To kick off Spoon’s official launch at Penn, we held an awesome party at Castle. There were contests, fun people and, most importantly, loads of delicious food. Didn’t make it to the launch party? Here’s what you missed.
1. Luke’s Lobster
What they served: Lobster rolls, shrimp rolls, clam chowder
Why they’re great: Luke’s Lobster was recently named No. 6 on The Daily Meal’s list of “20 Best Lobster Rolls Outside of Maine,” and boy, do they deserve it. Each half-roll was $8, which, at first, seemed a little pricey to me. But the huge line in front of Luke’s inspired me to take the plunge. It was completely worth it. Each bun was buttered and toasted to a chewy-but-not-crunchy perfection (and they’ve started offering gluten-free buns, too). Huge chunks of lobster graced the rolls with their presence. Each bite had the perfect amount of lobster, butter, and their “secret seasoning.” To be sure, there wasn’t a whole lot of it, but that actually made the sandwich taste better – there was nothing standing in the way of me and my lobster. Though the lobster rolls were the most popular item by far, there were plenty of compliments for the clam chowder as well. Words like “creamy,” “smooth” and of course, “yum” were thrown around, and I have to agree – Luke’s chowder is so much richer than anything you’ll ever get out of a can. Bottom line: Luke’s is lip-smacking good.
Where to find them: 130 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, PA
2. Koch’s Deli
What they served: The “Restaurant School” special sandwich
Why they’re great: Koch’s Deli has been a West Philly staple for a long time. So long, in fact, that there are sandwiches on their menu named after Penn frats and local schools, like the “Drexel” and the ever-popular “Theos” and “Beta” sandwiches (check out which of the two won our taste test here). The “Restaurant School” special, though, was unexpectedly delicious. I’ve never been a huge fan of meat, but the combination of honey turkey, corned beef, and beef brisket was mind blowing. The spicy provolone and Russian dressing gave the sandwich a bit more heat to contrast the meat, which I definitely appreciated. I hate using words like mouth-watering (because really, my mouth starts watering whenever I’m even a tiny bit hungry), but Koch’s Deli definitely deserves it. Don’t hesitate to give this traditional Jewish deli a try; it’s pretty much on-campus anyways (and they deliver)! Try and bring a friend if you can – their full-sized sandwiches are big. And by big, I mean gigantic.
Where to find them: 4309 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA
3. Chez Yasmine Food Truck
What they served: Vegetarian couscous, tuna-cucumber salad, salmon hors d’oeuvres
Why they’re great: Food trucks are an essential part of every Penn student’s diet, mostly because they’re fast and cheap. However, they’re not always the healthiest option. Thankfully, Chez Yasmine has stepped in to save the day. The truck prides itself on selling gourmet Tunisian and Swedish cuisine at a fraction of the cost you’d normally see at sit-down restaurants. At our launch party, I was lucky enough to try their couscous. It was perfectly cooked – chewy and tender – and mixed with plenty of steamed vegetables. The hot sauce that came with it was actually spicy, which is a first for a food truck, in my opinion. During their normal operating hours, Chez Yasmine also serves up fancy creations like “The Nikki” sandwich, which has smoked salmon, caviar, and a hard-boiled egg on a soft French baguette. Most dishes on the menu are named after Penn students and other regulars – that’s how much Chez Yasmine loves the Penn community! Each purchase also comes with a free bottle of water and a perfectly ripe piece of fruit. The truck is conveniently located right across from the Upper Quad gate, so if you’re ever in need of a quick bite in between class, give Chez Yasmine a shot.
Where to find them: 3700 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA
4. Scoop DeVille
What they served: Penn-themed ice cream flavors with creative mix-ins and toppings
Why they’re great: Many people don’t know that Scoop DeVille, Center City’s premier ice cream parlor, actually delivers to campus. They have a few mixes that are Penn-Centric, like the “Locust Walk”, which is a chocolate frozen yogurt with bananas, chocolate chip cookie dough, and Nutella, as well as the “Upper Quad” and the “Penn Alumni Special.” They also get that sometimes, you just really need a break from fro-yo, and want some hearty, old-school ice cream. That’s where Scoop DeVille shines; they have over thirty flavors, including classics like chocolate brownie and funkier flavors like maple and butter pecan. We were lucky enough to try one of Scoop DeVille’s mystery flavors, which was an amazing combination of vanilla ice cream, caramel, golden grahams, Heath bar chunks, and pretzels. So next time you’re in the mood for some late-night snacks, skip Insomnia and order from Scoop DeVille. They also have a LivingSocial deal going on right now – even better for us poor college students!
Where to find them: 1315 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA
5. Lil’ Pop Shop
What they served: Pumpkin s’mores pops, spiced cider pops
Why they’re great: Anyone who’s ventured past 41st and Locust knows that the strip on 44th and South is one of the greatest food stops near campus. Whether you’re chowing down on Honest Tom’s, Tampopo or are just in the mood for a delicious, flavorful popsicle, Lil’ Pop Shop is every student’s first choice. With enticing seasonal flavors like Red Hot Mango Chile Pepper, you’re always in for a treat at Lil’ Pop Shop. Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll see them at the Farmers’ Market outside the Penn bookstore on Wednesdays.
Where to find them: 265 S. 44th St., Philadelphia, PA
What they served: Mango and pineapple soft serve made from pure fruit
Why they’re great: Fruzi is the brainchild of a recent Penn graduate (seeing a trend lately? HubBub? Schmear It?) and aims to serve the freshest, healthiest desserts that also taste delicious. And they do it perfectly – both of the Fruzi flavors I tried at the launch party were smooth, tart, and beyond satisfying. The fruit soft serves were creamy without the addition of any cream or milk. The fruit was so fresh that absolutely no extra sugar was needed, and the fact that Fruzi’s are made of pure fruit make it a completely guiltless treat. It’s perfect for all of the dairy-free people out there, too. When I’m craving something cold and icy, Fruzi’s what I’m going to turn to next time. Please open up a store at Penn – I’m sick of trying to make my own Fruzi’s in a blender.
Where to find them: 54 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, PA
And last but not least, here’s a picture of some baked goods made by our very own Spoon staff. If you didn’t get a chance to try these drool-worthy desserts, don’t fret – we’ll be holding plenty of food-filled events in the future!