Souk: Street Food Palooza at Just For Laughs
SOUK is a major street food festival happening at Just For Laughs. Organized by Gaëlle Cerf of Grumman '78 (rockstars of the Montreal street food movement), expect several food trucks and food stands lined up on Sainte-Catherine, between Saint-Urbain and Jeanne-Mance, from 12:00pm to 11:00pm, every day until July 28th. For a list of all participating vendors, click here.
Check out the damage I did, with more to come - I promise!
La Mangeoire (@LaMangeoire1)
I still have a few other trucks and specialty items to try, like Lucky's Chips Poutine with Pork or Duck and the Burger from Nouveau Palais's Winneburger, but I'll go on record to say that La Mangeoire (gourmet sandwiches) is THE BEST food truck on the streets of Montreal.
With a heavy hand of sweet, saucy pulled BBQ ribs and creamy slaw, the Rouge Gorge ($10.00) is best consumed on an empty stomach. Throw in a few sprigs of cilantro, available by the window, for a fresh punch. The meat is tender and flavorful. The crunchy strings of red cabbage are a very welcomed addition. And the soft bread with moist crumb somehow resists sogginess under all that juice. It's messy to eat, to the point where the contents and liquid spill out the edges when you go in for a bite, but your only concern should be not to let any of it go to waste. Don't forget to order it with Sweet Potato Chips ($2.00-$2.50), dark, paper-thin crisps infused with lime and chili powder - delish! The menu varies from day-to-day, so if you're lucky enough to spot it, you can't afford to miss out!
Look at this peanut butter, Nutella and bacon sandwich, appropriately dubbed the Decadent ($6.00). The insides are warm and gooey, reminiscent of a molten Reese's peanut butter cup, but with strips of crisp, fatty bacon. Sweet and salty sing in balance between two thick slices of bread, buttered and grilled, sides sealed with a gentle crisp. No words can do it justice. You know what you have to do.
Pas D'Cochon Dans Mon Salon (@Pas_d_cochon)
There's been a huge surge of pulled pork in Montreal, and if you don't know where to go for a fix, head straight to Pas D'Cochon Dans Mon Salon. Their Pulled Pork Sandwich ($7.00) is fantastic. A meat-lover's serving of pulled pork, tender and soaked in a sweet-tangy sauce, busts out of a soft bun that holds well against all the wetness. A few pieces of lettuce go unnoticed from the sheer amount of meat - and that's nothing to complain about. It's messy, filling and delicious above all else.
Another hit is the ¼ BBQ Chicken and Slaw ($8.50). The chicken, massaged with a tasty dry rub, is grilled truck-side over charcoal fires where true BBQ flavors ensue. The meat (white and dark) stays moist under the charred, fatty skin, and the tangy cabbage and carrot slaw is a nice offset. They stick a fork in there, but the best way to enjoy it is to get physical. Find a seat and let your fingers go to town.
If you're not-quite-but-almost full, pick up some Malpèque Oysters (3 for $5.75) that are fresh and leave a clean finish on the palate. Squeeze that lemon and slurp away. Don't bother with the Grilled Corn ($2.00) and chipotle mayo - it's not good. Helpful tip: always ask to see the corn before buying, or like me, you could end up with a skinny twig. Check out Grumman '78's corn kiosk instead. At $5.00 a cob, they look a heck of a lot more appetizing.
One of my favorite things to munch on are Takoyaki, a Japanese street food snack featuring grilled octopus-filled pancake balls. At the Takoyaki Stand, 3 pieces sell for $3.00. They're pricey, but at least they're fresh off the multi-mold griddle. The only flaw in my batch was the texture of the batter. It wasn't the same for every ball - some had a crisp coating, while others stayed too soft - but thankfully, none of the insides were runny. The standard toppings were all there: sweet takoyaki sauce, creamy mayo, salty bonito shavings and aonori (seaweed) flakes. Tasty stuff! Vegetarians, they've got something for you too.
I'm not sold on the idea of Death Grill using a hearse instead of a truck. I get that it's an extension of Death Grill, but there's no use for it. They don't cook inside it, they don't serve food out of it and they don't collect money in it. It's just there...for storage. Maybe they're trying to set themselves apart, but it's totally impractical.
That, however, didn't stop me from getting a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich ($6.50). Tucked into the center of a long bun, I found thin slices of steak, onions and red peppers, finished with a drizzle of cheese sauce. I was expecting an oily monstrosity, but the bread was dry, the meat was dry and they held back on the cheese. Womp womp. Seriously, I'd rather have a Steak and Cheese Sandwich from Subway.
Monsieur Crémeux (@martin_juneau)
Ice cream trucks were just a figment of my imagination...until now. Chef Martin Juneau of Pastaga has invested in an ice cream truck called Monsieur Crémeux, where vanilla soft serve is the focus of the entire menu. While vanilla might not be the most interesting of ice cream flavors, it's a classic for a reason and wholeheartedly satisfying when done right. Smooth, creamy and speckled with vanilla beans, their soft serve stands well on its own, kissed with the right hit of vanilla. Excitingly enough, it actually serves as the base for other frozen treats! They promise banana splits, sundaes, something with cookies, another with cracker jacks, and more!
I picked up a Mont Blanc Citron for $4.75 at my first visit. It's basically lemonade slush with vanilla soft serve swirled overtop. Icy puckering tartness coupled with sweet velvety ice cream makes a great combo - a summer refresher at its very core.
Do not, I repeat do not, overlook whatever this is. I'm not sure if it's a sundae, but it costs $5.00 and it tastes incredible. Just tell them you want vanilla soft serve in a cup with a sticky-sweet pour of maple syrup, and crunchy homemade peanut-popcorn cracker jacks. I don't think I can ever go back to plain vanilla soft serve or the average-Joe sundae after this.
LA CaTRINA (@catrinapaletas)
When given a choice between a Popsicle and ice cream, the latter always wins. But leave it up to LA CaTRINA to sway me to the ice pop side. Brought to life by Julio and Kate, their paletas are all natural, made with fresh products and sweetened with cane sugar. At $4.00 apiece, they come in the most intriguing flavors, from Corn-Wild Québec Blueberries to Horchata-Peach to Cucumber-Lime! Meet Pineapple-Jalapeño, a faintly sweet number that's impressively true in pineapple flavor with chopped bits of jalapeño peppers that somehow add zest but no heat. Great, now I need to know about all the others, and if they're just as bright, clean and cool as this. Sigh, I'm in trouble.