Arlington finds its food truck swagger

For argument’s sake, lets call 2012 “The Year of the Food Truck.” Trends are everything, and in recent years, the trucks once affectionately dubbed “roach coaches” are now posing serious competition for brick and mortar restaurants – and serious regulatory challenges for local governments, too. You can find them anywhere, posted up at anytime of the day or night, serving up any kind of food you can imagine. In this area, everyone associates food trucks with DC – and the association is well deserved. Currently, 51 mobile chow-slingers are registered as members of the DC Food Truck Association, and unlike union dues in pre right-to-work Michigan, membership isn’t required. So, there are likely at least a few handfuls of food trucks roaming rogue on DC’s streets.

Never to be outdone, Northern VA is getting its food truck game on proper, too. Anchored by the young, active residents of the Ballston-Clarendon-Rosslyn corridor, Arlington is now becoming a popular destination for food trucks who cater to working professionals, late-night patrons of area clubs, or weekend shoppers looking for a quick bite to refuel. Bada Bing Cheesesteaks and Spiedies is one example. Run by Nicholas and Venus Terzella, “The Bing” serves up a simple menu of “authentic” Philly Cheesesteaks – chicken or traditional chopped rib eye on a hoagie roll – and Spiedies, basically an Italian kabob prepared with pork, chicken or lamb. Order your cheesesteak like they do in the City of Brotherly Love: “Wiz wit” (with cheese wiz) or “witout” (hold the cheese wiz. And get your spiedie as a salad or “sangweech,”, like the “Big Peete,” with bacon, lettuce and chipotle mayo; or “Kendall’s favorite” with buffalo sauce, blue cheese, tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Mmmm…buffalo sauce and blue cheese. At the time of this posting, The Bing was stationed on North Stuart Street in Ballston, near the Bank of America office, but check their site daily for updates.

El Chilango's $2 taco are long on taste, authenticity and satisfaction

El Chilango’s $2 tacos are long on taste, authenticity – and satisfaction

Seoul Food is another food truck that has been spotted frequently in Arlington of late. Serving up bibimbap, maki rolls, kimchi quesadillas, Seoul Food goes the planet-friendly route with an assortment of Asian specialties, all prepared with locally-sourced and/or organic ingredients. And true to the hand-to-mouth street food nature of food trucks, Seoul Food even serves up grab-and-go Kalbi Burritos: rice, avocado, kimchi and your choice of beef or chicken wrapped up tight in a flour tortilla. Like many Food Trucks, Seoul Food tweets its Tuesday location, then posts up at 19th & Lynn in Ballston, Courthouse Metro in Clarendon, and Ballston Metro on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively. Incidentally, this truck has drawn the ire of Arlington authorities recently, being cited for violating the county’s policy forbidding food trucks from operating in one location for more than 60 minutes. When the truck was cited, its owner contended the truck had been moved, but was still cited for not having moved “far enough.” Sounds like a c-o-n ‘spiracy to me.

And how legit can your food game be without some Mexican offerings? Well, Arlington’s got that covered, too. While Bada Bing and Seoul Food sport websites, social media outreach and chefs with culinary training rivaling that of Jose Andres, the origins of the food truck are much humbler, and El Chilango stays true to that pedigree. No website, no twitter feed, just a working converted bread truck, friendly service, and authentic, damn good tacos, period. This food truck is stationed at 14th and North Quinn Streets in Arlington, a five-minute walk from the Courthouse Metro station, and as one Yelp review described, serves up “plain, delicious, no frills tacos at an extremely reasonable price.” How reasonable? Try two bucks. Seriously. And to quote Randy Moss, they only accept straight cash, homie. Feeling adventurous? Try the beef tongue (yep, beef tongue) or lengua, chorizo and al pastor tacos.

Muy bueno.

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