IF you thought that food trucks were just a Covid-era fad, you’d be wrong!
What started as a means to an end to break the monotony of cooking at home ended as a realisation of what variety and quality of crazy delicious food people were turning out from a food truck, however big or small!
As a result, they are here to stay, and really come into their own during summer.
Although we may well see fewer horseboxes-turned-coffee docks around, the food trucks that had something unique about them and built up loyal followings are still doing their thing, even expanding into pop up events, meal kits and private catering. One even went on to win a TV show!
There is plenty of choice, but here are my picks for ten of the best food trucks in Cork city and county.
The Spice Genie
Christopher Braganza and his Spice Genie food truck recently won RTÉ’s Battle of the Food Trucks. Inspired by food from his homeland in Goa, India, Christopher’s food is all flavour and soul, cooked from scratch, and making best use of fresh Irish meats from his network of local butchers around east Cork.
There is a focus on quality and depth of flavour, and don’t be fooled into thinking that spice means heat. It means aroma, flavour and texture. If you want an extra hit of heat, find it in Christopher’s fiery chili oils or garnish of fresh hot chilies.
Curries are a speciality, and Christopher roams culinary India for the tastiest dishes that work with fresh beef, lamb and chicken.
Vegetarian and vegan options are available, and, apart from some dairy elements which are essential in his Chicken Tikka, foods are free from 13 notified allergens, such as nuts and wheat.
Find The Spice Genie weekly at Midleton, Kinsale and Wilton Farmers’ Markets.
Caitlin Ruth Food
No matter what Ms Ruth delivers over the hatch, there is always an eager crowd waiting patiently for her deeply delicious food.
A vociferous locavore - one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible - her commitment is boosted by her deft skill with pickling and preserving fruit, veggies and herbs.
Her way with piquant pickles and bitter herbs and vegetables is her stand out signature, showcasing the incredible knowledge and understanding of flavours that makes Caitlin Ruth Food so unique.
You’ll therefore be delighted to know Caitlin will be reprising her summer residency at Levis Corner House, Ballydehob, for the first two weeks of August. Booking is a must and be quick about it too! Details and booking via www.leviscornerhouse.com, and keep an eye out on the social channels for both Caitlin Ruth Food and Levis Corner House.
The Bus Stop at Ballinadee Bus, Bandon
A project borne from a need to channel grief after the sudden loss of their father by suicide became a thriving business and a positive force for good for the McCarthys. Sisters Anna and Rachel and brother Thomas converted an old double-decker Dublin Bus into a quirky, luxurious Airbnb in memory of their late father, Patrick, in 2021. But that’s only the beginning of the Ballinadee Bus project. Further renovations and The Bus Stop café are new on site this year - the family enterprise is looking to cement its community ties.
The Bus Stop café serves delicious Kinsale coffee, hot chocolate, tea and tasty bakes from fellow neighbour-in-business, Soul Fix. The menu includes delicious toasties and healthy juices using produce either sourced locally or grown on site in their polytunnel. Their cousin runs a piggery close by, so the ham in the ham and cheese toastie couldn’t get more local!
A third bus has been converted into a sit-down café downstairs with an open top café upstairs offering panoramic views of the beautiful countryside that surrounds the Ballinadee Bus.
Tipsy Taco, Midleton and Glounthane
From New York to Cork, Steven Molloy and Caroline Hodnett are the duo behind Tipsy Tacos trading out of Midleton Farmers’ Market and Glounthane, and generally having a whole lot of fun slinging super tasty bites full of the flavours of Mexico!
If, like me, you’re a bit fed up with things piled into flabby wheat tortillas and being told that’s a taco, you’ll be relieved to know Tipsy Taco are the real deal.
Small bites nestled in palm-sized corn tortillas filled with slow cooked meats, pickles, sauces and fresh herbs for that perfectly balanced mouthful.
The fabulous trio of shredded chicken, chilli beef and pulled pork are the only things we should ‘taco’ about, (groan), but you may also like to know the Tipsy Taco truck can come to you, catering for parties and special occasions. Now, don’t tell me that’s nacho thing?!
The Curly Stu Pizzas, various locations (Cloghduv, Newcestown, Coal Quay)
Stuart ‘Stu’ Bowe’s pizzas can take up to three days to prepare, and just 90 seconds to cook - slow fast food! He uses a poolish pre-ferment method to make his dough which, he says, results in an easier to digest pizza. The toppings are classic and simple - margherita, pepperoni, and cheesy garlic bread. Nothing too complicated; less is definitely more!
Regular haunts for The Curly Stu are Cloughduv, Newcestown and the Coal Quay, but you can also find him at Ballincollig and Farran and he is available for private parties and events.
Stuart has a Patreon site where, for a few euros, he provides tutorials, sharing his knowledge of making the perfect pizza. As a self-taught entrepreneur who has built up a hefty social media presence, he is also sharing insights on converting horse boxes into mobile pizzerias and how he has successfully utilised social media for his business.
French Beans Café, Rostellan
If there is such a thing to perfectly pair with a rich, dark, hot cup of coffee in the morning, it must be a Madeleine, those perfect little sponge cakes made to look like shells.
Down in Rostellan, East Cork, French Beans Café are doing just that, but also a whole host of things that I like best to eat!
Whether it’s perfectly flaky croissants and pain au chocolat, those quaint little Madeleine’s are differently flavoured depending on the time of year, Flan Parisien - a kind of baked egg custard tart that is oh-so-delicious, and totally moreish Gougères, a savoury choux bun mixed with cheese.
There are other sweet cakes and bakes too that change with the season, some baked in house, some from other local bakers the French Beans team link in with.
The Quirkey Kitchen, Innishannon
Since opening the Quirkey Kitchen in 2021, Siobhan Quirke O Halpín has established a loyal customer base visiting her gorgeous little vintage Citroen van for coffee, cakes, delicious toasties, sandwiches and salads made with locally sourced ingredients. That following enabled Siobhan to effortlessly move location from the main road through Innishannon to a new quiet and secluded spot off the beaten track just outside the town.
The new home for Siobhan’s Quirkey Kitchen comes with a beautifully put together courtyard space complete with a covered dining area for those days that aren’t quite so sunny. It’s the perfect hangout spot for friends, ladies who coffee, mums, and families. It’s pet friendly too, so bring your pooch along for your lunchtime mooch.
The truck and courtyard are open Friday to Sunday from 11am - 6pm. When the sun shines, it’s a hard spot to drag yourself away from!
FOOD TRUCK PARKS
This is not a cop out! When something has been curated so brilliantly, it’s impossible to pick out just one thing from the collection. That’s how I feel about these three food truck ‘parks’ that have been created in Cork over the past two years.
Glengarriff Food Truck Park
Beside Quills in the beautiful West Cork village of Glengarriff, the food truck park has been a huge success, offering summertime visitors good quality, easy-on-the-go food.
Caha Coffee (formerly Revel Culture Coffee) has always been here, as has La Creperie Gourmande serving up the perfect partnership of coffee and crepes. But since we emerged from the first lockdown of 2020, the two stalwarts have been joined by the likes of Boxed Woodfired Pizza, Coasties, Fire & Feast, Waffles and Ice Cream, as well as trucks and stalls offering donuts, juices, fish and chips - perfect for feeding visitors when indoor dining was still out of reach.
Ever since, the food truck park has continued to draw people in, catering to those looking for a quick bite to eat without compromising quality.
It’s a safe place for kids and dogs, too, with picnic tables and access to public loos.
Not only is Glengarriff a beautiful spot to visit, but it’s curating a great foodie reputation for itself with the likes of chef Eddie Attwell reviving the culinary experience at Eccles Hotel, Mozz Pizza drawing a loyal following, and Two Green Shoots offering botanical food experiences and escapes.
The Black Market, Dornan’s Yard,
Opened in 2021, the Black Market has taken over the disused Dornan’s Yard to create a box park experience with a seriously strong aesthetic. Repurposing former transport containers into a series of kitchens designed specifically for each food vendor, The Black Market aims to attract diners looking for a different kind of experience.
Not technically food trucks but with the same mindset, there is a bit more permanence to the set-up here where the containers are staged, corral-like, around a central communal dining area.
This is less about food designed to be eaten on the hoof; more about encouraging diners to sit and stay a while, enjoy their food and the experience, and appreciate the skill gone in to making it - and to be social.
New vendors are added slowly, but right now, Soma2, Brendan’s Burritos, Burger Bar, Fromo Desserts, The Egg Bar, Dip Asian Food and Burnt Pizza are what to expect.
Marina Market, Centre Park Road
Billed as Cork’s largest indoor and outdoor market, open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, Marina Market has really bedded into the community vibe over the past two years as Corkonians got out and about, rediscovering their city and making the most of places to hang out with great food and friends.
The vendor list here seems to get bigger every month, but as much as the market is about food, it’s also about using the space for other community-centred activities from yoga to craft fairs, sustainable fashion to art and theatre.
Some of the best casual dining food in Cork can be found here. Nua Asador is the latest vendor to rock up, with up-and-coming Cork-based chef, Victor Franca, going back to his roots and flame cooking Tom Durcan steaks to perfection.
Hansum Rotisserie Chicken, Prátaí, Dinky Donuts, Oak Fire Pizza, Sicilian Delights, Kura Sushi, Sultan’s Lebanese food, No Sin and Young Plant plus coffee by Guji and Alchemy are just some of the 21 current vendors.
Marina Market have led the way in Cork, showcasing the versatility, creativity, quality and fun that we can all have with our food!
Socials is where you’ll find all the latest news on events, pop ups and new vendor announcements.