Checking in on Local 215

“Come to 33rd and Arch tomorrow for some lunch from @Local215 !!” urged one of Philly’s newest food trucks in a tweet Wednesday evening. “Pork Belly & Short Ribs what more could you ask for?”

A question that answers itself, right?

So I headed over to Drexel, where a thick crowd mobbed the sidewalk in front of the Say Cheese and Philly Street Food trucks—and Local 215’s spot around the corner faced an expanse of empty concrete.

There didn’t seem to be a good reason for that. The Local 215 dudes had set up a chalkboard menu on the corner, and the truck itself was parked next to Spot Burger, which also had a healthy line.

And the menu sounded better than the tweet. Pork belly over crispy polenta: $7. Short ribs over crispy polenta: $7. Roasted corn with dill, shallots and mascarpone for five bucks. A pretty decent sounding salad with arugula and apples.

I was hungry. I ordered the short rib. Three or four minutes later a 5-inch-long cardboard boat landed on the truck’s spic-and-span stainless steel counter. A square of polenta occupied half of the container, topped with just enough shredded shortrib to peek over its low rim. A small tangle of red cabbage slaw lined the bottom of the boat’s other half.

Seven dollars, I thought. Hmm.

The sidewalk server took a quick look at the diminutive portion, which bore scattering of grated white cheese and a tuft of microgreens, and called into the truck.

“Hey, when you do these ones, put a second one with it.”

My spirits lifted. Of course there needed to be another little polenta peg mounded with shortrib. Way to look out for a brother, sidewalk server!

But then the “second one” arrived: another empty cardboard boat, to be used as a lid for the underfilled first one.

I walked the precious parcel over to a table and tucked in. It was fine, I guess. The shortribs (a dollar’s worth? Two?) were maximally tender if minimally flavored. The coarse-ground polenta had a good crunch. The shredded cheese contributed a lowbrow element that existed in direct opposition to the pointless microgreens, which added nothing but pretense. There were only a couple bites of the slaw.

Local 215 brands itself as a mission-driven business committed to sourcing its ingredients locally. So far, so good. Who can argue with buying veggies from GreensGrow, or grass-fed beef from Sweet Stem Farm in Lancaster county?

But who’s really going to a food truck for tapas? In retrospect, that’s clearly how I should have interpreted the menu—and perhaps the lack of a line was evidence that the Drexel crowd knew what I didn’t.

Pork Belly & Short Ribs what more could you ask for?

Um, how about enough to make a lunch out of, guys?