By Trey Popp | FooBooz.com
Guapos Tacos’ new semi-residency in University City is going to be a boon to my Tuesday and Thursday lunch options, but when I went by today, curiosity led me another 15 feet down the Market Street sidewalk to Chewy’s. What attracted me? Well, when the neighboring truck is clad in a beer-cap mosaic, one way to make yours stand out is to paint it Buddhist-monk orange.
Operators Charlie Sokowski and Terence Jones met when the former used to frequent the latter’s lunch cart on 40th Street during breaks from a construction job. Jones wanted bigger digs, Sokowski wanted to trade in his hard hat for an apron, so they teamed up under the banner of globally inflected sliders and fresh-cut fries.
I had the Toga and the Kimchi versions, medium rare. Both were winners. A piquant olive tapenade carried the Toga, along with feta and diced tomatoes. A touch of sesame oil enlivened the titular pickled cabbage—which wasn’t particularly spicy but still did the trick—on the Kimchi. The fries could have been cooked a minute longer, but then again I was almost certainly the first lunch customer of the day, so perhaps the oil hadn’t climbed to full temp.
I’ll give those another go, but what will more reliably draw me back is Chewy’s break from standard salad policy in University City—which (Sweetgreens aside) is to toss a few things into a mound of iceberg and charge $7.50. Here was a salad built on bagged iceberg and Romaine, to be sure—but with olives and feta in one corner, perfectly respectable cherry tomatoes in another, raspberries and walnuts in a third, and three unusually tasty blackberries in the fourth. For $4, who cares that the olives were canned? Well, perhaps I care the tiniest bit (especially since it could hardly break the bank to switch out five low-grade olives for five middlebrow ones), but not enough to complain.
The two-sliders-and-fries combo here doesn’t add up to a heavy lunch, but then neither does a pair of tacos from next door. In the end, I didn’t regret straying—for one day, at least—from Guapos. Which is, in my book, a tough act to follow.