New PoP Feature: The 5-Second Rule – PoPville’s official unofficial food truck critique by Queenedix

The 5-Second Rule by Queenedix

A few months ago, I consulted with my good friend, the Prince of Petworth, about contributing something to the blog. Having resided in Columbia Heights for six years, I wanted to bring something new to the table. I considered all of the most popular topics being discussed in the comments section and on twitter—dog parks, beer, passive-aggressive attitudes towards noisy neighbors, debates over gentrification—and nothing really felt right. There is, however, one thing that I know as well, if not better, than anyone else—global street food. And DC’s recent influx of food trucks is a fantastic local interpretation. Welcome to the 5-Second Rule, PoPville’s official unofficial food truck critique.

What qualifies me to review food trucks? Probably nothing. But, I am a true street food fanatic, having lived and traveled all over the world and sampled local street fare in dozens of countries. With cash in hand and creative disguise in place (I’m thinking mohawk, aviator sunglasses, chuba) I will anonymously patronize DC’s finest rolling restaurants and bring you the good, the bad, and the ugly for your consideration, commentary, and (knowing you all) criticism.

Now, how to rate the trucks? I will evaluate them on a scale of 1 to 5 seconds, 5 being the best…meaning, if a truck receives a 5, the food is so good that I would eat it even after it had been on the ground for 5 seconds. The less-than-stellar options wouldn’t even be worth eating after 1 second. To clarify, this would be if it dropped on a clean kitchen or hardwood floor, not in an outdoor location with gravel and dirt. See where I’m going with this?


4 seconds

My food truck adventure begins with a relative newcomer to the DC area – DC BBQ Bus. To be honest, the whim that drove me there wasn’t even barbeque. Reading about Oktoberfest left me craving truly authentic German potato salad, to the point that I actually had a dream about it. Seriously. I dreamt I was sitting at a picnic table eating potato salad. That was the extent of my dream. I needed a fix, badly.

Fortunately, DC BBQ Bus provided insanely good potato salad—and way, way more. Co-owner Tadd Ruddell-Tabisola overheard me mentioning potato salad and, before I knew it, was handing me a sample-sized portion. “It’s my grandmother’s recipe,” he said, “but no mayonnaise. I hate mayonnaise.”

(Note: This reviewer is not above being swayed by free samples).

The potato salad was just the beginning of an incredibly satisfying meal on both occasions I tried the truck. I tasted the pulled pork, smoked beef, ribs, and the spicy chicken sandwich, and tested the potato salad, BBQ Bus beans, buttermilk corn biscuit, slaw, and corn salad (from the special daily menu).

When it comes to barbeque, Ruddell-Tabisola knows what he’s doing. The pork and beef were both tender, juicy and loaded with flavor. Neither of the meats were greasy and they literally fell apart at fork-touch. The pork was rich and briny, reminiscent of Carolina pulled-pork without the abrasive kick of vinegar. The ribs were not as exciting—a little dry and lukewarm after a short walk from the truck to my dining location—but the addition of their No. 5 sauce made up for anything the ribs lacked. The sauce is smoky and sweet with a tiny kick, with way more depth than anything you’d get out of a jar. The chicken sandwich was good as well—along with No. 5 sauce, the house-pickled jalapenos were an explosion of spice. Any of the sandwiches, which come with two sides, would be a flavorful and filling lunch or dinner option.

Continues after the jump.

While the meats were good, some of the sides were mind-blowing both times I ate at the truck. The aforementioned potato salad is something special, reminiscent of something grandma (at least, my German grandma) used to make at Easter. Red potatoes and a sweet, tangy vinegar base make the salad almost creamy, with crunch from onions and bits of salty bacon giving it authenticity and character. The slaw was crisp and not heavy (again, no mayo here) and the biscuit was homemade and satisfying. The corn salad had fresh-grilled corn (with char marks to prove it), red peppers, and onions, but was a bit watery the second time I tried it. The silent star of the show, however, is the BBQ bus beans. Upon first tasting, my friend and I could not stop eating them, almost neglecting the rest of our food. They might be among the best beans I have ever had—sweet and spicy and smoky without being too much. They were incredible.

At around $10, any of their meal options are not only satisfying for lunch, but absolutely fantastic food. I would highly recommend BBQ bus, especially as we get into colder months, and don’t miss the No. 5 sauce—you might buy a bottle to take home.

25 Comment

  • not too shabby

  • Great new feature and well written review, I look forward to the next installment!

    Now I want potato salad, damn it.

  • “To clarify, this would be if it dropped on a clean kitchen or hardwood floor, not in an outdoor location with gravel and dirt. See where I’m going with this?”

    I think you’re negating your own rating system. A real testament to the food would be if you would in fact eat it with dirt and gravel.

  • Ohhh nice! I’ve never stopped by this truck. Good review, may need to give them a try.

  • I’ve never been to a food truck– unless I’m at a street festival I’d have to go pretty far out of my way to seek them out. What’s the appeal?

    • Mostly that they tend to be more creative and interesting alternatives to your typical lunch options. The quality varies widely, but as a whole they’re better than the mediocre sandwich shops and by-the-pound hot food bars that dominate the city.

      • Oh, ok. We don’t even have hot food bars or sandwich shops (aside from a Quizons) where I work so this is all pretty foriegn to me.

  • Excited about this new feature, particularly the excellent rating system and the fact that I had to look up “chuba.” I’ll keep an eye out for the BBQ bus and look forward to more reviews.

  • great feature, much needed

  • Great new addition! I appreciate the concise review and the creative rating scale. As a city dweller that works in the burbs any idea where I can find these food trucks on the weekends? Will any be making an appearance at the Taste of DC this weekend?

    I’m on the hunt for the ever elusive (and seemingly expensive) Lobster Roll Truck.

    • Red Hook Lobster Pound was at 23rd and M today; I was conveniently two blocks away for a doctor’s appointment. The trucks don’t come to Georgetown (aside from the university, which is too far from my office) so I jumped all over the chance. It was really good. Worth my $21.50, which included a pumpkin whoopie pie that I should not have finished.

      Foodtruckfiesta sends out a daily email around 11am with a lot of the trucks’ locations.

  • Hi everyone! Thanks for the feedback–excited to have this opportunity. For weekend tracking, I recommend either or I have been blown away by the number of trucks popping up away from downtown–Tyson’s, Fredericksburg, Montgomery County. @Anonymous 12:43, you should take a look at the map to see if there’s anything in your work area.

    Additionally, if there’s high demand for a truck, I will prioritize it! I hope to do a few cross-reviews like vegetarian options at primarily animal protein-focused trucks, best cupcake, and best ice cream. Happy eating!

  • But what about the biscuit? Tell me more about the biscuit.

  • Very nice review; I am glad this is here now. Thank you!

  • just to be clear, you are rating food trucks in dc by seconds? why not stick to stars, like the rest of the food rating industry?

  • BBQ Bus is my favorite food truck in DC and I eat at a different food truck 4 or 5 times a week. I highly recommend it. I always get the picnic platter that has a little bit of everything. The guy than runs it is very nice too. I’m curious to hear your review about other trucks and see if we continue to agree.

  • Where’s the wineaux feature at?

  • Anyone can arbitrarily award stars. I think the real test of deliciousness is whether food is so good, you consider eating it even after it hits the ground.

  • Very excited about this new feature, it was quite well-written!

  • If the wineaux blog died I can find a place in the niche, as I am a wine fan and love this blog! ThNks for the kind posts–laissez les bon temps roulez (literally)!

  • Have to admit, I go to Food Trucks 3-4 times a week for lunch and have been to more than most people would deem reasonable.

    Would love to see your critique on some of my favorites:

    – Tasty Kabob
    – DC Empanadas
    – AZN Eats is actually a bookmark on my toolbar.

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