Today’s food truck takes us a little further out than I’ve gone for the other trucks, and down the garden path into the Cascade neighborhood.
- Food Truck: Where Ya At
- Cuisine: Cajun
- Twitter: @WhereYaAtMatt
- Yelp: 4 stars, 143 reviews
- Location: In front of Cascade People’s Center, near the corner of Terry and Pontius
- Day: Wednesdays (parks in a different neighborhood each day)
- Payment Methods: Cash, credit cards
- Sales Tax included in menu prices: Yes
- Gumbo (small size): $5.00
- Begniets (0rder of 3): $4.00
- Total (with tip:) $10.00
- Time to order and pay: About 5 minutes
- Time to receive food after ordering: 2 minutes
Having been around for several years already, Where Ya At is one of the more established food trucks in Seattle, and one of the more critically acclaimed ones as well. In spite of this, it’s out-of-the-way location in comparison to the rest of the SLU food trucks means that most people aren’t going to even know this one exists unless they have heard of it through word of mouth (which, admittedly, is something that this truck isn’t exactly lacking for.) It’s also a fair bit out of the way when compared to the spots around Boren and Harrison where most of the trucks set up shop. From the building I work in, it’s about an extra 2-3 blocks of walking to get here when compared to the other trucks I have visited so far. That said, it’s not a bad walk, even if it does involve some extra uphill walking (after all this is Seattle, walking uphill just comes with the territory around here) and you get a bit of extra scenery here in the form of the well-maintained community garden that resides at Cascade Playground.
This scenery extends to the truck as well, as it parks next to the Cascade People’s Center (which actually sounds kind of scary, but it seems to be just a typical community center) in a spot that allows the people in line to wait under a nice plant-covered gazebo. Given the fact that the average food truck in the neighborhood gives you all the ambience of a claustrophobic parking lot while you’re waiting, this has to go for some points in their favor. Not that I had long to wait anyway, asa the food came fairly quickly once I ordered and paid for it.
Originally when I got here I wanted to try out the smothered chicken Po Boy sandwich, but by the time I got in line they had run out. I briefly considered the pork, but soon realized that yesterday’s meal had puit me off pork (at least of the shredded variety) for a little bit, so I decided to try out the gumbo instead. I had also heard a fair bit about the Begniets here (which seem to be the most popular item, and one that apparently sells out frequently) and decided to go for the smaller size on the gumbo and spring for an order of those too. Even though the gumbo was a small size, the portion size was still pretty decent. The gumbo itself was a typical chicken-and-sausage affair with a pretty good flavor with just a little bit of kick to it to let you know it’s there (they offer a decent selection of appropriate hot sauces for those who wish to spice it up a bit more.) In spite of a decent amount of okra, it didn’t seem quite as thick as some of them that I’ve had over the years (some people have commented that it doesn’t seem to use much roux), and had a rather souplike texture to it overall. I also felt it could have done with just a little bit more rice in it, but that’s just a minor quibble. The Begniets, on the other hand, are pretty much exactly as advertised: fried dough and powdered sugar, two of the most dangerous substances known to man. And they don’t skimp on the sugar here either, I think there was at least a quarter of a cup of sugar still in the bag when the three Begniets had been removed. I ate a couple of these with lunch, and saved the third one for later, based on the probably now discredited theory that putting a portion of something bad for you aside and saving it for later somehow makes it slightly less bad for you when you do actually eat it. When the residual oil from the fryer combines with the powdered sugar, it forms a substance that bears a surprising resemblance to Oreo filling (which, from what I understand, isn’t actually that far off,) and which I should probably be down in the exercise room right now trying to work off.
The obvious comparison here is with Jemil’s Big Easy, another Cajun food truck which I already covered a few days ago. Since I haven’t extensively covered the menu of either of these two trucks it’s hard for me to say that I can really recommend one over the other, but since they both show up on different days of the week (at least for the time being) it’s unlikely you’ll see both around at the same time anyway. Both trucks serve up perfectly reasonable versions of the classic Cajun staples, but although Where Ya At is a bit of a hike for most people, their prices do seem to be better overall (especially given the fact that the menu prices at Jemil’s don’t include tax) and the variety on the menu seems to be better. Jemil’s also doesn’t have Begniets on the menu, but that might be a good thing, since I’m currently trying to not die of a heart attack at an inconveniently young age.
If I keep up this food truck thing for too much longer that might just happen. This puts us at the halfway point for the food truck project, with another week to go.