Grilled cheese sandwiches, birch-beer vanilla bean ice cream, falafel made by a king – and a sprinkling of rain – were highlights of the second annual Philly Vendy Awards on Saturday at the lot at 39th and Market Streets in University City, which honored the top street-food purveyors.
Pork seemed to be the most popular ingredient used among the trucks this year, at least at the eight trucks competing in the savory category. Tacos Don Memo served Tacos de Carnitas, a crowd favorite, with pulled pork. Vernalicious served grilled cheese with pork and a savory BBQ sauce on white bread. Delicias handed out a platter of pork loin, sweet plantains and baby arepa stuffed with black beans platter. YumTown beer-braised its pork served alongside sesame slaw, Carolina BBQ sauce, house-pickled jalapeno and served it on cornbread. The Smoke Truck topped its mac and cheese with BBQ pulled pork.
The Foo Truck went another way, serving braised meatball "Foowiches" with ginger garlic and Napa cabbage as well as a veggie-friendly Thai curry quinoa "Foowich." Many enjoyed the interesting take on flavors. "I can definitely see myself eating that for lunch," attendee Jeff Osterwise said.
People searching for Italian flavors looked no further than Lil Dan's Gourmet. The eggplant sandwich - served on a crusty roll - was well received.
The King of Falafel stuck to his specialties: platters of hummus, a falafel patty, tabouli and a piece of whole-wheat pita to make your own falafel sandwich.
Dessert trucks also drew lines. Lil' Pop Shop offered seven different popsicle flavors. People raved about the goat cheese with wine-soaked fig popsicle, liking the flavor to a goat cheese cheesecake. Other flavors included cantaloupe rose, sweet and salty summer corn, nectarine ginger, chocolate with salted caramel brownie, and pineapple basil.
Sugar Philly's French macarons - classic fillings such as raspberry and milk and honey - were filled with ice cream for the afternoon, including blueberry lemon, caramel, orange hazelnut, and chocolate.
Sweet Box, which won best dessert last year, served bite-size Southern red velvet, thin mint, PB&J, espresso chocolate and vegan hazelnut praline cupcakes.
The rain cleared up just in time for emcee and humorist Anna Goldfarb to announce the winners.
Lil' Pop Shop took the prize for best dessert. Chef and owner Jeanne Chang said that the pops are a testament to the community. "We were super honored just to be nominated and for the people who came out to support us, even in the rain! I think our product speaks to the community because that's where all our ingredients come from, local farms," she said.
Vernalicious won the People's Choice Award. "Philadelphia is awesome," said owner Verna Swerdlow. "It's events like these that restore faith that people want to eat off of trucks."
The Vendy Cup, whose winner was judged by Collin Flatt, Tony Luke Jr., Joy Manning, Lari Robling and Marcie Turney, was The Smoke Truck. Owner Mark A. Coates said: "I made the best friends. These guys are the heart of the city."
Judge the winners for yourself! This Thursday, August 2nd, the winners of last year and this year will be on Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum for The Winner's Oval for a pay-as-you-go event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (rain date Aug. 9). Beer will also be available for purchase from Sixpoint Brewery.