Return of the Frank cart, Basil Thyme staying on the road and other street food news

July 26, 2013

Neighborhood Restaurant Group is reviving its Frank cartNathan Anda's single-minded effort to give hot dogs a good name on D.C. streets — tonight for Union Market's DC Drive-In. It'll be a one-off gig, alas, so keep your hopes in check.

Frank cart returns tonight. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)
Frank cart returns tonight. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

The cart, incidentally, hasn't been seen since last September, when Frank appeared at the Yards Park Friday Night Concert Series.

For tonight's special appearance, Anda has cooked up six Red Apron Butchery originals: The Knocklehead (smoked knockwurst with bacon-braised cabbage, hot mustard, sour cream and pork rinds), the Joey Bagadonuts (provolone-stuffed dog with olive relish and basil pesto), the El Chupacabra (chorizo dog with Sungold tomato salsa, lime crema and crispy tortilla), the Texas Pete (all-beef red hot with smoked jalapeno relish and Whiz), the Strange Brew (beer-laden bratwurst with porter-braised onions and pickled mustard seeds) and the Cheddar-Stuffed Beer-Battered Corn Dog (self-explanatory).

The dogs will sell for $6 each ($5 for the corn dog) and will come with a Gordy's pickle. For $10, you can pair a dog with one of three beers specifically selected by NRG beer director Greg Engert.

By the way, the movie tonight is "The American President," the romantic comedy/liberal fantasy starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. Don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for the president's stick-up-for-his-girlfriend speech at the final press conference. Flick begins at 9 p.m. The event is free. More details here.

Food trucks in Ward 8: Several trucks are expected to feed the crowds on Saturday at the Arts and Humanities Festival at St. Elizabeths East, which celebrates Ward 8's contributions to local arts and culture. The scheduled trucks include Red Hook Lobster Pound, Doug the Food Dude and Food for the Soul. The free festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Elizabeths East, 1100 Alabama Ave. SE.

Say goodbye to El Floridano: Former food trucker Stephan Boillon went all bricks-and-mortar this year with his funky Mothership in Park View. At one point, Boillon thought he might continue operating his El Floridano truck, which was essential in the chef's slow progress toward a full-service restaurant. But on Floridano's Facebook page, Boillon says he's put the truck in mothballs:

"It's with a heavy heart that I announce the retirement of El Floridano, running a restaurant & food truck is more than I can manage. Thank you all for 3 great years and you can still get your favorite sandwiches @MothershipDC."

Not so fast on Basil Thyme: Back before the D.C. Council passed new vending regulations in June, Basil Thyme owner Brian Farrell told the Washington City Paper's Jessica Sidman that he was calling it quits. At the time, the lasagna truck operator said he didn't want his business to serve as a crash test dummy for the city's fumbling attempts to regulate food trucks on D.C. streets. Or something like that.

With the new regulations on the horizon and the city promising to designate some 180 spaces for food trucks in Central Business District, Farrell has reconsidered his position. "I think we'll have one truck in operation," he says.

Farrell had planned to sell his second truck, the fresh-pasta-oriented Basil Thyme's Two, to one of his chefs, but the deal fell through. His current thinking is that he'll enter both trucks into the monthly lottery that the city will hold to determine who parks where among those 180 spaces. With two trucks in the drawing, Farrell likes his odds of securing at least one good location. And these days, he says, it's all about securing a spot at one of the major vending locations, like Farragut Square or Metro Center.

"If I do the numbers," he says, "I'll be able to fully sustain one truck."

Then again, Farrell will be the first to tell you that he doesn't have the foggiest notion of how the lottery will ultimately work.

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.
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Macy Freeman · July 26, 2013