Forget run-of-the-mill hot dogs and bags of potato chips. Winnipeg's street food scene is a veritable United Nations of expertly executed ethnic cuisine with some innovative takes on street-food favourites thrown into the mix.
With at least 10 trucks (and several more in the works for August 2012), Winnipeg's mobile food scene has blossomed into a bustling and competitive industry where creative cuisine, out-of-the ordinary eats and a slick truck are a must to survival.
Across North America, food trucks are the hottest thing on four wheels. The Food Network has dedicated an entire television series, Eat Street, to the culture and cuisine of the mobile-food industry. Episodes are devoted to unearthing the best of street food around the States. Winnipeg's food trucks easily stack up against the best in the business.
In Manitoba's capital city, all-beef hot dogs and smokies are just the beginning. The city's street food menu includes Falafel, chicken wings, pizza, tacos and burritos. Deep-fried cajun pickles and banana peppers, pulled pork, perogies and poutine done every way under the sun, are also among many other sidewalk specialties.
Like other North America cities, Winnipeg's food truck industry relies on sunny skies and warm temperatures. This year, the city's first food trucks hit the road in late April, officially launching the street-eats season.
The fleet stays in service typically until mid-to-late September, or as long as the weather holds and the snow doesn't fly. The owner of at least one truck, Pimp my Rice, vows to stay open into October. More will surely follow. That's great news for locals and visitors hankering for an open-air feast from the city's food-truck fleet.
Below is an eat-with-your-eyes guide of some of Winnipeg's most popular street trucks.
Pimp my Rice's version of pancit, traditional Filipino noodles served with a medley of crispy fresh veggies, a spike of hot banana peppers and a squeeze of citrus, are a Winnipeg street food favourite. Photo by Robin Summerfield
Need a fix of Ukrainian favorites? Mikky's mobile food truck serves up perogies, sauerkraut and grilled kielbasa with tender fried onions alongside traditional dogs and crispy French fries. Photo by Robin Summerfield.
One of Winnipeg's newest food trucks Stuff-It dishes up monster meals like chili, curry and stir fries inside hollowed-out French baguettes. Photo by Robin Summerfield.
Stuff-It owner Jordan Zimmerman offers up deep-fried cajun pickles and his signature sandwich-a hollowed out French baguette loaded with zesty chili. Photo by Robin Summerfield.
Go on your own Winnipeg street eats odyssey. Here are a few of Winnipeg's most popular food trucks, what they serve and how to find them:
Falafel Queen: Owned by the folks behind Winnipeg's now-closed Jerusalem Cafe, Falafel Queen serves authentic Beef and chicken shawarma and falafel along with fresh-cut fries. Parked mostly Monday to Friday at the corner of Broadway and Hargrave Street.
Pimp my Rice: Get a Fili-Asian fix at this slick, new truck which hit Winnipeg streets in late June. Find the truck at various locations in and around downtown Winnipeg and at festivals and events throughout the summer and fall. Go to pimpmyrice.ca or follow on Twitter @pimpmyriceinc for daily location updates.
Stuff-It: Stuff-It dishes sandwiches with a twist. A hollowed out French baguette is loaded with meals meant for a plate like chickpea curry, slow-cooked chili and Thai chicken stir fry. Call 232-1258 or follow on Twitter @stuffitfoods for daily locations.
Little Bones Wingery: Twenty-six flavours of wings include favourites like spicy, buffalo and salt and pepper are served alongside out-of-the-box flavours like sweet chili teriyaki, pineapple curry and the Zorro, a sweet and sassy wing spiked with ginger root. Call 899-2663, go to facebook.com/littleboneswingery or follow the food truck on Twitter @LittleBonesWingery.
Winnipeg street eating tips:
- Broadway at Hargrave is often food truck central with many of the trucks lining up nose to tail along the boulevard at lunch time.
- Old Market Square in Winnipeg's Exchange District (corner of Bannatyne Avenue and King Street) is also a hub for street food vendors and trucks.
- During Winnipeg's festival season (late June through September), many of the food trucks park near event sites.
- Take friends. Buy food from several trucks and share the feast.
- Bring cash. Mobile trucks don't take credit cards or debit.
- Expect to get your fingers and hands a little messy. Cutlery is uncommon and unnecessary at most of Winnipeg's food trucks.