We’ll Miss You, Burrito Vendor John Rider

The man behind Pedro and Vinny’s burrito cart is packing up his hot sauces and moving to North Carolina

By: Erin Zimmer

It’s with great sadness that we must reiterate, after reports here and here, that downtown vendor John Rider of Pedro and Vinny’s burrito cart is closing up shop in a couple of weeks—November 20 is the official last day—and heading to North Carolina. Ever since we wrote about Rider in April, we’ve loved watching him juggle spinach, tomato, and wheat tortillas on his K Street corner, which becomes a mob scene every weekday at lunchtime. We’ll miss him asking, “Black or tan?” (black or refried beans), inquiring about our spiciness preference (on a scale of one to ten), and letting us snag extra York Peppermint Patties on our way out (his version of the free fortune cookie).

We scoped out the scene late last week during the noontime rush, joining a line of about 15 people. A little note near the serve-your-own-hot-sauce shelf encouraged customers to drop off business cards to stay in touch. Rider promises to keep fans notified of his business doings with an e-newsletter, and he’ll even send out free bottles of his signature mango-habeñero sauce. The “Goose Sauce,” which pays homage to the frosted Grey Goose vodka bottle it’s stored in, was coined earlier in the spring after an intense sauce-naming challenge. Until the stuff is sold on every shelf next to Tabasco, we’ll be anxious for a private stash.

So here’s to your future career in North Carolina, John, where you’ll finally embrace your dream of combining pasta, burritos, and chicken-Caesar wraps under one roof. The good news? Rider says that if the Mexi-Italian concept is a hit in North Carolina, a Washington franchise is very possible.

Pedro and Vinny’s burrito cart, 15th and K sts., NW (southwestcorner of K St.); pedroandvinnys.com.