Happy to Hop On The Marrakesh Express
Today, recently Profiled Luncher Rachel checks out a new food truck in UCity.
At Penn, people think they are food cart experts. You constantly overhear conversations about “my regular order at Bui’s, or how “Obviously the people at Magic Carpet know me.” That being said, new food carts on campus are no small deal, especially this one. When I heard that Marrakesh, a restaurant previously a little further west than I’d probably venture, gave up its storefront for a food cart closer to campus, I could not wait to be one of the first to try it. People who knew the place raved, and people who though they new food carts (me included) got very excited.
The bright yellow cart stands at the exact corner of 40th and Locust, a prime location for students who live off campus to pass on their way to classes. As I approached clean-looking restaurant on wheels, the owner greeted me with a huge smile- I had scoped out the menu the day before and he was thrilled to see me return. The enthusiastic man quickly informed me that since they changed locations, business has been booming, and he could not be happier about the new food truck. I love food, and he loves making it. We quickly became friends.
The menu was a little limited, offering five varieties of shawarma sandwiches and a few sides. But if you get something right—I mean really right—why try to change it up? The inside looked as sanitary as the outside was spotless (a huge plus for a food cart), and after about seven minutes with two people in front of me, I was handed my order with a friendly smile and a streaming scent of Moroccan spices.
I opted for one of the most popular dishes, the chicken shawarma, and for a dollar extra added Moroccan fries to the platter. As a side, I felt compelled to try their Baba Ganoush (a staple at any Mediterranean place). The portions were definitely generous; a “normal” eater would be exceptionally full after consuming everything I ordered. The shawarma itself would have been enough for a complete meal, however skipping out on the fries and the sides would have been a colossal mistake.
Normally after eating a shawarma sandwich, you can get that “omg that was so good but I feel like I’m going to die” feeling in your stomach. With Marrakesh Express, this was not the case- the owner was able to balance a heavy blend of flavor with light ingredients to offer a fully satisfying yet nowhere-near-nauseating sandwich. The chicken was shredded which added to the lightness of the sandwich, and was perfectly moist. Adorned with lettuce, tomato and onion, the sandwich had the familiarity of a perfect hoagie—but then the separate yet wonderfully mixed curry and yoghurt sauces gave the sandwich the ethnic feel that delighted my taste buds with each bite. Wrapped in a flaky pita, I was smiling the whole way through (and I did eat the entire thing).
The Moroccan fries were like small potato wedges, cooked exactly to the dangerous balance between crispy and soft. I was expecting there to be a more pertinent explosion of Moroccan spices, however the horseradish sauce served with them gave the side that extra kick of “I really can’t get this anywhere else.”
And the meal kept going. The Baba Ganoush was adorned with small, sour pickles—probably not necessary, but who can ever complain about extra pickles? The actual Baba was like the Baba I would (read: often) dream about. I am not kidding. It was chilled to perfection; each bite was a blended mouthful of strong, chunky eggplant flavor. I could tell that they did not skimp out on ingredient here, the eggplant they used was the real thing. If someone dislikes strong garlic flavorings, this may not be the side to get. But judging from how guiltily delicious this was, I can’t imagine the other sides aren’t as equally delicious.
Boasting some of the best Moroccan food in the city with cheap eats that leave you begging to be a regular, “Marrakesh Express” did not disappoint. My one regret was that they were out of the Moroccan lentil soup, the daily special. But I guess I shouldn’t worry, because I will be back.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Satisfying portions with huge flavor
- Shawarma sandwiches easy to eat on-the-go
- Friendly, quick service that cares about how the meal ends up
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Getting anything more than a sandwich requires a tablet top to eat at, which this food truck doesn’t have
- The limited menu present few opportunities for variety
Marrakesh Express, 40th and Locust