped on what food truck fare is best? Ask the chef! Lowrider Dog’s owner, Jason Barrett, loves a spicy polish smothered in grilled onions and nacho cheese. Photo courtesy: WSFTA

Jason Barrett, owner of Lowrider Dogs, loves classic cars and has always had a passion for cooking. His food truck celebrates both of his passions with a timeless, simple menu that caters to the modern hot dog aficionado. Lowrider’s selection includes quarter-pound hot links, all-beef dogs, Polish sausages and veggie dogs, all cooked in beer and served with choice of caramelized onions, cream cheese, nacho cheese or three-bean chili made from scratch every day. Don’t miss out on the Seattle dog, a Polish dog smothered in cream cheese and caramelized onions. “I definitely want to provide the most top quality dogs, and doing it with love and a smile is what I feel really sets us apart from the rest out there” says Jason. Be on the lookout for some special new menu items from Lowrider such as hot dogs topped with a savory gumbo and homemade cornbread muffins designed to complement their popular mild chili.

Kat and David Chavis of Buddha Bear Bagels started serving fare at the University of Washington – Tacoma campus. From the classic lox-and-bagel combo and breakfast sandwiches to burgers and artisanal salads, this truck offers a little something for every taste. Their kettle-boiled bagels can be sampled at farmers markets and special events, and customers interested in catering are welcome to order ahead and in bulk.

South Beach Food Truck
South Beach Cuisine and Espresso, owned by James and Jennifer Covello, brings a taste of Miami to the Pacific Northwest crowd with a Cuban-themed menu of burgers and sandwiches. Photo courtesy: WSFTA

South Beach Cuisine and Espresso, owned by James and Jennifer Covello, brings a taste of Miami to the Pacific Northwest crowd. This truck’s Cuban-themed menu includes an assortment of sandwiches and burgers as well as a rotating list of specials. South Beach gets around—from local markets to towns in the South Sound vicinity—but South Beach also has a home base near Pacific Lutheran University where they focus on bulk orders and catering.

There’s no shortage of curbside cuisine to take your pick of: from tacos and lumpia to boutique burgers and salads. All that’s left now is to pile into the car and pick a place to dig in. Don’t forget to follow your favorite trucks on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with specials, promos and—of course—the menu.