Your Guide To The Callowhill Night Market

Night Market hits Callowhill with about 70 food and drink vendors, including newbies like the Rio Brazilian Steak Truck, Roe Thai and Japanese and Sweet Nectar Delights. Nearby PhilaMOCA has curated an evening of local tunes, Dance Philadelphia will be performing, and suds will be available via the Underground Arts beer garden and Penn Distributors. Thursday, June 18th, 6-10 pm, free, 13th and Callowhill streets.

So here we are–mere hours away from the start of the Callowhill Night Market which will bring together 70-some food trucks and vendors (plus beer and live music and tee shirts and all the usual weirdness that comes when you pack tens of thousands of Philadelphians together in one place and make them stand in line for tacos) for a one-night party unrivaled by any other food event in the city.

Whether this is your first Night Market or your tenth, whether you’re comfortable hanging out with 20,000 of your closest friends or nervous about the mob scene, whether you’re laser-focused on just ONE THING YOU MUST EAT BEFORE THE END OF THE NIGHT or (like us) planning on trying everything on offer (and the good stuff twice), we’re here to help you get the most out of your Night Market experience. Check out our battle-tested advice below, and make note of the picks we’ve made for the must-hit trucks of tonight’s event.

Ready? As always, let’s start with…

Showing Up Early: We can’t stress this enough. This is not one of those times when you want to arrive fashionably late. Or even exactly on time. No, you want to be the guy standing there, jumping up and down in place, just waiting for your chance to sprint in and be first in line. If you have to, fake an intestinal parasite to get out of work early. Find a nice place in the neighborhood to hole up for a little bit. And then be ready when the crowds start forming.

Arrivals and Departures: Don’t drive if you can avoid it. Just…don’t. Indego, Philly’s new bike share program, will be there at Broad and Spring Garden station from 6 to 10 p.m. What’s more, according to the Food Trust “Indego staff will be on hand to guarantee open docks for all riders throughout the evening.” For those of you doing public transit, take the Broad Street Line to Spring Garden or bus routes 4, 16, 23, 43 or 61. Those will all get you right up close to the action. But again, you’re going to show up early, right? Right. So plan your schedule accordingly.

Eat Dessert First: Here, you’re taking advantage of crowd dynamics and psychology, doing the counter-intuitive thing and heading for the sweet stuff right off the bat while everyone else is fighting for their place in line at Poi Dog or The Tot Truck. Experience has shown us that, even though this trick might seem a bit obvious, it still works. The lines for dessert are shortest at the beginning of the night. (Whereas the lines at The Tot Truck are going to be long no matter when you get there.)

Pick Your Battles: No one can eat everything, so know going in what it is you want to try the most and make a plan for getting to those trucks/carts/stands early. Nothing will make you more bitter than looking back and realizing you never got the chance to try that one thing you were really dying for. Need some help with planning? There’s a map and a list of every single thing being offered at the Night Market tonight right here.

Go With The Flow: Despite the massive crowds, every Night Market has a kind of ebb and flow which is as inexplicable as it is persistent. There will come moments when, for no good reason, the line at some weird vegan bbq stand will be enormous while, right next door, the dudes making gigantic pork sandwiches or dumplings stuffed with unicorn meat and magic are just standing around serving a crowd of three. And that’s when you have to make the hard choice: do you abandon your place in line and jump on the target of opportunity? Or do you stick it out and hope that the line for magic unicorn dumplings is still short when you get there? The answer: Bring friends, so that one of you can hold down your place in line while the others go get many orders of unicorn.

Bring Friends: More bodies means more coverage.

Split Up: More coverage means more lines being navigated at once. More lines means more food and booze. More food and booze means a better Night Market experience for all of you.

Re-Form Voltron: Once everyone has scored their various plates and snacks, have a place to meet up and share the wealth.

Veterans Have It Down: Places like Little Baby’s, Pitruco, Say Cheese and MacMart are Night Market veterans. These guys will have food throughout and know how to move a line.

Accept That You’re Going To Spend A Lot Of Time Waiting In Lines: This is Night Market. No matter how clever you are, there’s no way around the lines. If you understand that going in and are moderating your expectations, you’re just going to have a lot more fun.

The Best Of The Callowhill Night Market

Here are all the spots you should plan on hitting–though not necessarily in this order

  • Mom Mom’s Polish Food Cart for pierogi.
  • The Tot Cart because who doesn’t love tater tots hot out of the fryer?
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches from Say Cheese are actually a good way to start off the night…
  • …after you’ve picked up dessert, of course. We suggest Sugar Philly, Little Baby’s and Li’l Pop Shop.
  • The nearby Institute is celebrating its 7th anniversary with a Bell’s Brewing takeover.
  • Pizzeria Vetri, Nomad and Pitruco are all going to be there. There’ll be no lack of pizza, if that’s your thing (and it really should be your thing).
  • Mitch Prensky from Supper will be doing his Scratch Biscuits thing again.
  • The Cow and the Curd will be frying cheese curds and you’re a damn fool if you leave without putting at least one order of them in your face.
  • Undrgrnd Donuts has an annoyingly spelled name, but they also sometimes have some truly insane donuts. You should eat them.
  • Pie Stand will be there, and that means hand pies. HAND PIES!
  • You know what goes great together? Fried cheese curds and tater tots. You know what to do.

Callowhill Night Market [The Food Trust]

Some of the advice in this post has appeared in other posts–like this one and this one. But screw it. Good advice never goes out of style.