The Red Truck Beer Company sure knows how to get your attention. While its new Truck Stop Diner and brewery are located in something of a no man’s land on East 1st Avenue, they’re not difficult to find. On the 10-minute walk from the Main Street SkyTrain station, you’ll spot a 24-metre-tall water tower piercing the sky. Above the light industry and condo construction projects, the white cylinder is a beacon for the thirsty, proclaiming “Fresh Beer Here” on the side in bold red lettering.
Fresh indeed. After 10 years of brewing in North Vancouver, Red Truck has a new home in Brewery Creek. Done up in the style of a 1950s factory, it’s got a restaurant and plenty of room to let the good times flow into the parking lot.
We’ll get to the parking lot events later. First, the Truck Stop Diner.
From the outside, the red-and-white building is hit-the-brakes cute. A giant sign at the top blazing the words TRUCK STOP entices with “Beer Burgers Dogs Salads Fries Beer” underneath. (That’s beer twice, in case you missed it.) A 27-seat patio facing the parking lot welcomes you in.
The 77-seat restaurant isn’t a traditional diner; there are no comfy booths or lunch-counter seating. Instead, it’s more like an airy, industrial-chic tasting room. Patrons sit on square stools at high-top, wood-plank communal tables, which are on wheels. In the far corner, kitchen staff work in a punched-out cerulean-blue shipping container. Opposite that, retractable garage-door-like windows let in light and air, so the whole place feels cool and breezy. In the winter, this will be a nice, bright space to imbibe.
Diners order both food and drinks from the bar. Behind it lies the glassed-in brewery area with its shiny steel tanks. Crouch low and you’ll catch a glimpse of the 1948 Dodge pickup known as “Old Weird Harold” that hangs from the brewery’s ceiling. (Don’t miss the tire-encased sinks in the restrooms, another delightful touch.)
The large menu is posted on the wall, with a few laminated copies available to study at the table. Respected chef Andrey Durbach—who owns La Buca, Pied-A-Terre, and other local restaurants—consulted on the menu. You can see his influence in West Coast–inspired dishes like Asian pork-belly sandwich with sriracha mayo, and a burger made with skin-on, 24-hour-marinated chicken thighs and slow-roasted shiitake relish. But other than that, this is standard American fare: think hot wings, chili cheese fries, mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and quarter-pound kosher hot dogs topped with sauerkraut and pastrami. Prices are reasonable, with generously portioned fries, wings, and soups from $3 to $10 and mains $9 to $15.
Meal-sized salads are also on offer, but the Fried Chicken Cobb isn’t very satisfying. While it’s topped with generous, crispy cutlet strips, it’s basically a bowl of underdressed iceberg lettuce with some bacon, tomato, avocado, and hard-boiled egg. The simple, diner-style burgers are a better choice. While the brisket chili on the Texan version has a nice kick, there’s not a lot of chili: next time I’ll just stick with a classic hamburger. The crunchy Baja-style fish tacos taste as good as they look, with plump pieces of crispy-fried cod, Asian slaw, avocado, and chipotle sour-cream dressing.
Once you order, servers deliver the food to your table quickly on metal trays, with many items in red plastic fast-food-style baskets. In keeping with the truck-stop theme, eggs are available all day. These include fried eggs on corned-beef hash with thick Texas toast, and the intriguing Hobo Eggs Foo Yung, with pea shoots, sprouts, edamame, and hoisin sauce. If you’re inclined to mix beer with your breakfast, you can mix it in too, by ordering the powdered-sugar-topped beer-battered French toast.
Beer, of course, is why most people visit. Only the company’s own brews are on tap—seven at last count. These include the seasonal, spicy Belgian Tripel, which packs a punch at 9.5 percent ABV; a honey-sweet Belgian Blonde Ale; and the Campfire Kolsch, a Vancouver Beer Week collaboration with Main Street Brewing and Parallel 49 Brewing that has a nice note of tropical fruit.
Most 16-ounce sleeves go for a wallet-friendly $5 each, with a flight of four five-ounce tasters for $7. I love that the servers identify each beer in the flight by writing directly on wooden Craftmaster carriers so you remember which ones you’re drinking. You can also fill a growler at a counter at the diner’s entrance, where T-shirts are for sale emblazoned with slogans like “Truck me” and “Get trucked”—the same shirts the servers wear, which I don’t love so much.
But back to that parking lot, which has space for 1,200 people and a summer of fun with the Red Truck Parking Lot Concert Series. The second concert takes place this Saturday night (July 11) featuring the Trews, with Head of the Herd to follow on August 15 and Logan Mize on September 12, among other artists. (For info and tickets, see redtruckbeer.com/.)
During special events, the diner is open only to ticket-holders. But the rest of the time, it’s open to all—seven days a week and, like a true truck stop, just off the Main Street artery.