Street Food in Scotland: 20 of the best vans, shacks and stalls
IT’S been a tough year for street food vans – with so many outdoor events and festivals cancelled – and its seen many brilliant vendors pulling their wheels and businesses off the road. But, in spite of that, Scotland still has a tantalising and exciting street food offering, which can be found in farmer’s markets, parks, beach promenades, in short just the kind of outdoor locations that we’re loving to hang out at at this time of year. No article on the best vendors can go without a mention of some of the great hubs that are host to them, farmer’s markets like Stockbridge Neighbourgood Market, The Big Feed in Glasgow, the Pitt in Edinburgh.
Such is the wonder of Scottish street food that foodie Ailidh Forlan even wrote a book on the subject, titled Street Food Scotland: A Journey of Stories and Recipes to Inspire. Some of the entries in this list are based around her tips.
Smoke & Soul Food, Aberdeen locations Ailidh Forlan recommends the slow roasted meats from this mobile outfit, which produces such delights as pork carnitas wrap and slow smoked chicken. Their residency at Six?North restarts on Monday and this weekend, they’re at Backyard Beach Collective, a pop-up street food hub on the Beach Boulevard at Aberdeen, next to the adventure golf – barbecue meats with a view of the sea!
Best to book, though walk-ins are welcome. Check their Instagram and Facebook feeds for updates. Wanderers Kneaded, the Meadows, Edinburgh
Sourdough pizzas cooked in a woodfired oven, served up from an old-style food truck and with toppings to die-for. Award-winning Wanderers Kneaded was set up three years ago by Frances-co Bani, originally from a small town near Bergamo, Italy. The Italian had become disillusioned working for bigger companies in the city and turned his hand to something more independent.
Experimental and adventurous, they recently produced a sweet pizza, smothered in Nutella and prosecco-infused passionfruit curd and sprinkled with marshmallows. They call it the “pornstar wallet”. Currently to be found at the Meadows, Edinburgh and Portobello.
Shrimp Wreck, Neighbourgood Market, Edinburgh Recently these Glasgow seafood conjurers have been serving up their crab mac and cheese and Po Boy sandwiches (prawns and white fish with creole flavouring) at the Nauticus in Leith, but with the Stockbridge Neighbourgood Market now fully opening and expanding at Edinburgh Academicals Rugby ground, they are set to be regular features there. Winner of the Scottish Street Food People’s Choice Award 2017 and Fish Finger Sandwich Award Finalist, from their brightly coloured hut, they serve up specialities like their tempura prawns garnished with bacon and pick-led samphire, in a bun, Cajun squid and sweet potato fries.
Ewen Hutchison opened the mobile seafood bar after leaving what he describes as a “dead end” office job. Check their movements on Facebook and Instagram. Fujsan, The Big Feed, Glasgow Aildh Forlan picked this out for us as a great, authentic Asian vendor – and in a market in which these are relatively few.
Glasgow-based wife and husband team, Chiharu, originally from Japan, and Ian, a Scot, started their business serving up Japanese cuisine after they returned here from Japan, where they had dabbled in street food as a hobby. “We’ve filled our recipe books and brought them all the way from Japan to share with you,” they say. Try their pork katsu-curry, a favourite of Ian’s, which he says, “comprises both Japanese and western elements which mirrors what Fujisan is as a street food trailer and the people who run it.” To be found at Big Feed, Govan Road, from May 22. Check their Facebook feed for details.
Oban seafood hut, Oban harbour A visit to Oban or hop on the ferry is missing something if you don’t pick up a few bites from “the green shack” that has been its fixture on the harbourside for over thirty years. Last time we were there it rained, but we stood there in our waterproofs and ate mussels and crab sandwiches.
Established by fisherman John Ogden, who used to cook the local shellfish for his crewmates while out at sea, and decided to find a market on dry land, it’s about the best value seafood you can get . Mussels cooked on the burner outside the hut, huge scallops in garlic butter, lobsters, dressed crabs and salmon.
The Humble Burger Co, Elgin There’s nothing all that humble about the burgers served up by this team, inspired by Seattle streetfood. Take the Cluck Norris, a lemon and herb chicken breast with pesto mayo, cheese, red onion, peppers and lettuce served in a brioche bun, or the .
And burgers are also not all they do. There are bagels, burritos, filled rolls and plenty of other belly-fillers. Early Bird breakfasts are served till 11am and include the full Scottish and a breakfast burrito.
All dished out from their food truck, open from 9am-3pm at Chanonry Spur, Elgin. The Pakora Explorer, next visiting The Big Feed, Glasgow The formula is simple – chai tea and a clutch of homemade vegetable or chicken pakora, served up with tangy onions, pickle and chilli lime mayo.
It’s also done to perfection by Sheetal Revis’s horse box van kitchen. But there’s more to this operation than just pakora. There is, for instance, their marsala roll, which is essentially a rather delicious chip butty with the addition of some chilli lime mayo and their Keema Scotch pie which is now selling in some stores in Glasgow.
But pakora is the star. Due at the Big Feed on Govan Road on May 29 and 30. Check their website and Facebook page for further details on other locations www.pakoraexplorer.co.uk
Screaming Peacock, from Fife, locations include Leith Community Croft No peacocks were killed in the making of these burgers. Just wild deer and pheasant, which, mixed with yellow peppers, pinhead oats and seasoning, make for some flavoursome patties.
These are the product of Woodmill Game, Screaming Peacock’s sister company, which is attached to a family deer-stalking business and advocates it as “meat that’s okay to eat” – better for you and with a lower carbon footprint than the beef equivalent. Often to be seen at Leith Community Croft’s Sunday market and other locations around Edinburgh. The best way to check where is through their Facebook page.
Information also available at screamingpeacock.co.uk The Peruvian, Neighbourgood Market, Stockbridge, Edinburgh Winner of best snack at the British Street Food Awards last year, Carlo’s street food business has his granny’s recipes and a pining for the Peruvian food he grew up with at its heart – dishes like lomo saltado, a steak stir-fry served with rice and chips.
The last year, he says, has been a struggle, but after many quiet months he’s back at the Neighbourgood market in Stockbridge, for 8 weeks from May 19, there from Wednesday to Sunday. “Like the market, who have a new bigger home in the Edinburgh Academicals rugby ground,” he says, “we are also going bigger. This year we’re introducing pollo a la brasa, chicken marinated for 24 hours, then cooked in a rotisserie oven over wood and charcoal.
It’s a Peruvian classic, vastly popular in Peru and I am really excited for people here to try it. The Bay on the Road, Stonehaven
What’s more street food than a good old-fashioned fish and chip van? This one happens to be the meals on wheels of the wonderful, award-winning The Bay chippy in Stonehaven, hireable for parties, weddings and festivals. Owner Calum Richardson’s latest claim to fame is to have taken his fish supper van to feed the Outlander cast, including Sam Heughan, who ordered fish but no chips.
Not only is the fish good, but The Bay are all about sustainability and serve local-sourced fish. If you don’t want to wait for a festival, though – and these are sparse on the ground right now – just drop into The Bay restaurant itself. Salt and Pine, Tentsmuir, Tayport
In the heart of Tentsmuir Forest in Fife, nestled in pine trees and sand dunes, is a converted shipping container where you can pick up crepes (sweet or savoury), salads, barista coffee and even homemade creme brulee. Open seven days a week from 9.30am to 4pm weekdays and until 5pm on weekends, and formerly called The Crepe Shack, it’s right beside the Kinshaldy car park and play park – so kids can have a romp before enjoying their Nutella-filled treat. Check out saltandpine.co.uk
The Cheesy Toast Shack, St Andrews and Kingsbarns What could be more satisfying than toasties oozing with the gooiest of melted cheese on the beach. This family-run business sells a simple menu of grilled cheese sandwiches, fries and soft drinks – and with original fillings, like its popular mac and cheese.
The shack is on East Sands, St Andrews seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm, and also at Kingsbarns, where it’s open every day apart from Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The queues can be big, so be prepared to wait on busy days. Moskito Spanish bites, Customs House, Leith
This converted vintage horsebox is currently found in Customs House from Thursdays through to Sundays, serving a great range of tapas, bocadillos, chorizo rolls and other Spanish eats. It’s an ideal stop-off after taking a wander round the nearby Leith Market. Pick up lunch and dine at a table by the Water of Leith.
Or start the day with one of its signature breakfast rolls. Open Thursdays from 9am to 3pm and Friday through to Sunday from 10am until 4pm. Check its Facebook or Instagram for more details.
The Buffalo Truck, The Pitt, Edinburgh Mention the Buffalo Truck and we have to talk about the hip street food venue which hosts it, The Pitt. Housed in an industrial yard, it’s one of those places where streefood comes to life, and offers a full social experience with music – and it’s child and dog friendly.
It’s also where the Scottish Street Food Awards take place this June. The Buffalo Truck is one of its stars and a frequent winner of such awards, highly recommended by streetfood guru, Ailidh Forlan. It’s buttermilk chicken is crisp and zingy, and paired with inventive sauces and pickles.
Try Buffalo, with blue cheese and hot sauce. The Pitt is open Friday evenings, Saturday from 12-10pm and Sunday from 12-7pm. Heather Street Food, V&A, Dundee
Fresh doughnuts, toasted bagels, artisan gelato and award-winning coffee are the core lures of this pop-up run by streetfood entrepreneurs Chris Heather and Melodie Paterson outside the V&A. As befits anything associated with the design museum, the vending units – a three-wheeled Piaggi van and a converted horsebox – look cool. Then there’s the fillings.
Bagels like Pavarotti, packed with mozzarella plum tomatoes, fresh bazil, pesto and balsamic glaze, and doughnuts oozing with Nutella or lemon curd. No wonder there’s often a queue. Open 10am-6pm, seven days a week.
The Seafood Shack, Ullapool Fenella Renwick and Kirsty Scobie used to watch the fishing boats coming and going out of Ullapool – and felt that what the town really needed was a place selling cooked shellfish. What the pair created was a seafood shack with a definite streetfood vibe, their signature dish a fresh haddock tempura wrap.
Much of the fish is sourced locally – the oysters from a local farm, langoustines and lobsters from Scobie’s partner who is a fisherman. It’s a menu that is genuinely adventurous – sweet and sour Tom Yum with creel-caught langoustines, smoked haddock, pea and chorizo with macaroni cheese. These dishes are so good they even published a recipe book that has proved extremely popular.
Open seven days a week 12pm-6pm. Recommended by Ailidh Forlan. Cafe Floor, Jupiter Artland
Half the joy of this food outlet is how it looks – the vintage Silver Streak van, right, housing it is almost a work of art itself, serving coffee, tea, sandwiches, ice cream and sweet treats. It’s well worth picking up a bite while you’re visiting this wonderful art park and checking out the new commission by Rachel Maclean – her first foray into outdoor art, combining architecture, sculpture and animation. The Caravan of Courage, the Big Feed, Glasgow, and other locations
This caravan declares it’s all about “courageous” plant-based food – a bold vegan offering. Grilled falafel flatbreads, chunky salads and a vegan junk food menu that does all the classics – vegan dogs, cheeseburgers, cheesy potatoes and haggis brioche buns. Located at The Big Feed, Scotland’s biggest indoor street food market on Govan Road, Glasgow, when it opens on May 22.
Check out its Facebook for other locations. Heaven for vegans. Flaming Indulgence, Ayr
Rhona Qualm’s mobile woodfired kitchen provides artisan pizzas (pictured) with delicious organic toppings – for example, Tuscan Sausage Feast with passata, mozzarella, Tuscan sausage, pepperoni, chorizo and chicken with a drizzle of either BBQ, chipotle or chimichurri. Ailidh Forlan highly recommends it, saying: “She’s the kind of woman that ditches canned sweetcorn in favour of foraged wild garlic and also pays above average for her vegetables, including curly kale, fresh basil and courgette, from the Auchincruive walled garden.” Locations include The Oval, Prestwick on Wednesdays, Racecourse View, Ayr on Thursdays, and Maidens on Fridays – but check its Facebook to confirm timings and pre-order. www.flamingindulgence.co.uk Gallus Streetfood at the Big Feed, Glasgow
Described as “the latest challenger to Glasgow’s food porn crown” and taking a Scottish slant on what it calls “the go-to street foods of the world”, Gallus Streetfood has a menu that includes a pizza with a Greggs sausage roll as a topping, another with the “Full Scottish” piled over it and the Gallus burger, stuffed with patty, double cheese, burger sauce, crispy onions and salad. Its delicious rainbow buns – some swirling with colours like a Hairy Coo painting – give the food a psychedelic feel. And what kid (young or old) could resist one of its ice cream pieces, dressed to look like Muppet characters?
It has so much going on, including its own store in Yoker and a recent residence at Chandlers, Clydebank, that it’s worth checking its Facebook page for information on all of its movements.
At The Big Feed on Govan Road, Glasgow, which opens on May 22.
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