The past few weekends C and I have had the opportunity to visit the Vancouver Food Cart Festival at Waldorf Hotel. It's running every Sunday from 12 noon to 6PM, from July 29th to September 2! Don't miss this delicious gourmet event - there's only a couple weekends left!!
Personally, I love the idea. I wish they had it every weekend althroughout the year - and maybe even indoors! I don't work downtown, where most of these food carts park, and I miss the opportunity of having yummy perogies or tacos or artisan ice cream for lunch! Since most of these food carts are open only on the weekdays, I hardly get to see them. They also don't aggregate in one location like in Portland, so I find them hard to access.
Like I mentioned, the food cart fest is right at the parking lot of The Waldorf Hotel, on East Hastings and Clark Drive. On Sundays, most of the street parking is available and that is awesome! Free parking! Yay!
Right at 12 noon there's already a good number of people hovering around the food carts - so my tip # 1: Go early! Be an eager beaver and head there a few minutes before 12 as lunch time is when most people like heading there. So if you're hungry and looking for an awesome lunch, the food cart fest is definitely the place for you - if you go early! While waiting for the food carts to open, take a good look around and plan your lunch. Unless of course, you already know the food cart you want to eat from.
Tip # 2: Strategize. No, I'm not being an intense foodie. In fact, I don't even really consider myself one. But a lot of the goodies are so good and so rich, you might get full right away with one or two dishes. Oh, also! Tip # 3: Try to go with your friends! That way, you can try more dishes! And, you can take turns lining up (or line up at the same time), and share the food after.
I didn't get to try all of the places, but let me just mention some of the places I did get to see - and also try!
I almost always see La Brasserie's Street Food Cart! They only serve one item, which is the "Brass Chicken Sandwich". I think it's a brilliant idea to have just one offering. That way, you can really focus on the quality of your product, and business-wise, it makes preparing a lot easier!
There's also Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck. I've heard raving reviews about this food truck - and I can't deny - their food is amazing! I grew up in a country where there's really nothing like a grilled cheese sandwich, but I did get exposed to it multiple times when I moved to Vancouver 3 years ago. And their grilled cheese sandwiches are so yummy-licious!
We hastily lined up for this food truck because at 12:15, the wait would be about 1 hour!!!
We also got to try Sam's Special - which is Turkey and Brie on Cranberry Pecan Bread. And I quote them - "Yes, it is as good as it sounds." Melt in your mouth goodness. Not too greasy, just perfect! Now, can you see why having even just one of these sandwiches would fill you up immediately? So strategize! What do you really want to eat?
Another popular food truck that has been grazing newspapers, food blogs and all forms of media, is Pig on the Street. Can't go wrong with bacon! Most of their dishes have bacon in them, except for no piggy. Isn't that cute? My dad was actually the one who was brave enough to try it. Guess what? He absolutely loved it!
My dad got The Porker, and I quote: Double smoked bacon, sausage & bacon stuffing with sage & apple, goat Gouda, greens, apple & cider chutney. Can I say it again? Double smoked bacon, sausage & bacon stuffing with sage & apple, goat Gouda, greens, apple & cider chutney. This unique combination really won by dad's usually-pork-avoiding heart!
There were also many taco places. With me not being a big fan of tacos - I let C, J and M enjoy their tacos with me having a tiny bite! And I was floored. They were sooo good!
Walking around the parking lot, the concrete and direct sunlight combo truly did not help me get any cooler. I knew it was time for a drink! Thankfully, there were a few choices. There was The Juice Truck, and Waldorf's own drinks stand. The Juice Truck is known for their cold pressed juices (this takes time!) and their smoothies. I couldn't wait for a juice drink, so I went for the strawberry coconut smoothie! It was perfect for the weather!
Speaking of coconuts, I grew up in a country where people sold coconuts push carts on the street. Think of it like a food truck, only it's fully manual as a person pushes this heavy cart of coconuts all day, through the streets, shouting "Buko! Buko!" (Filipino for coconut). People who live in the neighborhood would often converse with this vendor from their windows. The vendor would then cut out a fresh coconut for you to drink and eat its meat! Perfect for the humid weather we always have in the Philippines!
Thankfully, in my second trip to the food cart fest, someone thought of putting a shade over the eating area - a little relief for the people in the area! But just in case: Tip # 3: Dress appropriately! Bring a hat if you need to, and your sunglasses!
Perhaps my favourite item in my recent visits has been the perogies from Holy Perogy! They are seriously so good! We tried The Hungry Human, which had potato and cheddar perogy fully loaded with fried onions, sausage, Black Tusk Jerky, Sour Cream and Green Onions. Sooo good.
If you're wondering what is Black Tusk Jerky, well they also have a stand at the Food Cart Fest! They sell beef jerky and trail mixes. They're great for anything - we think!
Here's another taco stand that we were able to try. Cartel Taco is known for their Korean fusion tacos - and we must admit! They were really good! Tip # 4: Be prepared to eat with your hands! A lot of these gourmet yummies are best enjoyed with your hands, so be sure you bring your hand sanitizer, since you might be holding cash to pay for the food!
I also made new friends from the friendly Sunday Morning Ice Cream crew - they're a new ice cream cart going around Vancouver, so be sure to check them out!
I was really craving for something cold after nibbling on all those goodies. I tried their Basil Mint ice cream, and I was floored. It was such a unique combo and I really needed something to cool me down. A definite must try! I also tried their favourite, Toasted Coconut Vanilla, but for a sunny day like that Sunday, there's nothing better than that Basil Mint ice cream. I'm still craving it now!
I got myself a yummy loaf and a slice to nibble on while walking around the festival!
What can I say? I hope I have convinced you enough that this summer, you must not miss the food cart festival in Vancouver - tourist or not! :)