Best Restaurants: Best Food Truck
First Place >> DRIFT
Last time I was at Drift you couldn’t see the truck for the people. The line extended down the block, but by the time we got our pork belly sandwiches and fries, the long wait was long forgotten. The idea for Drift was hatched when owners and husband-wife team Nevin and Kara Fenske decided they wanted to open their own restaurant. But things like budgets and locations became issues, and they decided to go for a food-truck model, first taking a behind-the-scenes tour of food trucks in Oregon and learning as much as they could. The result is a truck that rolls into its spot downtown every March along with various summer festivals and sporting events, offering original sandwich options like the pork belly, with tender strings of meat, crunchy carrots, cilantro and a sweet and spicy chili mayo. Or, the back bacon sandwich with heaps of meat, roasted apples and cucumber topped with melted brie. The fries have a hearty, homemade quality paired with a unique house ketchup — or you can get them seasoned with a blend of mustard seed, cumin and fennel seed. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make it back to your own table to eat; just cozy up to the line of patrons picnicking on the curb. (780-966-7328, driftfoodtruck.ca) —Caroline Barlott
Runner-Up >> BUBBA'S BBQ AND SMOKE HOUSE (Closed due to fire)
Rand Petersen takes the idea of “location, location, location” and thumbs his nose at it. Bubba’s is located on a plot of land in between Calgary Trail
and Gateway Boulevard; you need to look for the parked semi-trailers and find the driveway that leads to the eatery, which is a trailer on tires. Despite the unassuming location, Petersen gets to show off why he’s Edmonton’s resident king of barbecue. Each day, he picks a protein and does it in fine southern style with add-ons like baked beans. The beef brisket falls apart at the touch. And the ribs, with their signature tangy sauce, will make you understand why people will line up 20 or 30 deep in a field in order to get their plates. (4903 Gateway Blvd., 780-909-8036) —Steven Sandor (*Editor's note: Bubba's is now closed due to a fire. It is not yet known whether or not the food truck will reopen)
Honourable Mention >> NOMAD (Now closed)
In 2012, one of the highlights of the new Grand Market just off 124 Street was the presence of the Nomad truck. And if there’s one dish for which Nomad is known, it’s “crack ’n cheese.” Rich macaroni and cheese blended with crisp pork cracklings make for a dish that celebrates the truck’s barbecue and deep south culinary influences. Chicken and crispy grits, pulled pork, braised beef — American classics are combined with elegant culinary additions, such as beet chips or cole slaw sprinkled with caraway seeds. Nomad offers fantastic southern comfort food without dressing itself up in yee-haw cookhouse schlock. (nomadkitchen.ca) —S.S.