Read Queenedix’s BBQ Bus critique here.
In cities across the globe, you need only peek out your hotel room after midnight to see throngs of people emerging from noisy discotheques, smoky speakeasies, and raucous dive bars and flocking to the nearest late-night eatery. In Bangkok, you can chase papaya salad and spicy noodles with a Singha as two Muay Thai fighters batter each other beyond recognition in a nearby ring. You can stumble away from your fifth litre of beer in Germany and sober up with a döner kebab. In New York, a slice of pizza is always just around the corner (I highly recommend Artichoke Basille’s, which tops crusty pizza with warm artichoke dip. Zantac sold separately). The fact is, I love late-night local eats, but one city’s signature dish has eluded me for years despite hearing countless stories about it: poutine.
Why poutine? And why haven’t I tried it? First of all, it combines two food items I love most: Cheese, and gravy. I love gravy. I love everything about it. If it were socially acceptable to order gravy like a milkshake, I would consider doing so. I first heard about poutine from a (male) friend who had traveled to Montreal for a (bachelor) party. He insisted that after a “quiet” night with friends at one of Montreal’s famous (strip) clubs, the poutine he tried was among the greatest things he had ever eaten. I was intrigued. Something that could soak up the hefty alcohol content of a Canadian lager AND absolve the guilt one must inevitably feel after watching women gyrate on poles for CAD$2 coins? Given that I myself couldn’t travel to Canada to replicate the experience, my ongoing fascination drove me to Eat Wonky for this week’s review.
Eat Wonky focuses on just a few menu items—poutine, the Wonky dog (a hot dog covered in poutine), a cheese curd grilled cheese sandwich, plain fries or hot dog, and whoopee pies. After sampling their food several times, alone and with friends, I’d say the truck’s appeal lies mainly in its unique focus and not in its food.
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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?
DC BBQ Bus
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.
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Photo by PoPville flickr user yostinator
From their Web site:
“CapMac exists to bring delicious food to the masses at an affordable price. We aim to elevate your daily food experience and to satisfy not only your stomach but also your soul. Our food is hand crafted, fresh everyday, and made with best ingredients around.”
Photo of ‘Soft shell crab taco from Sabora Street’ by PoPville flickr user yostinator
From their Facebook page:
“The last six months on the road have been quite an adventure for our team. Sabor’a Street has been a dream realized for Jorge. After much consideration, we have decided to take a break from the streets of DC and give Lola a rest so we can explore other opportunities. We are so grateful for the amazing support and loyalty our Saboreros have shown us these past months, and hope to see y’all again very soon either in the truck or through another venture.”
Were there any fans?
From their Web site:
For many years, Ms. JinJu Lee and her family have resided in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area, having immigrated from Seoul, Korea, and she always wanted to start an Asian restaurant. She always thought a city like Washington D.C. that prides itself as the Nation’s Capital, with its diverse fine cuisine, deserved authentic gourmet Korean and other Asian food at a reasonable price. During her recent trip to the West Coast, Ms. Lee found the perfect inspiration (Chef Roy Choi’s – Kogi BBQ) and platform (mobile gourmet trucks) to showcase her family’s secret recipes. These modern trucks are versatile and will provide the broad Washington D.C. community with access to great Asian food. Hence the idea for “AZNeats” was born.
The AZNeats truck is a roaming Washington D.C. food Sense-AZN that serves up gourmet food that is sure to be a Tempt-AZN for your AZN cravings. The fusion of Asian flavors with our boneless beef AZN Kalbi (short ribs) has finally arrived! Imagine a fresh, never frozen, 100% premium boneless short ribs marinated in the sweet, succulent flavors of Korean BBQ (No MSG), cooked to perfection or our AZN Spicy Pork Bulgogi which will take your taste buds to a new level of WOW …”
Their Web site says:
“At The Big Cheese we LOVE cheese in all of its melty glorious gooey deliciousness. And we aren’t just using any cheese… We use artisan cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery and local farmers markets to make the classic favorite even more yummy. And where would grilled cheese be without its hot little friend tomato soup? Sad and lonely that’s where. So of course we are serving up that trusty sidekick as well.
We can’t just put that kind of cheese on just any bread. So Lyon is our bakery. Founded by three like–minded friends in the spring of 2000 who are skilled in the art of gourmet artisan breads. Based out of Southwest, it’s local, it’s delicious enough said.
And keeping with artisan theme we serve Route 11 chips. What!?! Artisan chips? Well they are local… based off I81 just south of I66. Ok not as local as Lyon but not bad for chips. And they run a green operation.”
It’s been a while since we’ve judged a food truck. A couple of weeks ago I saw Sang on Wheels (which I hadn’t heard of):
“Sang on Wheels is a Laos / Asian Fusion style food truck, servicing the Washington DC area and beyond.”
You can see their menu here.
Another fast turnaround. Phonomenon had recently launched in July to early positive reviews. Today, Food Truck Fiesta broke the sad news that they
would be closing on Fridayclosed and are selling the truck. They also link to the very interesting back story.
Would you like to see another Pho Truck take over operations?
A new Pho food truck has launched called Phonomenon:
Phonomenon is a Mobile Pho Truck roaming the DMV area. We’re coming to your town soon so follow us on twitter @DCphonomenon to stay posted!
Photo courtesy of O’Crepes
From a press release:
We are launching Tuesday on L’Enfant at 10AM. Please come check us out. The crepes are creative and the smoothies are super. Hope to see you soon..
With its delicious, made-to-order fare, “O’ Crepes!” is sure to capture the District’s heart (and stomach!) this summer. Follow “O’ Crepes!” on Twitter at @ocrepesdc to find out where the truck will stop next.
UPDATE: O’Crepes tweets:
“Having a few small paperwork issues. Won’t be able to launch today . Should take off either Wednesday or Thursday. Will keep you posted.”
Photo by Capitol Riverfront BID
A few readers have inquired about last Friday’s Truckeroo located across from Navy Yard Metro Station, and billed as “a monthly festival held June thru October at the corner of Half St. and M St., SE showcasing food trucks from the Washington, D.C. area.” – unfortunately I was out of town – did anyone have a chance to check it out? Food Truck Fiesta wrote:
The event ran from 11am – 9pm and featured bands, picnic tables, cornhole (bean bag toss) games along with a selection of adult beverages. The lunch time crowd was strong, but it was the late evening crowd that eclipsed those earlier attendance numbers. The event is expected to be held monthly during the summer and fall seasons.
I’ll be sure to announce the time/date of the next one.
Photo by PoPville flickr user Takka-San