The other day I was pulled up at the carwash on Brixton Road. As my van was taken over by a small army of ardent cleaners (brilliant if you’re after the full works – just outside Jamm at the Loughborough Road turning), my attention was suddenly caught by a jaunty little set-up in the back…
It got me thinking – wouldn’t it make a nice change to see a proper Latino style ‘hamburguesa’ outlet knocking out juicy burgers, limonadas and other refrescantes – with merengue piping out of the hatch?
I guess what I’m looking for is something with a bit of a switch in its hips on the burger front. I don’t want to take away from any of the admirably prepared Farmer’s Market-style options, of which there are many in Britain, but something with a bit of swagger about it? I’d be first in line.
Luckily, in my quest to find the best portable fayre in this green and pleasant land, I’ve managed to stumble upon some corkers. Anyone visiting the eat.st site will have noticed two such exemplary mobile establishments, The Meat Wagon and La Vache.
The Meat Wagon is causing a stir down in Peckham with its regular Meatings. Charred meat-heads from all over town are drawn by the promise of juicy packages of meat served amidst insalubrious surroundings. It’s an adventure! A walk on the wild side – far beyond the safe and prescribed realm of a high street burger outlet, The Meat Wagon ticks the box for a bit of off-piste foodie tourism. But it wouldn’t be such a pull if that stuff wasn’t good. And it is, addictively so.
La Vache, meanwhile, is a festival stalwart. In business since 2005, Justin and Charli spend the whole summer on the road with their two meat-wielding Citoren-H vans. The menu includes organic steak sandwiches (my favourite), organic burgers, halloumi burgers, brownies and real coffee. While many traders at festivals can cut corners and trick you into thinking they’re all that when they’re not, La Vache has never once let me down and has never compromised on quality.
And just the other week I was thrilled to discover a third burger maestro: Bhangra Burgers! Stepping up the pace on the spice front is another South Londoner, Alec.
Alec was responsible for the all too shortly lived Friday food market outside KFC in Brixton last year. Apparently loads of local businesses complained that it was wrecking their trade. This is so often the first reaction from bricks and mortar joints to the mobile upstarts, but what happens to almost always be the case is more, not less, business for everyone.
Anyway, that’s another story. The point is that this Bhangra Burger is the BOMB. Not for a long time have I tasted such freshness of flavour and attention to detail. The burger is fiery with spices and comes in a flatbread, with salad, chutney, pickles and a wonderful minted yoghurt. I didn’t think I’d ever stop smacking my lips after that rather dribbly episode.
So burger fans, there are some great choices out there – no Colombian ventures yet to my knowledge, but you never know – that trailer’s for sale!
Would love to hear about any other not-your-average roadside burger spots in London or beyond – what you got?