Sometimes I think listicles are the lifeblood of the U.S. workplace, the vital fluid that supplies bored office workers with enough oxygen to keep their eyes open during those interminable afternoons following a carb-heavy Chipotle lunch. If this theory holds — admittedly a long shot — then the Daily Meal may be America's left ventricle, pumping out listicles at a pulse-racing speed.
The latest: The 101 Best Food Trucks in America. It includes six trucks that roam the streets of Washington D.C., including Rito Loco (No. 78), DC Slices (No. 72), Red Hook Lobster Pound D.C. (No. 66), Pepe (No. 45), Basil Thyme (No. 32) and Fojol Bros. (No. 3).
As a whole, the District fared well as a food truck town, which makes the D.C. Council's recent actions on the proposed vending regulations look even wiser. Washington ranked fourth among U.S. cities with its half-dozen trucks on the list, lagging behind only New York City (10), San Francisco (12) and perennial street-eats powerhouse Los Angeles (15).
You could argue the Daily Meal even missed a few quality trucks in the District, like chef Jerry Trice's excellent ChefDriven (which may be closing down operations, we hear) or the rolling Peruvian chuck wagon, El Fuego, or my current favorite, Kushi-Moto. Or even Goodies Frozen Custard.
The truth is, I hadn't even tried Rito Loco before the Daily Meal's list appeared this week. So I tracked the truck down on Farragut Square this afternoon and asked the friendly man inside the tin can for his best burrito. "Probably the Rib Rito," he said. The Rib Rito ($8) it was.
If you've only experienced a burrito from a chain, you're in for a surprise with the Rib Rito. Within the hollow of this griddled flour-tortilla log, you will find no rice, black beans, sour cream, chopped lettuce or any other ingredients to provide contrasting flavors (or cheap, starchy filler), aside from random dices of red onion and tomato. No, the Rib Rito is packed tight with pulled baby-back rib meat, rich in juices and sly, insidious spices. It's sort of sweet on the palate, sort of piquant on the finish and a total anvil in the stomach. I found it simultaneously delicious and too much for one sitting.
Would I place it among the best trucks in America? Probably not, based on this lone sampling. It's a little too monochromatic for me. But I would place it among the District's, say, top 15 trucks.
And one final thought: How can the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck from New York City be the No. 1 street food in the country, but the D.C. edition of the very same concept be No. 66 on the list? Aren't they essentially the same business, using the same ingredients? Call it Gotham Creep.