One of the great advantages of food trucks is that owners are on the truck daily. This brings a tight bond between the owner and their hungry patrons. Since many of us only get that small time between ordering and grabbing our food, I wanted to help bring us together. That’s when I got the idea, Behind The Wheel. Gets me back to telling the story and further enjoying – being around food trucks. This week I highlight King’s Authentic Philly.
“You pay for the cheesesteaks, the Philly attitude is free.”
With the Triangle’s fast population growth, it is no surprise that many are the term “transplants”. While we (yes, I am one, too) are settling here and forwarding our mail, we tend to look around and look for our hometown favorites.
One classic sandwich that has to be highly contested is the Philly Cheesesteak. Talk to people from Philly and they immediately talk about their place. You talk to a tourist and they’ll do the same, which will stir up controversy with locals. Even within the city limits outside of Philly, there are debates who make the best Philly. In fact, in the restaurant venues, I have thrown my hat into a debate with co-workers. But we all should agree to disagree that we all have our favorites. This week we focus on Barbara and John Kingston’s food truck, King’s Authentic Philly.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
John manages The Dollar Stretcher magazine and Barbara is a real estate closer. I personally think she needs to add “Philly Cheesesteak closer” to her resume as she brings that Philly swagger in her delivery. Arena fans might recognize them at events as they also work as ushers. They are parents and grandparents for a fifth grandchild coming next year.
The family has spent time in food service. Both John and Barbara met working at McDonald’s, where John made his way to Area Supervisor. Also, one of their children is a chef in a restaurant in Charleston.
How did King’s come about?
On a trip back from Northeast Philly, they returned home in Raleigh. Already homesick, they began to wander around for something to calm those feelings. This is when they turned to each other and noticed, “we can’t get a true Philly Cheesesteak here.” Like I led into this story, the Philly cheesesteak is a classic sandwich. I relate it to the way Mom made that dish to made your sad days happy.
This is when John had the idea, I am opening a Philly cheesesteak truck to bring that flavor to the Triangle. Barbara heard of these dreams before. The honey do list had items yet to be crossed off and in time this food truck idea would make that list. Though something was different about this idea. John started making those steps to get a Philly Cheesesteak truck on the road.
Soon the truck came about and soon he was on the road.
Tell us a little bit about how you got your first event.
The first event was the Knightdale Food Truck Rodeo. Many were surprised to see a new food truck next to many established food trucks. But John credits this to his hard work ethic by scouting the Internet for events. When he found the event he simply contacted Knightdale and they were booked.
What makes these cheesesteaks “authentic”?
Both John and Barbara are from Northeast Philly. When someone from Philly comes up to the truck, a conversation immediately kicks off of neighborhoods, schools, and other Philly landmarks. Not being from Philly I just nod and smile politely.
Their bread is a 6″ roll from Sarcone’s Bakery, which is a bakery in Philadelphia. So you are getting a true taste of Philly in every bite.
The meat used is 8 ounces of ribeye. Which based on food math, you are getting a lot of protein stuff in that six inch roll. John’s comment, “It’s a 6 inch sub, but it’s a wide six inches.” The teenager inside of me laughed at the many paths that conversation could have gone.
And what you’ll find at the top of the menu is the Philly Classic with a choice of Cheese Whiz or Provolone. Again, a topic of debate for Philly Cheesesteak fans. Pat’s and Geno’s got us [tourists] accustomed to Cheez Whiz. But many argue a true Philly is with Provolone. I argue Provolone is the way to go, but that’s my take.
What are some of the items on the truck?
While you can get a Classic Philly all the way, their most popular sandwich, those who like to mix it up will enjoy their creations. The menu has references to Philadelphia. I enjoy “The Italian Stallion” which takes the classic and adds some marinara sauce and pepperoni. It gives the sandwich a bit more savory flavors, saltiness from the pepperoni, and a little bit of tanginess from the tomato-based sauce.
Others include the Ben Franklin (Bacon & Cheese Whiz), The Rocky (a Philly with marinara sauce), The Yo Adriene (Cheese Whiz, Onion Crisps, and BBQ Sauce), Broad Street Bully (Buffalo Sauce with Ranch or Bleu Cheese), and The Betsy Ross (the vegetarian option). The Betsy Ross is often ordered inadvertently, not knowing it’s a Classic Philly without the meat.
A newer item that is a brewery hit is the Keystone Nachos (Pennsylvania is the Keystone State). This a Philly Cheesesteak on a bed of nachos. A great option to share with friends while drinking a local beer.
Anything new coming to the menu?
One item that was on the menu briefly was “The Boss”. It was a Pork Roll made with the famous Taylor Pork Roll from Trenton, New Jersey. It briefly was on the menu, but no one knew what it was. No one ordered it and the Kingston family enjoyed Pork Roll for days. They’ve hinted it will come back, so you may want to follow or let them know via Twitter/Facebook that you want the Pork Roll.
They’ve also mentioned the Pork Sandwich. Again, a non-Philly person here thinking the Pork Roll and Pork Sandwich are the same. John and Barbara tell me about John’s Roast Pork in Philadelphia and how people love it there. My mouth was watering listen to all this food. Now that Philly trip is moving higher on the Travel Big Board.
As I’m sipping my beer jotting notes, I find out today is their 33rd Anniversary. While no one intends to work on their anniversary, they did enjoy a relaxing cruise a few weeks prior. They both say, “they thought this truck would be the end.” But here they are, the same way they started next to a grill and a register.
Where to Find Them?
They do a good job of posting their weekly calendar on their Facebook page.