Vancouver Food Trucks - In a Nutshell
Vancouver foodies and wannabe food bloggers have been dying for the food truck craze to reach Vancouver. Everyone wants to start their own Eat Street or at least become a YouTube food channel sensation. What results are a few too many overzealous reviews giving away props that may not yet be warranted due to the fact that food trucks have been so scarce in Vancouver for so long and no one wants to scare the scene away, even if the offerings are sub-par.
Instead, we thought we'd offer an unbiased summary of the Vancouver Food Truck scene. Some receive long rave reviews, others not so much (one sentence summations are a sign), but neither is done for the sake of editorial banter. We only hope to make the Vancouver Food Truck scene better. If that means we put the pressure on those serving up less than stellar food for the wrong price, so be it. While Vancouver Food Trucks have a long way to go before we can make comparisons to the exceptional pods found in New York, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, or Oahu, there is promise for the future.
If the public demands better and the city eases up on regulations (e.g. making the weekend Vancouver Food Truck scene practically non-existent and leaving only tiresome hot dogs stands in their place) this city too could be mentioned in the same breath as the aforementioned.
So here it is Vancouverites - Vancouver Food Trucks in a Nutshell
Feel free to vent or praise in the comment box below.
Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck
You can't get a much better name than Mom's Grilled Cheese to bring out those in search of quality comfort food that, well, only mom can make. Parked off the corner of Howe and Georgia, this smiling faced food truck brightens the view of an otherwise dreary unused exterior of the Vancouver Art Gallery that only serves to hold up protest picket boards. Don't confuse the crowd around Moms for hapless protesters - chances are your spotting the lunch line that forms here during practically all hours of operation. Brooks Brothers stitching and Lane Bryant pant suits are a common site among the regulars as this food truck has managed to pull the famished office crowd away from their posh cubicle seating eateries and into the streets for some real grub.
We visited Holy Perogy during the Food Truck Fest in the parking lot of Vancouver's famed Waldorf Hotel. We stuck it out in line for 30 minutes for a taste of the Eastern European version of a pot sticker while people whisked by with pulled pork, pizza, and ice cream plucked from the other surrounding Vancouver food trucks that weren't so busy at the moment. This indicated that there must be something special being served from the open carriage of Holy Perogy.
Loving Hut Food Truck
It's kind of a funny story. We were hungry and wandering somewhat aimlessly around Vancouver looking for a new food truck to review. After an hour we began to get dizzy from hunger. Like a mirage, the lime green and yellow "Loving Hut" food truck appeared unexpectedly at an obscure location on Pacific Avenue in front of the Roundhouse Community Center. Straight to the menu board we stared at the words BBQ Onion Cheese Burger ($8) - sold.
A little background before we continue; This particular reviewer is a devoted carnivore. We are consistently hunting down items such as "The best pulled pork", "The best cheesesteak", "The best beef brisket", etc... . So when we happened upon the Loving Hut, our starvation induced tunnel vision neglected to read the accompanying materials surrounding the truck. Only the scent wafting through the air mattered and darn it, it smelled good.
After 6 minutes (they quote this time) we were handed the foil wrapped burgers. We whisked off to Mainland Street to sit at the vacant tables in front of Chez Faye Cafe (closed on Sundays) and started to chow down. From the first bite the delicious mayo, cheese, and BBQ sauce dripped all over our fingers and the juicy patty and flavorful onion rings hit our taste buds with applause. We began discussing if this meal would be labelled "Best Food Truck Burger in B.C." on YAHglobal.Com. Down to our last two bites we glossed over the flyer we picked up from the truck, as reading material like one does with a cereal box at the breakfast table. Loving Hut Express Gourmet Sandwiches - "100% Vegan". What?!?!
The hamburger patties we just devoured like lions never had the opportunity graze on a farm, not even on a sustainable one. The mayo's origins were never hatched and its parent never crossed the road to get to the other side. The wool (ahem...hemp cloth) was pulled over our eyes. If we had bothered to notice the writing on the wall (truck) we would have passed this mobile eatery faster than, well, a vegan restaurant. And we would have missed out on one of the best burgers we've had in a long time.
We're not sure what sort of Wiccan magic was used to turn plant based ingredients into a burger that can hold its own with any served at the multitude of eateries in Yaletown, but we were sufficiently impressed. The Loving Truck does not serve a great Vegan Burger, they serve a great Burger. As far as titles go - "Most Likely to Convert a Carnivore!". Thanks for the love LH.
For current location Follow Loving Hut on Twitter
The Burger Bus
The Burger Bus is yet another new addition to the growing food truck scene in Vancouver, excusing the fact of course that The Burger Bus is a souped up VW. This psychedelic machine aptly serves sustainable locally farmed organic burgers that range from beef to chicken and bison to vegan, complete with whole grain and gluten free buns to press it all together.
Love it. One of the owners is a first generation Italian-Canadian with parents born in Naples, which should practically be a requirement for anyone serving Neapolitan Pizza. Not only is this the first Neapolitan Pizza Food Truck in Canada, it's the first authentic Neapolitan Pizza fast food in Vancouver. While others make the claim (ahem – Pizza Garden On Smithe Street) they don't even scratch the surface and should have the name stripped from its awning. PazzaRella is the real deal, cooked in a wood fired brick oven (awesome mobile feature) with flavorful aroma rising off the thin, soft, and slightly crisp crust and has us shouting "That's Amore!"
For current location Follow PazzaRella on Twitter
Re-Up BBQ Food Cart
Kudos to Re-Up for being one of the first out of the gates in bringing pulled pork to downtown Vancouver. A second wave of props goes out for the name, plucked from HBO's acclaimed masterpiece - The Wire - where "re-up" refers to the replenishing of street drugs to the corners when demand has exceeded supply. The inference we suppose, is that Vancouver's food cart version of the "re-up", may be just as addictive, turning casual users into regular customers and commanding corner rounding line ups. Word of mouth certainly got around for the Re-Up BBQ cart, lunch time queues are commonplace and they even received a recent appearance on the Food Network's Eat Street.
Vancouver takes its time in introducing menus commonly found south of the Canadian border. A couple years back you couldn't find a burrito outside of Taco Time, but now there are Mexican mom & pop operations everywhere. Pulled pork and brisket have been huge in the U.S. and even in the Prairie Provinces for decades but for some reason it hasn't really trickled across the Georgia viaduct until recently. The trouble with popular foods making their way into a city that is slow to adopt new cuisines is that those laying in wait (this reviewer included) get all excited on its arrival and overhype the establishment that brought it to us. It's easy to be the belle of the ball if you're the only one wearing a dress.
With that well in mind we sampled the Re-Up after testing other fairly new downtown Vancouver locations that caught the early wave, giving pulled pork a prominent place on their menu. This way we had something to judge Re-Up on, versus comparing them unfairly to the cream of the crop we've sampled everywhere from Southern California to South Carolina.
The price is fair at $7 for the Pulled Pork sandwich and the portion is hefty. The bun is of the standard variety, nothing fancy, but perhaps a buttermilk bun would have served them better. The BBQ sauce had an excellent sweet and tangy flavor which complemented the coleslaw topping well. While the pork was flavorful, it could have used more time in the smoker. Pulled pork should practically melt in your mouth while still maintaining its meaty texture. It is an art of southern cooking that few have mastered. The pork we had at Re-Up was tender, but somewhat chewy which for many will be of no consequence. For true pulled pork enthusiasts however, it will feel like more "work" than they are accustomed to. We also have to admit that the meat was also a little on the cool side. Yes, the day was an abnormally cold one, but food trucks in this climate must account for that.
To sum it up in simple terms, the Pulled Pork sandwich at Re-Up was good, but not great. We do get the impression that perhaps if we returned on a different day that we would get the exact sandwich we are looking for, but therein lies the catch. Consistency in ones menu is the key to culinary greatness and thus for Re-Up to garner a legion of Pork addicts they will have to make sure their product is "uncut" when it hits the streets of Vancouver.
For current location Follow Re-Up on Twitter
Guanaco El Salvador Cuisine
Finally a chance for Vancouver to realize that all food south of San Diego isn't Mexican. Guanaco Food Truck serves (with friendly service!) authentic El Salvadoran Cuisine and it represents its country well. A little pricey to get full but worth the experience. Two words - Plantain Fritos!
For current location Follow Guanaco Food Truck on Twitter
Feastro the Rolling Bistro
Fresh seafood and more. Tasty, fairly healthy, good tacos and crisp fish and chips but a little pricey. Not bad at all but a little forgettable?
For current location Follow Feastro on Twitter
Off the Wagon Taco Truck
Authentic Mexican Tacos. Friendly service and they get the recipe right. It's like ordering from a small taco joint in Guadalajara but with half the tacos for double the price. It's not their fault due to the high prices of mobile real estate in Vancouver and the fact that their cuisine is sustainable and locally sourced (isn't everyone?) so if you've got the extra cash and you’re not completely starving Off the Wagon will cure your craving for healthy authentic Mexican soft tacos.
For current location Follow Off the Wagon on Twitter
SoHo Road Naan Kabob
There are too many kabobs in Vancouver as is and thus if you intend on breaking into the Vancouver Food Truck market with yet another, it better be something spectacular. It's not.
For current location Follow SoHo Naan Kabob on Twitter
At first glance you may feel there's a little false advertising going on with Street Meet - until you notice the spelling of Meet. No, this Vancouver Food Truck is not for carnivores only (far from) and they have a veggie burger to prove it. What Street Meet does have is a great truck from exterior (chrome plated flying pig - more false adverts?) to what comes out (served) of it. Serving Mediterranean gourmet for affordable prices is their thing and while the Mediterranean food market is a little saturated in Vancouver this food truck sets itself far apart enough from the rest. Tasty ethnic cuisine with unique offerings such as Crispy Risotto Balls ($5) and an ever changing menu gives Street Meet a thumbs up in our books.
For current location Follow Street Meet on Twitter
The Juice Truck
This is one of the few "food trucks" found on the streets on the weekend. As the name states it's a juice truck, known for Cold Pressed Juices and not known so much for their smoothies, which would be more fun if they didn't mix bananas with beets. It's healthy and they're proud of the fact that they serve nutritious concoctions even at the sacrifice of taste on some orders. While yoga enthusiasts won't be happy about this - The Juice Truck receives a big BFD. Save your $6 and head to Jugo Juice instead.
For current location Follow the Juice Truck on Twitter
La Brasserie Food Cart
You take something for granted when you see it all of the time. We passed by the burgundy La Brasserie Food Cart on the corner of Georgia and Granville Street on numerous occasions, perhaps irresponsibly (given that we are a city review site) neglecting to sample their culinary offering out of the fact that was simply too convenient, if that makes sense. So on a day when the rain was as menacing as it could possibly be, we figured it the perfect time to stand outside and place our order at La Brasserie. This was a simple feat due to the fact that they have a one item menu (Butter Tart side snack aside). This boldness is usually an indication of pure confidence in an eatery's only dish. Sometimes that confidence is arrogance, at which point we are more than happy to correct an establishment on such a character flaw, either encouraging them to perhaps make additions to their menu, or step it up in the flavor department. This was not the case at the La Brasserie Food Cart.
La Brasserie stems from its parent home restaurant on Davie Street, a dim lit, cozy, 35 seat, Franco-German eatery that has garnered quite the following from local foodies. By taking to the streets, La Brasserie introduces the Brass Chicken Sandwich - Beer brined rotisserie chicken in gravy, on a buttermilk bun, topped with crispy onions. This sandwich, at only $6.25 (an even $7 with tax), was a complete knockout surprise! We're talking ultimate comfort food conveniently wrapped, affordable, and in hand within mere minutes of placing the order. The best way to describe it is this - Imagine you return home from college, to surprise your folks for Thanksgiving, but missed dinner by a few minutes. Imagine that your mother, or grandmother, whips up the perfect gravy smothered turkey (insert chicken in this case) sandwich and adds a topping of crisp fried onions, pressed between homemade buttermilk buns, out of sheer excitement to have you home. Imagine what that tastes like while sitting in front of the fireplace, watching classic holiday programs on the tube. Somehow, La Brasserie has managed to package that experience into one hand held, foil wrapped, bundle of joy.
For current location Follow La Brasserie on Twitter
Ursu Korean BBQ Taco
Korean Mexican fusion is a fairly common site with food trucks south of the Canadian border but for Vancouver, the Korean BBQ Taco truck is a refreshing addition to the culinary landscape of Vancouver with its Kalbi and Bulgogi based soft tacos. In addition to offering a unique take on mobile food in Vancouver, Ursu Korean BBQ Taco truck is one of the most accessible food trucks in the city and can be found feeding the drunken masses pouring out of Library Square Pub on weekend nights. While admittedly everything tastes better after a few brews, Ursu Korean BBQ Taco truck keeps most of the flavor your senses imagined on the previous Friday at 1AM, even if you happen upon them on a following Monday afternoon. Skip the tofu.
For current location Follow Ursu Korean BBQ on Twitter