An hour after the Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival opened on Saturday, foodies crowded Main Street’s sidewalks. They ate as they walked, holding containers of pulled pork nachos, apple barbecue brisket tacos and fried cheese curds with apple butter sauce.
The festival, a kickoff for Manayunk’s Restaurant Week, hosted double the number of participants as it did last September. From 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., 40 food trucks and 17 gourmet vendors occupied the lots and spots along Main Street between Green and Shurs Lanes. The road stayed open during the event, and barricaded waiting spaces between trucks helped to keep lines from jamming the sidewalks.
Still, hungry customers clogged the blocks hosting the more popular fares: by 1 p.m., over three dozen people waited in line to order from the Mac Mart Food Truck, stationed between Grape and Cotton Streets.
The day’s menus had one main ingredient in common — apples, a theme chose by the Manayunk Development Corporation.
“It is something different than the overwhelming ‘pumpkin craze’ of fall, while still offering an enjoyable autumn feel,” said MDC director Jane Lipton.
On almost every curb, chalkboards and dry erase signs advertised dishes like apple pie tacos, apple radish slaw, apple pork belly, appletini cupcakes, and spicy apple wings. During the StrEAT festival, 23 restaurants also offered an apple-themed dish to their dine-in customers.
Good Spoon Foods was one of the gourmet vendors assembled in food courts on the Main Street parking lots. Owner Kate Hartman, 34, said that like many of the festival participants, “most of our business is done in farmer’s markets.” After months of strong weekend sales in Rittenhouse and Headhouse Squares, Good Spoon Foods – which specializes in soups made from scratch — is planning its first storefront opening in Fishtown.
Julianne Huegel of Rittenhouse Square and her sister Alyssa MacMillan hadn’t eaten any soup on the warm afternoon, but they had consumed offerings from four different trucks within the first hour of the festival.
“We ran this morning,” laughed MacMillan, who lives in East Falls. The sisters started the event with Taco Mondo’s Korean fried chicken tacos. They followed it with coffee sweetened with condensed milk from Rival Brothers, apple-braised collard greens from the Local 215 truck, and caramelized apple burgers from Lucky Old Souls.
“I like that everyone has an apple theme,” said Huegel, who said she had to “embrace” the Local 215 collard greens as her favorite food of the day so far. The sisters, who blog about the Philly food scene, say that when they eat together at restaurants, waiters often comment on how much they order.
“We tell them, ‘It’s fine. We know what we’re doing,'” said Huegel with a smile. On October 3, they plan on returning to some of the StrEAT Festival’s vendors when they gather at the Chinatown Night Market.
Manayunk Restaurant Week runs from Sunday, September 22 until Friday, October 4. Visit manayunk.com for more details.