After an exhausting morning cheering on runners during the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, I was excited to head over towards the Olympic Village for the first Food Cart Fest of the summer.
Now in its second year, the Food Cart Fest has two major changes in place for 2013: a new location at 215 West First Avenue, and a new $2 admission fee.
I like the new location, a convenient 10-minute walk across the Cambie Bridge from Yaletown and with easy access by public transit. Note that you enter the site from the Seawall, not First Avenue. The former Waldorf Hotel location had a cooler vibe, but I only made it there once last year largely due to it being just a bit too far out of the way.
The addition of a nominal $2 admission fee is interesting. Although I’ve heard some grumblings on the internet (shocking!) about being charged an entry fee just for the privilege of paying more to eat at food carts that are accessible elsewhere during the week, I was willing to withhold judgement to see if that fee provides any added value.
There were some tents, chairs and tables provided (but not enough), as well as a DJ (too loud!). The $2 apparently wasn’t a deterrent, as the site was comfortably full and some of the lines ridiculously long. I hope the organizers are able to adjust to the crowds and bring in a bit more infrastructure as the summer progresses.
Speaking of lines, can we all agree to a standard procedure for food cart queuing? Preferably one that allows for lines to wrap around the cart instead of impeding access for people just trying to walk through? My suggestion: line-ups for ordering on the right side of the cart, waiting area for already-placed orders on the left side of the cart.
Now for the food! We decided to divide and conquer: I headed to the Juice Truck for a refreshing beverage while the hubby got into the very long line for Reel Mac and Cheese. Decided to branch out from my usual pick of the Strawberry Coconut Smoothie, but sadly wasn’t a fan of the Aloe Green juice. The “Run Fatboy Run” deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls with extra bacon were creamy-crunchy-awesomeness.
For our second course, we popped across to the Soho Road truck. A large crowd of people but no actual line. We finally figured out that you could push your way through to the cart and order, but would it be so hard to leave a clear path so that’s obvious? We ordered the mango chicken naan kebab, and although we had to wait about 25 minutes for it to be ready, it was worth the wait with a great combination of sweet and spicy flavours. (Fun fact: I wrote this profile of Soho Road’s owner Sarb Mund.)
Dessert time! Yolk’s is typically serves up inventive breakfast options, but we wanted an iced latte and the beignets, which were served up with powdered sugar and a vanilla anglaise dipping sauce. So. Freaking. Good. The beignets were light and fluffy, and I’m only somewhat ashamed to admit that I shot back the leftover dipping sauce.
The verdict? Everything we ate was delicious, but we spent a little over two hours total in line for four dishes. I see the Food Cart Fest being an occasional indulgence for an afternoon when I’m not going to mind the long waits in line. Definitely not the pop-over-the-bridge-to-grab-a-quick-lunch option I’d hoped for…
Did you visit the Food Cart Fest? What was your favourite truck or item?