The District has a food truck for everything—Ethiopian, Peruvian, Greek, lobster rolls, cupcakes, popcorn. I’ve lost track of how many Asian fusion taco trucks are out there.
But if it’s 8 a.m. and you’re searching for a simple egg and cheese sandwich from a mobile vendor, good luck. Not only does the District not have a dedicated classic American-style breakfast food truck, but as far as the head of the local food truck association knows, there are no trucks that reliably roam D.C.’s streets before lunch time.
“[In] many of the great vending cities in the U.S.—Portland, Los Angeles, New York—there’s a robust breakfast scene,” says Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the DMV Food Truck Association and co-owner of BBQ Bus. But in D.C.? He’s unaware of a single generator humming before 9 a.m.
Ruddell-Tabisola blames the breakfast hole primarily on rush-hour parking restrictions in the most popular downtown vending locations, like Farragut Square and Metro Center. Last summer, Ruddell-Tabisola told me via email that a group of trucks were looking to test out breakfast in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. But then… nothing. “Nobody really ran with it,” he says.
It’s not just food trucks, and it’s not just about rush-hour parking restrictions. Weekday breakfast options in D.C. tend to be lackluster beyond chains like Cosi and Pret a Manger or hotel eateries that are contractually obligated to serve bacon and toast in the a.m. I’m not saying there are zero alternatives in between: Cafe Phillips provides serviceable fuel to the downtown office masses, Ted’s Bulletin cranks out French toast as early as 7 a.m., and newer outposts like Bullfrog Bagels offer more foodie-friendly grub. Maybe your neighborhood coffee spot even serves some pastries, or if you’re really lucky, a breakfast sandwich. Still, diner-style restaurants are few and far between, and breakfast in general is dwarfed by lunch and dinner. While brunch options are as endless as bottomless mimosas, breakfast is cut off after the first glass. As the food scene grows, will that change? Read more Why Don’t More Restaurants Serve Weekday Breakfast?