This article is contributed by Dee Mason.
In most large cities, if you say the term “street meat” to anyone, you will receive a nose wrinkle and a full-body shudder in return. Everyone, at some point in their life, somewhere in the world, has visited a curbside food vendor.
Some are great and lines stretch around the block. Some are awful, and are completely deserving of their “roach coach” nickname. Brussels, Hanoi, many cities in Mexico, Rio de Janeiro, London, and Los Angeles: they all have long traditions of street food that is both excellent and cheap. Recently, however, the Vancouver Street Food scene in British Columbia has begun to give these other “street meat” meccas, a run for their money.
People often look to Canada for ski deals but now they can think Vancouver for excellent street cuisine. Restaurants can be licensed to set up carts all around the business district and the downtown area. With more and more carts being welcomed to the street food scene every year (36 so far), the variety of offerings can actually feel a little overwhelming. Though not every street cart operates at the same time, there is usually a wide array of prices and styles on offer. As many publications have already noted with enthusiasm, the quality of the food available is quite high. Food from multiple countries, and carts dedicated to vegetarian, vegan, or halal food abound. While all are worthy of a try, there are a few standouts that deserve a special trip.
Korean-Mexican Coma Food Truck
Locations: Varies – Check comafoodtruck.com for up-to-date info.
Serving traditional Korean food like bibimbap and kimbap, alongside Mexican-Korean fusion items like kimchi quesadillas, the Coma Food Truck offers a funky combination of tastes that is pretty addictive. Portions are human-sized and reasonably priced, topping out at $10 with a drink.
Location: Robson Square – Weekdays 11:00-15:00. – Check tacofino.com for more information.
Tacos, tacos, and more tacos, made ridiculously well, with great ingredients. The Tacofino Taco Truck, is a bright orange vehicle, which specializes in producing great fish tacos, the “must-eat” chocolate Diablo cookie, and other Baja-style dishes. Owner Kaeli Robinsong, recently launched the Blue Burrito Truck as well, serving a wide variety of burritos. Prices range from $2.50 up to $15.00 depending on the food item and how fancy you want to get with it.
Nu Greek Street
Location: Granville Street – Monday to Saturday – Check www.nurestaurant.com for more information.
Great Greek food is heavenly. Nu Greek Street, which is the street vendor offshoot of the restaurant, Nu, is definitely getting it right. Very tasty homemade pita bread, impeccably prepared meat, and fresh veggies, combine to make this street cart stand out. They also offer a vegetarian pita that has received high marks. Prices are very reasonable and range from $3 – $6.50. Be prepared to wait in line a bit. It is well worth it.
Other Places to Mingle
If standing on the street to eat is not quite your cup of tea, there are also some great alternative eateries housed in more traditional settings. For coffee and tea aficionados, take a moment to visit the newly opened, Revolver, at 325 Cambie Street. If you are looking for a more laid-back, “get together with friends” vibe, check out, Rumpus Room at 2689 Main St. They combine great food with board games and movie nights, among other offerings. For those who want to see and be seen, make a beeline for Sanafir at 1026 Granville Street. The delicious Mediterranean cuisine and ambiance make Sanafir the king of hipster nightspots.
Whether you like your food on the go, or want to sit down and mingle, Vancouver has something for everyone. Vancouver’s traditional restaurant and food cart communities, have grown exponentially. It will be interesting to see what culinary fusions evolve out of the city’s eclectic food scene, and even more interesting to sample them.