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Cheesesteaks, Soft Pretzels, and Crab Fries: A Philly and NFL Draft Love Story

All of Philly’s key food groups will be represented on the Parkway, along with vegan and gluten-free options

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The NFL Draft Experience will take over the Ben Franklin Parkway
B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

While teams are picking players during the frenzy that is the NFL Draft, fans in Philly will be flooding the Ben Franklin Parkway for the NFL Draft Experience, a free three-day festival stretching out over the equivalent of 25 football fields. (From here on, all comparisons will be football-related. Go Birds!)

The festival runs Thursday and Friday, April 27 and 28, from noon to 11 p.m., and Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Expect live broadcasts, players giving autographs, Vince Lombardi Trophy selfie opportunities, virtual reality booths, an Eagles memorabilia exhibit, a zip line, and, of course, plenty of food for sale. But unlike at a lot of these kinds of events, the NFL Draft Experience food vendors are local, making it similar to one of Philly’s food truck fests — give or take 200,000 people.

Oink and Moo BBQ

“Our goal is to feature some of the best food Philadelphia has to offer,” the NFL’s Kamran Mumtaz said in an email. “We are creating a diverse culinary selection, highlighting the cuisine for which the city is known. This includes menu items that local residents would be proud of being represented by and that visitors want to try when they come to Philadelphia."

There are 23 vendors on the roster, though the lineup is subject to change and menus are still being finalized — but Eater Philly got a sneak peek at the playbook. Along with the cheesesteaks, cheesesteak egg rolls, crab fries, pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, water ice, and soft pretzels, highlights include:

  • “Philly style” crab cake sandwich (a crispy crab cake filled with cream cheese and crushed pretzels) from Di Bruno Bros.
  • Short rib and crispy onion “sammy” from Village Whiskey
  • Valley Thunder grilled cheese sandwich (with cheddar, brisket, and baked mac and cheese) from Meltkraft

For vegetarians, in addition to fries and several cheesy options, My Four Suns Korean Fusion will be offering a veggie version of its Dragon Dumpling Bowl and a tofu rice bowl, which is also one of its gluten-free items. El Guaco Loco will have gluten-free tacos and platters. Vegans should huddle at Jeet’s booth for the grilled eggplant Italiano sandwich.

The Cow and the Curd
Jazz F./Yelp

Here’s the full, but still tentative, list of NFL Draft Experience vendors (but they can always call an audible, so don’t be mad if you can’t find the fried cheese curds):

  • Chickie's & Pete's
  • Quick & Carmichael Barbecue
  • The Schmitter
  • Tony Luke's
  • All Of A Sudden Desserts
  • Antney's Grub
  • Baby Blues BBQ
  • Buena Onda
  • Di Bruno Bros.
  • Dre's Water Ice And Ice Cream
  • El Guaco Loco
  • Jeet
  • Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop
  • Lulu Bang Wings
  • Meltkraft
  • My Four Suns Korean Fusion
  • Nick's Roast Beef
  • Oink And Moo BBQ
  • Pbon's Pretzels & Waffles
  • Philly Pretzel Factory
  • Texas Wieners Philly
  • The Cow And The Curd
  • Village Whiskey

Watch for updates as it gets closer to the NFL Draft.

Tony Luke’s
Nancy Y./Yelp