By Allison Stadd | UWishUNu.com
Philadelphia has always been a street food forerunner.
Local food trucks run the gamut from student grub in stainless steel carts to upscale eats in high-tech mobile kitchens. And the city’s food truck register is continually expanding; the newest addition, a Memphis Taproom hot dog truck, officially opens for business Saturday, April 23.
Here’s a look at some of Philly’s must-try trucks — serving soft pretzels, pork roll sandwiches, elegant pastries, espresso drinks, global fare and just about everything in between:
• The newest roving kitchen to hit Philadelphia’s streets is Iron Chef Jose Garces’ bottle-cap bedazzled Guapos Tacos truck. Frequenting neighborhoods like Northern Liberties and Fairmount, Guapos serves up simple Mexican fare like guacamole with cotija cheese, along with pork, duck and vegetarian tacos. Follow its route here.
• The fresh and locally sourced sandwiches (think country herb pork with caramelized onion; Mediterranean lamb and beef with hummus and tzatziki) of Renaissance Sausage Truck are also free-range — the truck’s Twitter feed announces its location of the moment. Follow its route here.
• Among the goodies at the Call Me Cupcake truck are carrot cake, red velvet and seasonal strawberry cupcakes. Follow its route here.
• From Love Park to South Philly and back again, Buttercream — helmed by “the cupcake lady” — brings cupcakes to the masses, in tempting flavors like banana with Nutella buttercream and yellow cake with peanut butter buttercream. Follow its route here.
• The pared-down menu at Honest Tom’s tacos truck includes flour-tortilla taco wraps with fillings like sweet potato and chicken and guacamole, along with Stumptown iced coffee and Arnold Palmers. Follow its route here.
• The colorful Tyson Bees truck purveys enticing Asian fusion eats like Korean BBQ short rib tacos, Thai basil chicken over rice and kimchi hot dogs. Located at 33rd and Spruce Streets.
• The Dolce Vita (topped with provolone, pepperoni and tomato sauce) and the Mack (topped with macaroni and cheese) are just a couple of the creative hot dogs at The Dapper Dog, parked during lunch hours at Temple University and during late-night hours in Northern Liberties. Follow its route here.
Lots more, below.
• The shiny red caffeine truck known as HubBub Coffee purveys Stumptown espresso drinks drawn out of swank La Marzocco machines, as well as muffin tops, cinnamon rolls and cookies. Located at 38th & Spruce Streets.
• A patisserie on wheels, Sugar Philly offers a seasonal menu of treats like peanut panna cotta with Concord grape sauce, spicy Mexican layered chocolate cake and mango rice pudding with basil syrup and coconut meringue at changing locations throughout the city. Follow its route here.
• Specializing in New Orleans Roast coffee, cold-brewed espresso and noshables like prosciutto, cheese and egg paninis and mini-cheesecakes, University City’s Mojo Coffee is the new Millennium version of the quilted lunch trucks of yesteryear. Located at 38th & Spruce Streets.
• The brewed beverages of University City’s Melange Tea Cart can be ordered iced or hot, and options range from rosehip hibiscus tisane to genmaicha and traditional black teas, all served in compostable corn cups. When possible, the cart appears at local farmers’ markets and other locations to bring tea to the masses. Located at 33rd & Market Streets.
• Customers of the Falafel Truck know that there are basically two choices at this Israeli eatery — the heftily portioned fried chickpea balls come in either sandwich or platter form — but the array of accompanying tastily spiced treats (beet hummus, fresh grapes, salads) changes daily. Located at 20th & Market Streets.
• The spicy pork bulgogi, soba noodles and tofu stir-fries at the Koja truck (the name stands for “Korean-Japanese”) have been setting West Philly mouths afire for years now. Located at 38th & Sansom Streets.
• Fans line up for the beef patties, curry goat and oxtails at Jamaican D’s, a friendly jerk-centric truck, which has become a mainstay of the Community College of Philadelphia campus. Located at 17th & Spring Garden Streets.
• Soul and Caribbean foods mix and mingle on the giant platters dished out at Denise’s, a 30th Street Station landmark that specializes in jerk chicken, cornbread, mac and cheese and candied yams — all easily sopped up with slices of Wonder bread. Located at 30th & Chestnut Streets.
• Since 1983, Yue Kee has been charming visitors with its no-nonsense proprietress and cheap, authentic Chinese- and Hong Kong-style eats like sesame chicken, fried fish in garlic sauce and stewed pork ribs with rice. Insider tip: call ahead [(610) 812-7189]. Located at 238 S. 38th Street.
• The tacos on offer at Pennsport’s Taco Loco include pastor, chicken, tripe, tongue and chorizo fillings, all delicately seasoned with chopped onions and cilantro and best washed down with a bottle of Jarritos soda. Located at Jefferson Square Park, between 3rd & 4th Streets and Federal Street & Washington Avenue.
• The wait for lunch can be long but well-worth it at Tacos Don Memo, whose passionate University City fan base swears by the tacos al pastor, vegetarian burritos and gigantic tortas layered with mayo, cheese and pickled jalapeños. Located at 3800 Sansom Street.
• Catering to vegetarian eaters long before it was de rigueur, Penn staple Magic Carpet has a slew of meat-free options, from the Smurf ’n Turf platter (tofu meatballs, rice, veggies and cheese), to the Sloppy Jason pita sandwiches and the exquisitely light spinach pies. Located at 36th & Spruce Streets, 34th & Walnut Streets.
• Templetown’s Sexy Green Truck is equally friendly to vegetarians and meat-eaters, with healthy options like salads and pita sandwiches — and not-so-healthy options like waffle cheese fries. Located at 11th Street & Montgomery Avenue.
• The red-and-blue-striped Creperie truck is a Temple University stalwart. Beyond the traditional fillings of ham and cheese and Nutella and banana, there are quirky combos such as buffalo chicken with blue cheese sauce, and gyro meat, pepperoni, cheese, tomato sauce and ranch dressing. Located at 13th & Norris Streets.