The food truck explosion continued this year with a new generation of mobile kitchens taking to the streets of the District to satisfy hungry crowds. Here are some of our favorites from the new bunch of lunch wagons.
Latin American flavors are the focus of this sunny yellow truck, which offers arepas, tacos and fried yucca. The menu changes, but battered white fish and soft-shell crabs are frequent taco fillings, and the arepas, split corn flour cakes, are stuffed with options including Spanish chorizo, tamarind barbecued pork and chili-glazed tofu. If you’re a fan of heat, ask for the house-made spicy chili sauce. Save room for dessert; eating churros on the street enhances their flavor.
Fojol Bros. of Benethiopia
Russell Bailey and his wife, Lula Habte, teamed up with Bailey’s high school chum (and Fojol Bros. mastermind) Justin Vitarello late last year to create the Fojol’s second food truck. Joining the popular Merlindia Indian truck, Benethiopia serves Ethiopian food based on the recipes of Habte’s mother, who was a restaurateur in her native Ethiopia. Spicy beef berbere leads a menu that includes vegetarian options such as beets and beans, collard greens, lentils and shiro, a popular dish made with onions and bean paste. You can order one, two or three dishes, and your selections are served on a small sheet of injera (a spongelike, slightly sour flatbread) along with a stack of pre-cut injera squares to facilitate street-side dining.
This converted U.S. Postal Service truck serves moist and surprisingly smoky pulled-pork sandwiches, smoky (if a bit stringy) beef sloppy Joes and smoked-vegetable-medley vegan sloppy Joes. The beef and pork are smoked for more than 15 hours at venerable soul-food joint Torrie’s at Wilson. The result is bona-fide barbecue you will be surprised to find at a truck.
Italian comfort food from a truck? Indeed. Fresh-made pastas are the star of the show here. The menu is rotated frequently, but look for fettuccine, ravioli, lasagna and baked ziti. Sauces taste of fresh herbs and include a bright, winning pesto. Vegetarian options (summer squash and zucchini lasagna) share menu space with meatier choices (lasagna with salami, pancetta, pepperoni and prosciutto). The made-from-scratch ethos also extends to desserts: Basil Thyme’s chocolate-dipped cannoli are piped full of house-made ricotta.
Food trucks are really good at novelty. And sometimes, you want novelty. At other times, though, you might want a good baguette sandwich. Since May, the Rolling Ficelle food truck has been serving simple but delicious baguette sandwiches to hungry District lunch crowds. Try the Gorky, which features Danish ham, fresh mozzarella and kalamata olives, or the de Kooning, which is made of medium-rare roast beef smeared with sweet and spicy cherry-pepper relish. Looking for a local connection? The Davis (chicken salad dressed with a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon) is named after late Washington painter Gene Davis.
Crab sandwiches are the name of the game at this truck. A combination of premium Maryland jumbo lump and Indonesian blue crab is dressed with lemon juice, Dijon-style mustard, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, diced red bell pepper and parsley, and spooned onto a kaiser roll. The balanced, refreshing mixture highlights the sweet crab meat, and it’s a good alternative to a lobster roll for the downtown seafood lover.
Pi on Wheels
In a region overrun with Neapolitan pizza, this truck, which has origins in St. Louis, offers something different: thick deep-dish-style pies. Supported by golden cornmeal-heavy crusts, these massive slabs are built from the bottom up, starting with a layer of mozzarella and followed by a strata of meats, veggies and tomato sauce. The pizzas are baked on two conveyor ovens inside the truck, which means you can wait more than 10 minutes for your order. If the price seems high, keep in mind that each pie can easily feed two.