I can’t guarantee that The Paddy Wagon food truck will be up and running when you read this, because neither can its owners.

“We’re going to go until we can’t,” read a response sent over Instagram, after pushing for a more specific end date to its season.

The truck, which started serving up “authentic Irish & British chipper food” this spring, will continue showing up at breweries, distilleries and public places “as late (into the winter as the vehicle) can handle,” an initial Instagram message said.

Normally, that might dissuade us from writing about the business here, but these days, that’s no less certainty than most restaurants can give, as many continue to suddenly and sporadically close or change hours because of COVID cases and the ongoing labor shortage.

The Paddy Wagon is owned by David McGuirk, who is from Dublin, and Luke Benning, whose father is from London. Working together in Portland-area restaurants, the two often lamented the city’s lack of good fish and chips before finally deciding to do something about it.

And just as they claim to know the secret to “proper fish and chips,” they insist the truck’s name in this context isn’t derogatory toward Irish-Americans, despite theories about its origin that say otherwise.

Large haddock and chips from The Paddy Wagon.

While that’s a complicated topic, their signature dish gave me little doubt about their culinary capabilities. As for its authenticity, I’m not as sure. My only basis for comparison is a greasy, late-night spot that was located between Temple Bar and the flat I shared during a study-abroad year in Dublin, and even in the light of day, The Paddy Wagon was way better.

I’d wanted to try the truck’s offerings all summer but had only come across it on the Eastern Prom, and fried food never felt like the right match for lounging on the grassy hill. But when I found it parked outside Lucky Pigeon Brewing in Biddeford, it was a no-brainer.

The gluten-free brewery has found a perfect partner in The Paddy Wagon, which has been showing up there on Saturdays in recent weeks. Almost all its menu items are gluten-free to begin with, and for others – like malt vinegar and sandwich buns – it has gluten-free options.

I don’t have any particular dietary restrictions, but I was with someone who does, and while he got to indulge in things that normally might make him feel less than great, I couldn’t tell the difference. We shared the large haddock and chips ($18) and agreed that the fries were among the best we’d had – thick-cut but not at all soggy. Despite the dark color of its coating, the fried fish was not greasy but crisp, and the haddock inside was exceptionally moist.

Other menu items include Battered Sausage ($11), Curry Chips ($8) and the Chip Butty ($6), a sandwich consisting of french fries, an egg and curry aioli. I regretted not getting the Fish’wich ($11), because I found that the batter separated from the fish easily, making it hard to get a bite of it all together on my fork. I look forward to letting the bun handle that part next time, whether it’s this winter or next spring.


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