Philadelphia, PA: 2 A.M. Eats – Fishtown Food Trucks

Maria S. Young The jerk chicken cheesesteak from Grubaholics.

By Mikala Jamison  |  The City Paper Philadelphia

Maria S. Young The jerk chicken cheesesteak from Grubaholics.
Maria S. Young
The jerk chicken cheesesteak from Grubaholics.

The first time I ate the chicken quesadilla from the Calle Del Sabor food truck at Frankford and Girard, I knew I was in big trouble. Forget pants that fit and a flat belly; now I know these plump, crispy triangles of melty queso and perfectly seasoned protein, topped with a zigzag of tangy crema and a sprinkling of chopped tomatoes, are available just minutes from my home.

Having to “dine” standing on a sidewalk across the street from Johnny Brenda’s hardly bothers you when you’re in late-night food-truck heaven. A couple trucks show up here on Thursday nights, but the real food fete goes down on Friday and Saturday, when Calle and several other trucks roll in: Grubaholics, offering Jamaican specialties; What’s in This?, serving pierogies and empanadas (including the CFC empanada, made with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy); and, usually, Mexican purveyors like Smokin’ Tacos or Mi Pueblito.

On these nights, the strip of pavement in front of a Wells Fargo is packed like the red carpet outside an L.A. nightclub. Drunk-and-hungry patrons scramble to decide from myriad options what’ll best sate their munchies.

On a recent visit, a group of four friends sampled offerings from Calle and Grubaholics. Vegetarian Courtney McCloskey chose Calle’s veggie quesadilla, and pescatarian Sanjeev Kotamraju, fish tacos. “I’m not kidding, it’s among the best I’ve had,” Kotamraju said of the quesadilla. “I stopped ordering [veggie quesadillas] because I hate them.” This one, the friends said, was perfection, as were the fish tacos — Kotamraju had already had an order earlier that night.

Graham Cooper and Erin Hoffman went for Jamaican. Cooper gobbled up a jerk chicken cheesesteak the size of his forearm. Hoffman dug into a serving of thick, gooey baked mac and cheese, which arrived in a tidy package — a “little pie” of noodles, she said. Grubaholics’ heaping cup of fries made the rounds, too, along with a sweet and spicy, utterly delicious Jamaican pineapple ginger beer.

As we snapped photos under the glow of neon menu boards and tube lighting, Grubaholics owner Natalie Daley, a smiley presence beyond the bright red truck’s window, implored us to take care of her prized cheesesteak. And that we did — taking a pretty picture before making it disappear.

Intersection of Frankford and Girard avenues
Thursday-Saturday from approximately 10 p.m.-3 a.m.,,,

RECOMMENDED DISHES: Grubaholics’ “Big Azz” hot dog and “Twerkin'” island wings; Calle Del Sabor’s al pastor tacos and jerk chicken po’ boy