How three favorites shed their wheels.
(44th Street between Locust and Spruce Streets)
Honest Tom’s Taco Shop has maintained the same crowded atmosphere and devoted clientele it had before switching from a truck to a shop in December 2011. Shop owner Tom McCusker told Street that he decided to open a restaurant to give himself more space and customers more consistency in terms of store hours; he was often unable to operate the truck in the winter and on any cold, rainy or windy days. Because there is now only one location and dependable hours, customers can stop by for a breakfast burrito ($7) or steak tacos ($6) rain or shine.
Signature Dish: Breakfast Tacos ($6). Drag your butt out of bed for these eggs, bacon, potato and guac marvels, available until early afternoon. - Allie Bienenstock
(224 S. 40th Street)
Greek Lady’s ability to get you your gyro stat originated in a food cart. Owner Dmitri Dimopoulos transitioned the family business from two food carts with a cult following to a single, consistently crowded restaurant back in 2002, when an ideal space became available at 40th and Locust. For Dmitri, one of the best things about the restaurant is catching up with Penn students who were Greek Lady regulars during their college days. He enjoys “seeing how they have grown over the years, gotten married and had kids,” and is proud to say, “the first thing they do when they come back to campus is eat here.”
Signature Dish: Gyros ($6.45). Overdone, but with reason. Really, who can say no to fries and tzatziki in a pita? - Jillian Di Filippo
(57 Garrett Road, Truck at 38th and Arch Streets)
Before hoards of Penn students went to 69th Street for authentic tacos, they grabbed lunch at 38th and Arch. Don Memo’s opened the doors of its Upper Darby restaurant in 2008 due to demand from the truck’s customers. Leo Saavadra, chef and owner of West Philadelphia’s most beloved Mexican food truck, has a lunch suggestion for us Quakers that often goes unnoticed on his menu crowded with best selling tacos and burritos. He claims that the authenticity of the sopas most represents why his truck has been in business for six years: all of the recipes he prepares come from his hometown in Mexico. The spiciness of these thick corn tortillas topped with chicken, steak, carnitas or grilled pork (called al pastor) might make you run for the flavored Mexican soda Jarritos. To sample a greater variety of full entrees and pitchers of the infamous BYOT margaritas, ride the Market–Frankford Line to its final westbound stop.
Signature Dish: Tacos al Pastor ($2 each). One bite and you’re south of the border. A margarita’s best friend. - Solomon Bass