I’m pretty sure that, as I was plugging in my “dinner” to MyFitnessPal last night, the little elves that work inside the website were asking themselves “WTF, where IS this woman, and how is she eating what she’s eating?”
Samosa, spring roll, vegan cookie, mac & cheese, pulled pork, a banana whip, stuffed grape leaves… Nope, I didn’t sneak into a multi-cultural food court and run around grabbing everything in sight. Instead, I hit up the Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll to spend the best and most diverse $9 I think I’ve ever dropped.
This particular stroll allows shops and restaurants on Baltimore Avenue from 42nd-50th Street to offer small bites, toys, treats, and trinkets for a buck each, as well as allowing attendees to rock out to some fun live music.
I went to visit an old buddy from college, Kurt, for a trip to West Philadelphia, a virgin area to this Philly newb. According to Kurt, it’s a lot of Penn alums, hipsters, and cool kids. The Carrboro or Brooklyn of Philly, perhaps? I don’t know, I’m not an expert, but that’s definitely what it reminded me of, down to the skinny jeans and PBR cans everywhere you looked.
Since I arrived around 6:40ish, the party was already in full swing and the lines were nothing to laugh at…
Luckily, we had nothing but time and, since Kurt had done a lap already, we began to make the rounds. Up first?
The Samosas from Desi Village were warm and a little spicy, a great first few mouthfuls as we took our initial steps onto Baltimore Avenue.
While I didn’t think that the hummus and pita from Aksum were worth shelling one of my precious dollars, the stuffed grape leaves called my name. I answered, greedily grabbing some covered in tzatziki and gobbling them both. I was licking the cucumber yogurt sauce off my fingers as we moved onto the next line. Luckily, it was long enough to allow my tummy to settle. But not for too long…
It’s probably the paper thin wraps, or the general off-white coloring, but these spring rolls refused to look good in any pictures. What they lacked in being photogenic, they more than made up for in being DELICIOUS! These were honestly probably my favorite bite of the evening. Cool, crisp, and surprisingly vegetarian, Vientiane Café’s fresh spring rolls were off the chain. I’ll be back for more of these next time, no doubt about it.
Juicy, with soft white buns that soaked up the tangy sauce, these pulled pork sammies were small enough that I wanted more, but large enough that I knew I didn’t need any more if I didn’t wanna be stuffed! We also got lucky here with no line, which I think is RIDICULOUS considering how delicious they were… Then again, if no one else wants to wait for them next Stroll, that’s A-OK with me.
As I’ve always said, a failure to plan is a plan for a ridiculously long line of hungry, annoyed patrons. (I’ve never said that, but maybe I should start…) Elena’s Soul was offering dollar portions of yams, peach cobbler, mac & cheese, and fried chicken. Only, after waiting in arguably the longest line of my trip, they were all out of chicken. And it was going to take them at least 15 minutes to make more.
Jojo don’t play that way, so I grabbed a mac & cheese to go. It wasn’t bad, but it was NOT worth that line. Lesson learned: Confirm chicken before subjecting yourself to the never-ending line.
While the cups were small, the flavor was big in Dock Street Brewery’s offerings, especially their Summer Session. I’ll be honest, I was double fisting these beers (long line, didn’t wanna wait again) SO I didn’t get a picture of the actual beer itself BUT it was light and summery, with a citrus hint and a lip-smacking lingering that left me wanting another one. But, my sweet tooth had other ideas…
I never thought I’d type this but: This totally vegan dessert was AMAZING! Mariposa Food Co-op was offering vegan chocolate chip cookies and banana whips, so I decided to get creative and go with an open face vegan “ice cream” sandwich topped with coconut shreds. I was so pleased and never ONCE thought “Ew, this tastes far too vegan for this carnivore.”
I’m not saying a tiger’s gonna change it’s stripes, but maybe this tiger will occasionally head over to nibble on some grass.
I don’t know, that’s a horrible metaphor. I couldn’t help it, I was remembering tasty memories…
I didn’t even break $10 with this meal, and left full as full can be. And, so you know, it’s happening again September 20th…. Anyone wanna join me?
Maybe we could even make this spring roll look pretty:
If you’re feeling courageous, check out the listing of all the foods they had this time around and share what you’d spend your first $3 buying!
If you’re not, are there any nibbles and bits from a favorite restaurant you wish would only cost a buck for the night?