Though truck stop diners remain oddly imbued with a road trip-romantic connotation or two, I’ve travelled enough of North America’s highways and byways to recognize that they’re neither particularly good nor particularly sanitary. Truly, nothing serves to scrape clean this hazy patina than a visit to its toilet or a whiffing glimpse of its grease trap.
Red Truck‘s brand new Truck Stop Diner at 295 East 1st Avenue off Main Street gives Vancouverites the rare chance to try one fresh. Of course, this particular one isn’t like the terrifying bastions of culinary indifference one finds strewn along Interstate 70 from Kansas City to Columbus. It’s really just a basic burger and beer joint, a play on the brewery’s brand more than a genuine nod to genuine big rig respites, and thank goodness for that.
Plus there’s beer, and plenty of it. They run with 7 to 9 Red Truck beers on tap and plan on introducing a cask program in the future, too.
I’ve only been once so far, but the straightforward cheeseburger I washed down with a taster of Belgian Blonde ale was simple, well put together (iceberg lettuce and single slice tomato), and better than most of the cheeseburgers I’ve ever endured roadside. The menu is deep, and it all cuts to the diner theme, from all-day fried eggs with corned beef hash and Texas toast to chili-cheese hotdogs. They even do soft serve ice cream. Prices are in the $5 to $14 range.
They’ve done a good job with the 110 seat space. One walks through a cold beer and merchandise-heavy retail entrance to reach the long bar (or lunch counter, depending on the character of your elbows) and well-ordered sea of high top tables and stools. At the end of the room is an open kitchen built into a bright blue shipping container. There are televisions galore, which is to say it’ll be a no brainer for Canucks fans come October (Montreal spiced wings and buffalo fries with blue cheese, FTW). It all clings lycra-like to Red Truck’s identity, even on the 35 seat patio, which is shaded by a canopy of red umbrellas emblazoned with the company logo. Mark James, take a bow.
It’s a bit of an odd location given how removed it is from Main Street, but the crowds out of the gate have been impressive, both in the day and at night. They’re anticipating a big turn-out for the first gig in their Parking Lot Concert Series, which kicks off this weekend with sets by The Trews, Five Alarm Funk, and more.
Personally, I can’t wait to give it another go, this time maybe with a schnitzel sandwich and a VCBW special Campfire Kolsch (if there’s any left). See you there.