Food Trucks Spawn Brick-And-Mortar Restaurants

Food Trucks are here to stay (or go; a benefit of operating on 4 wheels), but many trucks have parlayed their mobile success into concrete locations with addresses and working plumbing. Here are the best truck-to-table operations.


Skillet Diner
1400 E. Union St.

The Vibe: Chef Josh Henderson's new restaurant in Capitol Hill is more than just a roomier version of his vintage Airstream trailer that serves high-end comfort food — there are floor-to-ceiling windows, industrial fixtures, and a 2 a.m. closing time.

What to Order: Pork belly and waffle; grass-fed burger smeared with bacon jam and crumbled blue cheese.


Marination Station
1412 Harvard Ave.

The Vibe: You'd think SPAM-based dishes would be a hard sell even on the street, but Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison's mobile Korean-meets-Hawaiian fare converted so many canned-meat cynics that they needed to open a brick-and-mortar spot. Keeping things consistent, they modeled the intimate new space in the Capitol Hill neighborhood after their truck (nicknamed Big Blue), with the same navy color pattern — but they now serve beer.

What to Order: Aloha slider with tangy slaw and teriyaki-slicked grilled Spam; kimchi quesadillas; miso-ginger-chicken tacos.


1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

The Vibe: In two years, the must-visit mobile outpost serving pork-centric sliders has grown into a full-fledged sandwich shop–cum–hangout. The Southeast Portland eatery also has a buzzing beer garden in its parking lot where you can sip 13 craft brews on tap.

What to Order: Pork-meatball bánh mì dressed with sriracha mayo; herb-coated fries with pork scraps and peppers.


Big Gay Ice Cream
New York City
125 E. 7th St.

The Vibe: If you mix artisanal ice cream with exotic flavors (like wasabi-pea dust, curry, and cayenne), they will come. That was the lesson learned by Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff, whose popular truck is now an East Village storefront.

What to Order: Vanilla ice cream with dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip; vanilla ice cream and toasted curried coconut.


Franklin Barbeque
900 E. 11th St.

The Vibe: Barbecue prodigy Aaron Franklin first customized a trailer to smoke his glorious meats, but after less than two years he upgraded to a homey, cement-floored joint. The waits have tripled to three hours, but at least now there's air-conditioning.

What to Order: Marbled brisket; smoked seasoned pork spare ribs; plump, snappy sausages; potato salad; pinto beans.


5411 Empanadas
2850 N. Clark St.

The Vibe: Strong word-of-mouth following has allowed this Argentine gem specializing in empanadas to upgrade itself from a mobile operation to a proper café where diners can enjoy delectable pastry pockets and expertly brewed Intelligentsia coffee.

What to Order: Empanada of bacon, date, and goat cheese; empanada of braised beef and sautéed carrots and onions.


El Naranjo
85 Rainey St.

The Vibe: Culinary Institute of America instructor Iliana de la Vega and her husband, Ernesto Torrealba, were still operating a lime-green mobile eatery in 2010 when Texas Monthly declared it one of the state's best Mexican restaurants. To feed the swelling crowds, the couple expanded into an old cottage on the southeastern edge of downtown that has the added bonus of serving a killer margarita made with a choice of 35 tequilas.

What to Order: Shrimp in green pumpkin-seed mole; pan-fried poblano peppers filled with slow-cooked pork, tomatillos, and olives.

Los Angeles
8809 W. Pico Blvd.

The Vibe: Komodo was one of the first on the LA-fusion food-truck scene, turning out Asian riffs on Mexican comfort food. And now it has a sleek West LA space with an open kitchen and a bigger menu — but the prices are still street-friendly.

What to Order: Seared ahi fillet with ponzu sauce; deep-fried-Alaskan-cod burrito with a grape-and-almond salad.

— Matt McCue, Details


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