The "roach coaches" of my college years are definitely gone, and there's a whole new world of inexpensive eating to be had on the go. Of course there are still plenty of cheese steak and hot dog carts. (This is Philly after all) but there's been a culinary expansion outside your typical egg and cheese, steak or pork roll sandwich into the wonderful worlds of Middle Eastern, (King of Falafel) Japanese, (Koja) Korean (Tyson Bees) and even gourmet desserts (SugarTruck). The question that always comes up for me is "Are there decent vegetarian options?" With a little research I happily discovered that there are!
My first stop was at The Magic Carpet @ 34th & Walnut (They have a second location at 36th & Spruce) I've heard about this truck for months, about how good there (vegetarian food) was. I kept hearing about one meal in particular the Bella Donna; Vegetarian Meatballs w/ Rice, Veggies and Cheese. Having strayed away from soy meat/processed vegetarian food a couple years ago, I wasn't kung ho about it, but I kept hearing/reading about how good it was, so my curiosity was piqued. In this case portions are definitely more filling then they appear. For $4.25 (ala carte) you get a nice size cup of Vegetarian Meatballs w/ Rice,Veggies and Melted Cheese along with Whole Wheat Pita. It was the perfect lunch on a very cold day. The meatballs were nicely flavored with spices and tomato sauce. The Broccoli, Cauliflower and Rice underneath served as a nice bed for the layers above adding to the flavors and warmth of the whole meal.
The Magic Carpet
34th & Walnut / 36th & Spruce
Next up was Koja @ 38th and Walnut. A vibrant colorful truck greeted me, hoping that the food being made inside was just as good. As I was waiting I was given green tea, which helped eased the wait a lot. For $5 I got the Tofu Noodle platter, with medium spiciness. I opened my container to a gigantic portion of wide, soft and chewy noodles, with well flavored pieces of tofu woven through and crisp bites of cabbage sprinkled in. It was definitely two filling portions. Although the wait was alittle longer then I wanted, it was definitely worth it! The noodles and tofu soaked in all the sesame and chili spices leaving warmth and comfort. The medium spiciness was right on, as any hotter would have been too much.
38th & Walnut
Lastly was The King of Falafel @ 16th and JFK. Having started making my own Falafel, I've become hyper sensitive to other peoples versions. As I approached the truck, I saw a wait ahead of me, as I was 4 people back. The husband and wife team are the most efficient I've seen. Creating wonderful middle eastern dishes in what looks like a tiny closet size of a cart. The line ahead of me moved quickly, I ordered my Falafel with Hummus for $5 and within 5 or so minutes it was in my hands. I was expecting the typical pita pocket stuffed with Falafel, Hummus, Veggies, instead I was greeted with more of a flat bread wrap stuffed with the latter. Although visually it was a little different, it tasted just as good, if not better. All the different components came through. The falafel wasn't too oily or overly fried. It was perfectly wrapped in a blanket of flat bread, hummus and veggies. Sitting in Love Park and people watching was a great addition as well.
King of Falafel
16th and JFK