New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published September 24th 2016
Update January 23rd 2017
Westside Acton Park and its food trucks (further down this list) is due to close in April 2017.
Send your tastebuds for a trip around the world
Food trucks have risen in popularity in the last decade, all over the world. For food vendors, they are an easy business to set up at a low cost, so they can start selling their tasty fare quickly to the masses. For customers, we get to try out a variety of tasty international flavours that we may not have tried before, for a reasonable price. There is nothing better than the enticing smell coming out of a food truck - it is one way to draw in the hungry crowds on a Saturday night. Traditional food from Peru, the Middle East and the Philippines are just some of the flavours on offer from Canberra's Food Trucks, with many more you can try. So where can you track these food trucks down? There are two main venues in Canberra where they are grouped together so you can enjoy lunch from one vendor, dessert from another and a drink from somewhere else. You can't beat that for international travel, all in one location.
So starting with the very popular - The Hamlet...
Look for The Hamlet entrance on the popular Lonsdale Street, Braddon
The Hamlet is a collection of food trucks on the busy Lonsdale street in Braddon. This area is just a few minutes walk from the CBD, where you walk past pubs, restaurants, cafes and possibly the busiest car wash in Canberra. The car-related businesses in this strip of eateries is from the time when Lonsdale Street was Canberra's auto central - with petrol stations, car washes, car yards and spare parts businesses all along the street. A few of these still remain, giving the street an industrial, edgy feel. The Hamlet is an area that takes up one car yard space on the street and was designed to give a "leg up" to food trucks who were just starting out, to give them support amongst other food trucks.
Inside the area, you will find some couches, seating and even a couple of pinball machines to entertain the kids - of all ages. This collection of food trucks can change easily, as some trucks decide to leave and more arrive, however the popular ones remain. These are just a few of the favourites, however make sure you walk around and discover new and exciting flavours at each truck or trailer. You won't be disappointed.
Mr Papa sells traditional street food from Peru including empanada's, Peruvian style burritos and traditional sandwiches. See their website here for the menu and see their range. If you haven't heard of most of the things on the menu, then it is a great opportunity to try something new. When you see the lines to his truck, you know it must be good.
Spit Shack sells hot meat rolls, with meat literally carved straight off the spit. Choose between roast lamb or pork rolls with a variety of gravies, as well as specialty rolls throughout the year. They also have a food truck located on its own in Pialligo (near the airport), which has recently changed locations to include more parking, further up Beltana Road. See the Spit Shack Facebook for more details. 10 Inch Custom Pizzeria may not be a food truck, but it sits at the end of the walkway past Spit Shack and Mr Papa and also draws in the crowds. This is the only outlet in The Hamlet which has its own seating inside. They also own the food truck Pasta'd on the other side of The Hamlet, for traditional Italian fair and of course, pasta. See the 10 inch Custom Pizzeria Facebook for more details of both venues. Brodogs is a bright red food truck which sells a large variety of American style hot dogs with an endless choice of toppings and sizes for all the family. This hot dog food truck is one of the most popular trucks as the food is particularly tasty and the kids love the smaller sizes, with all the toppings piled on top. As they are open until 10pm - 11pm between Tuesday and Saturday nights, these hot dogs also make a tasty treat for older locals before a big night out on the town. See the Brodogs website for details.
Westside Acton Park is another collection of food outlets, located on Lake Burley Griffin on the opposite side of the road to Commonwealth Park. It is a series of shipping containers set up into a little village, with a meeting place in the middle for markets and events - and the occasional game of basketball. Instead of actual food trucks, the vendors are set up inside shipping containers - so although this venue is not technically just food trucks, it is the same rustic idea. This area was set up by the ACT Government to give small business a start up, before they open up their own restaurants and food outlets around the city.
Each Sunday in particular thousands of people flock to the markets and family activities, as well as going to enjoy the international fare on offer. As well as several food outlets down below, there is even a horizontal shipping container up high in the air overlooking Lake Burley Griffin, called Aviary Rooftop. Enjoy a sunset drink here at the end of the day, before the music begins. At the time of writing the ACT Government is considering whether this venue should remain open, however with positive public support, we can only hope that it will stay. See the Westside Acton Park Facebook for updates.
Westside Acton Park, with Aviary Rooftop bar up the top
Miss Van's is one of the most popular food outlets, selling traditional Asian street food. This venue has been a constant, popular food outlet, with diners enjoying their fare after a walk along the lake. Sit at their little tables and enjoy their famous bánh mì sandwiches, bún (noodle salad bowls) and phở (beef noodle soups), all at reasonable prices. See the Miss Van's menu and website here. Habibiz is another popular original in the park, selling Middle Eastern food and Charcoal Grilled Chicken. Pick from a selection of meaty goodness such as burgers, BBQ chicken meals and Meat Snack Boxes - which is slow cooked meat, spices and sauces over hot chips. See the Habibiz Facebook here for more details.
Damn Fine Roasters Drive Thru Coffee is the only one of its kind in Canberra and has a steady line of cars on the weekends - especially in Winter. Their Italian style coffee is their own blend and you can either buy it drive thru, or simply get a takeaway to enjoy as you wander the markets on Sunday. See the Damn Fine Roasters Facebook for more details.
Lolo and Lola are relatively new to the scene, in comparison to the other outlets, however their following is already strong with a full dining area on weekends. They are a Filipino Bakery which sells a range of traditional desserts and sweet treats, as well as traditional lunchtime savoury fare. Why not pick something off the menu that you have never heard of before? It is guaranteed to be delicious. See the Lolo and Lola Facebook for details.
If you love food trucks, then you can also see them at various markets that are held throughout the month and year. Each Friday night there is the Farmers and Foodies Market at Kingston which has a few food trucks outside selling coffees and French fare. Each season there is also The Forage evening food market with a range of food trucks and tasty delights to enjoy into the night. International food is extremely popular in Canberra, which is why we flock to these two venues as we do. If you enjoy it too, ensure you visit the annual National Multicultural Festival (February), Canberra Nara Festival (October), World Curry Festival (July) and the Night Noodle Markets (March) in particular, which attracts thousands of people to these tasty events.
With so many opportunities to eat a huge range of delicious, international food - you don't even need to leave Canberra for your stomach to travel the world. Enjoy the ride!
The popular Lolo and Lola Filipino food outlet at Westside Acton Park