Walking around trendy neighbourhoods in New York City or Chicago, you’ll pass many food trucks on street corners, serving meals as distinct as the cultures represented in each city. Initially, many may think the trucks offer a lower-quality last option. The trucks actually offer plenty of gourmet and affordable fare, and they can be ideal for those constantly on the go. Food trucks have also increased the availability of a broader range of ethnic foods and quirky, but delicious combinations of cuisines. The trucks provide access to dishes previously unavailable if not unimaginable and are soon to crop up all around Montreal.
Starting in 1947, when food trucks were first under consideration in Montreal, the Quebec government refused to authorize the operation of such enterprises, citing concerns for food safety and quality. But after the successful launch of numerous food trucks in other big cities, it became impossible to oppose the establishment of Montreal’s own signature brand of street food. Food trucks will be approved and should rapidly begin to appear this summer. To date, six food trucks have been approved by the government, and will be available for our enjoyment before the summer.
Two original food trucks pushed the margins of the old law and are indisputably the real deal: Grumman’s ‘78 and Noveau Palais. Grummans ‘78’s imaginative tacos provide the city with authentic Mexican food. According to the owners, “the food is fresh, healthy, affordable, locally-sourced, and locally-owned,” according to their website. Customers can purchase two generously sized tacos for $7.50. Grummans ’78 began the revolutionary “food-truck” idea in downtown Montréal. Under the old law, Grummans had to limit their presence to a few days per year. Finally, after numerous struggles with the old law, this truck will now be available for all to enjoy.
Nouveau Palais serves miniature burgers, cookies, and milk out of a Winnebago, as if sent to satisfy the hunger pains that accompany late night studying. This truck operated just within the old laws by serving food outside their restaurant on West Bernard and Parc, in the wee hours of the night. Now, the Nouveau Palais truck will serve food in the daytime as well.
In addition to these classics, newer options have cropped up at Montreal’s yearly Jazzfest are worth exploring. Crêpe-moi is famous for its fabulous paper-thin crêpes and unlikely fillings, like chorizo and goat cheese. Purists need not fear—it also carries the classics, such as sugar and lemon crêpes. La Mangeoire, a gourmet sandwich truck, serves unique and tasty combinations. Popular choices include an enormous falafel sandwich, and the ‘Ribwich’ (BBQ ribs and coleslaw). Their most indulgent concoction, the Decadent, combines peanut butter, Nutella, and bacon.
Pas d’Cochon dans mon Salon and Lucky’s Truck are both known for their comfort food and barbecue. Finally, out of an understated trailer, HotBullDog serves homemade sausages, including a tomato-basil sausage.
The development of a network of food trucks in Montreal is undoubtedly exciting. These six trucks are, hopefully, only the beginning of healthy, imaginative, and affordable meals for students. They will eventually be allowed to freely roam the city; but will first be spotted during festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles and on First Fridays at the Big O.