With its long days, blizzard-free forecasts, and ever-proliferating festivals and farmer's markets, summer is the ideal time to take on the challenge of tracking down every last food truck or cart that's been cluttering up your to-eat list. But good luck with that, since the list of new and tempting trucks just keeps on growing.
Here's a start: We present to you, in no particular order (though we did save the sweets for last), 16 must-try food trucks and carts around Philadelphia. Some are pioneers of the local mobile food scene, while some are newer additions that quickly set themselves apart from the pack and filled an important niche. And they're all worth seeking out.
If you're looking for fun food options for a wedding or other event, bear in mind that the vast majority of these trucks will cater. We know the city is stocked with lots of other worthy trucks, including newer favorites that may be well on their way to making themselves essential. Nominate your picks in the comments or via the tipline.
Mom Mom's Polish Food Cart
Polish food isn't exactly a major staple of Philly's food truck world, but maybe it should be. Look for classic golabki, creative riffs on pierogi, and more from this tiny cart. Find it at the Clark Park Saturday market and other spots and events around town. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
You won't find Spot serving at 33rd and Arch as often as you might like these days (the cart's schedule is often pretty full with catering and events), but it's worth it to stay vigilant and pounce whenever you get the chance. It's best known for burgers, but Spot makes excellent cheesesteaks and lots of killer specials, too. Facebook, Twitter.
Pitruco's wood-fired oven is still one of the coolest trailer mods around, and it turns out great pizzas. Depending on the day and time, you might find them up at 22nd and Brown, at Love Park, at 34th and Market, Tenth and Fitzwater, or elsewhere — the truck's Twitter feed is the best way keep track. Twitter.
Street Food Philly
The Street Food Philly truck may not have the flashiest name in the game, but that's cool, because it makes its name via endlessly creative and skillful cooking. Like its equally worthwhile sibling, Taco Mondo, this truck turns out high-quality dishes that are all over the map and always satisfying. Facebook, Twitter.
Some of this mac and cheese truck's viral mashups might verge on intimidating, but the mac is undeniably good and comforting whether you opt for a simple dish or one of the more over-the-top variations. When it's not busy catering, the truck has recently been vending mostly at Love Park and the Navy Yard. Official site, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
The Poi Dog cart admirably fills a seriously underserved niche in Philly, serving up fantastic Hawaiian plate lunches, lumpia, Spam musubi, bibingka, and other dishes that you aren't otherwise likely to find in the city. The cart really gets around, both in the city and suburbs, with frequent stints in the City Hall courtyard. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
Cow and the Curd
Subscribing to the "do one thing and do it (addictively) well" philosophy, The Cow and the Curd truck specializes in battered, fried cheese curds. What else do you need? Find them at festivals or in the rotation at Love Park. Official site, Facebook, Twitter.
Whether sweet or savory, these waffles are some of Philly's best and most creative. Favorites like fried chicken and waffles, banh mi waffles, and all manner of customizable sweet topping combos will make it nearly impossible to choose. Official site, Twitter, Facebook.
Vegetarian fixture Magic Carpet is such a West Philly staple that standing in line for its falafel or tofu meatballs is pretty much a defining feature of Penn campus life. Find them at 34th and Walnut and also at 36th and Spruce. Official site, Facebook.
Zsa's Ice Cream
This is ice cream worth seeking out, made with top-notch Trickling Springs dairy and ever-changing seasonal ingredients (and sold out of a particularly eye-catching truck named Gatsby). In addition to vending at farmer's markets and events, you can find Zsa's products stocked at a number of local markets and co-ops. Official site, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
Cupcake trucks are a fairly common sight now, but "the Cupcake Lady" led the way locally. By now, Buttercream has spawned a brick and mortar shop, but you'll still find the sprinkle-festooned truck at events and in the vending rotation at Love Park. Official site, Facebook, Twitter.
Not that you likely need much convincing to try a doughnut truck, but just in case, note that this truck will magnanimously top your doughnut to order with whatever you want. Think of the possibilities. (If you're the type to write off Cap'n Crunch-strewn doughnuts as gimmicky, the simpler varieties are great, too.) Official site, Twitter, Facebook.
A macaron truck featuring ever-changing, inventive flavors was already a great idea, and then they went and added ice cream macaron sandwiches, which is basically genius. And it's not just macarons: the Sugar truck also serves great creme brulee and other desserts, which change seasonally. Official site, Twitter, Facebook.