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23 Catt. 1: In re Tapas Truck

2013 September 4

Opinion of CHIEF JUSTICE JEREMY, in chambers.

If there’s one thing the DC dining scene loves, it’s small plates. Sometimes, this format is successful, e.g., Jaleo. Sometimes, it’s less so, e.g., Ambar. (Try splitting two tiny stuffed cabbage six ways. Hint: It can’t be done gracefully.) So why shouldn’t a mobile gastronomic enterprise have in on the fun. Here enters Tapas Truck, which, according to its website, serves “Authentic Spanish Cuisine.” Of course the website is also chock full of imagery of delicious-looking paellas and hams wholly unlike anything sold off the truck.

Tapas Truck

For $10, I was able to choose 3 out of 4 tapas options. My clerk and I opted for the following:

  • Pollo Valenzia [sic]: “Pan roasted chicken breast in our roasted pepper sauce, served with rice.”
  • Shrimp pil pil: “Crispy shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce.”
  • Corn fritters: “Sweet corn nuggets served with cilantro lime sauce.”

(We decided against the fried calamari, salted and peppered with smokey sauce.)

Pollo Valenzia, Shrimp Pil Pil, Corn Fritters

I’ve been to Spain twice. That is not to say I’m some sort of expert on “authentic Spanish cuisine.” But I am fairly certain the food I sampled was hardly authentic, unless you count some swim-up bar in Benidorm that caters exclusively to Brits and Dutch on holiday. The Pollo Valeniza could have been a Lean Cuisine — somewhat palatable, but entirely forgettable. The shrimp pil pil and the corn fritters tasted like fare you might find at some Parrothead-themed beach bar in Virginia Beach: overly sweet, a gloppy sauce, best paired with something rum-based in a tiki head.

I was unimpressed.

Ordinarily, I would devote some time determining whether the sampled fare was “street food,” for, under our jurisprudence true street food is entitled to a presumption of affirmance whereas non-street food must prove itself entirely on its merits. Whether or not Tapas Truck’s fare qualifies as street food is immaterial. Either way it is unsuccessful.

REMANDED to Tapas Truck for revision. It is so ordered.

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