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Food Trucks North of 60

Food Trucks North of 60

The foodie revolution has arrived in the Arctic. Food trucks are taking Northerners to wild, new culinary frontiers--even in places where the actual trucks have to be shipped up because there are no roads in or out.
By Up Here
Jul 27
2015
From the August 2015 Issue

From Thai to tacos, poutine to pulled pork, spring rolls to smoothies, these food trucks add new menu choices for a few months each summer where dining options are often slim. Here's your Northern food truck guide: 

›› Dawson City

Aloha Tacos

Here’s something you didn’t see during the Klondike Gold Rush: Hawaiian-inspired fusion tacos for sale right in the heart of Dawson City’s dusty, boardwalk-lined, historic downtown. Georgia Hammond and Aloha’s two other co-owners do their own baked beans and sauces in-house, smoke their pork and chicken, and garnish their tacos with home-grown herbs and tomatoes whenever possible. There are smoked pork   and veggie tacos every day, and chicken and fish options alternate throughout the week. –Eva Holland

Location: 2nd Ave. between Princess and Queen

Hours: Weekdays, 11-8, and Saturdays, 11-3

Price: $10 for two tacos, $4 to add a choice of two sides

Holy mole: The BBQ chicken mole tacos are a delight, topped with pineapple, pepitas, shredded cabbage, sour cream and a homemade jalapeno chimichurri.

At Aloha Tacos in Dawson City, the ingredients--from the smoked pork to the baked beans--are made in house. Photo Eva Holland

 

›› Whitehorse

Alligator’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Last fall, Alison Pakula bought a trailer, planning to sell… something. Several friends suggested grilled cheese (thank you, several friends) and that’s all the convincing she needed. “You can make it as interesting as you want,” she says, which is why she offers the classic favourite as well as more complex creations like the “Pink Lady,” a marinated beet and chevre pairing, or “the Ukrainian,” loaded with kielbasa, sauerkraut, and cheddar. –EH

Location: Waterfront wharf

Hours: Weekdays, 8-4, and Saturdays 10-6 (while supplies last)

Price: $5.50 for a plain grilled cheese, $7 to $9 for more elaborate options

Kraut-pleaser: Pakula bakes all her sandwich bread in-house, makes her own sauerkraut, and when local basil is in season, she makes the pesto from scratch.

The Silver Bindi offers up Indian-style food on weekdays at Whitehorse's Rotary Park. Photo Eva Holland

The Silver Bindi

With two basic choices, Vanessa Younker’s tiny trailer boasts Whitehorse’s smallest menu. Every day, she serves up a meat as well as a vegetarian curry, with helpings of rice, naan, and house-made daal and raita. You can’t go wrong either way.  And with gluten- and hormone-free options, this is sure to be a staple for Whitehorse’s eco-conscious set. –EH

Location: Rotary Park

Hours: Weekdays, 11-2

Price: $12 for choice of curry with sides

Dragon’s delight: Along with Younker’s home-cooked offerings, she and co-owner Kyle Marchuk ship up some of their curries from a famous source: Vancouver-based restaurateur Vikram Vij, of Dragon’s Den fame.

Garlic A GoGo's "crack fries" -- topped with feta, tzatziki, herbs and garlic can be found in downtown Whitehorse. Photo Eva Holland

Garlic A GoGo

When Louis Gagnon’s restaurant, The Kebabery, closed its doors more than three years ago, he put his Mediterranean and Middle Eastern eatery on wheels. “Nobody in town was doing it,” he says. His converted 1974 Winnebago motorhome, shining silver and flying the Greek flag, has been working the streets of downtown Whitehorse for four summers now—and sometimes in winter too. He’s weathered battles with hostile restaurateurs and navigated the maze of city politics, all in the name of pita, valiantly paving the way for the Yukon’s food truck scene. Opa! –EH

Location: Third Ave. between Main and Steele

Hours: Mon-Wed and Saturday 11:30-3:30; Thursday at the Fireweed Market, 3-8

Price: $8 to $12 for shawarma or falafel wraps or bowls

Most addictive: Try the Greek garlic fries locally known as “crack fries,” they’re smothered in feta, tzatziki, herbs and garlic.

The Thai Box

Shea Hierlihy “really, really likes Thai food.” So do most Whitehorse residents—some have been known to make the two-

hour drive to Skagway, Alaska (across the U.S. border) just to get their fix. So when she and her partner opened for business last summer, their curries and noodles sold like, well, Thai food in Whitehorse. In their first couple weeks, they cleaned all the city’s rice noodles off the shelves. “We’ve bought out three different grocery stores,” says Hierlihy, a Red Seal-certified chef. That calls for Thai-fives all around. –EH

Location: Rotary Park

Hours: Weekdays, 11:30-2

Price: $11 to $12 for noodle and curry dishes

Hot deal: Pad thai is the obvious choice here, right?

 

›› Yellowknife

Gastown Grill

On the road out of town, the Gastown Grill lets you gas up and chow down. The silver trailer (we checked: it’s road-worthy, with North Carolina licence plates no less) serves up traditional diner fare like burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and wraps. There’s ice cream too. Get there early—the pulled pork was sold-out just before 1 p.m. We went with the BBQ Chicken Burger, which was juicy, nicely seasoned and topped with tomatoes and pickles. It was simple and held together well in the 25C heat. The real story is the poutine though: they use real (big) cheese curds, hand cut fries, and the gravy isn’t too thick and starchy, but not runny either. It’s just right. –Daniel Campbell/Herb Mathisen

Location: Gastown parking lot, Old Airport Road

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8-6, Saturday, 11-3

Price: $11 for a burger or pulled pork sandwich

Early riser? There's a big breakfast menu with burritos and omelettes and hotdogs wrapped in bacon.

Bannock balls from Murray's Curbside Treats 'N Eats: bannock doused in maple syrup with bacon crumbles. Photo Hannah Eden

The Fresh Squeeze

From a jaunty, not quite schoolbus-yellow trailer, Sia’s “Chandelier” blasts through a pair of speakers, as Jarrett Vornbrock takes orders for earthy-tasting juices like “The Mean Green” (spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, lemon and Gala apple) and more indulgent treats such as “Tropical Storm” (peach, mango, pineapple, strawberry, banana juice and frozen yogurt). Jennifer, his older sister, masterminded the menu. But her greatest source of pride is Jarrett: he’s now one of the top MMA fighters in the flyweight category (57 kg and below) in Canada. How does he stay so fit? The Mean Green, Just Beet It, Strictly Oranges, and Orange Jubilee. –Samia Madwar

Location: 50th Ave. and 52nd St.

Hours: Weekdays, 10-4

Price: $7.25-$10.75 for drinks, $12-$14 for sliders and wraps

You complete me: Add some sliders—Moroccan white bean with creamy avocado sauce are a fave—for a full meal.

Murray's Curbside Treats 'N Eats moves around a lot, but Yellowknifers follow. Photo Hannah Eden

Murray’s Curbside Treats ‘N Eats

Four local students play upbeat fiddle music on a Franklin Avenue sidewalk, but no one’s dancing—the lunch-rush crowd is focused on Murray Jones as he serves up comfort food from his bright red trailer. “The menu changes every day,” with the exception of Taco Friday, says Jones. And whatever the main selections are that day—it could be a burger, or fish tacos, or a smoked meat sandwich—try a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade to wash it all down. Jones takes full advantage of his mobile kitchen and often changes location to follow the crowd—including weekend trips to Fred Henne beach. –Laura Busch

Location: Roving

Hours: Weekdays 11-2; weekends at the beach, 1-8

Price: $4 for lemonade, $6-$7 for appies, $8-$12 for mains

Mmm... Bannock: Whenever “Bannock Balls”—deep-fried nuggets of salty frybread offset with a maple sauce and topped with crumbled bacon—are on offer, friendly foodies send out alerts via social media. Downtown office workers respond accordingly.

One of a Thai's probably got the best looking food truck North of 60--and the food ain't half bad either. Photo Hannah Eden

One of a Thai

Yellowknife’s best Thai is dished out of a brand spankin’ new bold, ornate red truck (It’s the only food truck in town that isn’t a trailer). For more than four years, Sousanh Chanthalangsy and family have been serving out pad thai noodles with coconut curry chicken skewers, spicy papaya salad, homemade sweet chili pork meatballs and their crunchy spring rolls. The menu is always changing, so expect a surprise. –Katie Weaver

Location: Changes as often as the menu. Lately, in the Visual Effects parking lot

Hours: Weekdays 11:30-2

Price: Generally $13 to $15

Not for the weak: The papaya salad is seriously spicy. Seriously.

Starvin Marvin

“Rice or barley?” asks the affable Elena Rauch from her tiny green trailer, tucked in a corner of a Kam Lake parking lot about as far from downtown Yellowknife as you can get. What’s barley? “Nobody knows what barley is!” she exclaims, before explaining the grain’s many health benefits. I order a plate stacked with hearty meatballs, salad… and barley, and sit down to eat. No stranger to the North, Rauch is from Eastern Russia near Alaska. She leans on the counter, playfully engaging in banter with some regulars. “People come here sometimes and ask if I have fries.” She shakes her head. “No,” then smiles: “Go to McDonalds.” I get up to grab a napkin to wipe some sauce off my face. “How’s the barley?” I don’t know what I’d do without it. –HM

Location: Corner of Enterprise Drive and Taltheilei Drive 

Hours: Weekdays, 11-1

PRICE: $14 for a big plate of meatballs, salad, rice (or barley!); $6 for a Russian sandwich

Namesake: “My husband comes home and always says ‘I’m starvin like Marvin,’” she says.

Wiseguy Foods

Chef Robin Wasicuna serves up arguably the best burger in the NWT capital. His most famous offering? The Numbnuts, featuring a hearty patty with homemade peanut butter, mayonnaise and bacon jam, accompanied by his wife Karen’s cheery “Enjoy your Numbnuts today!” with every order. The condiments tend to drip out, but that’s what the tater tot sides are for. Some more must-try options from this comfort food connoisseur: the “L’il Kim” burger with homemade kimchi and the “El Hombre,” a not-too-spicy chile burger.  –KW

Location: Outside the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre

Hours: Weekdays, 11 until they sell out—usually before 1:30

Price: Burgers are $11

Take it or leave it: There are no amendments on Chef Robin’s creations—so don’t ask.

Saffron

The latest addition to the city’s food truck scene is quickly currying up favour with locals by offering authentic Indian cuisine, like butter chicken, curries, veggie pakora and samosa. So far, they’ve received warm welcomes and advice from the other downtown food trucks. “We’re all so different from each other that there isn’t really any competition,” says Mitu Nahar, who owns the business with husband Mohammed. “I mean, we’re competing, just not with each other.” –LB

Location: Along Franklin Ave.

Hours: Wed-Fri, 11-3

Price: $13 for a main course

Best seller: The butter chicken is subtle, yet delicious.

 

›› Iqaluit

Curbside Grill sets up shop outside the Baffin Gas Bar in Iqaluit and offers residents menu items made from scratch daily. Photo Peter Thuell

Curbside Grill

Curbside is the city’s newest food truck, and it gives you options. Lots of them. Burritos, quesadillas and wraps, assorted poutine varieties and even chicken cordon bleu. Chef Brian Czar puts together his menu items from scratch every day. Curbside is clearly the most popular truck in Iqaluit right now based on the daily lineups and word of mouth—owners Hailu Hunde and Solomon Chekol have made sure there’s something for everyone. Want something spicy? Try the ‘911 Poutine.’ Jalapenos provide a wallop, with thick-sliced handmade potato chips (a refreshing change from French fries) and sausage smothered in lip-smacking gravy. –Peter Thuell

Location: Outside of the Baffin Gas Bar

Hours: Mon-Thurs, 11:30-8, Fri-Sat, 11:30-midnight

Price: Two menu items will generally run you just over $20

Must-eat: Try the cheesy, perfectly-cooked cordon bleu.

Asian pork spring rolls, fries and a taco bowl from Kulu's makes for a mighty goodnight snack after a night at the Legion in Iqaluit. Photo Peter Thuell

Kulu’s

Kulu’s has been around since 2009, making it Iqaluit’s longest-running food truck. But that doesn’t mean its menu is stale—owner Tom McCormack is always adding new items to keep hungry Iqalungmiut coming back for more. Kulu’s poutine is full of gooey cheese curds so sticky the gravy clings with every bite. Asian pork spring rolls are a welcomed addition to the menu, and the taco bowl, filled with seasoned ground beef and crowned with melted cheese and sauce, makes a great light snack. –PT

Location: In front of Nakasuk School, late nights outside the Legion

Hours: Sat, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Fri-Sat, 9 p.m.-3 a.m.

Price: $9.50 per taco bowl, $11 for Asian pork spring rolls and fries

Legion-dary: It’s worth the wait in line after bar close at Iqaluit’s rowdiest hotspot.

You'll find Kulu's in front of Nakasuk School during the day, and outside the Legion late at night catching the after-bar crowd. Photo Peter Thuell

Nanook Express

Poutine is the signature dish of Iqaluit’s food truck scene, as you’ve likely noticed, and the vendors all compete for the best one. So who’s got the best fries, gravy and cheese curd combo in town? For our money, it’s Dallas Letemplier, who serves up a blessedly balanced classic poutine that’s not too salty, not too soggy. Nanook also does it with an East Coast twist: rich and aromatic French fries topped with Newfoundland dressing (think turkey stuffing) and gravy. The savoury herbs bring a festive note to the dish and kick up the flavour profile. –PT

Location: In the parking lot of Nakasuk School

Hours: Saturdays, 11-8

Price: $9 for poutine

Cheese please: Tender, juicy and dripping with goodness, the cheeseburger with all the fixings does everything a fast food burger should.