Good to Go

Good to Go: Local Sixfortyseven

The owners travel from market to market with their stainless-steel food cart.
The owners travel from market to market with their stainless-steel food cart. (By James M. Thresher -- For The Washington Post)
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"This is the best burger I've had in my whole life," Susan Lester said. She was sitting at a small wooden table daintily decorated with a potted orange lily at the Thursday afternoon farmers market in Reston Town Center. The burger had come from the street cart parked nearby.

It wasn't your average food cart, of course. The stand, dubbed Local Sixfortyseven, is reinventing the concept of street food. Husband-and-wife owners Derek and Amanda Luhowiak source all the ingredients locally, some from their own garden, and cook everything to order in their tiny stainless-steel kitchen. The Southern-inspired menu changes daily, depending on what's in season and the time of the day of the farmers market they are visiting. In the morning, the Luhowiaks have served strawberry-challah French toast or buckwheat pancakes with blackberry-rosemary syrup. At lunch and dinner, it's salads, wild-caught fish, heritage meats and that amazing burger.

I can vouch that Local Sixfortyseven's burger ($8, add $1.50 for local cheese and grilled onions) is one of the best I've eaten. The half-pound of juicy, organic grass-fed beef is topped with house-made ketchup and mustard. Right now, the cheese and onions are the extras because that's what's available. "The hardest thing is convincing people to eat seasonally," said Derek Luhowiak, who previously was the chef at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville. "They want tomato on their hamburger. So I tell them if they can find a tomato plant with fruit, I'll put it on. If not, how about some nice homemade ketchup?"

One taste of the food should convince people that Luhowiak knows best. On the day I visited, the menu included strawberry-apple cider ($2.50), which he made by macerating fresh strawberries and cloves in cider for 24 hours before straining. There was a shaved mixed-radish salad ($5) that included four kinds of lettuce, Thai basil, lemon catnip and nasturtium leaves from his garden. There was a trout ($12), caught by Amanda's uncle, brushed with a little mayonnaise and grilled whole, and a country-fried pork chop ($14) that had been soaked in buttermilk and herbs for a day to make it plump and juicy. Both were served with skillet corn bread and a confit of Yukon Gold potatoes and spring garlic.

I ordered everything, plus a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie ($5) that I am still dreaming about.

Local Sixfortyseven: The name is meant to sound like a union, but it's the Luhowiaks' house number. The stand has no set schedule, which makes some of its newly smitten patrons nervous.

"Can you come back?" one Reston customer asked as she ordered a burger.

"We might. We don't know how we'll do here in the middle of corporate America."

"Please do," she begged. "We desperately need more of this and less of that."

-- Jane Black

Local Sixfortyseven is at the Centreville farmers market (Fridays, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.) and the Winchester farmers market (Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). It is sometimes at the Reston Town Center farmers market (Thursdays, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.).

For more information, e-mail Cash and credit cards accepted.

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