Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >
May 19, 2010 02:00 PM

Is Sophie's food truck near Penn still around?

Greetings! A friend who graduated Penn in the mid-eighties wanted me to do some research and see if Sophie's food truck is still around. It was his favorite when he was in school and is craving one of their pizza steaks! Is Sophie's still around? The most recent info I could find was that it was near 34th and Chestnut on weekdays only. Any more updated info and details will be greatly appreciated! Many thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've worked in UCity since late 2005 and I've never heard of this place. I don't know if there are any food trucks at that corner now -- they've built a huge apartment building on the northwest corner that's set back off the street with a Starbucks right next to it. Most food trucks are on 38th, or on Spruce or Market, with a few next to the Penn gym.

    Here's a link with a map that shows all the trucks in the area.

    8 Replies
    1. re: LisaPA

      Yeah, I've never seen a food truck at 34 & Chestnut. I can't imagine one, actually. At least not now with all the traffic.

      1. re: Boognish

        Thank you both for your quick replies!
        Does anyone else remember this truck or know what happened to owners?
        My friends said the cheesesteaks were amazing!

        1. re: chowinpa

          I graduated from Penn class of '80 and I remember this truck. It used to be parked outside Hill House on 34th St. I'd be amazed if it were still there. I remember her as being Greek and they had great spanakopita. Don't particularly recall the cheesesteaks...

          1. re: rocknroll52

            When Penn organized the location of the campus trucks, and built little plazas for some of them, Sophie's moved to the NE corner of 33rd & Spruce, right next to Franklin Field. But they haven't been there for awhile; don't know why they stopped serving the campus.

            They did make a great cheese steak!

          2. re: chowinpa

            I used to work for Sophie when I was a kid- they moved - dad died a few years ago. I think Sophie went to Florida wit kids but could have returned. They herded all the trucks to certain areas a few year back and thinks aren't the same...

            1. re: dtuna42

              Sophie's Food Truck used to be right outside HUP on 34th St in the early 80's. She was also the first to have a truck running all night so those on 11-7 and other shifts could enjoy her food. Long gone, apparently. She and her family used to run a Deli in Schenectady, NY.

              1. re: JanePond

                That is the same Sophie - from Schenectady, NY, last name is Zarbolis. The truck moved around to different locations, the last place they were when I worked for them was on Market Street, around the 3600 - 3700 block area.

                1. re: JanePond

                  Ate there a million times, back then.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I'm Sophie's grandson and will tell you after my grandfather passed, my grandmother (Sophie) sold the truck and moved back to Greece. Thanks to everyone for the kind words. FYI, George's son-in-law now operates a food cart in front of the Franklin Institute and continues making these same cheesesteaks..

            6 Replies
            1. re: pk12345

              pk12345 I was so excited to see your post! Thank you for your reply! My husband was thrilled at the thought of being able to have the cheesesteak that has only been a wonderful memory for so many years. He went to the Franklin Institute this weekend in search of the truck but didn't find anything. Do you have information on specific hours/cross streets?
              Thank you again. Our very best to your family.

              1. re: chowinpa

                My guess would be that the truck is only there on weekdays, when folks working in the area, e.g., Moore College of Art, and the city buildings on the other side of Logan Square, are looking for lunch. Weekends there are mostly tourists around who wouldn't know from lunch trucks.

              2. re: pk12345

                Thanks for the update. Back in 1984, I lived in Hill House across the street from Sophie's truck as a Freshman at Penn. During my four years at Penn, I was a regular customer of Sophie's and remember George and Sophie well. After college, I returned to LA and missed their Pizza steaks. I returned to Penn 5 years later and George remembered me and remembered that I was from LA. The next time I'm in Philly, I'll look for the truck outside the Franklin Institute. What is the name of the new truck?

                RIP George.

                1. re: pk12345

                  Thanks for the update. I too was a Penn student back in the early 80s and just today, I was telling my daughter (named Sophie, funnily enough) about your grandparents and their cheesesteaks. We live in New Zealand, so she's never had a cheesesteak! My husband googled and found this forum. :) Here's a photo my friend took back in 1989 when we were all back on campus for homecoming and made a point to get pre-game cheesesteaks. Thought you might like it:

                  1. re: pk12345

                    Hi friends! After much searching we found the food truck! We were on our way to the Barnes and decided to explore around the Franklin Institute. We discovered a cart named Yanni's located on the northeast corner of 20th and Vine, next to the library. We told our story to the friendly man working the grill and he told us that he is George and Sophie's son-in-law! My husband shared all of his wonderful memories of the lunch truck at Penn and how all of his college friends keep asking about it. Yanni told us that he makes the steaks the same way George did and proved it by making the two of us delicious cheesesteaks! The cheesesteaks were great and a wonderful walk down memory lane! We will definitely go back because the steaks were fantastic and Yanni was a delight!

                    1. re: chowinpa

                      Thanks! I'm booking my plane tickets.... Hopefully I can still get a Pizza Steak. For those who aren't familiar - Pizza Steak is a Cheesesteak topped with Pizza Sauce. - YUM

                  2. I was feeling a little nostalgic for some grub and searched for Sophie's. I lived in Hill House in '95 and ate there everyday, right out my front door. Best cheesesteaks, hands down. In 96 I moved to High Rise south, but still got off meal plan and ate at Sophie's twice a day. By '99, they had moved to the lot outside Franklin Field. Sad that it is not around because I was just sitting here at work, 15 years later, and I was wondering if I could get a cheesesteak for lunch.