I’ve just returned from 2 weeks (June/July 2011) in Vancouver feasting on their amazing street food. Below are places I’ve checked out and my views, plus I’ll continually update it with new places that sound interesting for my next trip.
My top favourites are:
Fresh Local Wild and Tacofino Cantina. See below for why!
If you come to Vancouver and want to try their street food, you NEED the Vancouver street food app. It shows a map with all the food truck/cart locations (even when they move), a red or green dot showing if they’re open, and info on what each serves and what their hours are for the next few days. SO useful! You can get it HERE.
Asian and fusion
Bun Me. Robson & Hornby and roving. I love banh mi sandwiches (Lao ones better than Vietnamese), and these guys do an ok version. Choice of lemongrass chicken or tofu. The idea is great, as are the warmed baguettes. But they were skimpy on the herbs (essential for good banh mi), and my chicken was a bit gristly. I also skipped the mayo, so can’t report on it.
Cartel Taco. Hamilton & Dunsmuir. 11-3 M-F. Amazing bulgogi tacos (with free-range ethically-treated beef or pork), the soft taco shells are the best I’ve tried in Van City. Bulgogi was tender, and it and the sauce both had complex flavours. I’ll be back! Follow them on Twitter @carteltaco. Graham and Annabelle are super nice too.
Coma. March 2012 update: Sadly, the Coma Food Truck has closed, blaming Vancouver bylaws. Railway & Dunlevy, Cambie & Eighth, Fourth & Vine. Korean bibimbap, japchae (sweet potato cellophane noodles with veg), Korean BBQ beef or pork burrito, grandma’s kimchee quesadilla. Chef Jay Cho is Cordon Bleu trained. Despite much searching, I never was in the right place at the right time to try them. @ComaFoodTruck
Fasttrac Fusion. Cambie & 49th. “Beef & lamb skewers, teriyaki subs & fish balls”.
Roaming Dragon. Burrard & Robson, & soon at Burrard & Smithe. Bulgogi tacos (could there be a better idea?!). Duck confit salad, chicken and pork sliders, soba salad, pork, tofu or chicken banh mi. The Smithe location will have comfort food, like grilled cheese, mac and cheese, eggs Benedict. I tried the Korean short rib beef taco which had great flavours. I love how Vancouver chefs use shredded seaweed as a garnish. I also ordered the lemonade, flavoured with basil, and with lychee pieces in the bottom. Was like a natural bubble tea. This is a great truck. @DragonTruck
***** Tacofino Cantina. Davie & Denman (4-7), and Howe & Robson. Tuna ta-taco, plus others. Chocolate diablo cookies, plus as an ice cream sandwich. The tuna ta-taco is marvellous – super flavourful and fresh tasting. The fish tacos are also delicious, with a burst of flavour from the salsa and lime. The black bean feta taco, with sour cream and salsa, is a bit more traditional tasting, but still excellent. The diablo cookies have a nice chili zippiness to them, and match wonderfully with the fresh lime and mint slushy drink. Overall my favourite fusion food truck! @TacoFinoCantina
Chinatown Night Market. Keefer Street in Chinatown, weekends 6:30-11:00. Not much to buy at this night market, but there is a fair amount to eat, much of it cooked to order. I ate a Korean green onion cake and lamb and chicken satays that were pretty good. Several doughnut/waffle type options for dessert too. You won’t miss anything by skipping it.
Feastro the Rolling Bistro. Cordova & Thurlow near the Olympic flame (the big purple truck). Fresh, local, sustainable seafood. Prawns, crab cakes, oysters. On Canada Day, with the limited menu and extensive crowds that the holiday entails, I had a marvelous prawn bisque, and a good breaded fish taco and sweet potato fries. @coastfeastro
***** Fresh Local Wild. Hastings & Burrard. Whatever is fresh, local, and wild. Extreme green. “Caboose” patio seats 4 (reservations for dinner). On Canada Day I had the most succulent fish (tempura cod) and chips I’ve ever eaten – simply fabulous. Chef Josh Wolfe (who is super nice) had the freshest spot prawns you could imagine (ie live) and offered samplings of raw tails as he was … umm … “preparing” them. He later tempura-ed some up and a very kind fellow diner gave me their last one so I could try – and it was the best shrimp I have ever eaten in my life. We went back a second time for more fish & chips and got to sit in the caboose. Very generous portions. This is my favorite seafood street food (by far!). @freshlocalwild, @chefwolfe
Go Fish Ocean Emporium. 1505 W 1st Ave, just off Granville Island (I will post directions soon). Street food, sort of, because while there is seating, you have to eat outside. This Vancouver institution serves phenomenal fish and chips, fish tacones (kind of a rolled taco), po boys and other fishy treats. I make sure to come here at least once a Vancouver visit. Closed Mondays.
Kaboom Box. Granville & Robson. Fish and chips, oyster po boy sandwiches. Sustainable seafood. I haven’t tried this one yet.
Raincity Grill. Denman & Davie. Yes, a resto, but since you can pick up fish and chips at the window, it counts as street food. Sustainable, green packaging, delicious. $10.
Arturo’s Mexican To Go. Howe & Cordova. “Arturo’s unique recipes are a fusion of Spanish and traditional Mexican created by generations of master chefs”. @Arturo2go
La Brasserie. Granville & W. Georgia. “Brass Chicken Sandwich – beer brined rotisserie chicken in gravy, on a buttermilk bun, topped with crispy onions”. Must be good because they were sold out one day by 1:30! @LaBrasserieSt
Didi’s Greek. Denman & Robson. Souvlaki, Greek salad, etc. The pita and tzatziki were delicious (made fresh by the lovely couple who run the cart), and the spanakopita, warmed on the barbecue, was surprisingly flakey.
JapaDog. The street cart that started it all. Several locations. @japadog
Jamaican Mi Juicy. Festivals. Jerk chicken, as a meal or as a wrap. Nice spiciness, but too heavy on the mayo. Fruit juices and smoothies.
The Juice Truck Water St & Abbott. Brand new. Organic, local fresh juice and smoothies. @juicetruck
Lemon Sea. Beach & Chico, open only in nice weather. Not sure how they define nice, but I went three times to find them and no luck. “Fresh squeezed lemonade and crepes”.
Naan Wraps. Burrard & W Pender. A mobile tandoor oven! I hope they sell plain naan bread, in addition to the naan wraps with butter chicken and tandoori chicken. @NaanWraps
Nu Greek Street. Granville & Georgia, and Dunsmuir & Howe, and at festivals. Nu resto has, supposedly, the best Greek food in town. His Raincity Grill is fantastic (see above). The cart has lamb and chicken souvlaki, in pita with local veg or on a skewer, and plain pita or with dips. I tired the pita with tzatziki, and it was excellent. Grilled on the BBQ with some spices added. Tzatiki had nice pieces of cucumber in it, and great garlicky taste (which I later regretted, as it stuck with me for several hours … luckily my sister had yet to arrive in town!) Portions of both the pita and tzatiki were very generous. @NuGreekStreet
Ragazzi Pizza Co. Burrard & W Pender. Pizzas replicating the flavours and textures found in Italy. Hope to try this next visit. @RagazziPizza
Re-up 1 & 2. Hornby & Georgia (pork), Robson & Howe (smoked beef). While I’m not a huge smoked anything fan, many of you are – go here for “slow-smoked, pulled pork sandwiches with house-made BBQ sauce”, and “beef brisket sandwiches, black bean and corn chili”. Plus house-made sodas, such as rhubarb cream soda. The lemon soda was super zippy and made with Salt Spring Island lemons. Delish. @reupbbq
Saltspring Noodle Bar. Festivals. Boxed noodles, vegi or chicken, several ways. Pad thai was bland, and I think the noodles might have been spaghetti! It did have nice green beans in it though. I was starving, but couldn’t even get through half the box.
Sausage à Trios. W Cordova & Hornby. “Delicious organic sausages straight from the smoker by Fresh Local Wild”. @FreshLocalWild
Slingers. Often S. Granville & Broadway, sometimes Burrard & Pender. Breaded-veal (or chicken) sandwich with Parmesan, provolone, mushrooms, and marinara (and, sorry Slingers, but unlike the claim on your website, you can not get one of these sandwiches on every Ontario street corner!). Also mac and cheese balls, deep-fried with spicy ketchup. I went looking for them July 2 but they left their spot early. @Slingersmobile
Spicy Vibes. Granville & Robson. “Kofte kebabs – Turkish grilled minced lamb meatballs with herbs”.
Taser Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Canada Place, or Main St & Terminal Ave. Now, they were sold out of everything except the classic when I found them. And the classic was, well, bland and kinda boring. But kids would love it.
Thanks to the Street Food App, Richard Wolak (@VanFoodster), @LoveVanFood and the The Vancouver Sun for tips, and to Vancouver for furthering this awesome food culture.
Anyone have any info to add?
For more info on eating in Vancouver, see my Vancouver Field Notes.
You can also read my article on Vancouver’s street food in the February 2012 issue of Going Mobo magazine (p. 22-23).
Love street food around the world? Lara Dunston has compiled some great articles on great street food on the Grantourismo! website.