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Nov 11, 2010 06:09 AM

Food Trucks

Thought it might be helpful to revive a catch-all thread for the ever-burgeoning food truck scene.

I've now tried several of them -- not the dessert trucks, which probably deserve their own thread -- and unfortunately, my general, preliminary impression is . . . don't believe the hype.

That's not to say that they're not a very welcome development -- just that I haven't found one yet that's worth more than a five-or-so-minute wait. If you're able to walk right up and place your order, then there are certainly decent lunches to be found -- such as the beef or tofu tacos at Takorean; the beef bulgogi from the Yellow Truck; and a special roast pork and mango chutney sandwich that Floridana offered one day. And of course the lobster roll is a very good rendition . . . but not even close to being worth the hour-long wait. That's my primary point -- that I haven't found anything yet that would draw me if I were out among the splendors of affordable lunches in Rockville or NoVa -- and thus nothing that's obviously worth standing in line for. The problem, of course, is that the brick-and-mortar offerings for lunch in downtown DC are so mediocre and overpriced that braving the lines at these trucks seems almost justified.

Eventually, we'll have trucks or carts offering unique and scrumptious lunches worth obsessing over -- such as the "special white sauce" halal cart (53d and 6th Ave.) and the dosa cart (Washington Sq. Park) in Manhattan. (At which point, of course, the lines will be two hours long!) Until that day comes, however, my tentative and reluctant advice is to hit the D.C. trucks only when the lines aren't so long.

Of course, I haven't tried everything they offer, and would love to be proven wrong. Am I missing anything that's worth the wait?

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  1. I couldn't agree more with your assessment, Marty. I love the food at TaKorean and Red Hook but i've been once each. I just can't bear facing that line again.

    1. Was definitely underwhelmed with Sauca's rendition of butter chicken (so greasy and a generic "Indian spice" taste. It was good, but not what butter chicken should taste like) and their curry potato salad (horrible: watery, sour as all hell, too much dill, no curry flavor). It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't dropped $7 on the paltriest portion of butter chicken over yellow rice ever plus $4 on an almost inedible potato salad of which I threw away 80%.

      I like District Taco's breakfast tacos (definitely with chorizo or bacon and guac, though I've mixed the toppings around a bit), but have only had their lunch offerings once (pollo asada taco) and the flavor of the chicken in the taco really depended on how well it worked with the toppings you pick. They are good, though. One of the cheaper food cart/truck offerings, definitely.

      Had bulgogi from the yellow CART before, not the truck, but they're the same thing. Good for the price, which is basically what I look for in a food truck.

      Eat Wonky is okay if you're looking for something simple-yet-fried/greasy. Their grilled cheese is pretty flavorful, and I love the Treet whoopie pies they sell. I've been told their fries aren't consistent, but if you have a poutine craving, you should go.

      I think what really gets to me is that most of the trucks charge so damn much for mediocre food that you really CAN get anywhere, even in the most horrible chain places. If they lowered their prices or at least amped up the portions to give you more value, then I'd definitely be more forgiving of their food. That's my take on ANY eating establishment, really (though isn't the point of a food truck lower overhead and running costs, so you can pass the savings onto the customer? I dunno...). Not huge portions, but I am more critical of the food the higher the price...

      1. Since Farragut Sq is halfway between our offices, my husband and I have decided to make it our mission to check out as many of these as possible before my office relocates to Mt. Vernon in June.

        Today we hit up Sabor'a Street. Ordered the pork and the chicken arepas and the fried plantains. Everything was great - the arepas are fried, I think, but not oily, and a little sweet. The patatas bravas - which I was not particularly excited about, even, heading over there - were great - not greasy, with good potato flavor, and the dipping sauce they serve everything with - salsa verde and lime aoli - is fantastic, as were the plaintains. We probably waited for about a half an hour because they opened a little later than we expected. Once we ordered, it was only about 5 minutes as we were first in line.