Food is always with easy reach on the streets of Vancouver, which may well be the food cart capital of the free world. My home town Sydney has followed slowly in its BC cousin’s footsteps in recent years and now has about eight trucks around town. In Vancouver there seems to be one on just about every corner.
James Iranzad, former president of the Street Food Vancouver Society, says the food revolution that’s swept his city began with mayor Gregor Robertson’s drive to improve food choices beyond the staple hot dogs and popcorn: “to provide something more reflective of Vancouver’s ethnic diversity”.
Legislation allowing the expansion of colourful, tasty sidewalk dining was passed in 2010 and an expert panel now assesses all vendor applications. “It’s all about great food under 10 minutes and under $10”, says James.
There are more than 100 vendors, carts and trucks registered but not all are operating. Those that are can be most easily tracked down using the Street Food Vancouver smartphone app.
Most carts have fixed spots around the city’s core, particularly along Robson and Burrard streets, and these carts do an especially brisk lunchtime trade as hungry workers stream out of the surrounding office blocks.
Mobile food trucks can’t operate within the Downtown area but have the advantage of being able to pitch at prime suburban locations including beaches and provide food at events and private functions.
The food cart style of casual, impromptu munching seems to suit the times and everyone’s tastes. It’s popular enough that, at one time, it prompted some entrepreneurs to offer an “Eat your Cart Out” city tour during which punters sank their teeth into a range of sidewalk dishes such as slow-smoked pulled pork sandwiches, pan-Asian tapas, bacon every-which-way, short ribs, soups, tuna tacos, hot smoked salmon sandwiches, perogy, pupusas and fajita wraps. Burp!
* There is currently a “World’s Best Food Truck Tour” available weekdays at 11am through Tour Guys Vancouver