Philadelphia, Pa.
three falafel balls

Once known for cheese steaks and scrapple, Philly now chows down on falafel and Caribbean soul food.

iStockphotos/Getty Images

Unlike other street food cities that are making things funky and foodie, Philadelphia is all about the rough and tumble. It's a place that keeps street food fairly simple and fairly priced -- something clearly appreciated by the city's students, since most vendors can be found around Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. There's even a Web site that focuses on street food in this area.

Ali Baba is a Mediterranean food truck whose owner is famous for throwing in an extra falafel ball with your order if he gets to know you. Bui's Lunch truck provides students with the Hangover Special (sausage, eggs, ham and cheese boosted by a generous glop of hot sauce). And Honest Tom's Taco Shop gets traffic with $2 vegetarian and $3.50 meat tacos.

One extra-hot truck at the moment is Gigi and Big R's Caribbean Soul Food truck, winner of Philly's annual Vendy Cup -- a street food award tradition that began in the king of all street food cities, as we'll see on the next page.