Congrats! You made it through the seasonal doldrums, when parkas are a thing of the past but shorts and skirts are still a questionable legwear decision. June is here, and with it, the joys of summer eating. To accompany the summer patio guide we published last week, here’s an overview of your outdoor food options, both at the curbside and at the Tuesday evening farmers market.
First the bad news. Last summer’s attempt to give the centre of town a shot of Portland chic has, alas, come to naught. The weekly food truck gathering in the empty 50/50 lot was a great idea, but according to City communications officer Richard McIntosh, the rally quickly lost steam. Simply too few food trucks and not enough public interest, he said, to turn the City-owned lot into a legit street festival the likes of which you see in larger cities. The lot could still be made available if food truck vendors wanted to resurrect the event among themselves, but the City won’t be organizing it.
In addition, there seem to be fewer trucks on the road this year. If you want a signature Wise Guy burger, you’ll have to head down to the Twin Pine Diner, where Robin Wasicuna is focusing his efforts this summer. And it doesn’t look like the popular smoothies, lemonade and veggie burgers (arguably the best in town last summer) of The Fresh Squeeze will be back for another season. Likewise the empanadas of Southern Comfort Summer Cafe won’t be at the Abe Miller Centre, which is looking for new food vendors to accompany the smoothies made and sold by members of the Association of Community Living. Attempts to find out if Southern Comfort would be back in any other form were unsuccessful
But worry not, Yellowknifers, there are still a bevy of favourites back on the street this year.
Murray’s Curbside Treats n’ Eats
It’s hard not to like Murray’s. Service and staff are consistently pleasant. The food as well: likeable. He’s giving us deep-fried pickles, lemonade, smoked meat sandwiches, meatball subs and hot dogs — basically, the kind of eats you’d find at a country fair — because Yellowknifers like that in their street food.
New this year: to complement his much-lauded fish tacos, Murray is adding chicken tacos, as well as veggie wraps for YK’s long-suffering vegetarians. He’s also invested in a new ice cream machine — so basically it’s ice cream sandwiches for days, henceforth.
One of a Thai
This has been a fail-safe staple for YKers who want Thai food that is accessible to their taste buds, wallets, and lunch hour. Last summer One of a Thai unveiled a new food truck which allowed them to elevate their menu, with some new home-style additions such as Khao Poon Sen Prik, an aromatic red curry-based soup (sometimes fish-based, sometimes chicken) with vermicelli noodles and veggies. Their ribs are can’t-miss.
New this year: OOAT’s Sousanh Chanthalangsy will focus on a rotating menu, with new items introduced throughout the week. Check out their Twitter and Facebook to see what’s coming up, and keep your eyes peeled for the Thai Wonton Soup and their homemade sausages — “they’re spicier than usual.”
These Farmer’s Market favourites opened up food truck operations last summer, serving Indian comfort food items such as butter chicken, beef curry and samosas. Of all the gaps in Yellowknife’s restaurant scene, having no Indian restaurant is one of the cruelest, and Saffron is doing a commendable job. Things could have been a little spicier last summer, but we have high hopes for this year’s menu, which includes a veggie curry along with old favourites.
One of Kam Lake’s little-known treasures, tucked away in an industrial parking lot (114 Taltheilei Drive), Starvin’ Marvin is another international option for YK’s more adventurous eaters. Despite her rough-edged location, owner Elena Rauch has created a quaint, cozy little spot serving up Russian cuisine. It’s out of the way for the downtown office crowd, but they still seem to get decent traffic, with a lot of burly men in greasy overalls tucking into bowls of delicious borscht, meatballs or goulash.
New this year: usually a Monday through Friday enterprise, Rauch is thinking of opening up on Saturday as well, though that decision depends on interest.
The Gastown Grill has no wheels, and is located out on Old Airport Road, no one’s idea of a prime destination, but it just might be the best-kept seasonal food secret in town. Next to the oddly charming little gas station with the Rent-A-Relics and the glowing sign offering bacon wrapped hot dogs year-round, this little box consistently serves up food that’s way better than it needs to be: nothing pre-cooked, nothing flash frozen, all homemade recipes. Massive pulled-pork sandwiches? Check. Milkshakes? Check. Home-cut fries? Check.
New this year: If greasy snacks are your thing, check out the new deep-fried pickles or mac and cheese bites. They’re also now offering burger or wrap specials every Friday, and have extended their hours: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m..
The Farmers Market
After four years creeping down one side of the Sombe K’e Park and around the walkway, the Tuesday evening Farmer’s Market is finally going to reach the whole way to City Hall this year. There are 57 vendors registered for the weekly market which starts next Tuesday, June 7, including a serious number of newcomers: upwards of 55 percent.
The marker is hoping to hew closer to the “Farmer” part of its name this year, with three vendors selling produce every week, and a further two who will be there some of the time. There will also be a Produce and Wild Harvesters table for people who want to try selling homegrown produce or foraged food like mushrooms without having to commit to a full-time booth. Among the stalls are a mix of returning favourites and some new operators such as Authentic Viet. Find a full list here.
The emphasis on produce doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of folks selling dinner as well. Here’s the booth breakdown, according to market manager Jordee Reid:
- Seventeen food concessions —11 full-season, five half-season, one quarter-season
- Thirteen baking/confectionery — nine full-season, one half-season, three quarter-season
- Four preserves (i.e. pickles, jams, chutneys, etc) — three full-season, one quarter-season
- Seventeen Artisanal (mainly food)
- Six agriculture/wild harvest — five full-season, one half-season
The market runs from 5:15 to 7:15 every Tuesday, except the week of June 20, when the market be moved to Thursday to accommodate Aboriginal Day celebrations in Sombe K’e Park.