For some, following food trucks has become as routine as following the weather online. They check to see which trucks will be parking where and plan their eating accordingly. For those tracking the sunny yellow Sabor'a Street, a newcomer on the mobile-meal scene, patience has been key.
"Almost ready to roll!" read a tweet from the truck on Dec. 20. "Equipment malfunction," read another from Feb. 23. Finally, after licensing woes, technical problems and uncooperative elements ("Wind and rain is not a good food truck combination," noted a Feb. 25 update), Sabor'a Street is holding steady and serving tasty Latin fare.
Dominican Republic native Jorge Pimentel attended culinary school in Spain but credits his mother, father and grandmother for teaching him how to cook. On his resume: the now-shuttered, highly regarded Mark and Orlando in Dupont Circle, Masa 1 on 14th Street NW and most recently Commonwealth in Columbia Heights, whose closing propelled him to mobilize. His wife, attorney Christine Sarapu, was all for it. Given Pimentel's roots and passion for Latin American flavors, the menu was a no-brainer.
Current entrees include chicken, beef and tofu arepas, the pancake-like disks made from corn flour and commonly associated with Venezuelan cuisine ($9), and a Cuban-inspired burger called a frita ($9). Both are served with delicately fried yucca and plantain chips ($4.50 each as a side). Lime-flavored aioli and creamy salsa verde come side by side in a little cup for dipping. Churros, the fried-dough treats, beckon for dessert ($5).
We couldn't resist starting with the sweet stuff. These two-bite size churros, fried to order, were showered with sugar and crowded around a puddle of heavenly dulce de leche. They're best fresh off the truck, though they tasted fine after being held in a plastic container during a 20-minute walk.
Less successful were our arepas, which were tough and somewhat greasy. Fortunately, the fillings made up for it. Shreds of juicy, guajillo-marinated chicken and cubes of firm, chili-glazed tofu were terrific and topped with bright pico de gallo and snowy Garrotxa, a goat's-milk cheese.
The frita is a grass-fed beef-and-Spanish-chorizo patty, plus Manchego cheese, wisps of fried potato and chipotle-guava sauce nestled inside a brioche bun. It is not built for a small appetite.
As food truck lines go, the one at Sabor'a Street ("Flavor of the Street") moves at an average pace. Our 15-minute, prime-lunchtime wait didn't seem unreasonable.
Warmer temperatures, says Sarapu, will bring new, seasonal offerings. Her own forecast? "Summer is going to be so much fun."
-Catherine Zuckerman (Good to Go, March 16, 2011)