You're not the only one who changed over summer break. In just three months, much has changed in UCity's culinary landscape, for better or for worse. We've rounded up all our food-related coverage—the good, the bad, and the ugly—so your stomach knows what to expect when you find your way back to campus.
Honest Tom's Taco Shop became Honest Tom's Plant–Based Taco Shop. The news that all of Honest Tom's offerings—from their iconic beef burritos to their cheesy nachos—would be replaced with plant–based options sent shockwaves through the West Philly community. Street writer Maryanne Koussa went to try their new menu. Here's her ranking of their new offerings.
1. Biff Tacos: This walnut–based meat substitute was by far the favorite. Not only did it have the most flavor, it had that salty aspect you expect when you bite into a classic taco. While it was slightly dry, the seasoning really shined.
2. Sweet Potato Tacos: This is a classic, and a classic that's been sitting, unappreciated, on Honest Tom's menu for a while. It’s sweet, but that is expected (dude, it’s a sweet potato). It doesn’t taste like anything, but it leaves the sweet potato as the main star.
3. Carbacoa Tacos: This is their new lentil and carrot barbacoa, meant to replace their carnitas. Not sure if the “c” is meant to stand for carbs or carrots, but they’re both very present.…This is the taco that really makes me question the odd texture that really only comes with vegan foods.
4. Chucken Tacos: Meant to replace chicken, "chucken" is made of chickpeas and plantains. Besides the terrible name (ed. note: seriously, say it out loud. It just sounds weird.), this is the type of vegan food that keeps me from being vegan…No sauce can save this one, just skip it.
Besides the tacos, I got to try the PB nachos. Not peanut butter, plant–based, and these were so good that the sad boy music stopped for a second and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” had to play to make sure I could contain myself.
&pizza opened in Capogiro's old space. With the sudden closing of Capogiro in early 2018, Penn was left with a collective gelato–filled hole in our hearts (and stomachs). But in March, Street reported that &pizza, a make–your–own pizza concept restaurant, would be coming to fill the space. As of August 2018, &pizza is open for business. From Daniel Bulpitt's review and write–up on the new spot:
&pizza opens on campus as one of over 30 stores since its founding in 2012. According to Rachel McLaughlin, &pizza's head of marketing, the store prides itself on being a “different kind of pizza shop,” offering options from a decadent “American Honey” pie with pepperoni and hot honey, to the “Farmer’s Daughter”, which has egg and chili oil.
In addition to these signature pies, dubbed “the Hits,” &pizza also offers a build your own option with unlimited toppings. No matter what you end up ordering, each pizza will cost you around $11.
While it’s not what you might crave when you think of a typical, New York style pizza, &pizza’s offerings appeal to a more eclectic palate. The pizzas, while oblong and seemingly large, are actually about enough for one moderately hungry person. My only gripe is that the pizza was somewhat lacking in cheese—but this also meant that I didn’t feel as bloated after eating it, so not all bad.
HubBub Coffee closed. Our last day of HubBub coffees between classes came on May 11th, when the Philadelphia–based chain shuttered its location on 37th and Spruce Streets. Street reported on the closure in May of 2018. Here's what we had to say:
Founder and owner Drew Crockett (C'05) created HubBub in West Philadelphia in 2009 as a mobile food and coffee truck, which grew to include the University City location, a location in Radnor, and another in downtown Philadelphia. The location on Penn's campus opened in 2013. But HubBub also started on Penn's campus as one of the first of a "new wave" of gourmet food trucks—Crockett started selling coffee on 38th and Spruce Streets in 2009; the truck is still in operation in various locations around the city. The news of this closure comes almost exactly a year after Crockett announced the closure of the HubBub Coffee on 17th and Arch Streets.
And SoBol opened where HubBub used to be. The açaí bowl chain took over the space at 3736 Spruce, and Philly.com reports that the new spot opened Thursday, August 23, when SoBol's Facebook announced that the first 50 people in line at noon were eligible to receive free regular–sized açaí bowls. But for those of you who missed the opening, stop by anytime—they're open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Halal Guys is opening a few blocks from campus. The New York City restaurant started as a food truck and became an iconic storefront for halal food. And now, in addition to their Chinatown Philadelphia location, they're opening a second spot at 3816 Chestnut, as Street reported in April 2018. Street got the chance to try some of their most iconic offerings, and here's what we thought:
Four bright yellow bags sat on the table, three filled with falafel/beef gyro/chicken combos, and one filled with rolled pita, baba ganoush, and hummus. Strewn about were the Halal Guys’ famous pouches of white sauce and red sauce, the latter of which elicited a near–universal “holy shit” reactions even from people not new to the realm of spicy foods.
The tender chicken and gyro brought about one reaction above all others: “they’re not greasy!” Even the falafel feels light, with a green interior reminiscent of the Goldie blend. Combos are available, or single–protein dishes with just gyro, chicken, or falafel.
Dim Sum Garden is phasing out BYO . Billy Penn reported in June that the change was due to "rowdy customers". But BYO isn't dead entirely at the Chinatown spot; there's a $15 corkage fee to bring your own alcohol. If you're of age and prefer to order at the restaurant, you're in luck—there's a wine list.