I was suffering from a bad case of lunchtime ennui, a condition that afflicts even Capitol Hill denizens with plenty of options for their midday meal.
The thought of another BLT from the Senate takeout made me snooze, and even the new offerings at Union Station that had been so exciting only a few weeks ago (Burritos from Chipotle! A Chop’t salad!) now seemed ... blah.
It was time for a food-truck intervention. Since vrooming onto Washington’s food scene in 2009, the meals-on-wheels have become a phenomenon, inspiring a cult-like following, obsessive trackers and even — this being Washington — a policy debate over whether they unfairly compete with their less-mobile storefront competitors.
My self-imposed mission: I would eat lunch from a food truck every day for a week. To do so, I would travel no farther than a half-mile from the Capitol, and I would spend no more than $10 per meal.
To figure out where to get the goods, I enlisted help from foodtruckfiesta.com, a local site that aggregates the Twitter feeds for all of the area’s food trucks and also provides a constantly updating map of the trucks’ whereabouts.
Armed with a smartphone, a crisp Hamilton and a healthy appetite, I was off.
Day One: Nice to Meet You On my inaugural outing, I hit up L’Enfant Plaza, a food-truck hot spot where no less than five were parked, catering to the crowds in the federal buildings there. I picked DC Empanadas, and quickly determined that the crispy pockets are pretty much the ideal food-truck chow: hot, portable and easy to eat on a park bench.
I tried the Badass, which was essentially a dish of buffalo chicken wings in empanada form: a pastry stuffed with chicken, blue cheese and a fiery hot sauce. The El Matador featured a combo of Spanish classics — chorizo, potato, roasted peppers and onions. Both were excellent.
The price was right, too. Empanadas are $3.50 each, or three for $9. After buying two (plenty for me, but brawnier bellies might want a third), I had enough cash for a cookie sandwich of flaky shortbread and lemon and coconut filling ($2) for dessert.
Was I falling for food trucks?
Day Two: Cheesed Off I had been Twitter-stalking the Big Cheese truck for a while, and I finally got the chance to check out the grilled-cheese specialist when the truck rolled up to Union Station. I love a good grilled cheese, and the simplicity of the concept boded well. Plus, I had a soft spot for the truck’s goofy mascot, a retro-looking anthropomorphized slice of bread.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.