Truckin – In a Lunch Starved Town

One of the problems working in downtown DC is well – the food sucks … it sucks big ones, little ones, whatever.  And if you are in SW, worse still.  I am getting tired of Subway and various by-weight troughs in the area.  (seriously, lo mein has a theoretical maximum for happiness delivery)  However, a lot of food trucks have started to make their rounds in the area – a legitimate substitute good.  Some opinions:

Sauca: No mystery here.  These are pita wraps.  That said, they augment it with a myriad of sauce choices and inspirations from around the world (banh mi, buffalo chicken, merguez).  I’ve had the Banh Mi and Merguez – both tasty, but both probably too much food.  There is perhaps a little too much menu going on here.  But it is very solid.

Fojol Brothers: Couple of white guys in costume and persona driving a truck serving Indian Food?  Yep.  Of course, this is mainstream Indian (as opposed to South Indian, this is the Chicken Tikka, Butter Chicken sort of thing), but it very well done.  The vegetable (cauliflower sometimes, lentils sometimes) has good flavor.  Certainly the most famous of the DC food trucks, but it is also quite good.  The reputation is earned.

Goode’s Mobile Kitchen: in front of the FAA – it’s bad and slow.  It might not be that slow in real life, but there are better ways to get Kebabs.  The website is about as quality.

El Floridano:  A perfect formula for a food truck to me.  Small menu, change some stuff daily.  I got a Cuban sandwich – an almost guaranteed winner.  This was not a great Cuban – the cheese was not quite melted enough for me – but the flavors were strong.  The banh mi with turkey meatloaf looked good too.  The soup of the day was chilled carrot-ginger – which was pretty outstanding.  Fojol Brothers might be better – maybe – but this was a terrific discovery.

Wonky: Apparently this was put together by people from Southern California.  However, where did they get the idea – the idea to look northward for inspiration.  Put simply, they took life’s most delicious things – and piled them on top of each other.  Meat, gravy, cheese, potato – mmmm.  Their signature is the Wonky Dog, a 1/4 lb all beef hotdog – very solid quality on the hotdog meter.  They top it with … POUTINE!!  Poutine, the Canadian delicacy of fries covered with gravy and cheese curds, a serving of poutine is on top.  Fortunately they give a knife and fork, because after a couple of bites, the dog is too messy to eat during work hours.  But the flavors are top notch – and the poutine is very good.  The roll is a hearty baguette roll – a bit too thick for my taste, but it has a lot to hold up, so I guess it makes sense.  Really it ends up being poutine on a high quality hotdog.  Either way – yum!

Takorean: This is DC’s only Korean BBQ taco truck.  Lofty claim there.  They serve tacos, with your choice of bulgogi or chicken, topped with either napa slaw or a kimchee style, and then topped with sriracha, lime crema and cilantro.  The flavors pop, and extra points for Jarritos soda.  However, the bulgogi beef in sauce was too wet for the application.  Juicy is fine, but the dripping made it a very messy taco, too much for me to eat in work clothes.  For a lunch truck, the messiness factor is relevant – unfortunately.

FryCaptain: Pretty simple concept here – fries and shakes.  Fries come with a choice of seasonings and dips.  I eschewed the shakes this time around – thought they did look good.  Whether they are cloyingly sweet or not – that is for another day.   The fries themselves were not cheap – $3.50 for a regular order – so they HAVE to be good.  Fortunately I can say they are – the garlic salt was present without being aggressive.  I got a chimchurri mayo for dipping, which was surprisingly herbacious – more than I was expecting.  Obviously this is not full lunch material, but still pretty cool.

Sweetgreen: Yup, the mobile version of the salad and frozen yogurt of note.  Obviously with just fry captain, I needed a real lunch so went and got their Guacamole Greens Salad with corn and black beans (spring mix, onion, tomato, tortilla, chips, avocado and a jalapeno-lime vinaigrette).  The salad was very good – the dressing had a good flavor.  The only real complaint one can have is that the salads were prepacked.  As a result, I got the packed plastic container with the untossed salad (especially problematic with the avocado slices) and a container with the dressing.  I might be a total klutz, but mixing a salad in a confined receptacle is hard – as Bill Maher once noted, it feels like they decided to not finish the part where the salad is actually made.   This whole “providing the salad unmixed in a container without real estate for mixing” thing is a scourge across all restaurants with a take out salad option I think – I know why they do it, but it’s a pain.

Red Hook Lobster Truck: I had heard about this place a while back, and finally it came to L’Enfant.  Real Maine Lobster Rolls, in DC?  They claimed it, and even busted out JJ Nissen rolls, so their New England credentials seemed strong.  I ordered a traditional lobster roll.  The meat was succulent, especially the clawmeat.  It was generous in the toasted roll, and tossed with lemon aioli – but fortunately they were VERY judicious with the aioli.  This is not like sloppy coleslaw where the main event is drowning in dressing.  This is an excellent lobster roll – but it’s also $15, so be warned.  But it is very good.

Dangerously Delicious Pies: A truck serviced by the Dangerously Delicious Pie company, clearly there is not a whole lot to say about the wares this offers.  Suffice to say, they offer both sweet and savory pies.  I was in the mood for a sweet pie, so I got the Baltimore Bomb pie, which is a crust made of melted Berger cookies (kind of like Pepperidge Farm Milanos) and a vanilla filling.  This is a warm pie, and not at all bad.  However it does veer into excessivesly sweet territory.  They do sell a chocolate-peanut  butter pie though which I keep thinking about getting in a future trip.  Prices are not cheap (like $6) but the place has potential.

DC Empanadas: Julia’s is great for late night empanadas.  Empanadas themselves are great for late night munching anyway.  Really a meat filled pastry?  Am I going to question it?  This truck offers a menu of savory empanadas, and at 3 for $9 the price is not that bad.  The place advertises itself as DC’s only gourmet empanada truck – and indeed I can’t argue.  They fry their pastries – which may or may not be for everybody, as Julia’s for instance bakes theirs.  Anyway, they had four empanadas on today’s menu, and I got 3.  The traditional – ground sirloin, raisins, onions, spices – was very good – crisp, not oily, full flavor.  The badass – buffalo chicken and bleu cheese.  This is very blue cheesy at first, but settles into being a very solid buffalo chicken pastry.  The third was their special for the day, el matador – chorizo, potato, onion.  Really, they had me at chorizo.  The spicy chorizo is muted a bit by the potato – but is certainly present.  While the three empanadas are not food coma inducing, they were more than enough for a highly estimable meal.

The Big Cheese: Seeing what a giant grilled cheese whore I am, a place that serves grilled cheese sandwiches was destined to excite me.  That they get their stuff from Cowgirl Creamery further cemented my glee.  I’ve had their barely buzzed, the straight cheddar on sourdough and also their raw cows milk cheese with sauteed mushrooms on sundried tomato bread.  Both were excellent, although I wish they sat on the grill longer so the cheese melted to the ooey gooey perfect stage.  They have a lot of customers to turn over, I suppose.  That said, the wait is significant since you are getting a made to order sammich.  On the downside, the tomato soup is a waste of time – too herby and tasted like diluted marinara.

Capmac: So a truck serves grilled cheese, and now one that does mac and cheese.  This was really tempting for me.  My first experience was with a core offering – which was not that good.  This was their basic pasta with a pimento cheddar sauce and crumbled cheez-its on top.  It is a good idea, but I think it was too clever by a half.  The Cheez-Its made for a poor “bread crumb” top and the smokiness overwhelmed the flavor.  However yesterday I had a pasta salad (which they did considering it was so warm outside) with shaved parm, pesto, fingerling potatoes.  This was a knockout – best pasta salad I have had in a long time.  Overall I am not itching to go there RIGHT THIS SECOND, but I walk by their menu when I can.

Sabor’a Street: Latin inspired street food.  Wow, was this good.  This was the real thing too, like I ordered chorizo arepas.  Arepas are corn cakes that serve as the “bun” for the chorizo.  The sandwich was much too sloppy to eat without a fork, but who cares?  The chorizo was lovely – and the yuca fries on the side with a bottle of Jarritos made it perfect.  I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Sang On Wheels: This is purportedly a Lao inspired food truck, though often it is hard to see where Lao ends and Thai begins.  In any case, the heat level was much more gringo-friendly.  I got a meatball special with Lao meatballs and noodles.  The noodles were actually fairly spicy – not authentic spicy but more than I expected.  The meatballs had good flavor.  Considering the gushing I did for Bangkok Golden, this was a disappointment – but by no means bad.

Feelin’ Crabby:  I guess we should be grateful this was not called Catchin’ Crabs.  At the same time this is pretty basic – crab sandwiches with real lump meat – sort of a cousin spiritually of the lobster truck.  However, crab lacks the glamour and at $12 a sandwich, it’s pretty steep.  That said, the sandwich is good – the crab salad is not drowning in mayonnaise.  But you can get crab a lot of places here.

The Rolling Ficelle: Ficelle (fee-sell) is a long bread like what they use for those Quizno’s torpedos.  Of course here they class it up.  I got mine with provolone and prosciutto.  It’s prosciutto.  Wow was this delicious.  The narrow roll gives the sandwich some compactness and actually keeps it fairly light.  It gives one a “continental” feel, in a good way.  This place has a lot of promise – I mean prosciutto … oooh …



One thought on “Truckin – In a Lunch Starved Town

  1. That’s quite an impressive list. Have you tried the yellow Korean truck that’s usually by Tony’s office. That’s a good one.

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