Trucks find niche on other Philly campuses

While we tend to think of lunch trucks as a Temple thing, other city campuses boast some popular mobile restaurants to serve the needs of students.

Temple, with its 34,000 student population, is one of the largest schools in Philadelphia, and it is virtually impossible to confine all its students to the North Philadelphia area.

Owls fly all over Philadelphia, from University City to Spring Garden. But no matter where they go, finding food on a budget can become difficult.

Fret not Temple students. If you find yourself in any other major college area in the city, you’re still bound to find good eats. Here are some of the most popular spots, which should satisfy not only your taste buds but your wallet as well.

The University
of Pennsylvania

Bui’s Lunch Truck:

Located at 38th and Spruce streets, Bui’s Lunch Truck is one of the few trucks that opens its window as early as 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Its famous Hangover Special, consisting of egg, cheese, ham, bacon and sausage with a 20 oz. gatorade, offers the cure to those Temple students who may venture to West Philly for fun, party-filled nights. And you get it all for $6.50.

Vegetarian? The truck offers an egg and cheese sandwich on a foot-long sandwich roll for $2.50.

Magic Carpet Food:

This Greek-run, Mediterranean-style vegetarian food truck has two locations: one at 34th and Walnut streets and another at 36th and Spruce streets. Highly acclaimed by review Web sites and almost every student and professor on Penn’s campus, Magic Carpet Food provides a healthy alternative to the often greasy fare of food trucks.

Owner Dean Varvoutis offers a friendly face and warm welcome for new-comers and regulars, and his Magic Meatball Sandwich, including tofu meatballs, red sauce and cheese on whole grain pita bread with a side salad, can introduce the average meat-lover to the healthy alternative of tofu. It is on the softer side and definitely cannot be mistaken for an actual meat-filled meatball, but as a healthier alternative it’s a keeper.

Hemo’s Lunch Truck:

Hemo’s, located at both 37th and Spruce streets and 38th and Walnut streets, is said to have the “best grilled chicken sandwich ever” by a reviewer on

The chicken sandwich, at $3.25, wasn’t exactly the best ever, but the white-meat breast certainly beats out the chicken-like substances found at some other eating establishments. Upon request, the truck’s famous “Hemo’s sauce” can be added, giving any sandwich a kick in the right direction.

Drexel University:

Honest Tom’s Taco Shop:
honest tom's
This tiny truck at 33rd and Arch streets doesn’t offer much selection, so if variety is what you’re looking for, you may be better off sticking to Qdoba.

If it’s quality you’re searching for, however, Honest Tom’s surpasses many. Its chicken taco (one for $3.50, two for $6) is made with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo. If the slight price hike won’t strain your wallet, grab one for a quick snack or two for lunch.

Pete’s Little Lunch Box:

Located on 33rd Street between Market and Arch streets, it is a favorite for Drexel students to stop for a sandwich or cup of coffee between classes.

The truck’s most popular item is its cheesesteak. Priced at $4, it isn’t bad for a cheesesteak from a food truck, but comes nowhere near Pat’s King of Steaks or Geno’s Steaks, of course.

If you are searching for a cup of coffee, try Pete’s, where a small is priced around 75 cents.

Community College
of Philadelphia:

Jamaican D’s:

There’s not a whole lot in terms of variety in the area, but outside the run-of-the-mill lunch trucks, one stands out. Jamaican D’s, on 17th Street near Spring Garden Street, has received quite a buzz for its unique Caribbean cuisine.

If you’re searching for something new, try the oxtail meal. A small is enough to fill anyone for lunch, costs $7 and comes with rice and a side dish, which can range from macaroni and cheese to collard greens or plantains.

Don’t be deterred by the word “oxtail.” The dish is a beef stew that the owner, Dave Dawes, simmers overnight to give the dish its tender, fall-off-the-bone texture.

If you don’t eat red meat, there’s the jerk chicken, which is widely raved and priced at $6. The truck also serves classic options like chicken wings, french fries and sandwiches.

Nadia Elkaddi can be reached at

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