Now that I’ve got nearly a year’s worth of Toronto Underground Market and Food Truck Eats under my belt, I felt it time to update the list I had written up back in August. It’s not too different, but this update is directed at optimizing your eating vs. waiting-in-line time. Case in point: the table above was at the April Toronto Underground Market. With four people, we were able to snag over 10 vendors in about 30 minutes. Here’s how we did it.
  1. ARRIVE EARLY. Waiting 30 minutes for the door to open is okay for me when you can hit a ton of vendors early and quickly before line ups form. It’ll save you time long-term and get you eating faster. The other way to go is to come later, after the lines have started to dissipate, but you end up missing things as vendors sell out. And some vendors will still have lines an hour long (I’m looking at you, Rock Lobster)!
  2. DIVIDE & CONQUER. Attend with friends. Put your man-power to use by standing in different lines at the same time. Have someone camp a table and rendez-vous there to share your haul. Getting a taste of everything is usually the goal. Once you’ve figured out what you love, you can return for seconds. Line ups aren’t nearly so painful if you know what the payoff will be.
  3. BRING TOOLS. I carry a pair of portable chopsticks with me all the time, but when I hit food events like this, I also bring a cutting board, knife, and scissors (store it in a ziploc for a cleaner trip home). Especially useful when you’re eating with a group, as some have observed (see the end of the article!).
  4. MAKE A PLAN. Knowing who and where and what is half the battle. Being familiar with what each vendor is offering – and how popular they are – will help speed things up when you’re first to order. And hit the guys who get the longest line up first – that way you’re waiting a fraction of the time you would have later.
  5. DON’T WAIT IN LONG LINES. I favour vendors with short lines (up to 4-5 ahead of me). Some of the best eats have been surprises. Plus, if the dish is not to your taste, you didn’t waste a lot of time.
  6. BRING A CONTAINER. Don’t be stuck in a quandary when you have more items than hands. I use a tupperware container – good for during the event, and then for taking home the food you can no longer cram into your maw.
  7. GETTING YOUR HANDS CLEAN. Things are more enjoyable when you’re not spreading the remnants of your last dish around, so bring Wet Ones and/or hand sanitizer. Because at some point your hands will be a mess. If not you, it’ll be someone else.
  8. DON’T EAT THE BREAD. And don’t waste your stomach space on non-tasty things. Delicious is the minium requirement for ingesting more than a mouthful.
  9. BRING WATER. Or if you’re me, jasmine tea in a travel mug. There are always interesting drinks to be had from vendors, but sometimes, you just want to clear your palate.
  10. HAVE FUN! There will be a lot of people and not a lot of space. In the end, everyone’s there because they love food. Keep your spirits up, be generous, and don’t let minor infractions spoil the evening. 

The Next Food Truck Eats: 6 people, 15 minutes (was still waiting for some dishes), ~10 vendors.