Walking along the industrial street which was peppered with street art we weren’t quite sure what we were letting ourselves in for. It was an unusual venue for dinner to say the least. But then this wasn’t your typical candle-lit restaurant meal we were going to.
Spotting the sign which confirmed we were indeed in the right place was slightly reassuring. As we followed the direction of the sign’s arrow we came to an unmarked door. The only thing to give away that this was the right place was the sounds of funky soul music flitting through the walls.
Pushing open the door was like stepping into another world. The smoke from the food truck hung in the air and the hum of excited voices was audible over the vinyls being spun by the DJ. We had definitely found the right place.
This was Glasgow’s Street Food Cartel – a pop-up dining and drinking event being housed in a warehouse in the west end of the city. Unlike other places in the world where street food is both celebrated and popular, street food isn’t actually legal in Glasgow – hence the warehouse setting of the event.
The warehouse had been decked out with chairs, tables, a bar, and, of course the shiny silver food truck where much of the food was being prepared. The raw, industrial setting of the Street Food Cartel obviously aimed at mimicking an actual street setting, and whilst it did a good job it left me with the undeniable feeling that street food really does belong to the street, if only Glasgow City Council would allow it!
Before the event I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but when I sat down in the middle of a table surrounded by other diners chatting, laughing and tucking into plates of food that certainly wouldn’t have looked out of place in a trendy restaurant I was very pleasantly surprised.
As my friend and I looked over the menu we found ourselves with too many amazing sounding choices and not enough room in our bellies. We ordered a few dishes to share, as is the way at the Street Food Cartel, and sipped our drinks as we waited. The food arrived quickly, mirroring the pace at which you’d get food at a traditional street food stall.
All of the dishes we tried were divine. Lupe Pintos was serving up authentic Mexican street food dishes that all came with the necessary dips to top it off. Meanwhile, Scoop was serving imaginative dishes inspired by street food around the world. Our personal favourite was the Scoop dish – confit pork belly, smokey chorizo, black pudding and chickpea stew. It was mind blowingly good! (It was so good I tucked into it immediately without stopping to take a picture!).
There were people lingering in the bar area after finishing their meals, enjoying the unconventional atmosphere and frisson of excitement that was permeating the unusual space. The vibe reminded me a lot of Berlin and its hipster, offbeat charm.
All in all, I’d definitely say that Street Food Cartel was a great success, with three sold out nights and plenty of happy people. If there’s another Street Food Cartel happening in Glasgow I’ll make sure I’m there to enjoy more mouth-watering creations in an alternative, unconventional setting with a fantastic atmosphere.