The good people of Philadelphia have never been shy about sharing their opinions, particularly when it comes to food. Don’t believe us? Just try to order a “cheesesteak wit’ Swiss cheese” at Pat’s King of Steaks, and then listen to the agonized groans of everyone around you. People in Philly love their local food scene, but that doesn’t mean that everyone agrees on which places deserve the top spots. In this year’s voting for the Best of Fooda awards, the results were too close to call in several categories. Let’s take a look at this year’s winners.
Best Entree of 2023 – Bao Buns from Bao & Bun Studio
It’s not hard to understand why Bao & Bun Studio’s signature dish has become a favorite for Philly’s foodies. A staple of Taiwanese street food since the 1970s, “bao buns” (also known as gua bao) are simple steamed bun “sandwiches” stuffed with fried pork belly, Mongolian beef, fried avocado, and other savory fillings. The Bao & Bun Studio combo meal includes two of these flavor-packed treats (with spicy sauce on the side), a scallion pancake, and a drink. As Fooda’s voters can attest, it’s also a perfect workplace meal.
Runner Up: Chicken Shawarma from Pita Chip
Best Customer Service – Nothing But Love Soul Food & Bao & Bun Studio (Tie)
Sharing the Best Customer Service award this year are caterers from two very different traditions. Offering “authentic homemade Southern dishes from scratch,” Nothing But Love Soul Food Catering has a well-earned reputation for bringing a little Southern hospitality to the city of brotherly love. Bao & Bun Studio, on the other hand, offers customers a taste of Taiwan’s famous “night market” food scene with their delectable bao buns. What do these two very different Fooda favorites have in common? Easy! They both love seeing smiles on the faces of their satisfied customers.
Runner Up: Village Catering
Most Likely To Visit Outside Of Work – Mama Dude’s & Pita Chip (Tie)
mamadudes.com & pitachipphilly.com
Even though their cuisines come from completely different traditions, this year’s winners are both putting a new spin on the build-your-own-bowl menu. From their eye-catching food truck, Mama Dude’s offers an ever-changing seasonal selection of locally sourced farm-to-table proteins and toppings. The Pita Chip takes a different approach, providing customers with a “Modern Middle Eastern” take on classic items like beef shawarma, falafel, and hummus. With two excellent options for outside of work dining, how could anyone be expected to choose a favorite?
Runner Up: Wayback Burgers
Best Overall Popup – Bao & Bun Studio
Long before he relocated to Philadelphia from Taiwan, Chef Sam Chen dreamed of opening a restaurant where he could share his passion for the uniquely delicious foods of his homeland. His first restaurant concept combines the iconic Taiwanese “bao bun” (gua bao) with fillings inspired by more “Western sensibilities.” The result? An absolutely incredible fusion of flavors in perfectly bite-sized portions. When Bao & Bun Studio caters a workplace lunch, you might want to arrive a little early just to beat the crowd.
Runners Up: Mama Dude’s, Nothing But Love Soul Food, Pita Chip (Tie)