Photo by Winston Wong
Foodie Tour of Vancouver’s Food Carts & Food Trucks
5 food stops, 4 sandwiches, 3 food carts, 2.5 hours, 1 full foodie day!
After a year of hibernation, Foodie Tour is back up and running, and this time it’s running with restaurants on heels, I mean wheels… I was the one in heels! Anyways Foodie Tour is introducing a tour of Vancouver’s food carts and food trucks!
With over thirty food carts in Metro Vancouver, it’s impossible to hit them all in one tour over 2.5 hours. So creator and host of Foodie Tour, Michelle Ng, has selected five of her favourites in downtown Vancouver and is taking locals and tourists to go try them out.
Photo by Winston Wong
I was invited to attend the media launch for the Vancouver Foodie Cart Tour which included a visit to five food carts and samples of their signature item. For the average person you’ll probably be full at the third stop, but if you can really eat, you’ll make it to all 5 and be pretty full at the end.
You eat about half a sandwich at each stop so the food is substantial, especially since most food carts specialize in a couple things and all are considered as “mains”. However you are walking from location to location and it is over 2.5 hours, so there’s time for digestion and it’s all spaced out. On the other hand, the food carts and trucks are in close proximity of each other so the walk is easy. This is a “foodie tour” though, so this format is expected.
Since I only tried one sample sized item at each cart, I’m not going to go into much detail about the food, well not as much as my usual at least. The tour showcased some of the diversity in Vancouver’s food carts, and there were a couple that I can’t wait to go revisit.
Tickets for the Foodie Cart Tour are $50/person. I do find it pricey, but it is an experience and you do get to meet people and learn about the carts and trucks. The tour is conducted in groups of 15 people max, so it’s more of an activity than it is about finding value in just the food alone. You also get a Very Important Foodie Card (VIF Card) card which lets you enjoy small perks and privileges at a few selected establishments and food trucks. For tickets and more information see here.
All photos are courtesy of Sherman unless otherwise noted.
Photo by Winston Wong
La Brasserie Street
The first stop was La Brasserie Street, and it ended up being my favourite of the five we visited. The La Brasserie Street food cart stems from the semi-casual Franco-German restaurant La Brasserie on Davie Street. Therefore I was prepared for some bratwurst, ham hocks and suckling pig, but instead I was surprised to find only one sandwich on the menu, the Brass Chicken Sandwich. This was a gourmet chicken sandwich though and it honestly made me forget about their pork specialties.
This is also the only food cart out of the five we visited offering dessert… bonus! It’s such an easy money maker and I don’t know why so few trucks offer it.
Nonetheless with every food cart we visited after this one, I couldn’t help but to reminisce about this glorious chicken sandwich. I’m going in full detail with this sandwich because I enjoyed it so much and nothing was altered.
- Beer brined rotisserie chicken in gravy, on a buttermilk bun, topped with crispy onions $6.25
- If I had a grandma who made Sunday night dinners, this is what I would hope would show up on my plate.
- It reminded me of Thanksgiving dinners or a chicken pot roast, but in sandwich form.
- It was a super soft and fluffy buttermilk bun that was almost like a brioche.
- To contrast the airy light bun was a mound of delicious crispy fried onions which always makes everything taste better. I did wish they were a bit more seasoned though.
- If it had crispy onions AND crispy house made bacon bits… this would be a pee in your pants exciting sandwich! I was borderline…
Photo by Winston Wong
- The filling was just pouring out and the ratio to bread was ideal.
- It was a plentiful amount of juicy, moist, shredded, tender chicken bathing in an intense chicken gravy that was perfectly seasoned.
- The gravy was made with wonderful chicken juices and oils, but it wasn’t greasy, oily or too heavy, but still rich.
- The chicken was infused with the fragrant piney scent of rosemary which wasn’t overpowering, but noticeable.
- The sandwich was warm and almost just melted in your mouth with little chew.
- All it was missing was mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and the other half of the sandwich.
- This was hearty comfort food at its best and it’s reasonably priced too!
- It’s the biggest mess since it’s quite saucy, drippy and soft, but so worth it. I warn you, a nap may be in order after this.
- I will certainly come back again for a full sandwich and highly recommend this!
- $1.79 (Not included on public Foodie Tour)
- Put the “World’s Best” in front of anything and expectations will rise ten fold.
- I’m not huge on butter tarts, but I’ll eat them if they’re there. I think these are out sourced.
- It was very good, creamy and smooth, not too sweet and heavy with maple syrup and rich buttery caramel flavours.
- It wasn’t too oily or sticky which I liked as well, but the shortbread crust was a bit hard and not as tender, crumbly, flavourful or thin as I like.
- I personally like butter tarts with raisins and nuts in them too, but for what it was, these were still very good.
Photo by Winston Wong
I think this is the must try food cart just because the Vancouver food cart craze pretty much started with Japadog. It’s Vancouver’s most successful food cart and the most recognized, even in the States.
As a tourist I think it has to be on the list of food carts to tour, and in fact I always bring tourists here just because it’s usually new for them to try. On the other hand, as a local, the chances are you’ve already tried a Japadog and the hype has died, so you might not be as excited to see this on the list. It’s a solid hot dog and generally a local favourite, so it’s the obvious choice. To see my full post on Japadog – see here.
- Most highly prized pork! Kurobuta 100% pure all natural Berkshire pork. Kurobuta is the Kobe beef of pork. $6.47 Including tax $7.45
- It was a 6/6 for me when it first hit the food scene, but now it’s just a hot dog with Japanese toppings, but still very good.
- The hype has dwindled and the prices increased so you look at it differently.
- This is their most popular hot dog and it’s my favourite one.
- For me the wasabi mayo is a must on this Terimayo hot dog.
- It’s quite a standard and juicy beef hot dog, marinated with Teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, sweet onions and shredded nori.
- It’s Vancouver’s award winning hot dog, but with all the variety we have in food carts now, it’s just not my first choice anymore.
- To see more of their hot dogs see my full Japadog post here.
It’s the most affordable food cart in Vancouver, which is surprisingly a rare find. At $4.50 for a sandwich enough for two people, it’s easily a great choice for “cheap eats”. However if you’ve had a Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi) before, or you’re a veteran banh mi eater, then you probably know where to get it for cheaper and better.
That being said, I can be sold on enthusiasm and young entrepreneurs, and that’s what the creators and operators of this food cart represent. What I actually appreciated the most was that it was one out of two food carts we visited that didn’t have a “fancy” restaurant name, or brand, backing it up, the other was The Kaboom Box.
From a “foodie” perspective, yes it gets better, but if you’re looking for convenience and what does the job, this will do the job. On the other hand there is the very hidden hole in the wall called Sushi Yoko Cho that’s selling banh mi just a 1 minute walk away from Bun Me Baguette. They’re only $3.75 there too, but I haven’t tried them yet.
- The classic cluckers banh mi! Stuffed with our lemongrass seasoned juicy chicken and drizzled with out special sauce. Combined with a rich eggy mayo, crunchy cucumber, fresh cilantro, and crisp and refreshing pickled carrots and daikons, this wicked sandwich will make your mouth water.
- You can select your spice level and I highly recommend adding the jalapeno and hot sauce to the baguette, or it’s very average.
- The banh mi was not bad here, and the buns are baked fresh daily, but the flavours were very mild compared to most, and the vegetables weren’t pickled enough.
- It’s a crunchy crusty baguette and the lemongrass marinade was light and I actually couldn’t taste any rich eggy mayo.
- The chicken were pieces of chicken thigh and at times it was a bit fatty for me with a little bit of the gelatinous skin still on.
- The hot sauce (sriracha sauce) really makes it. It’s a great sauce, but it shouldn’t necessarily make the sandwich either.
It was a break from the meat and bread, but not from the carbs, and it was on to potatoes! I probably would have rather sampled one of their sandwiches though and I didn’t find what they showcased, the poutine, as a highlight here. I just felt like I had the “best sellers” from every other food cart, and then here I was just trying one of their sides, which is not the star of the show or representative of The Kaboom Box.
The Kaboom Box was the only cart that was so focused on local and sustainable ingredients and materials though, so I did appreciate the visit for that reason. Had we tried a sandwich I probably would have enjoyed this stop even more.
I have been to The Kaboom Box before, which was previously called Fresh Local Wild – see my post here. On the other hand, my post needs an update because although the menu is almost the same, the chefs have changed, and I feel that the food has as well, at least the poutine has.
Just an added note, but all their sandwiches are $7.25 now, which includes their Fried Oyster Po Boy Sandwich, Venison burger and the popular hot Smoked Salmon Burger.
- Made with local mixed mushroom gravy and real white cheddar curds $5.36
- The fries were quite regular, but crispy and seasoned, and the cheese curds were imported from Quebec, but they weren’t squeaky.
- They weren’t the fresh cheese curds and they melted really easily so they were just plain White Cheddar cheese curds as opposed to “real” cheese curds used for traditional poutine.
- The vegetarian mushroom gravy was quite good and creamy with some celery flavour in the background, but it needed more mixed mushrooms.
- I actually wanted to ask for a side of this mushroom gravy and go back to La Brasserie for another Brass Chicken Sandwich and pour the mushroom gravy on that!
Granville St & W Georgia St
Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
This was easily my second favourite of the tour. I’m not sure if it was a great way to end because I was getting pretty full, but if I had known I would have certainly paced myself better to thoroughly enjoy it.
The Nu Greek Street food cart is under the Kambolis Restaurant Group which includes Raincity Grill, C Restaurant and Nu. The Nu Greek Street food cart is obviously the baby of Nu, their casual fine dining Greek restaurant in downtown. With such a big name to carry it, and considering the owner is Greek and many recipes come from his mother, I had high expectations.
At $6.50 for a gourmet Greek wrap I considered it fair. Most of the food and sauces are made at Nu and then finished off and grilled upon order at the cart.
- Chicken, lamb or vegetable $6.50
- The meat is flavourful, moist and good, but it wasn’t the highlight.
- The highlight was the pita which could stand on its own. It’s an amazing pita!
- The pita is super soft with an almost flaky exterior and it reminded of Indian naan without the spices. It carried its own flavour too.
- It was a good thickness, tender and chewy, and even a bit fluffy, and they’re half prepared at the restaurant and finished up on the grill at the cart.
- There were some fresh tomatoes, onions and tzatziki (ask for a good amount of the tzatziki).
- The tzatziki is creamy, refreshing and tangy, but it wasn’t thick with Greek yogurt, although still very flavourful and balanced with fresh cucumbers mixed in.
- They could honestly sell just the pita with their house made tzatziki and I would buy it, and they do for $4!