By their very nature, it can be hard to keep track of the growing number of locally owned food trucks, trailers and pop-up vendors on constant rotation between community events, farmers markets and other venues around the region. And if it seems like there's always someone new arriving to the food truck scene, it's because there is, including the following five who've launched in the past year, plus a new stationary spot where these mini restaurants-on-wheels can set up shop regularly.
JERUSALEM MIDDLE EASTERN CUISINE
Facebook: Jerusalem Middle Eastern Cuisine and More, 509-998-0549
Recipes for each dish delivered through the window of Majda Ritchie's bright orange food truck were passed down by her mother, all for favorite dishes enjoyed often while growing up in Jerusalem, Israel. Ritchie, with the support of her husband, Dan (whose family owns Mary Lou's Milk Bottle and Ice Cream), launched Jerusalem Middle Eastern Cuisine last fall, and through the summer can be found Tuesday evenings at the new Garland Summer Market, as well as every other Wednesday at the Kendall Yards Night Market. The truck's concise menu showcases the best of Jerusalem-region Middle Eastern flavors and dishes, including Ritchie's chicken shawarma wraps ($12) and beef kofta, seasoned with onions, parsley and spices and served in slider form ($12).
"So far people love our shawarma," she says. "It's not like gyros, we don't have tzatziki in Bethlehem. And the falafel also people love. A lot of people tell me it's different even though there is a lot of falafel in Spokane." (CHEY SCOTT)
MAMA TIAZ AUTHENTIC PIZZERIA & MORE
Facebook: MAMA TIAZ Authentic Pizzeria & More, 208-916-1526
Thursdays used to be the slowest day at Mama Tiaz food truck, but not anymore, says founder Talitha "Tia" Tarpley. Now Thursday means the debut of specialty pizzas, like the extremely popular Big Dill with bacon, sliced dill pickles, red onion, mozzarella cheese, and house-made ranch on Tarpley's Neapolitan-style crust. It's a dough recipe seven years in the making, says Tarpley, whose background includes 16 years as a franchise owner of the Coeur d'Alene Jamba Juice. Tarpley opened the truck last spring — it was delayed a few months because of COVID — and is currently parked at the Prairie Pavilion (7777 N. Heartland Drive, Hayden) food truck park, although she's already set her sights on someday opening a brick-and-mortar pizza place. In the meantime, diners are digging her assortment of cleverly named pies: the Spicy Porker with bacon, ham, pineapple and jalapeno; the Supreme Bender with sausage, pepperoni, bell pepper, and black olives; or the most popular, her Loaded pie with pepperoni, salami and sausage (all 9-inch pies are $12). In cooler weather, look for an expanded menu of entrees, like lasagna and, of course, more specialty pies. (CARRIE A. SCOZZARO)
THE CUBAN WAY FOOD TRUCK
Facebook: The Cuban Way Food Truck, 907-987-1042
A passion for sharing family recipes passed down through generations is also partly what inspired Jose Sosa to launch The Cuban Way this spring, after waiting out the pandemic in 2020. Sosa hopes to bring joy to the community through his food, and to give back through his business. The truck's top-selling item so far is the El Jefe Cubano sandwich ($14.50), but Sosa says he has about 200 recipes he plans to rotate on and off the menu. His popular sandwich is made on Cuban-style bread, which is similar to French bread but softer and fluffier, Sosa says, and piled with 16-hour slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, ham, pickles and yellow mustard.
"When you mix those flavors, it's just a bomb of flavor that explodes in your mouth," Sosa says.
While many customers return again and again for the Cubano, Sosa encourages diners to sample the truck's whole menu, which includes Cuban-style roasted pork, chicken and beef ($15-$16), and a traditional bread pudding ($4) and flan ($5) for dessert. The Cuban Way mostly rotates around to local breweries during dinnertime, and weekly schedules are always shared on Facebook.
"I want to bring to Spokane the flavors that Spokane has been missing for a long time," Sosa says. "People always say 'Your food is so delicious,' and I am grateful for that." (CS)
Facebook: NorthwestTaps, NorthwestTaps.com, 208-968-2337
If there's been any upside for the food and beverage industry during COVID, it must include the new and inventive ways vendors can now sell, serve and even deliver alcohol. Parked among a plethora of other food trucks at the popular Prairie Pavilion food court in Coeur d'Alene, NorthwestTaps offers assorted adult beverages for on-site consumption or to go. Canned drinks include the classics like Kokanee and Modelo, while draft beer rotates through regional options like Elysian's Space Dust IPA or brews from Coeur d'Alene's Trails End Brewery. The pop-up bar also serves wine, canned cocktails and alcohol-free beverages, along with food like wings ($9.50) or German sausage ($4.25). On Wednesday, get a dog or sausage and a beer for just $8. (CAS)
OPA! GREEK MEDITERRANEAN FOOD
Facebook: OPA Food Truck
After several seasons in Sandpoint serving Greek food inspired by her grandmother at such events as the annual Festival at Sandpoint, Adia Burton has finally gone mobile with her Opa food truck. Most days you can find her near Misty Mountain Furniture (502 Cedar St.), but she's also a staple at MickDuff's Beer Hall (220 Cedar St.) and recently helped christen the new Sand Bar (formerly Roxy's, at 215 Pine St.). Have a savory lamb and beef gyro with slathering of hummus and all the trimmings ($12), which in the Aegean style means lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, tangy Feta cheese and the delightfully creamy, garlicky sauce known as tzatziki. Try crispy, fried falafel (ground chickpea) wrapped in a pita bread ($12) or just jump ahead to dessert with baklava ($5). Burton makes hers with walnuts (versus pistachio) and just a touch of cinnamon. (CAS)
HILLYARD FOOD TRUCK PAVILION
5108 N. Market St., Facebook: Hillyard Food Truck Pavilion, 509-998-5572
The newly launched Hillyard Food Truck Pavilion offers a space for up to five mobile vendors to operate simultaneously in a spacious lot along Market Street in the historic Hillyard District, adjacent to the Hillyard Heritage Museum. Owned and operated by Kailey Vallee and Kyle "Chef Freak" Bowlby, the pavilion debuted this spring and hosts a handful of trucks on rotation during the week.
Friday evenings, however, are a weekly highlight when the park hosts its market and open mic night from 5 to 9 pm with several rotating vendors on site, a chance for local musicians to perform live, and lawn games and other all-ages activities. Amenities for diners include a covered seating area, portable bathrooms and handwashing stations. Food trucks get power and water hookups.
"We want to bring the Hillyard District back to life," Vallee says.
Adds Bowlby: "I want this to be a destination hub. I'm from Coeur d'Alene and see the markets there getting huge, like the Prairie Pavilion, and I want that here in town." (CS) ♦