We recently posted a roundup of signs of spring in Iqaluit, but here's another one you can add to the list: the re-appearance of the Iqaluit food truck. And while we do not have the northernmost food truck in Nunavut (we think that claim goes to Grumpy's of Kugluktuk), we do have not one, not two, but three restaurants on wheels. To celebrate these unique businesses and kick-off the outdoor-eating season, we decided to visit each Iqaluit food truck for a meal. We also noted down some important details about opening hours and locations. Kind of like what we did with our Iqaluit Wing Night post, but with more gravy.
Hours and Location: 11:00 am - 6:30 pm on Saturdays at Nakasuk School; 9:00 pm - 3:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays outside the Legion
Best For: Late night eats; ambiance
Special Menu Item: Asian pork spring rolls with fries ($11)
Name: Nanook Express
Hours and Location: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm on Saturdays at Nakasuk School
Best For: Convenience
Special Menu Item: Fries with dressing (stuffing) and gravy ($11)
Name: Curbside Grill
Hours and Location: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm from Monday to Thursday and 11:30 am - midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, always near Baffin Gas
Best For: Reliability; variety
Special Menu Item: Louisiana Steak Wrap ($14)
Iqaluit Food Truck Food
All three of our chip trucks serve a standard burger-and-fries type menu, with a few added options on each - especially the newest truck, Curbside Grill, which boasts a fairly substantial menu. For comparison purposes, we opted to have a cheeseburger and a poutine from each venue (if available).
We started our Iqaluit food truck crawl with a Thursday lunch from Curbside Grill, which we enjoyed under the bright sun on a picnic table at the Four Corners. Curbside Grill prides itself on its homemade, quality food, beginning with its six-ounce beef burgers. Our cheeseburger ($10) was definitely homemade and served on a very tasty bun with lettuce, tomatoes, and special sauce (some kind of mayo and ketchup concoction, according to our tastebuds). The patty was fresh and well-cooked - all around, a good burger.
More impressive was the regular poutine ($10). Curbside's poutine is made with hand-cut potato slices instead of fries. Tender and fluffy, they acted as a great vessel for the real cheese curds and well-seasoned gravy. You'll note that all the poutines from the various trucks come in at the same price point, but Curbside Grill's offering seems the largest. It also had the best ratio of cheese to potato to gravy. We also really loved the retro checkerboard paper it was served on. A nice, bright touch.
Next on the menu was a visit to Kulu's, a local institution of sorts, and the original Iqaluit food truck. In our opinion, the best time to enjoy Kulu's is post-Legion, joining the bar crowd in search of a salty fix in the wee hours of the morning. And there always is a crowd, which adds a sense of fun and celebration to the early-morning Kulu's experience (which is why we gave them a shout out for having great ambiance).
Unfortunately, Kulu's only serves cheeseburgers on Saturday nights, which didn't fit our blog post schedule. Thus, for our early morning meal, we indulged in a bacon-wrapped hot dog ($6.50). Who doesn't love a hot dog? We sure do, and the addition of crispy, deep-fried bacon is a nice way to amp up the street meat favourite.
On to the poutine ($9.50), which is the second best in town, according to our Best of Iqaluit poll, and for good reason. The cheese is squeaky, the gravy is salty, the fries have that crisp-but-soggy texture that is just right for poutine. Ask for it with extra gravy if you're feeling extra indulgent.
Our final Iqaluit food truck visit was to the Nanook Express for a Saturday lunch. It's a good thing we went when we did, as it's not open any other days. You'll find the Nanook Express truck parked in the Nakasuk parking lot, alongside Kulu's (does that make it a food truck park?). The prime location just off Federal Road and across from NorthMart means the area is quite busy, as noted in the photo below, taken just as the trucks were opening.
For our Nanook meal, we started with a cheeseburger ($10). After a bit of a wait (it really was quite busy!), we were handed what turned out to be a decent burger. The patty didn't have the texture or flavour of the Curbside burger, which was definitely handmade, but the burger was dressed to perfection. We love a good sloppy burger, and this one had a nice, juicy, thick-cut slice of tomato to boot.
And for our final poutine ($9), we dug our forks into the melty option from Nanook Express. The portion size was just right, though the balance between the three ingredients erred on the side of fries (read: more cheese please!). It also came out super hot, hence the stringy, stretchy cheese pictured below.
Final Food Truck Thoughts
As noted in the "Best For" sections at the top of this post, we have our favourites for different reasons. But most of all, we love to see small business growth in Iqaluit. We really enjoyed meeting the owners and staff who run these trucks, in some cases alongside other day jobs. They're providing a service and expanding Iqaluit's food scene beyond the brick and mortar (um, piles and siding?) establishments of yore. There is a lot of potential on these wheels, and we can't wait to taste it all. Long live the Iqaluit food truck!
Do you have a favourite Iqaluit food truck? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!