Last Tuesday, Craig LaBan, the much-revered restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, held an open chat on Philly.com. This was a chance for literally anyone to ask him anything about any restaurant or food trend currently gracing our foodie city and over and over again, the chat kept coming back to the city’s food trucks (full disclaimer: two of the food truck questions came from me, but whatever).
I have come a long way in my acceptance of food trucks. It was only a few years ago that a friend dragged me to Drexel’s campus in the middle of a workday to get lunch from Jose Garces’ (now closed) Guapos Tacos truck. Not familiar with the concept, I easily spent fifteen minutes pacing up and down 33rd and Walnut deciding whether or not I felt like getting food poisoning from “street” fish tacos.* As soon as I took the plunge and ordered absolutely delicious $15 tacos and a Mexican coke, I was in love with food trucks.
Proving that everyone in Philly loves a food truck, an absolutely gorgeous Saturday afternoon unexpectedly found me along with three friends at the Manayunk Spring StrEAT Food Festival, desperate to try three trucks I’ve recently heard so much about: Spot Burger, Mac Mart (gourmet macaroni and cheese), and Zsa’s Gourmet Ice Cream. At Spot Burger, I ordered the namesake burger with hickory-smoked bacon, cole slaw and “Spot sauce.” It was phenomenal and made me forget about the fact this is the second day in a row I’ve had a burger and am probably slowly dying of heart disease. I sadly skipped a block-long line for Mac Mart (not that I needed macaroni and cheese topped with pancetta) and ordered creamy vanilla ice cream nestled between two salted toffee and almond graham crackers from Zsa’s.
Many concepts that started as food trucks are now starting to have a brick-and-mortar presence in the city as well. My favorite cupcake truck, Sweetbox, recently opened shop on 13th and Pine and branched into other desserts (their banana pudding is amazing). Rival Bros. Coffee, a truck that can usually be found most weekdays in Love Park, is set to open up a shop in the coming months at 24th and Lombard (I recommend ordering the densely flavored, frothy Derringer coffee). And don’t worry about trying to track them down – most well-known trucks will tweet their location or you can log onto RoamingHunger.com.
*I once read an interview with Anthony Bourdain in which he was asked if he ever knew he was going to get violently ill before eating something on No Reservations. His answer was “of course,” but he ate it anyway for the experience. I’ve stupidly adopted this as a motto to live by.