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Walk-Up Food for a Walkable City


Colorful canopies on wheels line city street curbs. From tacos to cupcakes, cuisine names are patterned across aluminum facades. Like railroad cars, these art-strewn vehicles wind their way snugly around a grassy square, dispensing from their windows neat little meals for crowds who gather daily.

This isn’t an event or fest; it’s Washington DC at lunch. And these are the food trucks.

Photo courtesy of Destination DC
Photo courtesy of Destination DC

Particularly when the weather turns temperate, the traveling trucks congregate in the likely locations – the squares and courtyards of downtown and beyond. Though the culture’s nothing new, it’s just as hallowed here as when we realized the walk-up goldmine. And here’s why.

We Washingtonians aren’t known for our dawdling. Pitter, patter, go, go, go. Time lost here is time lost there. So when lunchtime hits, our bustling bodies emerge like ants from offices, doing what we do best: saving time.

Enter the food truck culture. This sidewalk service helps us dine with purpose, luring us outdoors to wait, graze, and go.

The waiting part is what’s most striking — the lines at each truck, such as PepeBasil Thyme!, and Curbside Cupcakes, often snake down the sidewalk. Some take 15 minutes, others push 30. An hour at another! Lines snake and wrap about, and we stand (some sit) and simply wait. But we accept it.

“The line was so long!” we’ll report back. “It couldn’t be helped!” And our coworkers will nod and understand.

And this is our secret, we Washingtonians. Because these food trucks, located daily with trackers and Twitter by the hungry, give us more than just highly-rated food. They provide us with a perfectly acceptable excuse to stand still.

Because maybe all we want is a justifiable break, particularly on those first warm days when food smells mingle with spring, and lunch breaks beg to be enjoyed.

We utter complaints because we must. And we wait because we will. This is the secret of food truck culture. We can’t wait for spring to arrive. Just don’t tell our bosses.

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