The Daily Meal published its fourth-annual 101 Best Food Trucks in America list and seven Philly favorites have made the cut.
You don’t have to live in Philadelphia for long to realize that ordering food from a truck is a great way to get a snack or meal that’s not only quick, but also tasty and innovative. These days, Philly food trucks pop up at farmers’ markets, festivals and pretty much anytime there’s a crowd of hungry people gathering. No matter where you live in the city, some food trucks are worth making the effort to track down.
As you might guess, Sugar is a food truck that specializes in all things sweet, from cheesecakes to crème brulée. The truck’s most well known for its French macarons, which come in an assortment of regular menu flavors, including milk & honey and tiramisu, as well as special flavors that rotate daily. On weekdays, you can find the truck in University City, on 38th Street between Sansom and Walnut. It’s open from noon until 6:30 p.m. (or whenever it runs out of sweets!).
This truck takes its name not from dairy butter, but peanut butter and almond butter. While Butter initially focused on creative takes on peanut/almond butter sandwiches, they’ve since expanded their menu. You can now find an assortment of brunch or breakfast items, as well as grilled cheese and other sandwich options. The truck moves around, and can often be found at Drexel University’s campus, at Love Park, or at special events. A calendar on the truck’s website lists where and when you can find it.
3. Pitruco Pizza
Instead of ordering a pizza to have delivered to your office or home, you can pick up a pizza yourself from Pitruco, a mobile brick oven pizzeria. The truck offers a small selection of 11-inch wood-fired pizzas, such as spicy garlic, eggplant, and margherita. There’s also a daily special pizza. Pitruco is a roving food truck and makes its way to various parts of the city throughout the week. One day it might be in Love Park, the next by 30th Street Station. It’s usually open for a few hours midday for lunch, then again a few hours in the evening for dinner.
4. The Cow & The Curd
The Cow & The Curd gets points for bringing a creative concept to Philly. It sells battered and deep fried cheddar cheese curds, with or without a variety of dipping sauces. Cheese curds are simply a type of fresh cheese, created after milk is separated, but before the cheese is allowed to fully mature. Although more commonly found in places like Wisconsin (where cheesemaking is big), fried cheese curds have been a hit in Philly, netting the Cow & the Curd numbers awards, including a 2014 People’s Choice Vendy Award.
5. Taco Loco
Always located in the same spot, at 4th street and Washington Avenue in South Philly, Taco Loco offers authentic tacos and tortas. While the truck itself isn’t much to look at and the location is off the beaten path for many, Taco Loco gets raves for its food (as well as the price point). Herbivores, take note: Taco Loco doesn’t offer much in the way of vegetarian fare.
Finding a home in Philadelphia means more than just buying real estate. It also means making the city your home, which includes getting to know your neighborhood — and enjoying Philly food trucks!
From Temple University’s campus to South Philly, the beyond-fun dining craze has truly boomed. If a diner craves something, chances are he or she can source it on wheels: brick-oven soppressata pizza, green-tea macaroons, gourmet mac and cheese, Spam musubi, sweet-cream ice cream, pour-over coffee. That’s not even mentioning staples such as soul food, cheesesteaks, crepes and falafel.
Lunch seekers can find trucks all over the city, especially near universities, but they know to check Twitter before they make a trip. These trucks have wheels and often use them to feed new audiences, which is exactly what they do during The Food Trusts’ Night Market events, taking place several times a year in different neighborhoods and attracting enormous crowds eager to get their mobile-food fix.
Here’s a look at some of the city’s tastiest trucks:
- The city’s first and only Brazilian rotisserie, BrazBQ dishes out spit-roasted fare. There’s a steak sandwich with chimichurri sauce and potato sticks, chicken tacos and grilled pineapple dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Mondays through Fridays, 3500 Market Street. brazbq.com, twitter.com/brazbq
- Grilled Venezuelan arepas stuffed with adobo-braised steak and plaintains; chicken salad and avocado; and chorizo and pico de gallo are all hot sellers at Delicias. Lynette Gueits’ repurposed truck calls University City home, but a second truck travels citywide. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 35th & Market Streets; Tuesdays through Fridays, 40th & Locust Streets; Thursdays, Love Park, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard. deliciasfoodtruck.com, twitter.com/phillydelicias
- 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. Weekdays, 30th & Chestnut Streets
- “Foowiches”—grilled square sandwiches filled with green-curry quinoa salad, pork belly with tea egg or peanut-flecked lemongrass chicken—are the signature items at Foo Truck, an uber-casual Asian-fusion concept. Weekdays except Tuesdays, 35th & Market Streets; Tuesdays, Love Park, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard. footruck.com, twitter.com/footruck
- The winners of Philly’s first-ever Vendy Awards, the long-established Gigi and Big R serves up down-home Caribbean fare such as fried whiting and curried chicken, along with generous portions of greens, beans, rice and mac and cheese. The outfit’s bricks-and-mortar location resides in West Philly. Daily, 38th & Spruce Streets, twitter.com/gigi_bigr
- Specializing in vegetarian and vegan fare, Kung Fu Hoagies has wooed the meat-free set with tofu banh mi, BBQ “beef” hoagies and cold sesame peanut “chicken” noodles. Tuesdays through Fridays, 104 S. 38th Street; Saturdays, Clark Park, 43rd Street & Chester Avenue. (267) 344-6259, twitter.com/kungfuhoagies
- Catering to budget-minded vegetarian eaters since 1984—long before it was trendy—Penn staple Magic Carpet (with two trucks) 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. Weekdays, Spruce Street between 35th & 36th and 34th & Walnut Streets. (215) 334-0948, magiccarpetfoods.com
- Specialty sirloin burgers, hand-cut fries, hand-butchered cheesesteaks, roast pork loin sandwiches and creative concoctions like meatballs stuffed with sharp provolone have made Spot, owned and operated by a former butcher, a highly sought-after lunch stop on Drexel’s campus. Weekdays, 33rd & Market Streets. twitter.com/spotburgers
- Haute cuisine in a decidedly non-haute atmosphere is the idea beyond Street Food, where truffle parmesan fries, brisket with housemade gnocchi and salted brownies have made appearances on the seasonal menu. Weekdays, 62 N. 33rd Street, with other locations. streetfoodphilly.com, twitter.com/stfoodphilly
- The wait for lunch can be long at Tacos Don Memo, whose passionate University City fan base swears by the generous tacos al pastor, vegetarian burritos and gigantic tortas layered with mayo, cheese and pickled jalapeños. Weekdays, 3800 Sansom Street. twitter.com/tacosdonmemo
- Since 1983, Yue Kee has been charming visitors with its no-nonsense proprietress and cheap, authentic Chinese- and Hong Kong-style eats such as sesame chicken, fried fish in garlic sauce and stewed pork ribs with rice. Mondays through Saturdays, 238 S. 38th Street. (610) 812-7189
- A pair of grads from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art run Cloud Coffee, using ReAnimator beans and careful effort to create marvelous beverages. Bonus: The owners screen films and curate art shows right out of their truck. Mondays through Fridays, 2001 N. 13th Street. cloudcoffeephilly.com, twitter.com/cloudcoffeephil
- Classic (Nutella, banana, berries) and not-so-classic (pepperoni, ranch dressing, barbecue ribs, tuna salad) fillings stuff the crepes at The Creperie, a longtime campus favorite. Mondays through Saturdays, 13th & W. Norris Streets. (215) 778-4771, templecrepes.com, twitter.com/templecrepes
- A few intellectuals run Poi Dog Snack Shop, the only Hawaiian truck in town. The menu lists tacos, musubi and sweets. Ingredients include fried Spam, Kalua pork, small-batch tofu “poke” and mochiko- and furikake-battered chicken. Weekdays, 13th Street & Montgomery Avenue, with other locations
- Philly had no idea it was even missing fried cheese curds until The Cow and The Curd rolled into town. The dairy-celebrating truck makes serious tracks, spreading the creamy gospel of Wisconsin. thecowandthecurd.com, twitter.com/cowandthecurd
- The Jersey Special (potatoes, American cheese, peppers and onions) and the Moe Green (grilled asparagus and sharp provolone) are just a couple of the topped hotdog options at The Dapper Dog. Friday and Saturday nights, 2nd & Poplar Streets; Thursday afternoons, Love Park, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard. thedapperdog.org, twitter.com/thedapperdog
- Calling itself a “food truck” and “gallery,” the artsy, rustic and eco-friendly Farm Truck prepares seasonal fare that might include a chopped apple salad or a Sriracha sausage on a long roll. The truck occasionally vends fresh produce too. farmtruckphilly.com, twitter.com/farm_truck
- Pork fritters stuffed with capers, pistachios and whole-grain mustard and served with hoisin sriracha dipping sauce. Braised duck with fresh cucumber, pickled onions and sesame chili aioli rolled in laffa. If the meals at Local 215 sound more like gastropub fare, well, that’s exactly the point. Various locations include 33rd & Arch Streets and Love Park at 16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. (215) 970-0024, local215foodtruck.com, twitter.com/local215
- The nail-polish pink Mac Mart truck turns America’s favorite side (macaroni and cheese) into a main course by mixing in barbecue chicken, homemade garlic croutons, bacon bits and more into five-cheese pasta. Locations and times vary. Love Park, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard; The Navy Yard; 33rd & Arch Streets. macmartcart.com, twitter.com/macmarttruck
- The colorfully festooned Mom-Mom’s Polish Food Cart delivers what its name promises: inventive pierogies and other Polish specialties that do Port Richmond proud. Find them in Northern Liberties, Clark Park and other locations. twitter.com/mommomnomnom
- A mobile wood-fired oven bakes the charred-crusted,eggplant, sausage, soppressata, spicy garlic, margherita and radicchio pies at Pitruco Pizza, one of the most reliably everywhere trucks on this list. Mondays, Love Park, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard; Tuesdays, 22nd & Brown Streets; Wednesday evenings, Germantown Avenue & Winston Street; Thursdays, Market Street between 24th & 33rd Streets; Thursday evenings, 10th & Fitzwater Streets. (484) 602-5454, pitrucopizza.com, twitter.com/pitrucopizza
- The grilled-cheese sandwich, described by its makers as “brown-bagged meltyness,” is the raison d’être of Say Cheese, whose variations include a grown-up version featuring house-cured meats. The truck also serves up hand-butchered cheesesteaks, buffalo chicken sandwiches and sandwiches featuring homemade mozzarella. Locations include Drexel University’s campus, Love Park and The Navy Yard. twitter.com/saycheesephilly
- A patisserie on wheels, Sugar Philly operates out of a truck named Sheila, vending perfectly engineered treats like crème fraîche cheesecake with blueberry compote, along with green-tea macaroons and classic crème brûlée. Locations and times vary, but the truck is often found at Eakins Oval, Night Markets and other city festivals. sugarphillytruck.com, twitter.com/sugarphilly
- Global fare in sandwich form comprises cuisine from Germany, Latin America, Vietnam, Italy and the U.S.A. at Vernalicious. On any given day, at any location, eaters line up for pulled-pork grilled cheeses, mushroom burgers, Buffalo-chicken sausage and loads more. Tuesdays at Love Park, 16th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, with other locations. (484) 679-6468, vernalicious.com, twitter.com/vernalicious1
- The Chipwich, taken up several notches, is the star of Zsa’s Ice Cream, a retro van serving artisanal ice creams and sorbets in flavors like salted caramel, maple toffee graham and cinnamon. Cookies include cinnamon chocolate chip oatmeal, dulce de leche and double chocolate chip. Various locations. zsasicecream.com, twitter.com/zsas_ice_cream
- Famous for its heftily portioned fried chickpea balls, Center City’s boisterous, busy Falafel Truck also distinguishes itself with charcoal-grilled chicken and an array of accompanying tastily spiced treats (beet hummus, fresh grapes, salads) that changes daily. Weekdays, 20th & Market Streets
- Stationed at farmers’ markets around the region, HEARTFood Truck has dedicated itself to local, sustainable and seasonal fare. Yet the food, whipped up by a former restaurant chef is anything but simple: mushroom deviled eggs, griddled pork belly and escargot. 2nd & Pine Streets, heartfoodtruck.com, twitter.com/heartfoodtruck
- Fans line up for the brown stew chicken, 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. Their storefront is 1265 E. Chelten Avenue. Weekdays (closed Fridays in summer), 17th & Spring Garden Streets. (215) 668-5909
- The tacos on offer at Pennsport’s Taco Loco include pastor, chicken, tripe, tongue and chorizo fillings. Sold three for $7.50, all are delicately seasoned with chopped onions and cilantro—and are best washed down with a bottle of Jarritos soda. Daily, Jefferson Square Park between 3rd & 4th Streets and Federal Street & Washington Avenue. (215) 883-9191
On Thursday August 14, Lancaster Avenue between 35th and 39th streets will host Philadelphia's fifteenth Night Market -- an event that's about a lot more than just tasty food. The area will be blocked off to cars, trolleys will be diverted and an expected 15,000 people will gather to enjoy vittles, drink and music in the waning summer evening.
Night Market is organized by The Food Trust, a local non-profit whose mission is to make healthy food available to everyone. The first Night Market was held in October 2010 along East Passyunk Avenue, a neighborhood that was in the process of establishing itself as a citywide dining destination (as of this writing, it has officially arrived). The goal was to highlight the local food scene, particularly restaurants and food vendors that were sourcing their food locally. A few hundred attendees were expected. Thousands turned out. All of the food was sold out in just a couple of hours and Night Market was here to stay.
Since that first event, over 200,000 attendees have eaten, drank and soaked in the atmosphere at open-air festivals throughout Philadelphia. Many of these gatherings have taken place in areas such as South Street, Old City, Chinatown and Northern Liberties that already see a large amount of foot traffic. The Lancaster Avenue Night Market is a little bit different.