Grilled cheese sandwiches, birch-beer vanilla bean ice cream, falafel made by a king - and a sprinkling of rain - were highlights of the second annual Philly Vendy Awards at the lot at 39th and Market Streets.
Pork seemed to be the most popular ingredient used among the eight trucks competing in the savory category: Tacos Don Memo served tacos de carnitas, a crowd favorite, with pulled pork; Vernalicious served grilled cheese with pork and a savory barbecue sauce on white bread; Delicias handed out a platter of pork loin, sweet plantains, and baby arepa stuffed with black beans; YumTown beer-braised its pork served alongside sesame slaw with Carolina barbecue sauce, house-pickled jalapeño, and corn bread. The Smoke Truck topped its mac and cheese with barbecue pulled pork.
The Foo Truck went another way, serving braised meatball "Foowiches" with ginger, garlic, and napa cabbage, as well as a veggie-friendly Thai curry quinoa "Foowich."
"I can definitely see myself eating that for lunch," attendee Jeff Osterwise said.
People searching for Italian flavors looked no further than Lil Dan's Gourmet, with its eggplant sandwich on a crusty roll.
The King of Falafel stuck to his specialties: platters of hummus, a falafel patty, tabbouleh, and a piece of whole-wheat pita to make your own falafel sandwich.
Dessert trucks also drew lines. Lil' Pop Shop offered six popsicle flavors. People raved about the goat cheese with wine-soaked fig popsicle, likening the flavor to a goat-cheese cheesecake. Other flavors included cantaloupe rose, sweet and salty summer corn, nectarine ginger, chocolate with salted caramel brownie, and pineapple basil.
Sugar Philly's French macaroons - classic fillings such as raspberry and milk and honey - were filled with ice cream for the afternoon, including blueberry lemon, caramel, orange hazelnut, and chocolate.
Sweet Box, which won best dessert last year, served bite-size Southern red velvet, thin mint, PB&J, espresso chocolate, and vegan hazelnut praline cupcakes.
The rain cleared up just in time for emcee and humorist Anna Goldfarb to announce the winners.
Lil' Pop Shop chef and owner Chang, who took the prize for best dessert, said the pops are a testament to the community. "We were super honored just to be nominated and for the people who came out to support us, even in the rain! I think our product speaks to the community because that's where all our ingredients come from, local farms," she said.
"Philadelphia is awesome," said Verna Swerdlow, owner of Vernalicious. "It's events like these that restore faith that people want to eat off of trucks."
Vendy Cup winner Coates of the Smoke Truck said: "I've made the best friends. These guys are the heart of the city."
The competition was judged by a panel that included Collin Flatt, editor of the "Eater Philly," blog; Tony Luke Jr.; food writers Joy Manning and Lari Robling; and Marcie Turney, chef and co-owner of Barbuzzo, Jamonera, and Lolita.
The Vendy Awards are an annual event organized by the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, a membership-based organization of more than 1,300 vendors. The Vendys were a fund-raiser for the Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization that strives to make healthy food available to all.
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