The food truck/cart industry has always been a staple on the Winnipeg summer landscape. From the chip stands of the early 1930’s right up to modern smokie hotdog carts that dot the Winnipeg summer landscape like dandelions on a prairie field. So why all of the interest in what could be called nouveau gourmand food movement of bringing typically high end restaurant fare and serving it curbside out of a mobile trailer?
Personally I think it’s about the whole democratization of food, the idea proposed by so many of the crop of new talented cooks and chefs in typically high-end, high pressure jobs. Patrons are starting to suffer from white table-cloth fatigue, the idea of getting dressed up and paying high-end prices for everything but the food is wearing thin. Just think about it, if you go to say 529 Wellington and order a meal you’re not only paying for the food you’re paying for the cost of maintaining the building, the staff, the food supply chain and on and on. Winnipeggers are a fiercely cheap and efficient lot, we brag about how little we paid for something rather than how expensive something is. It only seems to reason that eventually it would filter down to our food choices.
Now I am not saying that Winnipeg invented the high-end food truck, that phenomenon has gone on for years in other enlightened cities having only recently caught on in a big way here due to City Hall’s reluctance to let the inevitable happen.
On any given weekday lunchtime during Winnipeg’s all too brief spring and summer one can wander downtown to Broadway Avenue, the heart of Winnipeg’s open air food scene. As the office towers break for lunch thousands of hungry men and women emerge ready to see the delights awaiting them where grilled smokies and hamburgers once dominated the dining scene.
One sunny spring day I took an hour out of my day and investigated the food truck landscape of East Broadway; here is what I found.
My first stop of the day led me to an offering by the fine folks at Beaujena’s French Table. A brick and mortar restaurant who recently added a truck to supplement their suppertime income. Customer favorites include a Pickerel Po-Boy sandwich and an over the top offering for the pork enthusiast, Death by Bacon. Succulent fatty pork belly wrapped in crispy bacon topped with an apricot mayonnaise served on a fresh sandwich roll. It seems like overkill but somehow this supremely fatty sandwich balances its ingredients in just the right way.
So-Cal Smoothies offers refreshing and healthy drink options for those in need on a hot summer afternoon.
A little way down the street Tokyo Rabbit offers tasters street food and sweets Japanese style. The brainchild of a Manitoba girl and rural Japanese guy who met in Tokyo, bringing authentic Japanese style crepes and teas to the Winnipeg food scene. Crazy but true, I must try this truck on my next outing downtown.
Stuff it Foods brings us the Stuff It food truck. Specializing in full on wraps, filled with tasty novel ideas. From the Chilli Champ to the Chickpea Curry and Chicken Medley these wraps looked massive and satisfying. A must try note to self for future consumption downtown.
Another relative newcomer to the food truck scene and one that I have sampled in the past is Habanero Sombrero Taqueria. A food truck opened by Winnipeggers Mark and Shannon Langtry. Frequent travelers to Mexico and the Southern United States the Langtrys have brought their love of Mexican inspired flavours home to Winnipeg.
I opted to try the 3 tacos for $8 option and was not disappointed, fresh tortillas filled with tender shredded pork, chicken and beef topped with queso fresco and pico de gallo or coleslaw for the pork taco. I hit that with a touch of hot sauce and slid back into a Mexican state of mind. Yummy taco goodness on the street simply cannot be beat my friends!
Last on my tour of Broadway was the Little Bones chicken wing truck. The smells coming from this cart were outrageous. Siren scent of hot wings fresh from the fryer accented with the piquant aroma of chilli sauces sent my stomach into hunger mode again. However my trail of sampling had left my stomach full and my wallet empty. Chalk this one up as yet another must try before the summer is out.
As the Winnipeg summer continues and the festival season draws closer, no doubt I will encounter more delicious eateries on wheels. I look forward to trying them all!
- Habanero Sombrero Food Truck Review (debbielount.wordpress.com)