By Kirsty Groff | Mitzpeh.com
Even in a large metropolitan area like Washington, D.C., certain types of cuisine can be hard to find. The search for gluten-free, locally-sourced, kosher, low-sodium meals can be daunting. If those options are found, the cost can be hard on the wallet. There is a trend, growing in popularity, which counters the healthy or kosher food tribulations of the past.
The food truck.
Food trucks are no new innovation, however, more gourmet and niche food trucks have popped up across the country over the last few years, bringing harder-to-find food options to the masses. While food trucks already have a large following in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, the mobile food business is starting to pick up in the nation’s capital.
Many D.C. employees are interested in getting their food truck fix, but the craze doesn’t seem to have carried itself far outside of the city yet. To some university students, the idea is not highly familiar or appealing.
“I go to D.C. three times a week for my internship, and sometimes I see them when I go out to get lunch,” said junior journalism major Nick Foley. “I’ve never eaten from one because I’m a little suspicious of food coming from a truck. It just doesn’t sit well with me, but I can see how it would be appealing to others.”
“I’ve never eaten at them because I haven’t really gotten the opportunity,” added junior psychology major Jaime Stankowitz, who had heard about the Rutgers University-based Grease Trucks but is less familiar with area food trucks. “I’ve never seen them aside from one time in D.C.”
One popular D.C. food truck, currently on hiatus for winter, is Sixth & Rye and it is run by the similarly named synagogue, Sixth & I. The concept grew from a 2010 “Next Great Idea for the New Year” contest. The kosher cart serves corned beef sandwiches and veggie wraps as well as sides, including couscous salad and a slaw.
“Definitely the best part for Sixth & I as an organization was being able to take what we were so proud of in our building and bringing it out onto the streets of Washington,” said Ali Goldstein, a Sixth & I communications associate. “So people would wait in line and maybe have never heard of what we do. It also provided kosher food in a city that only had one brick and mortar kosher restaurant.”
Once the concept was formulated, they worked out logistical details. Sixth & Rye rents the Eat Wonky food truck most Fridays for a two-hour window. The truck is also usually available at other times depending on Jewish holidays.
Sixth & I reached out to “Top Chef” contestant and frequent organization collaborator Spike Mendelsohn to develop the all-kosher menu, certified by Rabbi Y. Zvi Weiss of Bais Haknesses Ohr HaChaim in Baltimore, Md.
“It is great that they are catering to a smaller but important subset of the DC community,” said Stankowitz. “I am a bit of a picky eater, so I think it would be better if they had another kosher meat option besides corned beef. Their snacks and sides look delicious, though.”
“It’s taking the concept of a food truck, which is so trendy and so big right now, and then the concept of kosher food, which is ancient, and merging the two in a way that connected people with a new, fun, exciting, trendy approach to eating that corned beef sandwich they used to get at their corner deli,” said Goldstein.
One brand new food truck is Juice Revolution, serving up juice to the masses. Less than a month old, this mostly-organic business is filling another void in the D.C. area. While juice is currently the only product on the menu, they plan to serve soups during winter.
“Go to L.A., even Chicago and New York have tons of juice bars,” said Jessie Kennedy, who runs Juice Revolution with her husband Rick. “What I realized was there aren’t as great juice options in D.C. as in other big cities.”
Juice Revolution uses ingredients such as carrots, apples, kale and beets in their juice squeezed right in front of the customers. As a new business, they are still trying to figure out the best location for them. The truck is usually found in front of major Metro stations like Metro Center and Farragut North during lunchtime, and will be used to serve juice at races and health centers.
“The thing that makes us a little different than other trucks is we’re focused on health,” said Kennedy. “Others, they’re your “treat” meals – your heavy things you have once-in-a-while. You want a cookie? There are a lot of places to go for that. If you want something healthy, come to our truck and we will take care of you.”