DC has one of the most dynamic mobile-food scenes in the country. Don’t believe us? Just swing by Franklin Square on a weekday afternoon to see crowds lining up at food trucks manned by some of the city’s most inventive culinary talents. Whether you’re taking a quick lunch break or grabbing a bite between museums, choose between a wide range of grub from Italian specialties to seafood.
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Best food trucks in Washington, DC
Owner Gabriela Febres uses Harina P.A.N. corn flour, traditionally favored throughout Venezuela, to make her arepas. The flash-cooked flatbread pockets are stuffed with meat, vegetables and/or cheese. Her version of the Venezuelan delicacy is crispy and golden on the outside, and moist and fluffy in the middle. The most popular variety is the sifrina, filled with chicken salad, ripe avocado and shredded cheddar.
Former Matchbox chef Jacob Hunter takes a gourmet approach to mobile dining aboard the Dirty South Deli truck. Eschewing rubbery cold cuts for carefully braised meats, he enhances sandwiches with seasonal ingredients like ramp mornay sauce, collard green jam, and finger lime aioli. As the name reflects, the Atlanta-born Hunter often puts a subtle southern spin on his frequently rotating creations.
Nearly every item on this lasagna truck is made from scratch, including the pasta and sauces. For something traditional, opt for the Linda, a generous hunk of lasagna made with beef, red sauce and cheese. The Langosta is layered with a quarter-pound of lobster and a sherry cream sauce. Vegetarians will rejoice over the calabasa, made with butternut squash, goat cheese and sage.
Before Corned Beef King opened its little lunch counter inside an Olney, MD gas station, it launched this New York deli–style food truck in 2011. Owner Jon Rossler cooks his meats for up to 11 hours, resulting in juicy, tender sandwiches stacked to jaw-dislocating heights. Any cured-meat master worth his kosher salt knows the bread is equally important, and Rossler’s fresh rye, white and nine-grain loaves don’t disappoint.
Once you meet her, you won’t be able to stop thinking about Gigi. That’s the name of the restored 1952 van from which Goodies owner Brandon Byrd sells his rich and creamy custards. In addition to simple scoops, Byrd offers root beer floats, bread pudding, Oreo sundaes, and red velvet donut and custard sandwiches. There’s often 1950s doo-wop music blasting on the radio, which cultivates a carefree atmosphere and distracts you from the calories you’re about to consume.
This mobile eatery started out with a Mediterranean-leaning menu before switching to Ethiopian food. Good thing, too, because it’s one of the better trucks in the District to satisfy our cravings for the spicy East African cuisine. Portions of sega wot (stewed beef with yellow peas) and yebeg wot (stewed lamb with lentils) are huge, so plan on leftovers. A hearty veggie combo caters to the meat-averse.
How often can you get a sandwich made by an Olympic athlete? Competitive rower Giuseppe Lanzone and his brother Mario leaned heavily on their upbringing in Lima when creating the truck’s menu. The Peruvian-influenced fare includes beef-, chicken- and spinach-stuffed empanadas and slow roasted pork served on French bread made in Sterling, VA.
This family-run Vietnamese operation, which first hit the road in July of 2012, is all about bucking culinary tradition. Among the modern takes on banh mi, tacos and the namesake noodle soup, you’ll often find Pan-Pacific influences, including the occasional special musubi taco. Inspired by the Hawaiian classic, it’s filled with Spam, rice, nori and sesame seeds—and it tastes a lot better than it sounds!
Red Hook Lobster Pound may have its roots in Brooklyn, but DC can claim the restaurant’s first food truck. Owner Doug Povich launched the mobile unit in 2010, and seafood lovers still line up for his shrimp rolls, clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese and, of course, lobster rolls. The classic crustacean sandwich is available Maine-style (mixed in a lemony mayonnaise) or Connecticut style (poached in butter). Top it off with that other beloved New England export, whoopie pies.
What began as a college business-class project eventually morphed into a full-time gig for the trio of buddies behind Swizzler. The venture puts a unique twist on a classic—hotdogs are spiral-cut to maximize the surface area and make room for more gourmet add-ons. The grass-fed dogs are free of nitrates or other chemicals and come loaded with globally inspired toppings like from-scratch tzatziki, pesto or sauerkraut. Whatever you choose, don’t pass on the Parmesan truffle fries.