I usually try to avoid food carts: those mobile metal eateries that litter city streets despite said cities having about a bajillion other places to eat.
Excuse me while I generalize, but I find them to be depressing, dirty and just plain superfluous food entities that prey on hurried and uncreative business people. In other words, most of us.
But sometimes, there’s a story. A story which floats around your office like a bad odor. A story that eventually makes it to your cubicle despite it starting in another department. It’s a story about The Cart. For my office, it’s known by an additional, crucial word: garlic.
THE GARLIC CART
According to the story, which had now taken on mythical proportions (at least in my mind), the garlic cart was an institution. The owner/proprietor sets up shop around 10:30 a.m. and caters only to an in-the-know lunch crowd, some of whom wait on line for upwards of a half hour.
What does this wizard create? Probably the tastiest, strangest and most garlic-filled sandwich in all of Philadelphia.
Now, I’ve only been once, but I’ve heard that the meal changes (if only slightly) every day. This means that you could go to this cart all five days in a week and never have the exact same combination of flavors. This I like.
I also heard that no matter how hard you try to hide it, you will smell like garlic the rest of the day after consuming one of these behemoths. This is completely and utterly true, as my wife could not and would not approach me post-consumption.
I chose a rainy day to try the cart, believing that the lines would be smaller and I would have an easier time ordering. The latter was a concern because, much like Seinfeld’s infamous Soup Nazi, the Garlic Guy (as I call him) has a reputation for impatience and surliness. You either order what he makes or you’re dismissed. No food for you!
The cart is adorned only in garlic bulbs. They’re raining from the overhang, overflowing the counter, strewn in every different direction.
The Garlic Guy himself was a swirl of motion. He’s grilling the chicken, he’s coning the pita, he’s spooning this in, spreading that around, and sprinkling a dash of spice onto everything. Every sandwich (or platter) is made fresh while you wait.
When I got home to enjoy the aluminum-wrapped monstrosity, I took a moment to take in the mess of ingredients:
- grilled chicken slices
- a pink, minced garlic mixture (pictured)
- a brownish sauce
- an oil-based dressing
- a sprinkle of spice
It was overstuffed, hard to eat, spicy… but completely delicious. I’ve honestly never had anything like it.
Therefore, even though I’d like to keep this place a secret, I will divulge the garlic cart’s daily location. From 11:00 am until about 3:30 pm, you will find the Garlic Guy at the northeast corner of Market Street and 20th Street.
One more warning: don’t forget your biohazard suit if you have an afternoon meeting.