The Real McCoy Burger & Fries
Address: 298 Preston St., Ottawa
Website: All of the social medias
Green factor: Styrofoam for poutine, paper-lined foil for burger, plastic utensils; recycling bin on site
The mobile food game is as tough as any niche of the restaurant business, maybe even tougher than most with its dependence on the weather. As such, it’s never a particularly huge surprise when one food truck exits the market, and another (literally) takes its spot. This was the case for 2019’s food truck season, when the bright red trailer of The Real McCoy Burger and Fries showed up in the spot on Preston Street formerly occupied by Mr. Panino.
While Mr. Panino fit the cultural landscape of Little Italy a bit more than a chip wagon with a cartoon cowboy as its emblem, they also likely faced more competition for their Italian sandwiches. The Real McCoy, however, has the typical chip wagon offerings of burgers, fries, poutine and tubed meats, and also has some more unique grill and fryer fare. If a standard poutine is old news for you, their stuffing and chicken poutine may be your thing, while deep fried pickles and cheese curds flesh out their side dish options.
I was more of the mind of trying to get a read on this new-to-me food truck, so I went with my now-standard chip wagon order: a cheeseburger combo, with the fries upgraded to a poutine ($11 plus $2 more for the upgrade, taxes in).
Having arrived just after noon, there were already a few people eating at the two picnic tables next to the trailer, and a few more people came and went for take-out while I was there. Luckily, my order was in between others, and came out in quick fashion. A tent over the picnic tables provided a much-needed reprieve from the midday sun, so I sat down to gorge right there.
My cheeseburger had some encouraging burger fundamentals upon my initial inspection – a not-from-frozen patty with real cheese melted on it, a good meat-bun ratio, and nice grill marks on the meat as well. The first bite confirmed my burgernalysis – this was a solid burger.
The flavours all played well together, from the grilled beef, to the cheese and pickle slices, to the burger sauce. It might not have been an award-winning burger, but with so many chip wagons in Ottawa (especially the ones downtown) using frozen patties, it stands out amongst the crowd.
Next up in my light, healthy lunch was the poutine. The Real McCoy packed the clamshell container with a generous layer of cheese curds on top of hand-cut fries, with a dark brown gravy to tie it all together. The portion size was definitely better than most chip wagons’ side dish poutines, and I was impressed with the quantity of the squeaky, lightly salty curds. I liked that the gravy wasn’t too salty either, but the thick fries weren’t as crispy as they should have been.
There’s a lot to be said for doing simple things well, and The Real McCoy seems to live up to its name when it comes to chip wagon comfort food.