Washington D.C.'s 6 Best Food Trucks for 2013 Slideshow
August 6, 2013
Track down these top selections for a taste of the city’s finest food truck fare
#6 Rito Loco
Yes it’s a burritoria, but if you haven’t been, don’t hit up Rito Loco expecting old-school rice and bean wrapped fare. Washington, D.C.’s best food truck (as voted by the Washington City Paper) is more adventurous, with fillings that co-owners Daniel Diaz and Louie Hankins call Cuban, Spanish, and Soul Food flavors. What does that translate to on the menu? Well, the inspiration for the truck came out of the late-night celebrations of a summer barbecue in 2011 wherein at the end of the night, the party-goers found themselves around a massive bowl of Velveeta shells and cheese mixed with Daniel’s from-scratch rib sauce. "How good would this be tomorrow morning with our breakfast burritos?" Hankins asked. The next morning, Diaz's go-to "hangover cure" breakfast burritos got the cheesy shells and rib sauce makeover, and the idea for the Rito Loco truck was born. That "rito," called the AM Rito, is on the menu, so too the Rib Rito (twice-seasoned, pulled baby back ribs), and there’s even a Fruit Rito (fresh fruit with granola, cinnamon, and condensed milk). But the Mojito Rito is probably the signature dish the truck has become known for: citrus-infused pulled chicken topped with fresh mint.
#5 DC Slices
Oh, D.C. pizza truck scene, do you want to be Jumbo slices or not? Do you know? It’s hard to tell with people lined up during lunch down the block for DC Slices. As much as Washingtonians may hate to hear it, DC Slices is much closer to Adams Morgan’s Jumbo Slice than it is to either Pizzeria Orso or Two Amy’s. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. Not at all. It just has that same mottled cheese and sauce look and texture, and that same non-crispy bottom. It’s a style of pizza that those not from Washington but who are adopting it as their next big city, and sensitive about their own small-town sensibilities, should just stop equating to New York and enjoy it for what it is, another regional style, and hey, a pretty good one at that, especially when you’ve had a few drinks (but not necessarily because of it). There are all the familiar toppings to be expected (including Buffalo chicken), no surprise there, but a strong side move is to order the tater tots either loaded, with pizza, bacon, and Cheddar, or chili and cheese style.
#4 Red Hook Lobster Pound
The offerings at Red Hook Lobster Pound are so delicious, they made our 101 list twice. Originating in Brooklyn, N.Y., Red Hook Lobster Pound has since expanded to Washington, D.C. and Montauk, N.Y., with plans to open in more cities in the future. The owners, so the story goes, "were tearing into the fresh live lobsters that they’d brought home from a trip to Maine, wishing that someone would start a business bringing live lobsters to Brooklyn," until it dawned on them, "why not us!" Six months later, The Red Hook Lobster Pound opened. Ralph Gorham haggles with lobstermen in Maine each week, and wife Susan Povich devised the menu. There are shrimp rolls, a lobster BLT, bisque, and New England and shrimp and corn chowder, but let’s face it, it’s really about the lobster roll here.
#3 Pepe Food Truck
Launched in 2012, Pepe Food Truck might still be the best example on the planet of how far food trucks have come. It’s chef José Andrés for crying out loud. This is the kind of move toward food trucks by a major chef that starts to build up in you that bravado to ask, "Hey, Thomas Keller, that’s right, you bum, Grant Achatz, where’s your food truck! Are you just being lazy?" There are typically six to eight sandwiches available on the menu at Andrés’ D.C. sandwich truck. Recently, the menu featured seared asparagus with romesco, breaded shrimp with caper mayo, chicken confit with bacon, a fried chicken sandwich, Spanish grilled cheese, patatas bravas (pictured left), and a cured ham and cheese sandwich.
#2 Basil Thyme
In June 2011, former IT professional Brian Farrell introduced the District of Columbia to homemade and gourmet lasagnas made with from-scratch pasta and served on the go. The "scratched" metal finish on this food truck is just where the hard work began for Basil Thyme.
People also seem to really enjoy the food Farrell serves with the help of chef Alberto Vega. There are five different kinds of artisan lasagnas, among them the Linda ("traditional" lasagna with seasoned beef), the Cantena (wine and shallot sautéed chicken with spinach), the Guiseppe (black truffle lasagna with gorgonzola and portobello truffle cream sauce), and the newer lobster or crab lasagnas. It was the Washington City Paper’s readers' pick for second-best food truck in the city in 2012 and made it to number 25 on last year’s 101 Best Food Trucks list.
#1 Fojol Brothers
Fojol Brothers timed the launch of their food truck with the Obama inauguration in 2009, or as they put it on their website, "the day the world changed." The four partners, three from D.C., one from Seattle, dress colorfully, wearing turbans and Ringling Brothers throwback moustaches. Their iconic costume and design paired with delicious cuisine basically resulted in the creation of D.C.’s food truck scene, and for this was awarded the number two spot on our 101 Best Food Trucks list last year. There are blankets for customers to sit on while eating, and the crew prides itself on being environmentally friendly, using napkins made from 100 percent recycled materials. A portion of the proceeds from these products funds at-risk youth programs. But the truck’s main purpose is to serve delicious meals from Merlindia and Benethiopia, and features one menu for each cuisine. Items include butter chicken, eggplant, lentils and beef, and split peas. The best part? Everything is meant to be consumed with your hands!