Waldorf Food Cart Fest
Posted by Degan on September 14th, 2012
The Waldorf Food Cart Fest was initially intended to run every Sunday in August but it’s proven to be so popular that they’ve extended it to the end of September. Maybe this will spur on progress for a permanent food cart à la Portland but at least for a couple of weeks you can experience a handful of food trucks in one parking lot. They seem to be different every week so go often and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what street eats are on offer in Vancouver. This is what we had recently:
I was expecting the food carts and consequently arrived hungry. I had even heard that there was a beer garden, but I figured the drinks thing would be secondary to all the eating – until I saw the coconuts! I LOVE coconut water / juice / milk / meat. I’m not using them interchangeably, but coconut is a flavour I love and I have a (relatively) newfound love of coconut water. I keep buying them at the supermarket in the hopest that Matt will come up with a cocktail that uses them, although sometimes they don’t even make it the 3 blocks home. And canned coconut water has nothing on the stuff that comes fresh out of a coconut, carved up with a machete.
We grabbed some tacos from the Waldorf’s stand which did the job of filling the immediate hunger gap (but were otherwise uninspiring) and then looked around to survey the scene. Nearest to us was the Juice Truck and Off the Wagon tacos. The Juice Truck is regularly parked about a block from our house and I’ve visited it a couple of times and the tacos I’ve sampled at the Main Street farmer’s market so we gave those a pass and headed over to Soho Road Naan kebab, grabbing some macarons on the way.
Good thing we topped up because Soho Road was bussssssy! That and I think there were suffering from some logistical issues. I can’t imagine that they’d be in business long if the standard was to wait 30 minutes for lunch, although I guess it works for Go Fish.
The Waldorf lot has been pretty packed for food cart fest, with estimates of up to 5000 people attending. Mostly the lines were manageable – there always seemed to be somewhere that wasn’t busy – although there’s definitely not enough seating to go around to aim to be on your feet and hardly any shade. Most trucks have smallish servings that can be easily eaten while you walk around (and wait in the next line) but some of them did require the use of a knife and fork.
Busiest lines we saw: Mom’s Grilled Cheese and Earnest Ice Cream. Soho Road actually didn’t have much of a line, just a really long wait to actually get food.
But when we did get it, it was delicious. We got a half tandoori naan wrap and the naan was pretty good for coming out of a truck and wrapped up with chicken it was pretty delicious. I’m not sure how a messier curry (butter chicken?) would work with this, but I’d definitely have a full one for lunch. It’s a pretty brilliant take on the traditional when you think about it. For another take on Indian street food, check out Vij’s Railway Express.
Next was Guanaco, the El Salvadoreño food truck and we had worked up quite an appetite so I was stoked to order a stack of pupusas. These are a kind of thick tortilla stuffed with pork, cheese, or beans and other items and they are so good! I’m used to the relatively solid ones from Rinconcito (and that frankly would stand up much better to being eaten on the street) but they were only serving platters of single pupusas with coleslaw and cassava fries. We got a revuelta that comes with cheese, beans and pork and looked around for a table. It was pretty good but it was a bit limp. I don’t think I would order it again because of the difficulty in eating it, although the cassava fries and hot sauce were excellent so maybe that’s available as a side.
Holy Perogy is completely awesome and while we didn’t have near enough room for an order of perogies, I did have the opportunity to try this recently at the library, so I’ll include it. They have four dishes; standard issue potato and cheddar (available with and without sausage), a Mexican version with ground beef and pico de gallo salsa, a West Coast version with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and dill, an Italian one that features mozzarella and potato-stuffed with pesto sour cream and tomato salsa.
The Italian sounds so good to me but I thought I would go for the standard sausage / cheddar / sour cream combo to start. The perogies are quite large but soft and not too structural. My first thought when I saw it was “Whoa, that’s a lot of sour cream!” but it’s quite thin so once you mush the perogies and sausage around in it, it’s not so bad. This would make a great lunch on a cold day and I will definitely be searching it out this winter. It does require a knife and fork (and napkins) but the plate is small and sturdy enough that it’s balance-able and it would certainly make it back to a table without too much difficulty.
We were debating leaving at this point but I did stare pretty long and hard at the Earnest Ice Cream stand. They’ve started making appearances at markets and events and if you see them, make sure you save room for a cone or an ice cream sandwich. My favourite flavour so far is the salted caramel – it is incredibly rich and luxurious without being overly sweet – but they had Blackberry black pepper listed on their chalk board and that just sounded amazing. I love almost anything blackberry and the addition of black pepper just seems like it would push it over into incredible. The cardamom is another unusual flavour that I like, although I think I would prefer to pair it with a dessert rather than have it in a sandwich like I did when I first tasted it. Anyways, we ended up leaving without it this time, but I’m regretting it. Hopefully blackberries will stick around for a little while and I can track them down somewhere else.
The Mom’s Grilled Cheese truck was mobbed the entire time we were there and although the sandwiches we caught glimpses of looked amazing, they were also enormous. Have to save this one for next time!
There was a beef jerky stand (Black Tusk Jerky) that we wanted to try, but no one was operating it, Feastro tacos looked compelling but saved for another day along with Pig on the Street (pork-filled sandwiches and wraps) and Street Meat. Other stands involved who weren’t there the day we were there are La Brasserie, Re-Up BBQ, Cartel Taco, and It’s To Die For banana bread.
The food truck fest is on from 12pm—5pm September 16th, 23rd, and 30th at the Waldorf Hotel, 1489 East Hastings St. , Vancouver.