The food truck frenzy strikes again - this time, in the form of a stuffed pastry - the empanada! Empanada Truck DC has begun the rigmarole of street vending, including prepping the truck, acquiring the proper permits, and finalizing the menu. Some of the empanadas that you might see on their menu include savory ones such as thai, bacon cheeseburger and buffalo chicken, as well as sweet ones including apple pie and chocolate. (can I put in a request here? NUTELLA!) Empanada Truck DC is planning on hitting up the streets of DC, Virginia, and Maryland.
Unbeknown to most, Empanada Truck DC actually already has one competitor in the heart of Clarendon: El Chaparral Meat Market.
If your food preferences are anything like mine, Clarendon just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to Latin American fare. Mexicali Blues is a far cry from anything authentic and La Tasca has a handful of good dishes, but none of Clarendon dining establishments serve the Latin comfort food I frequently yearn for. I was thrilled when I walked into El Chaparral for the first time and saw the golden empanadas sitting under the heat lamps near the cash register. That may not sound like the romantic date with a Latin favorite you yearn for, but when fresh, this little empanada will sweep you off your feet. The handmade dough is filled with a tomato-based seasoned ground beef, onions, and diced black olives, then baked to a golden flaky finish.
One very important disclaimer: El Chaparral completely lacks consistency. Some days, the empanada will consist of a stale crust with dry filling (clearly at least a day old). Other days, it will taste like a different empanada all-together with a tasteless bread shell much paler in color and a different combination of ingredients in the filling, including chopped hard-boiled eggs. Every once in awhile, they won’t have any empanadas at all.
That said, if you happen to catch them early enough in the day, and find empanadas resembling the picture above, it’s worth the risk.
In the meantime, I look forward to a little 4-wheel competition!
(Note: I have yet to try out the lunchtime food trucks servicing the Clarendon Center constructions workers, but I would wager to guess that Clarendon’s best kept Mexican/Latin secret just might be on those wheels).