Published in USA Today.
Washington D.C.’s burgeoning dining scene sports a healthy and vibrant food truck culture which rivals those of larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles. Home to over 150 active food trucks, you can find unique and approachable cooking such as Hula Girl’s Hawaiian fusion, Cajunators Cajun/Creole po’ boys and What The Pho’s traditional Vietnamese soup.
Food truck pioneers The Fojol Bros., with their colorful carnival costumes — and the kind of mustaches you twirl when tying a damsel to train tracks — are still thriving. Recently, they tipped their turbans to Thai cooking with Volathai, the third truck in their fleet, in addition to Indian-inspired Merlindia and Ethiopian Benethiopia. Last fall, they even took their traveling circus across the country on Elastic Highways, a ’50s-style, blue municipal bus retrofitted with dining tables.
New regulations were passed in December 2013 to improve how food trucks operate in the city’s busiest street food clusters. The trucks enter a monthly lottery system for the chance to freely vend at designated mobile roadway vending zones (MRVs) such as Franklin Square, Farragut Square, Union Station, Metro Center, George Washington University and L’Enfant Plaza, thereby eliminating the worry of parking tickets and parking space competition. Plans to add more MRVs in the future mean more and varied mobile food options throughout the city.
By their very nature, food trucks offer accessible, crowd-pleasing options at outdoor festivals and movies like Taste of DC, Snallygaster and the NoMa Summer Screen, even spawning their own annual caravans of feasting such as Truckeroo and Curbside Cookoff.
With so many moving options, you can keep it together with mobile app Food Truck Fiesta to track locations in real-time by map and list format. While you’re on your phone, pay for your meal at trucks like Peruvian Brothers, which accepts digital dough Bitcoin. But what to eat first? Here’s are 10 solid places to start.
Must-try: The Connecticut-style lobster roll poached in butter ($15)
2. Rito Loco
Must-try: Rib Rito with pulled baby back ribs ($8)
3. Hula Girl
Must-try: Seaweed-wrapped Spam musubi with fried Spam and rice ($3).
Must-try: Pepito de Ibérico sandwich with seared Ibérico pork and Serrano ham ($20).
5. Pho Wheels
Must-try: Maple-glazed pork belly banh mi with fresh vegetables on a French baguette ($8).
Must-try: Red velvet doughnut sandwich with Madagascar vanilla frozen custard, cream cheese frosting and chocolate sauce ($8).
Must-try: The Istanbul ($11), which Food Network Magazine calls “one of the best sandwiches in the US.”
Must-try: The all-vegetarian Mt. Fuji grilled cheese sandwich with brie, Fuji apple and honey.
Must-try: The insanely good vegan mac ‘n’ cheez ($3.30).
Must-try: Pan con Chicharrón Sandwich with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes ($8).