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.

A Burger a Day in May: A Burger Roundup for Memorial Day Inspiration

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.