As students in Philly, we all know the feeling of standing outside in the cold waiting in the long line outside of a food truck during the lunch rush. Three successful food truck owners—Carolyn Nguyen of Street Food Philly, Taco Mondo’s Michael Sultan, Alan Krawitz of Say Cheese Philadelphia—recognized this struggle and the high demand for quick, quality food. Together, they decided to take their fast and casual food truck offerings indoors.
The store on 20th and Walnut Streets has jarred hot peppers from local farms along the walls and a hand–drawn menu featuring unexpected specials. The extensive menu offered plenty of options for vegetarians and meat–eaters alike, making it difficult to narrow down our order. We created a tasting menu for ourselves of four different tacos (you have to order at least two of each taco per order), an empanada and chips and guac to get an inclusive experience:
FONTINA AND SPINACH EMPANADA ($4)
Holy wow, this was mind–blowing. This cheese–filled pie nailed every aspect it needed
to. The crust was crispy and deep fried, but not to a gross extent. The inside was oozing with an even mixture of cheese and spinach, which stayed away from being too hot and oily that it might burn us when we bit into it. This appetizer was definitely not too big to eat before a full meal and was an essential dish to top off the experience. 10/10 would nom again.
CHIPS WITH GUACAMOLE AND SALSA ($7)
The chips were average and lacked the proper amount of salt. The salsa was highly generic: tomatoes and onions combined to be an agreeable, acidic addition to our chips
and tacos, but was no different than pretty much every other salsa I’ve ever ordered at a Mexican restaurant. The most memorable aspect of this side was the guacamole. But all of
us disagreed about whether we enjoyed it simply because guacamole is never bad or because this guacamole was special in any way. Some of us wished it was chunkier, and we all wanted more bang for the buck—the portion was very small.
SMOKED CHICKEN TACO...$7 FOR 2/$9 FOR 3
When we read that goat cheese was going to make an appearance in these otherwise boring chicken tacos, we couldn’t have been more excited to try them. But, alas, we were disappointed—there was only a hint of the pleasant tang of goat cheese. The salsa verde was bountiful but not flavorful enough to compensate for the lack of cheese. Although we ate them, we would not recommend them.
Weekly Special Fish...Market Price
This week’s fish option was tilapia, served grilled on top of a medley of different flavors. On the bottom was their delicious ginger dressing, which complimented the fish really well. A fresh, sweet and super delicious mango salsa sat on top of the fish, along with other sliced pickled vegetables, which combined all different kinds of sweet, salty and even sour. The tacos were fresh and healthy and left us feeling light while still being totally filling. While I tend to prefer a fried fish taco, I still loved how all the different flavors in this taco came together to have a really nice ~beachy~ vibe.
CHIPOTLE BBQ BRISKET TACO... $9 FOR 2/$12.5 FOR 3
We almost didn’t order these tacos for fear they would be overwhelmingly spicy due to the chipotle and jalapeno. We were also wary about the unique combination of Southern American and Latin American cuisines. But fortunately, when we asked which tacos were the most popular, the employee insisted that we order the brisket tacos. Good thing we took a risk! We were all pleasantly surprised by the succulence of the tender, juicy brisket. It started off sweet, but left our mouths feeling satisfactorily hot thanks to a hidden kick. The filling was plentiful, as well—more than enough to satisfy our cravings. We could not have asked for a more perfect taco!
FRIED TOFU VEGAN . . $7 FOR 2/$9 FOR 3
I haven’t always been huge on tofu, but due to my more limited Kosher palette, I’ve been exploring the vegetarian options world of hits and misses—these tacos were a definite hit. The little cubes of tofu were perfectly fried and crispy without soaking up too much oil. The soy glaze seasoning added an interesting twist of salty and sweet, while bringing in a new, foreign flavor to a classic Mexican dish. Lining the bottom of the soft, double–shelled taco was a really tangy and sweet barbecue–tasting sauce that paired really well with the rest of the ingredients and packed an extra punch. On top were different pickled vegetables smothered in their tofu mayo, bringing crunchy and juicy texture to round the taco out.
Whether you’re a carnivore at heart or a vegetarian looking for a new meal to expand your eating horizons, I would be careful not to miss tasting these tacos. They’re a new spin on a classic dish, exemplifying what the owners meant by the word “Revolution.”
TL;DR: A new fast, kitchen–countered style taco shop that offers convenience on top of delicious, fresh and healthy foods.
DON’T MISS: The empanadas, brisket tacos and tofu tacos
SKIP: The chicken tacos, the salsa and only get the guacamole and chips if your meal doesn’t stuff you completely
WHEN TO GO: Between lunch and dinner
LOCATION: 2015 Walnut Street
PRICE RANGE: $