The Lunch Break Summer Food Tour: The 2nd Annual Vendy Awards (Great Food, Great Cause, and a Great Time!)
Much has been written about the recent explosion of the Philadelphia Food Truck scene, otherwise known as Street Vendors. Many bloggers, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and even The New York Times, have all taken notice about the newest food movement speeding around Philadelphia for the past few years and have written many laudatory pieces about it. This is not to say that food trucks in Philadelphia are some type of novelty. Certainly not. Anyone who’s visited the city in the past twenty to thirty years knows that food trucks are as ubiquitous as the Philadelphia Parking Authority. They’re everywhere! The new food trucks that everyone is writing about, though, aren’t your run-of-the-mill food stands, but rather pimped out, supped-up, live in RVs equipped with everything you need to make whatever you can imagine. The new food trucks are run by innovative chefs with serious cooking skills, who have a knack for taking something traditional and making it original. Fortunately for Philadelphians, the people at the Street Vendor Project and the City itself recognize this imagination, innovation, and originality, and have decided to celebrate it.
This stop on the Lunch Break Food Tour took me and my largest group so far to 39th and Market, where a group of dedicated volunteers had been setting up all day for the 2nd Annual Vendy Awards. The project was started some years back in New York City and came to Philadelphia last year, making a big splash. One of the best aspects of the event is that it’s entirely volunteer, all the food is donated by the Food Trucks, and the majority of the proceeds go to The Food Trust. All goodwill aside, my group and I really came for the food. And food there was. Eggplant Italian sandwiches (Lil Dan’s Gourmet), Falafel (The King of Falafel), Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese (Vernalicious), Tacos (Tacos Don Memo), Pulled Pork on Mac & Cheese (The Smoke Truck), Arepas (Delicias), Braised Meatballs (The Foo Truck), Ice Cream (Little Baby’s Ice Cream), Popsicles (Lil’ Pop Shop), Macaroons (Sugar Philly), and Cupcakes (Sweet Box). With the ability to visit each vendor, as many times as you wanted to, it was truly a glutton’s paradise. However, while each one was certainly good, I still had my favorites.
The day started with an Eggplant Italian sandwich from Lil Dan’s Gourmet, which consisted of thinly sliced and fried eggplant, broccoli rabe, and roasted red peppers all on a seeded roll. The combination was amazing! I never thought a sandwich could be so flavorful without meat, but this one certainly proved me wrong. After a few more stops, I found my favorite vendor of the day, Vernalicious. I saw the sign for the Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese, which is a combination of two of my favorite sandwiches (I told you, innovative), and knew I had to have one. However, I wasn’t alone. Lots of people were waiting as well, but fortunately our eating didn’t have to stop, because Vernalicious also made Pesto, Mozarella and Tomato sandwiches in abundance. Again, amazing! I knew that if these guys could make something so simple so good, then the Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese had to be phenomenal. Fortunately for me and everyone else, I was right. The pulled pork was absolutely tender, the bread evenly crisp, and the cheese perfectly melted into the meat. The combination of the three had me salivating for more. I could have eaten at least four or five, but I came here to taste as much as possible.
I moved on to The Smoke Truck, more pulled pork, but this time on top of mac & cheese. While also really good, I always like my pulled pork on a sandwich. Then there was Delicias, which amongst other choices, had an Arepas filled with fried plantains, which turned out to be excellent as well. The more I ate, the less I could distinguish, with my stomach and palate overwhelmed with rich flavors and all-around goodness. I don’t mean to leave anyone out, but after an hour and a half of straight eating, I was hardly an adequate judge of anything. Regardless of my limited culinary distinctions by the end of the day, I know that I didn’t eat anything bad and that every vendor left me more than satisfied. This seemed to be consistent with everyone else in attendance, with people eating, drinking, smiling, and conversing, often with complete strangers.
The food truck is an amazing idea. It’s about bringing something good to as many people as possible at an affordable price. Unfortunately, the trucks are so spread out, and most people only eat at them when they’re in a rush. The Vendy Awards recognizes this and has rectified these few flaws by bringing the best food trucks all to one place for lots of people to not just stand in line but to also sit down, relax, and really enjoy some of the best food in the entire city, and all for a good cause. And that’s certainly worth writing about.
4 out of 4 Lunchboxes!
Patrick Edmonds is a co-founder, editor, and writer for/of The Lunch Break. His passions include Food, Arts & Entertainment, and Education. You can follow Patrick Edmonds on facebook and on Twitter @patrickedmonds1.