Tips for Enjoying the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival

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I attended the Manayunk Spring StrEAT Food Festival last year and it was so crowded. I think I must have arrived some time after 1PM. I went by train and it took me longer than it would have taken by car. There were lines at all of the food trucks and it was a  bit overwhelming because I wasn’t familiar with any of the trucks. I didn’t look up anything before I went there. I stood in line at the Mac Mart Food Truck  and the line went all the way around one of the street corners. After standing there for about 45 minutes, they said that they ran out of food so I was pretty much starving when I left. I ended up eating some veggie thing from a stand that I wasn’t so happy with.

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So this year when my fiance and I went, we went super early and arrived before they even started. Before I forget, my first tip is to get some cash out because you don’t want your card malfunctioning when you’re finally up there getting food. Also, we spent a good amount of money there. If you’re only buying food and you eat/take home a sizable amount of food you’ll need about $100. You’ll need more if you are also buying soda and other items there. We didn’t get anything at the other vendors not selling food. The festival started at 11AM and ended at 5PM. We got there around 10AM and there were already a ton of parking spaces filled. We ended parking at lot A near the festivities. There are a ton of parking spaces if you go early: Parking in Manayunk. At 10AM there are already cars everywhere. Lot A was almost full. So if you want to get a good parking spot, maybe arrive around 9AM. The lot we parked at had a fee of $20. So if you go earlier, you’ll probably get a cheaper parking spot elsewhere. An alternative is to bike there. Here is a guide on how to get there by bike: Trail Directions. Or if you live around the area, you can take the train there and you won’t have to worry about parking at all.

This year, 53 food trucks and 19 gourmet/arts stands lined Main Street. There was also a few bands there for entertainment. Before we went, I looked up which trucks we were going to prioritize so we would have a plan when we got there. I didn’t want the same mistake I made last year. It also helped to look up what the trucks looked like so we would recognize them. I figured that it would be really crowded at some point so it was nice to know what the trucks looked like. The one truck that could be very easily identifiable was Mac Mart because it was a bright pink color. The ones we were really excited about were these particular trucks: Mac Mart, Luscious Bakery, Mama’s Meatballs, Sweet Lavender, Undrgrnd Donuts, Wahlburgers, Bonjour Creperie and Little Baby’s Ice Cream. We didn’t get to eat at the Creperie because after eating what we ate, there was no room for anything else.

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We walked up and down Main Street to see where the trucks were located so that we would know where to go next. Wahlburgers, Mac Mart and Undrgrnd Donuts were all near each other so that was convenient. After seeing where the trucks were, we headed back down to Wahlburgers to start ordering! The line was definitely starting to form behind us while we stood there waiting to order our food. I looked over at Mac Mart and there was already a mob forming in front of it. We decided to try Our Burger which is their signature burger with Paul’s wahl sauce, onion, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato and government cheese (I don’t actually remember what kind of cheese it was but it was soooooo delicious).

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The burgers were pretty good. They actually have store fronts in a few states and are about to open another one in Philly this winter. I think it was the sauce that made the burger. The sauce made it juicy and flavorful. The meat was not a juicy as I would have hoped. It’s no Five Guys but it’s still a really good burger. Next we tried Marts Mac from the Mac Mart Food Truck. It’s their classic mac and cheese that has 7 cheeses topped with parmesan panko and potato chip pieces. Mac Mart is the first and only mac and cheese food truck in Philly. They are even planning on opening up a store front soon. I’m really excited for that because we looooove mac and cheese. Who doesn’t?

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This was actually a pretty big portion. It was one of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. Typically I don’t like a crust on my mac and cheese but this one didn’t have bread crumbs, just parmesan panko. I don’t like the burnt taste of the bread crumbs. It had a good ratio of crunchy to creamy. It wasn’t watery and it wasn’t too thick. It was perfect. We shared this because we already had the burger together. If this is all you had, you’d be full. So another tip is to share when you can. You won’t be able to try all that you want to if you eat everything.

Then after that we just had to try dessert 🙂 The Sweet Lavender truck had a good selection of desserts but we wanted to try the Lavender Creme Brulee. I’m always up to trying new flavors. One time we had a Pandan flavored Creme Brulee and it was so good.
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The Lavender Creme Brulee was delicious. A nice decadent dessert to satisfy our palates. It had a hint of lavender flavor which was a nice touch. When they prepared it they had the blow torch ready and torched the top before we ate it. It was creamy and tasted amazing. Then my fiance wanted to try out some tacos at the Dos Hermanos Tacos truck. We got the chicken, steak and pulled pork tacos.

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My fiance loved the chicken and pulled pork tacos and I really liked the pulled pork taco. They came in small portions which was nice and they had two soft taco shells per taco. I loved the taste of the taco shells because it had a nice clean flavor that didn’t overpower the flavor of the filling. After that we were headed towards Undrgrnd Donuts. When I looked up these donuts I was under the impression that they would be normal sized to large sized donuts. I was surprised to see that they came in a small cute size which is perfect for an indulgent day like this.

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We got two donuts, the Wake-Up (chocolate frosting, espresso dust and cream swirl) and the French Toast (Maple frosting, and cinnamon sugar). We liked the Wake-Up donut better than the French Toast. It’s the chocolate and espresso. There’s just no competing with chocolate and espresso 🙂

So at this point we had to find a bathroom. There was a sign for the bathroom that was pointing to several porta potties. We wanted to avoid that because those things aren’t the cleanest. So we looked around to see if there was a restaurant we could go into for the bathroom. There was this Thai stand in front of their own restaurant called Yanako (a Thai/Japanese fusion restaurant). We went in and asked if we could use the bathroom and they said we could. So if you’re lucky, you could also avoid using the porta potties. And of course, right after we used the bathroom I drank a whole glass of Thai bubble tea. Another tip is to bring your own water to the festival. You don’t want to be standing in line for food and suddenly be thirsty. Standing in line for a drink takes some time away from getting more food 🙂

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I love bubble tea!! One of my favorite drinks ever!! Then on to more eating, lol. We headed over to Mama’s Balls for some meatball sandwiches. We got Mama’s Balls and Rocky Ball Boa. I think the titles are hilarious. They’re so entertaining. My fiance loved both but I liked Mama’s Balls better because I thought that Rocky Ball Boa was too salty.

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The meatballs were regular sized meatballs and they were placed in small buns. The meatballs are nicely seasoned and I would definitely want to try the rest of their food in the future. Don’t forget to get napkins because this can get messy. You should maybe put extra napkins in your pocket because you never know when you need them. Next was more dessert 🙂 We went to Sugar Philly to get some French Macarons. We ordered one of each, Milk & Honey, Blueberry, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Ganache, Dulce de Leche and Strawberry. We only tried the Cookie Dough and the Chocolate Ganache and we liked the Chocolate Ganache better. The rest I gave to my parents. They didn’t have take-out containers so the woman in the tuck gave us an extra paper food tray to place on top of what we got.

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The outer crust was nice and crisp while the inside was soft and chewy. The filling was thick and creamy and had a nice consistency. I would definitely go back and try more flavors. They also had ice cream fillings we wanted to try out but we were getting really full by this point. And plus, I really wanted to try out Little Baby’s Ice Cream. I first heard of them from my sister. She showed me the weird commercials they have. Here are two examples: This is a special time and Love Lickers.

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After seeing the commercials I was curious to see if they actually had good tasting ice cream. The flavors are a little out there and there was one called Ants on a Log that had peanut butter ice cream, celery puree and raisins. Hmmm, I don’t know about that one. Others have raved about a lot of the flavors but maybe next time. If you go on their website they have a bunch of other really delicious sounding flavors: Little Baby’s Ice Cream Flavors. We tried one scoop on cone of Cardamom Caramel. It was really good and an interesting flavor choice. Creamy ice cream with a hint of flavor.

So we’re nearing our last stop here. I know there’s been so much food already and we didn’t even try all of the food that was offered. We went over to Luscious Bakery to order their famous Irish Apple Cake. It was so good, especially when you heat it up. This is one dessert we actually got a take-out container for. The lady there actually had some extra from another day, lucky for us. Try to bring containers and bags with you because they don’t have any take-out containers available. This way you can try more foods at home 🙂 Or you can see if there’s a restaurant open around you because they always have take-out containers.

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I don’t have a picture of the dessert to show you guys because we ate it before I remembered I needed one. The cake was soft and tasted so good. It maybe needed some more cinnamon but other than that it was really good. After this we were ready to go home. We stopped by Yanako (the place we got the take-out container from for our dessert) to pick up dinner and went to the Anastasi Raw Bar to get an Oyster Po Boy (now that I think of it, this is another place we could have gotten a take-out container from. I wonder if they had a bathroom…hmm). My mom didn’t really care for the Po Boy because she was hoping for more oyster but she got more of the fried crust instead. At first I was standing in line at Anastasi to get food but the line I was standing at was for the beer. Someone carded me and I was like…dude, I’m pregnant. I guess they were so busy that he didn’t notice. I felt kinda weird standing at the bar waiting for my food. I wonder if someone thought I was ordering beer. Before we left we went to Soda City to get a souvenir cup which was pretty expensive ($25) but it was probably just because it was being sold at this festival. Anywhere else it probably would have been cheaper.

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So that was our adventure this weekend. I’m trying to think of more tips. I guess another one would be to wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking. Also, bring a backpack instead of a purse so both your hands are free and you don’t have to worry about your purse slipping off of your shoulders when you are eating. Dress in layers because you never know what the weather is going to be like. It was suppose to be chilly that day but the sun was out so it was getting warm, especially with all the walking. Bring hand sanitizer just in case you have to use the porta potty. Oh and remember to ask if any of your friends/coworkers want to go because it’s always nice to have someone there to share your food with and hold your stuff when you need to go to the bathroom or something. One last tip (I think, lol), is try to remember which trucks already have store fronts in your area before you stand in line to get their food. This will save so much time. If you wend to the festival I hope you too had a great time there. It’s a nice day to just relax and try some amazing food. It’s a fantastic day to spend time with friends and loved ones. I’ll definitely try to see if I can go in the Fall. By then the baby will be here so we’ll see how that goes 🙂 Let me know what you loved about the food truck festival. My favorites were the burger and the mac and cheese. My fiance enjoyed most of the foods we ate. If you haven’t gone, you can always go in the Fall. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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