22 November 2007

Elegy for a burrito cart

On Tuesday, the revered Pedro and Vinny's burrito cart at 15th & K NW rolled its last burrito. It was a sad, sad day. I waited in line for an hour with other regulars, plus a few newcomers who had seen so much business come by the cart in its last few weeks that they just had to try it. I ordered 2 burritos instead of my usual 1. I just finished that last burrito for my Thanksgiving lunch.

I first discovered the cart, run by John, the king of nice guys, via the Burrito Blog and vowed that should I ever find myself working in that part of downtown, I was going to make that cart a weekly event, since I have a particular love of vegetarian burritos, and that was the cart's only offering. As luck would have it, I landed a job nearby in June and soon after began my weekly trek to the cart. When I got back to the office, my coworkers would always be amazed at the sheer size of my standard large burrito, and I eventually started going to the cart with a posse.

Over these few months of bliss, I tried all sorts of varieties: black and tan, just black, all 5 flavors of tortilla, and a whole range of hot sauces, including the very special Grey Goose Mango sauce, which is a signature creation. Other favorite sauces included the "hot buns on the beach" and "Jim Beam." Of course, the free chips while you wait offered an even greater opportunity to expand my hot sauce knowledge. In general though, my favorite burritos were just with black beans, on a spinach or tomato chili tortilla (alternated weekly), with a sauce in the 7-8.5 range, non-fruity (and best with the hot buns on the beach, which apparently comes from an unnamed sauce source).

Now John is moving to the Carolina coast to open up a burrito shop there (field trip, anyone?). He ran the cart for over 5 years, after taking over from one James Tiu, who now runs a shop in Wheeling, West Virginia, and who opened the cart in 1994. News that John was moving had been around for awhile now, and there was a brief hope that the cart would continue under a new owner. That deal fell through, however, and the closing was reported in early November. The lines over the cart's last few days were nuts, but it was totally worth it. Even though the cart has moved on, you should still be able to order items from the Pedro and Vinny's website at some point in the future.

In the meantime, the quest continues for an excellent lunchtime burrito in DC. For those in the Dupont area, the Well Dressed Burrito is your obvious (and delectable) option. Of course, there are plenty of chains scattered about town (though the pickings are a little slim near Metro Center). I, however, will begin a new quest for finding burrito goodness to fill my belly on roughly Wednesday of each week.

1 comment:

james in washington (& maine) said...

oh man. i passed that cart every day at least once and never stopped to try one. i enjoyed your post though. thanks.