Winter has finally given way to warmer weather, and that can only mean one thing: the food trucks are back!
Once an anomaly — the capital region didn’t pick up on the trend until about six years ago — street food has become synonymous with Edmonton’s endless summer days.
And we aren’t just talking hot dogs (though we have no beef with a juicy frank). Whether you’re in the mood for bannock, wood fired pizza or camel burgers, Edmonton’s diverse food truck scene has got you covered.
“You’re really starting to see a lot of interesting things come out of some of the trucks,” says Diane Lee, co-organizer of What the Truck?!, a not-for-profit that puts on food truck events in Edmonton.
Started by Mack Male and Sharon Yeo in 2011, What the Truck?! aims to celebrate Edmonton’s flourishing food truck culture. The first event of the year will be held Saturday, May 26 on Capital Boulevard (99 Avenue and 108 Street) from 3-8 p.m.
Along with Molly’s Eats, Filistix and The Lingman, Drift Food Truck was one of Edmonton’s earliest mobile eateries.
Noticing a lack of regular curbside service (and a general lack of food options downtown), Kara and Nevin Fenske opted to convert a courier truck into a mobile kitchen. With lower overhead costs and fewer staff, a truck made more financial sense for the husband-and-wife duo than a brick and mortar restaurant. Plus, the phenomenon was picking up steam in other North American markets.
“When we started it was just sort of gaining momentum in the [United] States and on the west coast of Canada,” Kara says. “It was only a matter of time that it started to catch on [in Edmonton].”
While we’re still no match for San Francisco or Portland — the meccas of street food — Edmonton’s food truck culture has grown significantly.
When Drift first fired up the grills in 2011, there were only a handful of food trucks in the area. Now the capital region counts around 100 different mobile eateries — each offering a unique spin on street food.
Here are five to check out this summer:
Yvonne Irnich, owner of DaVinci Gelato, started making gelato when she was 17 years old in Germany. But it took a fire to get her St. Albert business started. After watching a building she was working on go up in flames due to an act of arson, Irnich retired as a project manager and opened her own gelateria. Since launching in May 2015, DaVinci has become a national brand. DaVinci makes gelato the way it was done many decades ago in Italy: from scratch, using only fresh, natural ingredients. With 155 flavours (so far) and new dairy-free/vegan options to choose from, Inrich’s creations are sure to please any palate. Find the truck at the St. Albert Farmers' Market starting June 9.
Must try: Salted caramel gelato.
Curbside brings 30 years of catering expertise to the streets. Mich de Laive, Kim Szalynski, and Todd Rutter, from A Capella Catering, noticed more and more individuals using food trucks to cater events and wanted to get in on the action. The eclectic menu is inspired by some of Rutter’s favourite food truck cuisine from across North America — from authentic Texas BBQ to Kauaian beach food to Portland-inspired cart fare. Curbside is also one of the only food trucks that serves breakfast. Next time you’re running late, forgo the bagel and grab a Scotch egg (egg wrapped in Italian sausage, breaded and baked) instead. Find Curbside’s full availability on the Street Food App.
Must try: The Austin Brisket, smoked low and slow for 12 hours on a mix of Ontario oak, Okanagan cherry wood and local birch.
Born in Singapore, Nick Wong grew up eating satay — a Southeast Asian dish consisting of a thin cut of marinated meat on a stick — which he now serves fresh out of his truck The Sizzling Stick. Wong manufactures the meat skewers at the Food Processing and Development Centre in Leduc. The meat is cooked to order using a customized grill. Designed by one of Wong's partners with a background in mechanical engineering, the grill delivers perfectly cooked satay in under two minutes. Try The Sizzling Stick this weekend at What The Truck?! or visit the Street Food App for the truc's full availability.
Must try: Pork satay with a side of fragrant coconut rice and homemade peanut sauce.
Jonathan and Thea Avis were bankrupt and living off their boat in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, when they decided to open Meat Street Pies. After four decades in the food business, misfortune hit the dessert company Jonathan owned and he was left with nothing but his culinary skills. For inspiration the chef turned to his British roots — tweaking the shape of his pies so that they could be eaten like a hamburger. You'll find British classics like steak and kidney, as well as other ethnic pies like tourtière and Jamaican patties. Find Meat Street Pies’ full availability on the Street Food App.
Must try: Steak and cheese pie, made with a healthy serving of Balderson aged cheddar.
Baozi, or bao, is a Chineese steamed bun filled with meat or vegetables. A staple of dim sum, the dish was popularized by New York chef David Chang, who started serving them up taco-style in 2004. It was this modern, deconstructed twist on a childhood favourite that inspired McKenzie Mills to open Kabao. Whether you go with fried chicken, beef brisket (served with gochujang BBQ sauce and horseradish slaw) or Philly cheesesteak, Mills’ baos are Asian fusion at its best. Find Kabao on the corner of 107 Street and 100 Avenue and at the 124 Grand Market. Find the truck’s full availability on the Street Food App.
Must try: Pork belly bao, the bun that started it all.
The companies featured in this story are all proud Edmonton Made businesses. Are you Edmonton Made? You can register for the program here. (It’s free!) Have a story idea for an Edmonton Made company? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.