At a St. John’s city council meeting on May 13, deputy mayor Sheilagh O’Leary remarked the city is seeing an increasing desire for mobile food trucks.
Indeed, in the province’s capital, their numbers have increased in recent years – so much so that this spring they got together to form the Mobile Vendors Association of Newfoundland – an effort to work together to advocate and work with municipalities to update bylaws that may be restrictive on the industry’s growth.
In 2008, the capital city had just five requests for food truck permits – that number dropped to four in 2011. But around 2013 and 2014 the numbers spiked – 18 permits were issued in 2014 – and this year there are 16. That’s a 220 per cent increase this year over 2008.
It’s good news for thrifty travelers visiting the island this summer – the rising popularity of food trucks means there’s delicious food (at a mouth-watering price) to be found as you drive across the province.
Newfoundland Comfort, Corner Brook
Just off the Trans-Canada Highway, parked next to Canadian Tire at Murphy Square in Corner Brook is Newfoundland Comfort.
This truck focuses on comfort food – must-try items are jiggs dinner themed, such as the jiggs dinner poutine and jiggs dinner burger.
Co-owner Ryan Waddleton describes the burger as something “you don’t want to eat every day, but when you eat it, it will be definitely the best thing you probably had to eat for a while.”
Jiggs dinner is a traditional dish, usually served on Sundays, that typically consists of salt beef and root vegetables boiled in one pot.
Waddleton’s truck is also known for serving up delicious fish n’ chips.
He says his focus on Newfoundland comfort food is a result of working away in Alberta as an electrician.
“Really, the reason why it was started was because I just wanted to move home,” he said, adding that he hopes to make people happy by serving good food with friendly, quick service.
Newfoundland Comfort is open every day but Monday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Luke’s Gourmet Poutinerie, South Brook
When you stop for a feed at Luke’s Gourmet Poutinerie, you’ll actually be greeted by a man named Cliff Foss – the food truck’s namesake is Foss’ son.
Make sure you’re hungry, though, because the burgers weigh upwards of seven pounds and the poutines are generous.
The poutinerie opened last summer and quickly became a popular spot – Foss said he went through roughly 5,000 pounds of ground beef.
The burger buns are made fresh by the much-loved West Tower Bakery in Gambo, and the poutines are made with real cheese curds and a choice of meats, including steak and donair meat.
“I always kept it towards the trucker names, or ‘monster’ because everything is bigger,” said Foss of his burger names.
“Last year just before closing I came up with one called The Frankensteiner – that one is a 12-inch bun. We push that as a challenge. If you eat that in front of me – it’s five to seven pounds, depending on what you have on it – and if you eat that one in front of me at one of the tables you get your money back, plus a $50 bill.”
Foss said he’s looking at adding a five and ten-pound poutine to the menu this summer, too.
An added bonus at Luke’s: If you’re a senior, ask for a free bowl of fries – they’re always on the house.
This greasy spoon is set up just east of Goodyear’s Cove Park on the Trans-Canada Highway until the end of October. It’s closed Mondays but open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. the rest of the week.
Saucy Mouth, Bonavista
First opened last summer, Saucy Mouth serves internationally-inspired fare ranging from rice bowls to street fries. New this summer is an authentic custard cone machine.
“We’re hoping to play around with some things like black ice cream using beet juice to flavor and to colour the ice cream, so we’re going to play around with some recipes and hopefully do a homemade waffle cone,” said Allyson Howse, who runs the operation with her partner Brad Gover.
Their Mount Pearl location – open year-round at Landwash Brewery – has seen demand for menu items incorporating Beyond Meat products, so they’ll likely weave those into their Bonavista menu as well, said Howse.
“We definitely want to offer some things that your bay Nan would eat, but also your activist vegan cousin can also come and get something that’s vegan and gluten-free. So, we really try to have a mix of items so that there’s something for everybody.”
Saucy Mouth is expected to open by mid-to-late June at 1 Mifflin’s Ln in Bonavista where it has “a huge, beautiful panoramic kind of view of the harbour,” said Howse.
At press time, hours of operation weren’t set in stone, so keep an eye on their social media pages for details.
The Indian Express, St. John’s
When The Indian Express opened in St. John’s back in November, owner Jerry Joy was shocked that he sold out of food within two hours.
The realtor-turned-culinary truck connoisseur was serving traditional Indian food informally at realtor events and was frequently told that he should open his own restaurant.
He decided to start small with the food truck.
It’s been open throughout the winter and was so well-received that Joy plans to also open a restaurant sometime this summer in Portugal Cove.
He said the most popular dish on the menu is butter chicken, but the freshly-prepared menu varies day-to-day and even incorporates local, traditional fare such as seal meat.
“I tried to take off butter chicken from the menu for a few days, but people are coming every day looking for butter chicken, so I have to keep it on the menu for every day that I’m open,” he laughed.
For those looking for something a bit different, he suggests the seal curry, which he plans to keep on the menu throughout the summer on Fridays.
There are also always vegetable and gluten-free choices.
“One thing I wanted to do was make sure people are able to afford good quality, nourishing, tasty Indian food, so that’s something that I keep in mind all the time.”
The Indian Express can usually be found parked at Pit Crew on Major’s Path in the Stavanger Drive area during suppertime, but tends to move around for the lunch service. It’s open Wednesday to Saturday and up-to-date locations can be found online at indianexpressnl.ca.