The best part of working downtown is getting to revel in DC’s almost over-booming food truck scene. Every food niche has a home aboard one of the many, many trucks, so lunch is never boring. People who aren’t familiar with them sometimes think it’s gross to eat food from a truck, and while some are nasty, the majority of them are incredibly delicious and even gourmet. I’ve done some serious truck testing, and now, you don’t have to. Use this guide when you’re hungry for a reliably delicious and quick meal.
Pepe– A (photo above)
Pepe is a Spanish sandwich truck by José Andrés, one of DC’s best chefs. My favorite sandwich is the Futbol Club Barcelona, which has chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, shallots, and a deliciously flavorful mayo. The best part of Pepe’s sandwiches is unquestionably the crispy and chewy bread. The quality and taste of Pepe’s food is also extremely consistent from visit to visit. When you buy this sandwich, there is no chance you’ll wait to eat it until you’re back in the office.
When I am in the mood for a lighter lunch, I seek out What the Pho? Their pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup that they serve with a side baggie of bean sprouts, lime, and jalapeno, is so flavorful and delicious. I order my pho with beef, and the meat is thinly sliced, tender, and tasty. My only complaint about this pho is that it doesn’t come with enough beef! The generous serving of bean sprouts mostly makes up for it though. And as for the consistency of the soup from visit to visit, What the Pho? is on point.
Basil Thyme– A
Basil Thyme serves delicious lasagnas with a side of salad, and it is a wonderful stop when you’re looking for a cheesy and comforting meal. New variations of lasagna are frequently added to the menu, but I like the Catena, which has chicken and spinach. Tasty.
I still have no clue what this truck’s name is, but I do know that its bibimbap is pretty good. The chicken is high-quality and full of flavor, and it is tossed in a spicy sauce. The meat gets piled on top of rice, carrots, bean sprouts, other veggies, and it can even come with an egg. This bibimbap is so large that I can usually eat it for two lunches.
Fire & Rice– C
Despite Fire & Rice’s cute name and trendy style, I wouldn’t eat their bibimbap again. It is not as good as the bibimbap from Cathy’s Bistro, and the spicy sauce is too gelatinous for my liking.
Fojol Bros. runs three of DC’s most famous food trucks, and they’re famous for a good reason. Their food is delicious, and their style is unique! Volathai serves tasty Thai food. The curries are delicious, but the noodles are underwhelming. The consistency of the food isn’t always on point, but when it’s good, it’s really good. I crave the green curry.
This truck doles out the messiest, meatiest sandwiches I’ve ever encountered. The smoked chicken sandwiches are loaded with very tender, large pieces of spicy meat. Make sure you have napkins and a fork if you’re going to eat this one.
Everyone was crazed over the lobster roll truck last year. The lobster rolls are packed with big chunks of lobster meat, the bread is nicely crisped, and they come with a pickle! The Maine-style lobster is cold and tossed with mayo, and I think it could be better. The Connecticut-style lobster, however, is perfection. It is served warm and poached in butter. Butter drips down your face and off of your elbows, so eat this one in private.
The savory crêpes from DC crêpes are pretty nice. They have good flavor, and despite seeing the fillings get heated in a microwave, I like them. Also, the crêpe batter is seasoned with herbs, so even that usually-blank canvas packs a punch. The crêpes are served in a unique cardboard holder that helps keep the crepe together, but once you nibble the top off, it can be hard to get at the rest. And trust me, you’ll want to.
Fojol Bros.’ Merlindia food truck serves some great Indian curries. Their butter chicken is reliably good, and the meat is beyond tender. This is the first butter chicken I have had with such tender meat, and it’s a nice touch. I also really love their pumpkin, but it’s not on the menu with nearly enough frequency for my liking. The chick peas are cooked nicely, but they taste more like they are cooked in an Italian sauce rather than an Indian one. Stick to my chana masala instead 🙂
Chef Driven– B
Chef Driven is a unique food truck because almost the entire menu changes weekly depending on what ingredients are fresh (steak frites are the only constant), and from my observations, there is only one man on board cooking for everyone. That means your food could take a little while to be prepared, but it’s worth the wait. I enjoyed their butternut squash and shrimp risotto, but… mine is better 🙂
The newest trend on the DC food truck scene is CHEESESTEAKS! I was so excited because I have NEVER gotten a decent cheesesteak outside of Philadelphia. I had high hopes for this truck because it uses the same brand of rolls that Geno’s uses. The taste of this cheesesteak was pretty good, and the meat was not fatty and of good quality. But everything was TOO SMALL. The meat was chopped too small, the tomatoes were diced, the onions were shredded, and even my sandwich was cut into quarters. Why?! The steak sandwich very messy and difficult to eat. I have also never seen a cheesesteak served in a styrofoam container before. They have potential, but there is room to improve.
Takorean is a great food truck. I am not a huge fan of soft corn tortillas, which they use for their tacos, but I love their taco bowls. Both the beef and chicken are so flavorful and tender, and the toppings are delicious. The bowl also comes with a ton of food!
Sadly, my meal from Sate is one of the worst meals I’ve ever been served. The vegetables were canned, I couldn’t be sure that the meat was fresh, the salad was salty, and everything was covered in a sauce that smelled, quite literally, like ass.
If you’re in DC and looking for a food truck near you, my favorite resource is food truck fiesta. Let me know what your favorites are- I’d love to give them a try and include them on this living guide.