The Trouble with Gourmet Food Trucks in Toronto

Photo Source: Toronto Food Trucks

There’s a wonderful thing happening to the food culture in Toronto—it’s evolving rapidly. Over the past year or so, there has been a steady increase in the number of food trucks in the city, and not just your average chip wagon, either. These are gourmet food trucks and there’s an enthusiasm in the city that’s demanding more of them.

Now instead of a Polish sausage or a cardboard box of poutine swimming in gravy and shame, you can purchase a portion of Maine-style lobster rolls, smoked meat on rye, or even decadent cupcakes.

That’s awesome. I love trying new food. I’d even go so far as to say that I’m a foodie—I love to explore and discuss the taste and texture of food. In fact, I’ll stay up half the night debating the merits of a good pizza slice with Phill if the topic comes up (and it has, much to the chagrin of my sleep-deprived body).

However, there’s one thing that I think should be stated about food trucks and it’s this: why the fuck are you charging so goddamn much for so little?

Case in point, several months ago, I was perusing the latest news on BlogTO on a regular weekday morning. The writers and editors of that fine blog are enthusiastic foodies and are quick to share the news of new and exciting food events in the city. So I was pleased to find out that a new food truck was going to make a “pop-up” impromptu appearance within walking distance of my office.

Sidenote: the term “pop-up” is redundant in reference to a food truck; it’s a truck—of course they pop up unexpectedly. Unless they have that old familiar ice cream truck jingle preceding them…

I coerced a friend from the office to hunt down the truck with me at lunch. We arrived halfway through the hour and waited a not-so-short amount of time to experience the offerings of guest chef Francisco Alejandri and El Gastrónomo Vagabundo. I love Latin American food, and I love to seek it out and make it. One of my favourite Latin American dishes is ceviche. It’s the combination of fresh seafood and lime juice, cilantro and salty tortilla chips that makes my mouth water every time I think of it. And lo and behold, the Vagabundo truck offered it that day.

Photo Source: Toronto Food Trucks

I paid $16.50 for a small cup of ceviche equivalent to the Styrofoam coffee cups you’d use at an AA meeting, an ice tea that could have used more sweetness and a pair of fried chicken balls (that’s not a euphemism, there were really only two in the portion). You can read the full menu of that day here.

The food was delicious—fresh and well thought-out. But the portions we received were such that I was finished and still hungry. And I’d already spent nearly $20! If I had to tip the truck, I would have certainly put the whole deuce down. Thank goodness it was only a food truck then.

I love the fact that there are new and exciting food trucks out there competing for our stomachs and money. I love it. However, a successful food truck in my humble bloggy opinion (which is to say, not very humble at all) needs to have one other added factor to it: quantity. By all means, go gourmet. But if you want to succeed in this business, don’t leave your customers feeling hungry after you take their money. They’ll just go grab a poutine the next time.

Mr. Tasty Fries

Photo source: Benson Kua

Remember, your competition at Nathan Phillips Square is not hard to beat. They might not even be aware that there’s a food truck revolution happening underneath their noses. Maybe you’re trying just a little too hard to out-do them when all you really need to do is change your fry oil more frequently.

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One thought on “The Trouble with Gourmet Food Trucks in Toronto

  1. […] some time now I’ve felt the hum of this city getting louder. The construction, the food trucks, the pop-up shops; they’re all indicative of a change in the air. We’re growing, baby. […]

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