Washington DC is a city on the move. Constantly. Relentlessly. Unapologetically. And for good reason; if it falls behind, the whole country sorta does too. So the stakes are high - but so are the standards. Lunch breaks (and late night food runs - hours aren't exactly standard here) may only provide enough time for a quick bite or two, but this town's chock full of minds that know how to make those bites count. Minds on both sides of the DC food truck window.
Food trucks have remade the city's break time scene overnight, giving staffers of all stripes meals that aren't just quick, but inspired. The cuisines repped are as diverse as the states themselves, with influences melting conservatively maintained tradition and liberally-minded innovation. The end result's a harmonious array of tastes parked side by side, independently run but unified by a single drive to feed you well. Isn't it beautiful when that sort of thing works out?
For years (and years) José Andrés has been DC's patron saint of taste, forever altering the city's restaurant landscape with bold concepts and stunning execution, ranging from Spanish tapas to new-school Mexican to Chinese fusion. Now Andrés has taken his invention straight to the streets with PEPE, and unsurprisingly, it's quickly become top truck in town.
Simply constructed Spanish sandwiches are the thing here, but saying that hardly tells the story. They're simple by way of letting first-rate ingredients speak for themselves, and demonstrate more flavor in restraint than ten other DC food trucks' kitchen-sink approaches combined. Combos like serrano ham, manchego cheese and olive oil face off against refined classics like pulled pork under coleslaw & nora/arbor chiles, and the menu's always rotating, to keep you on your toes & more importantly, to give you reasons for coming back. If you need things like "reasons".
To face the brow-burning rigors of a daily grind, it helps to add a little bit of sweet chill to your life. It should be no surprise then that dessert trucks (and specifically ice cream trucks) are amongst the most popular in DC, and offer a wide variety of ways to get filled up and blissed out in equal measure.
Captain Cookie and the Milk Man hits you from two angles of the sweets spectrum, sandwiching your tastebuds right in the middle. On one side lie scratch-made, meticulously crafted cookies baked onboard. On the other rests locally-churned Trickling Springs ice cream in chocolate, vanilla, or black cherry. We'd tell you what to do with all of that together, but hopefully you've figured as much out for yourself.
Goodies takes dessert sandwiches to the next level, by swapping the ice cream out for frozen custard & the cookies out for frosted doughnuts. Just because.....why not. Dispensed from a shiny, refurnished 60-year old ice cream truck, Goodies is looking to spread more than just vintage treats - it's looking to send you to an alternate-history dimension of dessert. Meanwhile, The Orange Cow's been doing the gourmet ice cream truck hustle since before it was trendy - since July 4th, 2001 to be exact. On top of time-tested, crowd-favorite flavors, the truck's also got burgers and hot dogs; spreading foodie fireworks to both sides of your tongue.
Coastal Maryland's a short drive away from the District, which means fresh catches onboard DC seafood trucks are exactly that. No matter what kind of fish (or shellfish) floats your boat, there's a truck with your name on it, waiting to crush your cravings and inspire you to swim harder through whatever else the day throws your way.
The Crab Cab marries fresh coastal flavor to American comfort, dishing out fused delicacies like salmon fries and firecracker shrimp tacos. Of course, Maryland crab makes for the bulk of the menu, split between jumbo lump crab cake sandwiches, crab tacos and crab bisque soup. If you're on the lookout for that other shellfish, Red Hook Lobster Pound delivers Maine-style rolls that reign as DC's most authentic, and most delicious. Clam chowder and (seasonally) lobster mac provide support on the menu, alongside whoopie pies that'll give any meal you build a sweet finish.
Finally, Go Fish! has it all - crab, lobster, endless other fish, and a serious pedigree that ties it all together. With over 35 years' experience, chef & owner David Stein has it down to a delectable science, with a menu pitting options as light as seaweed salad and mahi/shrimp tacos against grand slams like cheesy crabby melts. High restaurant standards meet high lunchtime rush demands here, and the view from in-between is spectacular. Along with the taste.
Much like the country itself, diversity's a key component to making the rest of the DC food truck scene great, with options for every craving. Authentic regional flavors get balanced with bold new forms to craft one-of-a-kind menus truck by truck.
Abunai delivers Hawaiian specialties that'll open up brand new daydreams in your mind worth salivating over. Specifically slow-cooked Kalua pig, pinko-crusted Spam, and one of the most popular fried dishes on the capitol streets: Mochiko-battered chicken over rice. It's a food truck that rewards stepping outside your box with a full-on vacation for the mouth. One that still leaves the rest of you grounded, to make your 2 pm meeting on U street.
Dirty South Deli unites northern efficiency with southern decadence, and doles out monument-sized sandwiches ranging from chopped pork with manchego, cilantro/citrus aioli & jalapeño(Mr Chips) to shaved brisket with house-made halissa (Elliot Blitzer, naturally). Guest chefs even contribute a different rotating collaboration every month, keeping the menu itself as lively as the flavors. Finally, Swizzler gives you classic, All-American hot dogs with vibrant twists at every turn. 100% grass-fed, hormone-free beef dogs get spiral cut and topped with everything from blue cheese slaw to fried onions to black pepper honey. The end results are maximalist art made right here in the good ol' USA. Don't let anyone tell you this country lacks culture.
As always, check out the live DC food truck map above or on the Roaming Hunger app to find the most accurate, up-to-the-minute location info for all the trucks listed, alongside countless more options.
Naturally, the National Mall is the mecca of DC food trucks, attracting staffers and tourists in equal measure, with a whole lotta open space to enjoy your lunch in after. National Mall food trucks generally go for crowd-pleasing accessibility, ensuring there's something for everyone. If you're southwest, L'Enfant Plaza also draws tons of trucks, feeding area workers and La Promenade shoppers. Farragut Square food trucks and Metro Center food trucks are now DC fixtures as well, drawing in travelers from all over town for a happy transit break. And day or night, Union Station remains a huge draw, especially for Puerto Rican food trucks, tempting hungry hundreds (and hundreds) to grab far away tastes without ever stepping on a train.
Finally, to grab your favorite DC food truck for whatever event you've got in mind - from fundraiser to just....fun gathering, hit up Roaming Hunger. You can book the truck of your choice instantly, no bureaucracies, no red tape. In a town like this, that's pretty much a revelation. Click HERE to get started.