Friday, June 21, 2013


I don't know what made this city so crazy for Spanish food, but whenever I am out and about and looking for a place to have lunch, chances are there is at least one tapas restaurant in sight. It might all be José Andrés' fault, the celebrity chef who left his mark on DC with a myriad of establishments serving gourmet fare in small portions. Apart from his pricier options, Boqueria in Dupont Circle and La Tasca in Chinatown/Clarendon are just two of many eateries doing a great job at representing Spanish cuisine in the District.

Yesterday I discovered Pepe, a flauta-sandwich-serving food truck, which ranks on #45 on the list of America's 101 best food trucks. I went to check out the farmers market by the White House, and again, as I was feeling hungry, looked around and found what? Spanish food! 

It is probably no surprise that Pepe is managed by José Andrés' ThinkFoodGroup in consideration of its popularity, the high-quality ingredients used, and prices of up to $20 for a sandwich. The long line of patrons waiting in front of the truck attracted a great deal of attention, and I am not sure if Pepe takes part in the market every Thursday, but since it was parked at one of the main "entrance" points it blocked the traffic for the other vendors at the time. Of course I had to make this line even longer and see what all the excitement was about. Luckily Pepe also serves chocolate hazelnut flautas for dessert, so my blog gave me an excuse to go over budget for the day. 

Flautas are sandwiches made with a very thin, long, crispy bread, much like a slim version of a baguette. The dessert adaptation is a small ice cream sandwich with soft chocolate cookies framing velvety hazelnut ice cream, shaped like a flauta. I loved that its size was perfect for a sweet snack following one of their savory sandwiches, as these are rather filling. The chocolate hazelnut flauta doesn't weigh you down, doesn't make a mess when you eat it, and can definitely not be substituted with a store-bought ice cream sandwich; the taste is refined and a good example of how European desserts differ from American ones in terms of sweetness.

The guys and girls working for Pepe are quick and polite and very organized, and everything on the menu sounds amazing. Just in case you are wondering, I had the Jamón y Queso flauta and can absolutely recommend it. This one is a little messy to eat though: I noticed a puddle of olive oil at my feet after I finished, and needed several tissues to get it off my fingers. 

An expansion of their dessert options is unlikely, so Pepe might not count as a dessert food truck, but the one sweet treat they do offer is great.

Follow the truck on twitter (@pepefoodtruck) or facebook.

Brownie Points: 2 out of 3

Pepe Food Truck on Urbanspoon

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