Best in Food 2012: Food Trucks

Fabulous steak frites, José Andrés–approved gazpacho, a standout chicken quesadilla, and many more reasons these new food trucks are worth lining up for.

By: Anna Spiegel

Chef Driven

You don’t expect expertly cooked hanger steak and crisp fries from a food truck, but chef Jerry Trice, formerly of Annapolis’s Yin Yankee, peddles a changing lineup of dishes around DC, and the quality is more sit-down restaurant than street vendor. Look for tacos enfolding fried local oysters, true Maryland crabcakes, and Indonesian-style pork ribs over slaw.

Pepe

Chef José Andrés brings Spanish-style baguette sandwiches to DC, Maryland, and Virginia with his first food truck. We’re smitten by smooth gazpacho enriched with Spanish olive oil as well as the simpler fillings layered between warm, skinny slices of bread: Serrano ham and Manchego, a trio of melted cheeses with a slathering of sweet quince paste, and fried chicken with spicy tomato sauce and piparra peppers.

La Tingeria

One of the top trucks in Virginia is driven by former Rustico sous chef David Peña. Start the morning with tacos filled with eggs and chorizo. Noontime stars include elote—corn on the cob rolled in lime-spiked mayo—and juicy braised brisket atop a tostada. Even the chicken quesadilla wows. The fried, mozzarella-stuffed masa cake layered with moist chicken bears little resemblance to the grease-laden versions.

Pino’s Auto Grill

Naples-born Pino Campagna—who changed careers after three decades as a marble layer—dishes up Italian specialities from this colorful Montgomery County truck. We tend to opt for a lighter lunch with thin piadine, sandwiches stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella or grilled vegetables. Good heartier offerings include meat lasagna or perfectly al dente pasta with meatballs.

DC Ballers

Don’t let the jokey name fool you: These orange trucks dish up some of the best falafel in DC. Order the darkly fried rounds—plenty of fresh parsley accounts for their vivid green hue when you bite into them—stuffed inside a warm, fluffy pita dusted with za’atar or on a platter with brightly flavored cucumber-tomato salad, tabbouleh, and hummus. Feta-topped Greek fries make for an indulgent side order.


Read more from our Best in Food 2012 package.

This article appears in the December 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.