A Burger a Day in May: Frito Pie From Cart Cafe

Arguably not a burger at all, but then who gets in an argument about a walking taco?
This taco was made for walking. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

Welcome to Hangover Hamburger Friday: the Memorial Day weekend edition. Throughout May we’ve given you booze-soaking burgers in the form of triple-decker street meat, a poutine mashup, and a peanut butter bomb, but today we have something more portable for your Friday flight: the Frito Pie.

We like to think of it as a deconstructed burger, but if that makes your head explode, simply refer to it as a “walking taco” and know that it contains everything your sluggish body needs to get you through hours of beach-bound traffic: ground beef, cheese, fried, salty bits, and a distracting twinge of shame. You’ll pick up this meal-in-a-bag at the corner of 19th and L streets, Northwest, where Yeshu Woldemicael mans the stationary Cart Cafe responsible for bringing Frito pie to downtown DC. Not too long ago, a (possibly hungover) Texan regular asked if she could re-create his state’s iconic treat. Now, for a mere $2, anyone can partake. Woldemicael splits open a bag of classic Fritos corn chips, loads it with meaty beef chili, faux cheese, and sautéed onions, and gives it a little shake to mix the ingredients. The result is something one imagines loving—but not remembering—after crawling out of a bar, but it’s still pretty good in the harsh light of day. Any of the cart’s chips are fair game, so if you’re feeling brave, opt for the honey-barbecue “flavor twists” for a Lone Star State double-whammy.

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