Festive Foods

Napkin Friends Is a Latke Virtuoso

The rest of the year, this food truck makes panini with potato pancakes instead of bread. But come Hanukkah, things get a little more traditional.

By Jane Kidder December 9, 2016

Screen shot 2016 12 08 at 3.52.09 pm y9sytm

Not exactly traditional latkes...but who really cares? Image via Napkin Friends' Instagram 

Napkin Friends owner/chef Jonny Silverberg says his latke food truck really celebrates Hanukkah year-round. But he spends most of the year serving up the holiday's signature fried potato pancakes—that symbolize the resilient jug of oil in the ancient Jewish narrative—in a most unusual format: crispy, delightfully melty panini concoctions with latkes in lieu of bread. As Silverberg puts it, “We’re steeped in tradition but never stuck in it.”

For Hanukkah, though, Silverberg does revert to tradition: Napkin Friends’ annual take-home menu of latkes in the style of Silverberg's grandmother, to reheat at home and serve with applesauce and crème fraiche. Rather than undergo the laborious prepping and frying process—and infusing the house with a rather potent smell—you can outsource the job to a guy who does this for a living. For Silverberg the aroma of potatoes and oil is something akin to cologne.

With Hanukkah falling on the same day as Christmas (a major bummer for families like Silverberg’s who celebrate both holidays), it's a good idea to get your orders in early—a dozen latkes runs $30 and an order of 48 runs $120 (definitively give a few day's notice). For a small fee, Napkin Friends will deliver latkes right to your door, or track the truck's locations on the days leading up to Hanukkah for in-truck pick up. 

Silverberg’s enthusiasm for Hanukkah doesn’t stop with massive amounts of pre-order latkes: Find Napkin Friends at Mercer Island’s Hanukkah under the Stars on December 17th where they’ll offer up latkes slathered in a schmear of smoked salmon, herbed cream cheese, pickled shallots, and arugula (along with their usual menu). 

Silverberg’s attempts to fill what he sees as a void of Jewish culinary representation in Seattle will continue in the next evolution of the business: a soon-to-come modern Jewish deli that he promises to stock with pastrami, corned beef, rye bread, challah buns, and deli mustard. So after Napkins Friends fulfills your Hanukkah wishes, look out for their pop-up all-you-can-eat buffet at Stoup Brewery come January for a taste of the Jewish food with a twist yet to come.

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