Those of you who know me, or who have read my list of “27 Things About Me,” know that I absolutely adore the fleet of food trucks that patrol the streets of DC at lunch time catering to the hordes of foodies who can’t stomach the thought of eating at Au Bon Pain yet again.
There’s a food truck for every food craving you could possibly have. Indian? Covered. Wraps? Done. Fries? Got your back. Cupcakes? If you wait long enough, they’ll come to you. Korean BBQ tacos? Yep. Poutine? Surprisingly, yes.
I was skeptical at first. I was worried about the quality of the food; the cleanliness of the trucks; and the logistics of eating food from a truck. But, I’m not going to lie, there are few bricks and mortar establishments that can hold a candle to the food I’ve had from the food trucks prowling the streets of DC.
Granted, I’ve never run across a restaurant that specializes in poutine. But that’s the beauty of the food trucks. These are people that are passionate about a specific food, have perfected their art, and found an ingenious way to bring it to the masses.
I couldn’t write an entry on food trucks without mentioning the battle they are currently engaged in with the District’s various Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). Permanent residents (ie bricks and mortar establishments) pay a fee to the BID every year and the BID, in return, acts as a guardian of the businesses interests. They try to attract customers to the area through various free events, such as movie screenings, and lobby the city on behalf of their members.
As detailed in a fabulous Washington City Paper article, the BIDs dislike the mobile food truck army as they believe that when a food truck lands nearby, the permanent businesses suffer as a result. As such, they have launched a war against the food trucks, some even going so far as to drench food truck customers.
Not standing for this, the food trucks have taken a grassroots approach soliciting their customers and Twitter followers to write the city and sign a petition urging the city to reject new regulations that would impose new, stricter regulations on the food trucks that would probably drive many of them out of the District. This would leave many lunchtime diners, like myself, out in the figurative and literal cold. I can’t go back to eating ABP everyday for lunch!
Anyways, for those of you wanting to check out the best of the best in food truck fare, the DC Restaurant Association has the event for you. Next Thursday and Friday at the Convention Center, the top 20 food trucks in DC, voted on by customers, will all be in one place peddling their delicious, delicious food. Since I will, tragically, be in CO for a wedding, I thought I would give you my feelings on my favorite food trucks in attendance:
DC Slices: Is anyone other than me surprised that you could get a pizza oven in the back of a truck? Cause these guys did. And they use it to churn out delicious slices of NY style pizza, with deliciously thin, chewy crusts; tangy tomato sauce; and so many toppings you wouldn’t think you were buying pizza off a truck with limited space. They also have chopped basil to add some freshness to the slices. Yum.
Eat Wonky: Not gonna lie. I was a little worried when I heard there was a poutine truck. Poutine? Really? But oh man was I wrong. Squeaky cheese is amazing. I’ve only had the grilled cheese, on a deliciously crunchy hoagie roll with red pepper flakes, but the proportion of bread to cheese couldn’t be better and I doubt I could make a better one. Next time, though, I’m trying the fabled poutine.
Curbside Cupcakes: This was the first food truck I ever visited. I remember the day well. It was a gray morning and I looked out the office window and spied this little pink truck emblazoned with a cupcake on the side. I dashed out to snag a red velvet (the epitome of cupcake goodness). I was hooked after sinking my teeth into a perfectly moist cupcake with the right amount of frosting. (I’m not the biggest frosting fan and much prefer it to compliment the cake, rather than dominate it.) I’ve eaten cupcakes from what I now refer to as the “cupcake truck” (even though there are others) at various points throughout the day and I’m happy to report that the quality of the cupcakes stay consistent throughout the day.
Eat Sauca: When I first tried Sauca, I was very impressed. The SOB veggie wrap (for south of the border, not the other thing) and the Butter Chicken wrap are both delicious and filling lunches. However, I’ve noticed that the quality of the wraps depends heavily on whose manning the truck that day. Some days the wraps are too heavy on rice, some days the wraps are light on filling as a whole, and on one occasion the wrap was just made plain wrong. (To be fair, when I complained about the wrap made wrong, they did give me a free one. So kudos to them!)
Fojol Bros.: Indian food. Proprietors in costume. Shiny silver truck. Fun, random music. Mango lassi popsicles. Really, I don’t think you could go wrong with this truck. The butter chicken is absolutely to die for, in my humble opinion. The veggie dishes are generally not as good but still quite tasty. My personal fave is the potato and cauliflower side. This is my favorite food truck for the quality of food and the ambiance created when you visit. The brothers from Merlindia know how to make you feel welcome and give you a memorable food truck experience.
Fry Captain: Ok come on. How could you not try out a truck devoted to serving just french fries and milkshakes? Now I have not tried the milkshakes but the fries are enough to make a meal out of. On occasion, they will even have fries fried in duck fat and, if these are available, they are a must try. Also winning over my heart, and stomach, is the fact that they offer Old Bay among the seasonings available for your fries, something that I have not been able to indulge in since my time in school in Lynchburg, VA. Finally, they also have curry mayo for dipping. Now, I don’t suggest the combo of Old Bay and curry mayo (trust me on this one); but if that means you have to go twice, who’s going to complain about that?