[Photograph: Patrick Crutchley]

Some food spots definitely have the power of suggestion on their side. With a tempting Twitter tagline ("Remember when you were like, Damn, I could go for some Thai food... in a taco. Well, here it is. You're welcome."), Philadelphia's Cucina Zapata food truck has their marketing down. An eclectic blend of Thai, Mexican, and stoner-food influences—all within walking distance for 23,000 Drexel and Penn undergrads— doesn't hurt either.


Case in point: the Cap'n Crunch-Crusted Tilapia Burrito ($6). Two filets are breaded in cereal crumbs and deep fried, then packed into a flour tortilla with red cabbage, iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a Sriracha mayo. The result is excellent food-in-wrap-form, with only a subtle sweetness from the crust on the fish.


"Cap'n Crunch wasn't actually our first choice," says Robert Zapata, owner of the truck and face (and namesake) of Cucina Zapata. Previous attempts included Cheez-Its, Doritos, and Corn Flakes. But the eventual choice worked out well: Cap'n Crunch's underlying flavors of brown sugar and butter offset the spicy mayo and lightly pickled cabbage. Further proof lies in the fact that the dish has been a mainstay of Zapata's menu since opening in 2011.


Other solid dishes include Chicken Satay Tacos ($3/1, $6/2, $8/3), Thai marinated grilled chicken breast strips in flour tortillas paired with similar toppings to the burrito: cabbage, lettuce, spicy mayo, thick slices of avocado, diced tomato, and, on request, an extra dose of Sriracha.

Everything on Cucina Zapata's menu pairs well with Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee (each $2). Tapioca bubbles are an extra $.50, provided you get there before they run out.

About the author: Patrick Crutchley is a cognitive neuroscience researcher by day and barbecue enthusiast on the weekends. He blogs his BBQ at A Scalawag's Smoker.

Cucina Zapata

Cucina Zapata

31st at Ludlow Philadelphia PA 19104

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