The Lobstermobile Cometh. Yuck/Yum?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I love a street vendor as much as the next girl. In fact, I love street vendors with the combined love of both a city dweller & a tourist: As a city dweller, I find them convenient & delicious; as a small-town transplant, I find them exciting & cosmopolitan, in that dirty, "I hope this gyro doesn't give me botulism" kind of way. But we've come a long way since the days when gyro stands & hot dog joints dominated the street-side scene. These days, it's all about trendy food carts: in Portland, fine French cuisine is served from within a vintage schoolbus; in LA, popular local chefs serve $10 meals from a truck to raise money for Carts for a Cause; and the craze is even big in Columbus, the capital of my home state, where you can stop by one of many popular taco trucks or be bold & try Japanese crepes instead.

Photo purloined from Washington City Paper
Frankly (hot dog pun intended), the District of Columbia's not doing so wildly well with its meager & difficult-to-locate variety of food carts, which have received only mild hype. Apparently there's a Bulgogi cart, which serves Korean fare, & the Fojol Bros. Indian food cart is a staple at street fairs. Sweetgreen’s bright green van sells “sweetflow” (a really menstrual name for its froyo) across the town like an adult ice cream truck, & apparently Baja Fresh even serves their sub-par faux-Mexican on the go. One problem: I never see these trucks. Like, ever. And I know I don’t go out a lot, but it’s not like I’m (usually) a hermit. Where are the food trucks & why aren’t they parked in places where people want to be eating? I certainly do that enough.

Considering DC’s sorta-lame food cart track record, I was surprised to see so much excitement about today’s big debut: the lobster truck. That’s right, NYC's Red Hook Lobster Pound has brought Maine lobsters to the District's streets, & the enthusiasm has been quite overwhelming. Blogger The D.C. Universe waited two hours for a simple Connecticut roll; @LobsterTruckDC says they served more than 400 rolls today before closing at 3:30. With more than 50 people reportedly lined up at a time in Farragut for $15 mobile seafood - even in 90-degree heat - I suspect a lot of bummed, sweaty lobster-seekers missed out.

Here’s my beef (these hot dog segues just keep coming): D.C. is not particularly coastal. Lobsters aren’t raised anywhere within the District, to the best of my limited knowledge, & Maryland is famous for those other clawed crustaceans. This lobster's apparently being trucked in from the Pine Tree State, but... that's a long way away, yo. And do I want my lobster (if I want my lobster at all) taking an hours-upon-hours-long road trip from up North only to be dished out from a hot, sticky vehicle that's baking in the DC sun? Lobster just seems like a meat better served in... well, like, a real restaurant.

I'm skeptical, but I’ll try one. When the lines are shorter. But until then, the Ohio State Fair aficionado in me doesn’t require much of my food carts. Just fry me up a good old-fashioned funnel cake, OK?


  1. As a native Mainer and, I would like to believe, a connoisseur of most preparations of Homerus americanus, I am always concerned to see lobster being marketed out of state. They thrive too purely on the particular minutiae of Maine water, so even if they're kept alive and fresh for some time it just never is the same.

  2. You forgot curbside cupcakes- they are awesome.

  3. TO everyone in DC..we do NOT bring lice lobster down to pick in DC for rolls. We have a special relationship with an outfit in Maine, who prepares our meat in an FDA certified plant. It is all bacteria tested. We bring the fresh picked meat on ice down to DC for the lobster rolls.

  4. Now, I'm craving funnel cake! And, I'm with you. The lobster might be the freshest available in the DC area (which as you so aptly put isn't lobster central), but why wait in long lines for a rather pricey and sub-par product?

    And, RHLP, we get it. Your lobster is fresh, and it's shipped, prepared and served in accordance with all the appropriate guidelines. I'm just with SS here and prefer my lobster in a restaurant. Hope you can appreciate that :).

  5. The Fojol brothers (and some others, possibly including the sweetgreen) are over by farragut square (the park, 17th & K). There's a bulgogi cart at 1425 K st, and another at 14th and L.


  6. UGH! I crave standing in line for convenient, yet mediocre ethnic food served in a cart...but you won't see those things rolling up in my neck of the woods. Working in Maryland is officially the worst! But I do agree, lobster for lunch from a truck is weird. But does anyone know where I can get a gyros?

  7. I was just talking about this seemingly new fad going around DC. We've apparently become a city of Cupcakes, Burgers, and Food Trucks.

  8. I've enjoyed the food trucks and found them very convenient. The locations are all listed on twitter, many in advance. It's nice. Not sure I would have lobster though. LA has a grilled cheese truck.

  9. The truck isn't hot and sticky. It's actually air conditioned and amazing! The lobster meat is prepared in an FDA certified plant and safely transported to DC in an iced truck. We take our Lobstah and our customers seriously. Lobstah Love!

  10. I've got to say I'm a bit skeptical too. There are tons of other gourment foods that have a more local presence than Maine Lobster. That said, I'm liking the trend of food trucks. Things are cleaner than they used to be and you can't beat the convience!


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