Yesterday was the first What The Truck?! event of 2015 and the first thing that comes to my mind to describe it is “crazy”. Crazy lines, crazy amounts of delicious food, and a crazy feel-good vibe in Edmonton’s Sir Winston Churchill Square. I was able to enjoy the evening with Joe, Diane, Jody and Andrew and with the goal of getting as much food as we could with minimal wait times, we were ready to hit the trucks! Read on for a recap of my night if you missed out and some strategic tips for upcoming What The Truck?! events.What The Truck?! has come a long way since its first event in 2011. With inspiration from San Francisco’s Off The Grid, organizers Sharon Yeo and Mack Male thought, why couldn’t this be done in Edmonton? An event to gather some of the best food trucks Edmonton and area has to offer, filled with music, excitement, and a chance for people to socialize outdoors and just have a good time. Having been to Off the Grid twice now, I can say that What The Truck?! has far surpassed that event. It was absolutely amazing to see people flock to the downtown core for the event. Lines were already forming among the 25 food trucks, well before the 4PM opening time and the buzz in the air was contagious. With over 100 menu items to choose from, strolling into What The Truck?! this time around would guarantee you a long wait time. Our team (yes, that’s right, we had a mission) had the plan of dividing and conquering – a common strategy I’m sure. Menus and a site map were provided online which helped us tremendously. We had already figured out what trucks we wanted to hit and which items to grab. The best part about What The Truck?! is the amount of food trucks available all at one site. We figured this was the best opportunity to try new trucks, all seemingly placed in the center of the square.
Joe was sent off to Jimmy Poblano’s Southwest Cantina to get us some chimichangas! He was the first to report back to a table Andrew and I were saving under the shade. The chimichangas were delicious, our favourite being the Chile Verde Chimichanga, a tender pork shoulder simmered in green chiles, and Alley Kat ale, cheese, and Mexican rice rolled into a flour tortilla, lightly fried and topped with New Mexican green and red chile sauces (Christmas style). The Machaca Beef Mini Chimichanga slow roasted beef’s flavour was less prominent for us but yummy nevertheless.
As soon as Joe was able to save the table, I joined up with Diane in the overwhelming Chedda’ Heads line. Over twenty people deep at our arrival at 3:45PM, the line moved surprisingly quick. Kudos to the truck for the speedy service, and allowing credit card payments to boot! While I held Diane’s spot and ready to order, she jumped over next door to The Spice Rickshaw’s to order as their line wasn’t as prominent. A run down of the food once we reassembled at the table – the Cape Malay Chicken Bunny Chow, Chaat Papdi, and Pav Bhaji from The Spice Rickshaw. We all loved the Pav Bhaji, a fusion Indo-Portuguese buttery potato dish with a side of toasted Portuguese bun. There was a bit of confusion with payments and at pick up but for their first day of service on a truck, I thought The Spice Rickshaw did a fairly good job!
Chedda Heads’ Hellbent, Easy Tiger, and Rearview Mirror were all up for grabs. The Hellbent raised a lot of eyebrows but ended up being a hit! Sweet Chili Heat Doritos added a great crunch to the sandwich, and the fresh avocados with the three cheese blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss made for an even creamier bite. The Easy Tiger featured a smoked brisket, bacon fat sautéed brussel sprouts with Monterrey Jack and mozzarella cheese. My personal favourite, the Rearview Mirror featured purely cheddar, slices of crisp Granny Smith apples, bacon, and maple syrup. I don’t know how much more Canadian than you can get and I loved the sweet and salty flavour profile of the grilled cheese! All orders came with a side of chips and Kosher style dill pickle, much to Joe’s delight. Chedda’ Heads easily won best food truck for our table for the night!
While we were enjoying our first round, Andrew and Joe were sent to replace Jody who was patiently waiting at the Jeepney Jaytee line. Photo-taking completed and a few bites of round one, I quickly joined the two guys to join the fun. Jeepney Jaytee’s crowd consisted mostly of Filipino food devotees and it felt like I was at a large Filipino BBQ arranged in a line. The girls in front of us ordered $70 worth of Pork Isaw skewers, a comfort to know that boiled then grilled large pork intestines were the right thing to order. They were delicious! A must-order especially for anybody who’s never tried it, and a familiar texture to those who have tried the Chinese BBQ varieties. The Pork BBQ marinade was sweeter compared to the Pork Isaw, and the Sisig Tacos had good flavours although not worth the one and a half hour total line-up we endured. Breaking the line-ups into pieces definitely made our team a happier bunch though. We all loved the Taho, a sweet soft tofu with pearls (sago) and caramelized pandan sugar (arnibal) and finished off with the Filipino signature, Halo Halo for dessert. The popular Filipino dessert was packed with a mixture of shaved ice, sweetened fruits, jelly, red/white beans, leche flan, signature caramel, pinipig and milk and a delightful way to cool off.
Our dreams of cookie ice cream sandwiches from One Cool Cookie were thwarted as people started lining up right at the same time as getting their main meals. This needed to be a six-man team to handle another truck! But overall, I think our haul was a success with none of us lining up for an excessive amount of time (over 20 minutes) as we switched out spots. The time all of us were together by the end of the meal was enough for all of us to socialize and have a good time over some great food. Good job team! I’ll probably get some flack for this, but I want everybody to be able to enjoy What The Truck?! and not be intimidated by the lone queues. Here are some tips:
Before the event:
[list_item icon=”iconic-ok-circle”] Assemble your team. The more people you have, the more trucks you can hit, although it’s also harder to coordinate. A team of 5 – 6 people seemed to work well for us.[/list_item]
[list_item icon=”iconic-pencil“] Strategize. Take a look at the menu and the site map, usually online at What The Truck?! and plan! Choose your trucks and your menu items. Set up a meet-up place and arrive early![/list_item]
[list_item icon=”iconic-stop“] Prepare. Check the weather, bring water/drinks, chairs and blankets if you want to sit on green space. Bring cash (small bills, preferable!).[/list_item]
At the event:
[list_item icon=”iconic-pin“] Meet-Up. You’re all ready to roll and chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed by the crowds. Set up your space or scout for tables and hold the fort. Ideally, the person in charge of the truck with the shortest (predicted) line can hold the table or area. [/list_item]
[list_item icon=”iconic-resize-full-alt“] Divide and conquer! Whoever orders and picks up first can come back to hold the table/space while the other switches out somebody in another line! [/list_item]
[list_item icon=”iconic-trash“] Clean Up. Make sure you clean up after yourselves. Trash and recycling bins are everywhere, any way you can help keep the space clean, do so. [/list_item]
Basically, we always had somebody in line, some food, and people switching in and out. Going early left us enough time to enjoy the event and socialize! Do you have a strategy? Let me know your best tips in the comments below!
Hats off to the What The Truck?! team, Sharon, Mack, Caleng, Su, Katherine, Mikhaila, and Melina; to the volunteers; and of course, to the amazing food trucks that Edmonton is so lucky to have! I’m so happy to see the event expand and become such a success. Having a downloadable menu and map was super helpful and love the fact that the event is so accessible to people, with no entry fees.
You can visit What The Truck?! online, subscribe to their email, like their Facebook Page and follow their Twitter for news and upcoming events. Next one is set for Sunday, June 14, 2015 at Capital Boulevard, 11A-3P.
[button url=’https://www.facebook.com/whatthetruckyeg’ target=’_blank’ icon=’social-facebook’]What The Truck?! Edmonton[/button][button url=’https://twitter.com/whatthetruckyeg’ target=’_blank’ icon=’social-twitter’]@whatthetruckyeg[/button]