Montreal Is in the Middle of a Food Truck Boom. Here Are the Ones You Must Try.
In 2013, there were five food trucks in Montreal. Just three years later, there are now more than 50 roaming the city's streets.
For 66 years -- since 1947 -- food trucks and carts were banned over sanitary concerns. When this was overturned in 2013 after extensive lobbying, the city launched a pilot project, issuing permits to a limited number of trucks who had to follow a prohibitive list of requirements, including the stipulation that they could only operate if they were associated with a restaurant in one of nine designated sections of the city. Since then, the culinary fleet has exploded, though many of the laws are just as stringent, and the city now has 30 food truck-friendly locations across 15 boroughs, from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve to Verdun, where Montrealers can be fed curbside.
But how can you find the truck you want when you're craving poutine, a pulled pork sandwich, or tacos? Pinpointing the location of culinary mobiles anywhere in the city is a modern endeavor, thanks to GPS tracking sites like Streetfood Quest and Pedro. However, food truck hunting still takes a bit of an animalistic stalking effort, which isn’t for everyone -- especially when you want to stuff your face with more than one type of cuisine.
For those morally against hounding down their chow, fear not -- First Fridays are the answer to your acutely first-world dilemma. Practically the entire food fleet gathers at the Olympic Park for the biggest food truck festival in North America on the first Friday of each month between June and October. This event generally takes place from 4pm to 11pm, but most of the trucks run out of food earlier in the night. This happens quite often as First Fridays only accrue popularity, so try to go as early as possible -- the early bird gets the taco.
If attending the First Friday doesn’t jive with your schedule, head to Night Market at Alexandraplatz Bar in Mile-Ex on the last Saturday of each month between May and September for a huge block party where funky beats meet street food.
Now that you know where to go for some food truck fanfare, the most important question must be answered -- which trucks are worth waiting in those ever-extending lines? While there are many that are delicious, there are some that every munchie-mobile virgin should absolutely try.
The first truck to hit the pavement since the ban on serving street food had been lifted, Grumman 78's influence on reinvigorating the food truck scene from nothing cannot be understated. Gaëlle Cerf, who had been the general manager of Au Pied de Cochon for eight years, left the infamous cabane à sucre to open her own venture and co-spearhead First Fridays. Even as the popularity of mobile eating has grown, the "Mexican-inspired" food (and line) for Grumman 78 is still mighty -- don't miss the banh mi tacos, with pulled pork, a quick pickled daikon and carrot, tied together with hoisin.
Looking for the food equivalent of a warm, cozy hug after a long day? Look no further than P.A. & Gargantua, one of the OGs of First Friday, where a comfort food staple -- the grilled cheese -- meets bacon, mushrooms, mousse truffle, smoked butter, and even shallot confit cooked in bacon fat. This truck refines this common sandwich with seasonal, local ingredients into something truly special we find ourselves craving for regularly.
As winner of 2015’s PoutineFest, there was no way DAS truck wouldn't make an appearance. The German truck has incredibly delicious Bavarian-style poutines topped with schnitzel and bratwurst sausages. Following suit, you'll find the uncommon marriage of bacon-wrapped fried Oreos, a bacon-wrapped hamburger, and another burger that's only topped with bacon (and Nutella). Showing up to the line wearing lederhosen and dirndls are not required, but are strongly encouraged. Watch for appearances of DAS' sister mobile, Bacon Truck, where the main focus is -- you guessed it -- bacon. From bacon poutine to bacon tarts, the number of bacon concoctions are seemingly limitless.
Making traditional dishes with local, seasonal ingredients, Landry & Filles is a welcome alternative to the greasier trucks. Expect to find Caesar salads made with asparagus and sourdough croutons, Scotch eggs, meatloaf sandwiches, and a decadent fried chicken (everything in moderation). For dessert, you'll see the likes of brown rice and quinoa pudding with berry compote on top. Its menu changes quite frequently based on what's available, so if you see that one of your favorite dishes is available, don't shy from ordering it right then.
With Chef Martin Picard dominating Montreal’s culinary environment with his foie gras-heavy menus at his restaurant and cabane à sucre, it should come as no surprise that the Pied de Cochon food truck’s menu includes a foie gras poutine. If that sounds too heavy at the moment, opt for the absolutely delectable chicken croquettes that come with a maple reduction sauce for dipping -- the sweet and salty pairing is everything umami should be. (Pro tip: if you just want the croquettes, you can pass over the line of people waiting for their poutine -- head to the cash-and-croquette only second window.) Since there’s always room for dessert, stuff your face with the beignets dripping in maple syrup. Stock up on napkins.
Nothing says summertime (which, bye) like lobster and no one does lobster like Lucille’s. Try the lobster roll, with just a kiss of mayo, but packed with the earthy crunch of celery that gives the seafood salad some body while remaining fresh tasting. Get the crispy fish taco, too, because choosing one of the two is a crime against stomachs everywhere. As a seafood importer, Lucille's will occasionally have an oyster raw bar set up -- spotting the truck on one of those days is one of Montreal's earthly delights.
Diets be damned when it comes to dessert, especially the ones from CRémy. With fluffy donuts like pistachio, brownie, and salted caramel, choosing just one is tough, so have five.
Phoenix 1 is known for its naanwiches, which use naan bread in lieu of toast. Chicken tandoori, pulled pork, and even fennel with gravlax are just some of the creations made in this truck. For dessert -- yes, naan bread for dessert -- try the Nutella-banana naanwich with strawberries.
Showing our vegetarian and vegan amigos some love with its organic and vegetable-forward dishes is La Panthère Verte. Dig into a falafel, sumac, and mayo French fries and finish with a homemade vegan cookie. Everyone could be vegan for at least a day, thanks to this eco-friendly truck.
Another truck injecting Mexican flavor into the fleet is Mi Corazon. The tacos, stuffed with panko-crusted avocado topped with shrimp, falafel, and even one that includes braised beef tongue with fried popcorn pieces of calf brain and ironically named after Donald Trump, are delicious. Mi Corazon is a food truck that loves to experiment with flavors for its yuge fanbase.
Chef Jérôme Ferrer is capital-F Famous in the culinary world, his brick-and-mortar restaurant Europea having been drenched in accolades, notably ranking as the second-best restaurant in the world by TripAdvisor in 2015. Ferrer takes his gastronomique fare to the street level with Europea Mobile, bringing his famed lobster cappuccino with truffle puree, foie-rich poutine in a casserole style, and braised pulled pork to the curious and hungry masses.
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