Friday, May 4, 2012


Did someone say José Andrés? Yes, the time has finally time to delve into one of the masters of molecular gastronomy. After reading this I will bet you that your first three guesses are wrong. No I am not critiquing Oyamel, Jaleo, or Zaytinya. No I am not even lucky or wealthy enough to try American Eats or Minibar. I am here to talk about his latest project Pepe the gourmet food truck that is another step in the evolution of this booming industry.

Chef Andrés immense talent and celebrity have made him one the of the kings of DC dining. His famous creations such as the aforementioned Minibar and American Eats have almost monopolized the fine dining experience in the district. His latest project is Pepe, a food truck that has also taken the district by storm.    

(Photo via Yelp)

The menu consists of long thin baguettes called flautas which are adapted from everything José grew up eating in Spain. When news first broke of this trucks arrival I did my best to stay away for the first couple of weeks. Reading the initial stories that people waited in excess of 30 minutes in line I quickly discovered that I made the right decision. Once the smoke had settled I decided to monitor the trucks daily location and make the pounce at the right moment.

Ironically my first experience came at possibly the worst moment. I first sampled Chef Andrés sandwiches during this past months Sweetlife festival. The initial sampling was a bit of a surprise as a friend offered me to try a couple of his sandwiches in a state of drunken happiness. I tried my best to fend off the drunken munchies but eventually fell victim to my own gluttony.

(Pepito de Ternera) 

I was handed the Butifarra Burger to have for myself. As delighted as I was to have this I was barely able to eat it as I have been recovering from surgery to remove my wisdom teeth. I managed to devour a couple of bites of this sandwich which consists of a Spanish pork burger topped with alioli and brava sauce. The quality of the sandwich was off the charts, the pork was juicy which oozed with flavor and the sauces added the finishing touches. I was deeply saddened that my jaw would not cooperate with me during this experience so I gave the sandwich back.  In a movement of miscommunication I was given the Pollo Frito which consists of fried chicken, lettuce, and piparra peppers which is topped with aliolo and brava sauce.

The Pollo Frito was good but nothing like the Butifarra burger in my opinion. The fried chicken was fabulous but the complimentary ingredients did not shout out enough. Also the chicken did not scream with as many flavors as the aforementioned pork. Needless to say I was fairly impressed with the quality of food and not having to wait in line was another good perk. My initial experience enticed me to visit his truck again this past week at the campus of George Washington University. 

A bit weary at the prospect of having to wait in line I decided to arrive right when trucks usually open their doors (around 11:30-12:00). I was delighted when I turned the corner to see the truck with only a few lunch gathers standing next to it. I pounced in line and waited no more than 5 minutes to place my order. During that time I juggled between the Spanish Grilled Cheese and the Pepito de Ternera. In the end I decided on the latter as well as a Chocolate and Hazelnut Ice Cream Flauta. I placed my order and grimaced at the $19 price tag that this came with.

(Chocolate and Hazelnut Ice Cream Flauta)

The Pepito de Ternera consists of seared beef tenderloin, caramelized onions, pequillo pepper confit, and blue cheese. After taking my first couple of bites I knew that my money was well spent. The quality of the beef was astronomical, the pequillo pepper confit blended well with the juices of the beef and were perfectly complimented by the blue cheese. I was amazed yet again by the quality of food and puzzled how one can cook this in a truck. The portion size allowed me to follow up my sandwich with a dessert. 

I gently unwrapped what I call an aristocratic ice cream sandwich. While the weather was not ideal on that overcast day I dug in regardless. The sandwich was deviously good, while I am not a Hazelnut junkie I could easily imagine eating this on a weekly basis. I left with a smile on my face and wishing I was rich enough to go here on a weekly basis. 

In conclusion while expensive Pepe is a truck worth trying at least once. The quality of food you receive is better than any other fast food you can get. If you have a deep wallet try the Pepito de Iberico which at $20 is easily the most expensive item you can get in any food truck. You can also try his Sangria or Pepe Tonic which are non-alcoholic drinks! I skipped because I believe it is borderline blasphemous. Thankfully they accept credit cards so there is no need to bring cash. The service was on par and I guess I was lucky enough to not have to stand in a long line. So if you want to tour the 1% of food trucks then give Pepe a try. 

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