Restaurant: Guanaco Truck
Cuisine: Latin American/Food Truck
Last Visited: January 27, 2013
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: Burrard & West Pender Street (map)
Transit: Burrard Skytrain
Phone: (604) 812-1497
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Salvadoran family owned/operated
- Authentic Salvadoran street food
- First salvadoran mobile food truck in Vancouver
- 100% gluten free menu
- Corn flour tortillas
- Hand made tortillas
- Chef Mama Ana
- Weekly/monthly specials
- Vegetarian option
- Salvadoran drinks
- Limited menu
- Mon-Sun 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
- For locations/hours: @GuanacoTruck
**Recommendations: Pork Pupusas Platter
Well this is something different! In the context of Metro Vancouver, BC and the greater mainland there is very limited Salvadoran cuisine let alone Latin American cuisine. I could probably count them on both hands and I’m not sure how many would be worth visiting. Quite often Salvadoran cuisine is lumped together under the umbrella category of “Latin American”, yet each country in Latin America is very distinct and unique when it comes to their food. Nonetheless everyone takes pride in their national cuisine and it is no different at Guanaco Truck.
I have very limited experience with Salvadoran cuisine so I will comment from the angle of an average customer looking for good affordable food at a food truck. I was exploring Street Food City 2, a food truck festival which takes place during the annual Dine Out Vancouver, and I was introduced and invited to Guanaco Truck for lunch.
It is a Salvadoran family owned and operated food truck specializing in Salvadoran street food which is prepared and cooked by “Mama Ana” who is the heart of the business. She makes the corn tortillas by hand and from scratch just as she would at home. It is the first Salvadoran food truck with authentic Salvadoran food made by Salvadorans, so already that puts it in a category of its own. When it comes to ethnic food like this I always have satisfaction knowing “mom” or grandma is in the kitchen and that’s exactly what I got here.
The 100% gluten free menu (all corn flour) is limited to pupusas and pasteles which are typical street food options in El Salvador. They would rather stay focused on perfecting a couple things than spreading themselves too thin, however monthly specials such as Salvadoran tamales and national dishes are in the works.
Since I am born and raised in Vancouver and have a North American-Asian palate I couldn’t imaging having pupusas and pasteles every day, but I would sure enjoy it once in a while. It is indulgent street food, but it is traditional to El Salvador and they are very approachable items to introduce to the masses in Vancouver. However if I was Latin American or Salvadoran this would be nostalgic comfort food and I would appreciate it on a whole other level. Regardless Guanaco Truck is a fun loving Salvadoran food truck that offers something different and I’m looking forward to more menu options.
On the table:
- All pupusas include savoury refried black beans, mixture of cheeses and deep fried Cassava root. Pork or chicken – $9
- Vegetarian option: Cheese and beans or zucchini. $8.50
- I was recommended to try the pork pupusas which are the house favourite.
- Pupusas are a staple to the Salvadoran diet and they originated in El Salvador.
- In the most basic watered down terms it is comparable to a Mexican quesadilla or Latin “pizza pocket”, but also apples and oranges.
- Pupusas are thicker soft corn tortillas stuffed with meat, beans and cheese and grilled upon order.
- Mama Ana makes all the corn tortillas from scratch.
- This pupusa was almost double the size of a regular one (about 4 inches wide) so it is filling for lunch.
- Most would have 2-3 smaller pupusas for lunch or as a snack, but here they make a giant one likely to keep up with orders and be efficient.
- The pupusa was made upon order and piping hot which is a great sign.
- It is grilled on a flat iron grill while being pressed down by hand to flatten and the filling was very hot.
- These ones were very tender and difficult to pick up so it was a knife and forker. It might be harder to eat on the go.
- People unfamiliar with the food tend to eat everything separately, but everything is meant to be eaten all together.
- You top the pupusa off with pickled curtido (think cole slaw) and spicy fresh tomato salsa which they make both in house.
- It is a vinegar dressed pickled cabbage salad and there is no mayo.
- Typically Salvadoran restaurants have jars of curtido at every table and you help yourself because it is eaten with a lot of richer food.
- After you pile the condiments then you get a bite of a creamy rich super cheesy savoury filling, in a soft tender and doughy corn tortilla.
- It is a fresh acidic crunch of pickled curtido to cut the richness of the ooey gooey filling and then a nice tangy kick from the tomato salsa.
- There were some bell peppers and perhaps cumin, coriander and other warm spices coming from the filing and/or curtido.
- It is mildly spicy and not hot although it could be with additional hot sauce.
- It is really an explosion of flavours and good texture when you get everything in one bite.
- I could have used more meat and less beans and cheese because I couldn’t taste or see much pork.
- Authentic pork pupusas have more pork which is either similar to fried pulled pork or Salvadoran-style chicharrón – finely ground fried pork.
- It had a good amount of filling for a pupusa but I just craved more pork.
- My favourite part was the corn flour tortilla which is a key component to a great pupusa.
- Similar to the photo above, the stuffing for pupusas tend to look like a mushy purée of ingredients especially after the cheese is melted.
- It is quite substantial and heavy, so again I couldn’t eat it all the time but it was still delicious.
- I’ve tried pupusas at other places such as El Caracol in Vancouver too.
- The Yuca Frita is comparable to fries, but they are made from cassava root which is starchier and more fiberous than a potato.
- They were fried crispy on the outside and soft inside and they are very thick, dense and filling, but easily enjoyed by all ages.