Pandemic Food Truck Adventures
Last summer when the pandemic struck, all of my travel plans went out the door. Goodbye Europe, goodbye Newfoundland, goodbye New Orleans, etc… I knew I needed something light and fun to offset all of the kiboshed plans. When I saw that the City of Kitchener was hosting a 2-week food truck event I checked my calendar…and realized that checking my calendar wasn’t necessary. I was totally free. Indulging in local cuisines while abroad is such a fantastic way to explore, especially with street food. I decided that I would try to eat at all 14 local food trucks in 2 weeks.
Not wanting to be a hog, I shared the adventures on Instagram so that you could also track down these meals on wheels – and you guys loved it! The number of messages you sent about which ones you tried or food truck adventures you’ve had in other cities blew me away. This gigantic Waterloo Region food trucks guide is for you. I hope that this roundup will keep those tastebuds salivating and those adventures rolling this summer. Enjoy and happy eating, fellow foodies!
Summer 2021 Public Health Notes
Waterloo Region Public Health has set some rules in place for food truck events this year. Please send only 1 person per family to order and pick up the food. Orders can be brought home or to your car to enjoy. No social gathering at the food truck locations. All provincial social distancing rules apply. Only 1 truck will be allowed at each location to reduce crowds. Above all, please respect the owners and staff at each of these establishments. This is their livelihood and passion. A few of the owners I spoke with in writing this article have had to close their food trucks due to the pandemic. Your orders matter – listen to those cravings! Everyone is very much looking forward to seeing and serving you their amazing food again this year.
2020’S FOOD TRUCK MISSION
Nadia Dragusanu and her husband, Sebastian, began their foodie adventures with Café du Monde in 2012 as a way to share all of their favourites from around the world. They are a triple threat business with catering, a storefront in Cambridge, and their food truck. With a focus on natural and local ingredients their food is fresh and delightful. Even their sauces, jams, and crêpe fillings are handmade (except for the Nutella). The mixed berry sauce on the Cannoli Crêpe I had was divine.
The Café du Monde food truck was the first one I visited last year and it was the perfect way to start. Nadia was super friendly and even through her mask I could tell she was smiling. We quickly bonded over travel and food. I’m very much looking forward to visiting her food truck again to eat more of her sweet and savoury French crêpes!
Tara’s Suggestion: Cannoli Crêpe
Store Location: 614 Coronation Blvd, Cambridge, ON N1R 7E3
Kono Pizza is Rossano Boscolo’s twisted take on the much-loved Italian triangle – because it’s cone-shaped! Waterloo Region’s Neng Ly runs the Canadian franchise which has been showcased internationally and earned blessings from the Milano masters. All of the standard favourites can be found on the menu, from the classic Cheese or Pepperoni variety, to the Deluxe, veggie, and my personal favourite, the Hawaiian. Yes, pineapple goes on pizza. Head on over and say hello to the guys at Kono – they’re really friendly and their pizza is hot and fresh!
Tara’s Suggestion: Hawaiian Kone
Store Location: 203 Lester St, Waterloo, Ontario
Does anybody else who grew up with a beloved dish ignore it on restaurant menus? I grew up with homemade pierogi made by my Polish & Ukrainian Baba (grandma), my aunts, and my mother. I never order them in a restaurant but the Pierogi Pigs intrigued me. Maybe it was the friendly colours on their truck. Maybe it was because they started by making their pierogi from scratch at home too. Or maybe it was because my trip to Poland was corona-cancelled. Truth be told, it was all three so I let my hunger get the better of me and left my comfort zone to try someone else’s Polish dumplings. The verdict? Yummm! They’ve got the tried and true ‘rogs with fried onions and sour cream, as well as funkier choices like nacho, taco, and poutine. I went all out and tried the Fully Loaded Pierogi. I’ve been dreaming about that dish since last year and am definitely looking forward to round two this summer.
Tara’s Suggestion: Fully Loaded Pierogi
Grilled cheese was practically my middle name in high school and university. I love cheese, and grilled in a sandwich – all melted and gooey – I love it even more. When I heard there was a food truck in the region dedicated to this square-shaped favourite, it was everything I could do not to order the whole menu. I ordered the Fo’SpinDip, a saucy sammy, at the friendly suggestion of Liz working behind the counter. I might need to run a poll for this year’s choice though – should I go for the Sloppy Joe grilled cheese or the pulled chicken, basil and sundried tomato? Maybe I should order both…
Fo’Cheezy has been rolling around Waterloo Region and filling people’s hunger pains since 2011. Chef Sandor, the creator and chef behind it all, has worked at every end of the food industry, from fast food to fine dining. They offer dairy- and gluten-free options too.
Tara’s Suggestion: Fo’SpinDip
Ish & chips restaurant was a KW Record Readers’ Choice Award winner until a fire swept through their building in 2012. For those of us in university around that time, it was a popular post-bar spot in Uptown Waterloo. Thankfully, since 2014 with the support of customers and fellow chefs, the Mytnik family turned the keys on a food truck and brought their tasty fish and chips back to life. Their specialties include crispy hand-battered fish and chips, homemade falafel, coleslaw, and fish tacos.
Tara’s Suggestion: Haddock and Chips
Berlin 95 food truck is fitting for Waterloo Region’s food trucks fleet in many ways. The owner, Christina Schal, was born and raised in Germany. Kitchener, for those who might not know, used to be called Berlin. Pretty kühl, eh! Christina is no stranger to the food scene. She started out by feeding hungry festival-goers with loaded baked potatoes with her first truck, The Scrumptious Spud Inc. Next, she opened Berlin 95, and this year she’s opening a third wheely cool business (found below). If the thought of schnitzel, sausage, meatloaf, chevap, salads, German poutine, currywurst, or her famous baked potatoes, are making your stomach grumble, thank your lucky stars for Christina. You can taste Oktoberfest in July!
Tara’s Suggestion: Currywurst
Beavertails are probably one of Canada’s most iconic touristy treats. If you’re looking for a sugary indulgence, this is it. Beavertails are deep-fried dough topped with myriad sweets bound to make you Christmas-morning giddy. The company began in 1978 at the Killaloe Craft and Community Fair where Grant Hooker and his wife made and sold them. Today, Beavertails is a nation-wide company with locations in Niagara, Toronto, Vancouver, and other major Canadian cities. Popular toppings include cinnamon sugar, maple, Skor cheesecake, Oreo cookies, chocolate hazelnut, apple cinnamon, and more. However, if you’re looking to push the envelope, keep your eye out for the regional features, such as salmon, ham and cheese, steak, and lobster!
Tara’s Suggestion: Bananarama
Find Beavertails KW-Huron on Facebook.
Pabla’s Street Food of India (formerly Jashan-e-Dawat food truck)
Jashan-e-Dawat’s story began in 1974 in Punjab, India when Gurbax Singh opened the restaurant Amsitsari Dhaba. The head chef’s son, Parminder Singh, managed the restaurant at only 16 years old, while gaining first hand experience in the kitchen. Today Parminder owns the delicious Jashan-e-Dawat restaurant in Cambridge and a food truck that travels the region. If I was stuck in traffic, I’d want to be near his truck, wafting its mouthwatering aromas everywhere it goes.
Tara’s Suggestion: Butter Chicken with Rice
Store Location: 900 Jamieson Pkwy Unit 15, Cambridge, ON N3C 4N6
I’ll be honest, when paying $14 for my Pulled Pork Poutine last summer I thought it was a bit steep. Then I saw the size of the serving and my eyes bulged wide open. And then I tasted it. Full disclosure – totally worth it. In fact, I want another right now and it’s 9pm as I write this! In their own words, S.W.A.T. is “not fast food…we’re GREAT food fast!”. I concur. You’d have to be both great and fast if you cater for groups of 30-1,000 like they do. Sandwich enthusiasts, this one’s for you. S.W.A.T. is serving up some mean Montreal Smoked Meat, Philly Cheesesteak, and even a Pulled Weiner. Bring your appetite and a bib for this food truck.
Tara’s Suggestion: Pulled Pork Poutine
Schmuck Truck is anything but, well, schmucky. The name actually refers to the owners, Brad Schmuck and Christine Mackay, both industry veterans with a wealth of experience. In addition to the food truck they run a full-service food catering business called SchmuckNGourmet. Have a small family event or a large wedding? They’ve got you covered with feta chicken wraps, lamb burgers with herb goat cheese (yes please!!!), Sloppy Schmuckers, and more. Their food truck menu rounds out with gourmet sandwiches, salads, sides, and kiddie options too. I went with the Schmuck Balls and I would order them again in a heart beat, though my sights are set on trying that lamb burger with herb goat cheese.
Tara’s Suggestion: Schmuck Balls
The friendly Brazilian-Canadian duo at Passado Brasil make you feel so welcomed you feel at home instead of in a parking lot when you order their food. Claudio, born and raised in Santa Caterina, Brazil moved to Canada in 2009 where he met Kayla, a restaurant assistant manager. His sales and marketing background and her food industry saavy gave birth to their big green food machine. Their menu features different types of pastel which are fried pockets filled with different meat or cheese options. As is my habit, I couldn’t decide which one to try, so I ordered 3 different ones! You should probably do the same.
Tara’s Suggestion: Pastel con Carne
Hangry Harry’s is a one-stop-shop for meaty sandwiches of the pork, ham, beef, and chicken variety. Don’t fret animal lovers, Harry has a veggie option too. You can also find the iconic Canadian classic, poutine, along with funkier versions of it like Fire House, Latin Passion, and Pulled Pork. Don’t feel like a sandwich or poutine? Try one of their beefy hot dogs or crispy chicken fingers. Kid-sized portions are available as well.
Two pieces of advice – either go on an empty belly or bring a friend because the food is filling. (I made the rookie mistake of trying to eat at 2 food trucks in one evening…) A second word to the wise – get ready for some finger-licking fun because it’s about to get saucy!
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Pollo Loco Sandwich, Smokey the Pig
MISSED IN 2020, FIRST IN 2021
Owners Ed and Dulce crossed paths while working in Toronto restaurants. In 2013, after moving to KW, the married couple opened Breakfast Blues & BBQs, featuring a locally-sourced menu full of comfort food. Like many small businesses, 2020 was rough. Between constant construction outside their storefront, COVID restrictions, and surgery to boot, it’s a good thing these things happen in 3s. In fact, last year it was their food truck sales that pulled their business through, although it also meant closing their restaurant and letting go 10 of their staff to make things possible. Their food truck has been around for 9 years and their restaurant for 3 – not an easy decision. Just remember the next time you make it out to a food truck this summer – your order helps businesses and your bellies!
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Canadian Poutine
Store Location: 105 Victoria St S, Kitchener, ON N2G 2B4
El Milagro is all about hope. Translated, the truck’s name means “the miracle” and is a reminder that even when times are bleak, things can change. How perfect is that considering the past year? The owners, both born and raised in Mexico, love sharing their flavourful Mexican food with their food truck and catering customers. I’m quite looking forward to trying their tacos or burritos (or both!) this year.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Loco Burrito, Fish Tacos, Al Pastor Tacos
I haven’t visited their food truck, but I have eaten Crazy Canuck’s saucy flavourbombs on multiple occasions. Owners Jeremy and Freddy started their venture in May of 2013 (happy 8th anniversary!) and now have 2 store locations and 2 food trucks that drive around the region and provide event catering. In their words their food is, “our own Canadian home cooked flare and an awesome attitude”. I’ve had their Famous Apple BBQ Pulled Pork on a Bun and I’ve got to say, their description matches perfectly. These guys don’t skimp on the meat either. I had pulled pork falling out of the bun and enough left over for a small meal the next day!
Tara’s Suggestion: Famous Apple BBQ Pulled Pork on a Bun
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Their iconic Canadian dessert called “The Snow Shoe”
Store Location: 845 Weber St N Waterloo (St. Jacobs location) and 141 Ontario St N, Kitchener, ON N2H 4Y5
Graffiti Market is known for their tech-infused dining experience at Catalyst137 with their unique (first in North America) Kodisoft Smart Dining Tables. At the restaurant, while waiting for food you can play digital air hockey, colour on a digital page, make a puzzle, or watch the live feed kitchen or brewery camera all on your table. Talk about a different kind of dining experience. The vibe inside is also pretty awesome thanks to talented artists like those at The Firm Murals and Stephanie Scott (whose art was featured in this post). They’ve covered the restaurant walls, furniture, and decor, as well as the Mixtape food truck in bright bold street art. Graffiti serves the usual food truck fare – snacks, poutines, and handhelds – mixed with their own creative twist. Their menu changes every couple of weeks so stay tuned to their socials or treat yourself to a surprise and just show up. You can’t miss the food truck in their restaurant parking lot from 12pm-8pm Friday to Sunday.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Beets by Brian Burger
Store Location: 137 Glasgow Street, Unit 385 Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4X8
Kevin Thomas is the proud owner of The Big Jerk and he’s been serving delicious Jamaican food around Waterloo Region for years. In fact, his parents owned and ran Rainbow Cuisine in downtown Kitchener. Thomas’ Jamaican patties are as delicious as they get, and for good reason. He smokes the meat the traditional way using sarsaparilla and pimento wood. For anyone who’s into bbq, you know the wood is as necessary for fuel as it is for the flavour. In addition to a food truck, the patties can be found in stores around southernwestern Ontario, including local spots like Central Fresh Market and Vincenzo’s, or at catered events.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: One of each patty!
Four years ago Josh Perovic opened up The Hemlock Street Burger Barn by the universities in Waterloo. Originally he wanted to open a hot dog joint in the university restaurant scene, but there was already an abundance of them. His second choice was to bring back old-school hamburgers – smash burgers. What are smash burgers exactly? They don’t stray too far from the name – but it’s only the meat that’s smashed! Aesetheically they’re not as put together as “regular” burgers, though the flavour gets a boost thanks to all of the juices that spill from the meat. The potatoes for their fries come from only 1km away in local fields, and the meat is from Kitchener’s Fore Quarter butcher shop. Josh’s burger barn recently changed its name to The Hemlock Barn and moved north to a larger location with seating for 120 people indoors, and crokinole, chess, checkers and backgammon tables. You can find them on Lobsinger Line near the St. Jacobs Market in a beautiful 100+ year old building! Their food truck is parked out front to serve hungry customers, and will be participating in the brewery food truck rotation. In non-pandemic times they also serve weddings and events. Hot tip: if the food truck isn’t parked in front of their Lobsinger location, they’re giving out mini soft serve ice cream with any purchase. Stay tuned to their social media for more information!
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Smashed Banquet Burger
The Bruce Caboose and The Bruce Beast
The Cambridge Hotel, an independently owned local establishment, has not one, but two food trucks in its fleet! The first is The Bruce Caboose and the second is The Bruce Beast. Both food trucks are popular fixtures at weddings, private and corporate events, festivals and sporting events. *More updates on these food trucks to come.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: TBA!
NEW 2021 FOOD TRUCKS IN WATERLOO REGION
Sarah Renner really missed coffee shops last year and has always wanted a cafe. What better reason to open a mobile coffee shop in a pandemic? Like many other professionals, she made a big career change in 2020, jumping from library sciences to the food and service industry. Sarah features locally-sourced coffee, tea, and fresh baked goods like scones, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies that she also makes from scratch. If you’re wondering where the name for her business comes from, suffice to say nature has its ways and if we listen and pay attention, the magic continues. It’s no surprise that her packaging is all compostable and she’s already working to support local causes. This is a woman who clearly cares about sustainability and community.
As someone who also misses a good coffee shop (and cries a little inside each time a cannabis shop replaces one – seriously, how many do we need?!), even as a non-coffee drinker, I appreciate the inspiration for starting her new business. Sarah’s plan is to join the KW Food Trucks rotation, and hopefully another with a Galt and Hespeler property for breakfast pop-ups.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Muffins – all of them! (I love muffins)
Alex Fegaras has been driving around Waterloo Region serving Italian-themed flavour feasts for a few years. He’s previously known for spicing up old Italian classics with a twist through his first venture, Cibo Streetery (now closed). This year he’s bringing a new food truck, The Funnel Cloud, to Waterloo Region’s streets with friend and business partner Bryan Izzard who owns Two Calves Standing farm. Eventually the idea is to use products from the farm on the truck as well.
Lucky for those like me who didn’t make it to Cibo Streetery, Alex will be serving favourites from the old menu like deep-fried lasagna and olive ascolane once a month and for catering events. And thanks to these two, even though festivals, carnivals, and all things fun (well, not quite all) have been cancelled for summer 2021, we can still get our fritter and funnel cake fix! I’ve got my eye on the S’mores Funnel Cake and the Apple Fritters.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: S’mores Funnel Cake, Apple Fritters
Los Rolling Tacos
There’s a new food truck on the block and it’s bringing the fiesta to a parking lot near you! Jose Delgado is excited to share his abuela’s (grandma’s) flair for hospitality and delicious food to Waterloo Region all the way from Mexico City where he grew up. Like many families around the world, some of Jose’s favourite memories come from gathering with loved ones over a home-cooked feast. He’s been around food and service his whole life – from family events, to selling food at the market, to working in Toronto’s hospitality industry to learn English when he moved to Canada, to enrolling in George Brown College cooking classes. Los Rolling Tacos features a mix of his family’s treasured recipes with traditional guisados, a braised adobo stew and the most traditional Mexican taco around! He has something for everyone, including gluten free and vegan options.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Birria Tacos, Al Pastor Tacos
The Lab Street Eats
Mike and Cindy Gatto are stoked to be debuting their Lab Street Eats food truck in Waterloo Region this summer. While Mike is transitioning from the corporate world, he and Cindy ran a barbecue catering business in the past and they felt confident in their enthusiasm for this new venture. Their menu will primarily feature barbecue-inspired eats, but customers may see anything from tacos to deep-fried ravioli to burgers or schnitzel as well. To achieve the edgy hip-hop street vibe, The Firm Mural is making an encore appearance in the food truck scene for the logo and truck wrap. Check out The Lab Street Eats at local breweries and on the KW Food Truck rotation!
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Lemon Basil Ricotta Cake
NEWS ALERT! As of late August 2021, the Big H Food Truck is cruising down Ontario streets, cooking up a storm and ready to see you! Susan and her three daughters – Ella, Blair, and Lyla – started the food truck in the midst of this darn pandemic when her all-engrossing job as a skating coach halted full-stop. With the girls’ many athletic endeavours also on hold, the family suddenly had a lot of time to reflect on what they wanted to do going forward. Like many moms, Susan understands the magic that meals hold in bringing people together. The Big H Food Truck had been a dream prior to the pandemic, and now was the time to make it a reality. The family rebuilt the trailer, manoeuvred the umpteen hoops it takes to become a food truck vendor, and then hopped on the road! The food truck affectionately refers to not only 1, but 2 “Big H”s – Susan’s dad Harold, and her hometown, Honeywood. Big H’s signature dishes are 12” seasoned tortilla “Foldies” that are packed full of veggies, cheese, and protein (your choice of pulled pork, breaded chicken, or pizza toppings) and their hand-dipped-secret-recipe apple or pineapple fritters. These 4 women stand by the quality of the local ingredients they use, including fresh-cut family-farmed potatoes for their poutines. Vegetarian options are available on the menu and so is breakfast!
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Pulled Pork Foldie and Pineapple Fritters
Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur they say. Christina Schal is no stranger to the self-employment hustle. Remember her from the Berlin 95 Diner above? Well she’s adding a little trailer to the family wheels this year. Mini in size, but sure to pack a lot of tasty treats, Our Humble Little Food Truck will feature bubble waffles, apple fritters, and ice cream sandwiches. In addition to its unique stature, the mobile unit will be available for rent. People can use it for banquets, an additional kitchen, or as a bar for events.
Hottie Cakes Co. is baker Dayna Richardson’s nod to her days living in the UK where British pancakes – “hot cakes” – are popular. Since 2019 her food truck been serving Torontonians their favourite meal and this year Waterloo Region gets to dig in. Dayna’s background owning a bakery that made luxury wedding cakes and other sugary delights means you know you’re in for delicious surprises. Her food truck shares the sugar high at private events, workplaces, public festivals, and on streets near you. As someone who abhors the viscous goop that is table syrup, I’m thrilled to see that she serves real maple syrup. I even saw mention of cinnamon syrup! From sweet to savoury to gluten free to vegan, everyone can brunch. Yahoo!
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Tight Buns, Love Me S’more
The Wild Boar is taking a hiatus for May as they wait to see what’s going on with the pandemic. They’re itching to get back out with everyone in June though! In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to learn what the chefs at The Wild Boar are all about. Their passion for fresh local ingredients, bold flavours, and the perfect summer smell of smoking wood arrive on your plate whether it’s a catered event or food truck night. You’ll find a fantastic range of southern pit menu items on board from gazpacho, tacos, sliders, pulled meat, brisket, mac n’ cheese, salad, to corn bread.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Pulled Pork Sandwich, Mac n’ Cheese
Hitched Coffee, based in Ayr, brings specialty coffees from around the world to local mugs waiting for a hot brew. In addition to their international coffee selection they partner with local roasters and bakeries from around Waterloo Region. Hitched Coffee’s rig is in the shop being made right now, but when they’re out and about you will find them at special events and farmers markets. If you’re not a coffee drinker, they’ve also got teas, hot chocolates, and kiddie drinks for the little ones.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Toasted Marshmallow Mocha
The Crumby Cookie Dough Co’s Milleniyum Falcon may be the most unique of the Waterloo Region food trucks because it’s super tiny! From its dimensions, to its low environmental impact (2 fridges require only 4.5 amps each), to its mini morsels of cold doughy bliss, the Falcon is in its own category. The owners, Jennifer Appleby Vines and Sara McMurphy, use heat treated flour and pasteurized eggs to make it edible. For a little pizazz they use locally-sourced, natural ingredients to add colour, and flavour. In their words, they’re “old-fashioned with an edge” focusing on quality ingredients and homecooked goodness. They’ve also got a wicked way with words. Their flavour names and branding are on point and always make me laugh. Due to COVID and having their retail space, it is unlikely we’ll see the Milleniyum Falcon on the region’s circuit this summer. However, you can book it for private events (when that is possible).
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: SO. SH!T’S WEIRD RN.
Store Location: 8 Regina St N Unit 5, Waterloo, ON N2J 2Z8
Ed and Becky are the dynamic duo behind the grill of bbq food truck. Born in Croatia, Ed grew up enjoying weekly bbqs with family and friends. You’ll see their menu peppered with Croatian influences thanks to him! Becky is your go-to for all things customer service and is an industry pro. As you’ll see on their website, she’s full of smiles and ready to help. Besides serving up delicious food, Ed and Becky really value community and so they donate a portion of their profits to local organizations. They’re also keen to help you if you’re running a fundraiser so don’t hesitate to call them up. My heart is melting and I haven’t even met them yet (soon though!). In addition to food truck events around Waterloo Region, you can find The Serial Griller bringing the flavour to weddings, and other festive events as things open up.
Tara’s Got Her Eye On: Ćevapi Sammy, Mac n’ Cheese, Smoked Pulled Pork Sammy
Elmira’s Food Truck Scene
If you’re in Elmira, there are a group of churches that host food trucks each Friday night from 4:30pm-8pm between May and September. Find them at St. Paul’s Lutheran, Trinity United, St. Teresa of Avila, and Elmira Pentecostal. The group is called Heavenly Eats and you can also find them and their updates on Instagram.
Buon Appetito! Enjoy!
Please be respectful of those around you, whether it be staff or customers. Keep 2 metres / 6 feet apart from others. Pylons and ground markings will be used to indicate safe separation distances. And last but not least, enjoy your meals!
I hope this Waterloo Region food trucks guide is helpful in your quest to try them (all?)! Join along as I continue my foodie adventure on Instagram. And please share your favourites in the comments below. I love hearing your recommendations.
Which Food Truck in Waterloo Region is Your Favourite?
For the most up-to-date schedule, visit each food truck’s Facebook or Instagram page or the KW Food Trucks page.