Following a recent visit to Canada’s west coast, MD Felicity ponders the street food movement in Vancouver
One thing Wills and Kate won’t have had the chance to do this week in Canada is taste the delights of the exploding street food movement!
Vancouver really is at the vanguard of this phenomena, with the newly renovated Robson Square hosting a feast of food trucks and many operators offering food truck tours of the city.
These trucks offer a veritable cornucopia of tastes and styles from almost every corner of the world – Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Malay and Chinese and many trucks fusing Pacific west coast gems with dumplings, dipping pots and noodles. You could stay in Vancouver for a week, eat like a king and never step inside a restaurant.
One of the most popular trucks on Robson Square as testified by the constant long line, represents a further development in the street food movement with the ‘roll out’ of the Tacofino brand. Yes, roll out. The original orange Tacofino truck resides in the back of a car park in the village of Tofino, the surfing paradise on the north west coast of Vancouver Island – a two-hour ferry ride and three-hour drive from Van city.
Tacofino must be one of the original street food operators and is an institution amongst locals, tourists and surfers – who drip across the road after a tough morning in the waves, queue for up to an hour, slake their hunger and thirst and retreat back to the waves. Why is this unassuming truck a true taste of foodie heaven?
It boils down to two things – wonderful, Baja inspired, fresh food and exquisite flavours and superb customer service – no wonder they are expanding to Vancouver, Victoria and beyond.
The menu is simple, concentrating on tacos, burritos and gringas, alongside a refreshing choice of slushy type drinks. The tacos burst with freshness – lightly battered fresh fish bites, with fresh tomato salsa style sauce and salad leaves served in lightly floured soft tacos. Every mouthful is just sublime. The burritos are huge, designed to satisfy the surfer dude appetite and defeat ordinary mortals, packed with tasty fresh ingredients.
Most punters would balk at standing in line for an hour, first to make an order and then to wait for their order to be cooked (spare a though for the hero crew in the tiny truck kitchen), but it’s all part of the authentic Tacofino experience. A whacky head pops out of the driver’s window to take your order, effortlessly chatting to every customer, seeming to revel in every order. Taking cards helps on the practical side – lunch for five is great value but still eats cash. Upselling slips in but is done in such a way that it just seems like friendly advice – feeling hungry? Then you might like two tacos, isn’t it hot today have you tried our refreshing coolers? (the Lime and Mint was divine).
Tacofino represents all that is best about the street food movement – but can its essence truly be replicated? I hope so – roll on and roll out Tacofino.