Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yeah, I Eat In Parking Lots, Don't Judge...Join.

So I'm sure you're all well aware of the current food truck craze.  From Food Networks "The Great Food Truck Race" to addicts on twitter following their favorite truck in search of their next hit, food trucks are finally getting the respect and attention that they deserve.  Although a norm in other countries and on the west coast of the U.S., the east coast...Washington in particular has a been a bit slow on the uptake.  Luckily this is changing and the district is home to a number of new, innovative, affordable, and delicious yum mobiles.

Since I live in Arlington I have to work a little harder for my fix since most trucks concentrate their deliciousness in Washington proper.  So imagine my glee to find out about DC's Curbside Cookoff, an event that concentrated the areas food trucks in one central location of the city for two days of food, fun, and competition (there was a contest to win the Curby, a prize for the most popular food truck in the city).

I headed there on Thursday evening around 6 after meeting a friend for happy hour at nearby Ceiba.  When I saw the parking lot filled with food trucks my eyes started to glisten! I was salivating at the thought of poutine, tacos, empanadas, BBQ brisket and cupcakes and then...defeat.  One by one, the trucks ran out of food, I was too late.  I left hungry, hurt, and confused but I vowed to return on Friday...and eat. 

After work on Friday Steven and I practically ran to the cookoff.  Since we knew what trucks would be there, we went straight to Takorean, the Korean taco truck and Eat Wonky, a fast food style truck with a twist.  My fiancee and I devised a divide and conquer plan.  He stood in the shorter line to order a small poutine from Wonky, and I stood in the longer Tokorean taco line.  The logic: He's a picky eater so he'd be able to come back and stand in the Taco line with me and be indecisive, plus we'd have a snack while we wait.

For those who don't know, poutine is probably the leading cause of death among Canadians, its like what chili cheese fries is to people in the U.S.  You start with a  hefty base of crispy fries, throw on some cheese curds, and top the whole thing with brown gravy--mmmmm.  I've been dying to try this Canadian delicacy for a while so I was so excited to see Steven walking up with my little basket of joy.  Not going to lie, it looks a little weird at first, but I quickly got over that!  If you were following my tweets yesterday, you will know that I practically inhaled these things and I had to stop myself from devouring the entire order poutine in the taco line, but man was it delicious.

The brown gravy was perfectly seasoned and slightly peppery, and the cheese curds (or "squeaky cheese" as Wonky calls it) were in tact but soft from the heat of the fries.  Surprisingly, the fries were crisp and perfectly salted, despite being covered in gravy.  My only recommendation is that they cut the curds just a bit smaller, its hard to cut cheese curds with a plastic fork in a paper tray while standing up.

Just as my poutine runneth dry, it was my turn to order from Takorean.  I wanted to taste a little bit of everything so I ordered a Bulgogi Steak Taco with Kimichi Slaw, a Tangy Chicken Taco with Napa Romaine Slaw, and one Pork Taco, plain...for Steven. I decided to get the first two tacos done with "The Works" which is the addition of Sriracha sauce, lime crema, cilantro, and Sesame Seeds just to experience them the way Takorean intends.  After $8 and less than 5 minutes I had three sexy tacos:

The Suspects:Bulgogi, Pork, Chicken
I loved the kimichi style slaw, it was a spicy and flavorful compliment to the sweet soy flavors in the bulgogi.  But bulgogi aside, they should just sell their slaw as a side item.  I'm not a fan of "real" kimchi, you know, the fermented stuff, but I am a fan of kimichi style slaw.  Some how, Takorean captured all of the flavor of kimchi and fused it with the awesome freshness of cabbage and carrots--job well done! 

Mmmm, Kimchi Style Slaw...
Steven enjoyed the pork, he said it had a nice ginger flavor and wasn't spicy like he expected.  As for the chicken taco, I enjoyed the flavors of the ginger and sweet chili captured in the meat, but I was not a fan of the napa slaw, I felt like I was eating a weird salad but flavorless time: kimichi slaw across the board.

After eating our fries and tacos, I decided to find something for a sweet finish.  I was in between frozen yogurt from Sweetgreen or a cupcake, and of course my cupcake obsession won. I first headed to Curbside Cupcakes because I wanted to see what the hype was about since Curbside was one of the first food trucks in DC tweeting their locations to cupcake addicts.  Sadly, by the time I got to the window only carrot cake, German chocolate, and some vegan flavor remained...this means I have yet to try a Curbside Cupcake as I don't like carrot cake, don't like coconut flakes, and have a fear of vegan baked goods.  However, this was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to try the lesser known cupcakery, Love Bites.

Love Bites is new to the food truck game, but they've had a stand alone bakery for a while.  Its a family owned business that delivers awesome baked goods to the DMV. Their cupcakes are artfully decorated (definitely a step up from the ever popular star tip icing bag trick) and innovative flavors such as Black Forest and Cape Cod Cranberry give Love Bites a little edge in the cupcake war.

After talking with the owner for a bit, I decided to try their signature sweet potato cupcake.  Being from the south, sweet potato baked goods are serious stuff, so I had high expectations.  Before eating, I smelled and practically worshiped this cupcake:

It smelled just like sweet potatoe pie--sweet, buttery, cinnamon-y, nutmeg-y--and the cream cheese pecan frosting looked amazing!  When I finally bit into the cupcake it was everything I imagined, moist, flavorful, and a perfect cake to icing ratio. My only regret--not buying half a dozen to take home because I definitely wanted to try their other flavors after experiencing cupcake nirvana.

Although I was unable to taste food from all the trucks, each truck definitely had its legion of fans and swarms of newbies ready to see what all the fuss was about.  Overall I was impressed by the quality, quantity, and value offered by each food truck so for that, good job DC food trucks, show the West Coast what we've got to offer!

If you were unable to make it to Curbside Cookoff, don't fret.  Instead, find and follow a food truck you want to try using Food Truck Fiesta and of course twitter.  I'm definately planning to find and try more of these restaurants on wheels before heading to Caracas! It was an experience that was cheap, amazing, flavorful, and memorable...just as food should be.


  1. How cool is that tracker??!!! AWESOME! I wish we had more around here. Raleigh doesn't "allow" trucks to park curbside and serve unless they are part of a festival. wah! Durham and Chapel Hill have them but that's not exactly close to where I live. Have you heard of VendrTV? It's these webisodes of food truck reviews. It's a lot of fun.


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