Food trucks are a DC staple. They line up like clockwork every weekday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the lunch rush outside office buildings, museums and monuments. Some are tricked out with brightly-colored signs and loudspeakers blaring pop songs, while others look a tad more questionable: an off-white truck with no markers aside from a single menu made with cardboard and a sharpie.
But food trucks in DC aren’t just for the adventurous. I’ve lived in DC for years now and drag my husband around the district every free weekend to visit museums and sample food from trucks all over the area. So if the fear of food poisoning is holding you back (and believe me, it’s a legitimate fear!), worry no more! I’ve rounded a list of my favorite trucks for your tasting pleasure.
Because locations change daily, food trucks alert customers to their location the day of via Twitter, or you can check Food Truck Fiesta for a list of all trucks in the area.
Pepe – @pepefoodtruck
Acclaimed chef José Andrés runs several restaurants in DC, including Jaleo, Oyamel Cucina Mexicana, and Zaytinya. But before dishes make it into his restaurants, occasionally he will test them on the public at his food truck, Pepe. The truck also offers a menu of flautas, a Spanish sandwich on crunchy bread, and seasonal dishes like gazpacho. My recommendation? You can’t go wrong with a flauta loaded with jamón and Manchego cheese, plus a side of patatas bravas: fried potatoes with a spicy tomato and mayo-based sauce. Don’t forget to grab a cup of non-alcoholic sangria, and you’re in for an authentic, delicious Spanish meal.
Pho Junkies – @phojunkies
Don’t let the zombies on this truck scare you away – Pho Junkies‘ food is scary good. Started in 2012, this food truck has become a big hit with federal employees on their lunch break. Food trucks can be expensive, but you definitely get your money’s worth at this place. Go for the Pho Junkies special with “all the meats” — beef, chicken and steak with pho noodles, bean sprouts and spices. One bite and I guarantee you’ll be a junkie too.
El Fuego – @elFuegoDC
If you want to take a walk on the spicy side, check out El Fuego’s Peruvian food truck. Everything is run out of an eye-catching, bright-red fire truck. They offer authentic dishes from Peru, like chicken tamales, aji de gallina, and different sandwiches. Go for the pan con chicharron, a shredded pork sandwich with sweet potatoes, onions and a spicy Fuego sauce. Watch out for the slow burn.
Swizzler – @swizzlerfoods
I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty leery about ordering a hot dog from a food truck. But this place completely changed my mind. Swizzler was started by college buddies who wanted to revolutionize the hot dog — and they most certainly succeeded. Swizzler dogs are made from 100% grass-fed beef and grilled, not boiled. You can tell the difference. These hot dogs are delicious. My personal favorite is the Leonardo Dog Vinci, a beef hotdog served on a pretzel bun with fresh mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, and a balsamic drizzle. Be sure to order a side of the fresh-cut, truffle parmesan fries.
Far East Taco Grille – @FarEastTG
This black truck seems unassuming at first glance, but it’s one of my favorite food trucks in the area. Far East Taco Grille brings an Asian twist to Mexian food. The truck is an offshoot of a local restaurant with two locations, offering tourists and workers easy access to their delicious tacos. You can’t go wrong with any of the recommendations they advertise on the side of the truck, but be sure to try the steak taco in a flour tortilla with pickled onions and the kimchi-lime dressing.
Captain Cookie and the Milk Man – @captaincookiedc
Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth? Grab a warm cookie from one of Captain Cookie and the Milkman’s trucks and wash it down with a glass of milk. Another mobile version of a brick-and-mortar joint, the Captain’s trucks have a bakery oven and freezer inside, which means all cookies are baked right on the truck. It’s famous for its chocolate chip cookies, but you can get creative by choosing two different cookies and sandwiching a big scoop of ice cream in between. Hello, sugar.
Have you hit up any of these trucks? Let me know what you thought in the comments!