The buzz around DC yesterday was all about the opening of a new food truck, Pepe. Now, with 7,856 other trucks already on the streets of Washington — and a few in the ‘burbs, too — it may not have been noteworthy were it not for its affiliation with one of Washington’s most beloved chefs, José Andrés.
Among his many, many honors and adulations, Chef Andrés gets high marks from us for his attention to the cheese. We’ve had all sorts of Spanish cheeses at his flagship restaurant, Jaleo. A long-time favorite was a garlic-doused apple and manchego salad. If you’ve caught his Made in Spain series on PBS, you know it’s a subject he is passionate about. (Then again, is there a subject the gregarious chef isn’t passionate about?) And so it was no surprise to see him comment to Eater, regarding the ingredients in his new food truck’s high-end flautas, “I want good cheese not crappy cheese, good ham not crappy something and that’s it.”
While much buzz centered on the $20 Íberico jamón sandwich, I opted for the Serrano jamón y queso manchego (a comparative bargain at $9). It was a simple but sound sandwich, on delightfully crusty bread that’s rare to find around here. (The bread is custom made by Alexandria’s Panorama Bakery.) I might have liked a few wisps of arugula in my sandwich, but there’s a vegetable option if you’re eager for a healthier bite. The husband enjoyed the Butifarra burger, a pork burger dressed with brava sauce and aioli. We washed them down with Pepe tonic, a slightly sweet beverage that refreshed the palate after the salty sandwich. (Yes, there’s non-alcoholic sangria as well, but it seemed cruel to taunt the taste buds when the proper version is temporarily unavailable during Jaleo’s renovations.)
Now obviously the Spanish grilled cheese (Manchego, Valdeón, Murcia, membrillo and goat cheese) is a stand out on the menu — as a fan of the grilled cheese at Jaleo, I’ve no doubt that it’s every bit as delicious as it looked on Twitter. There’s one more dairy treat to wrap up your meal: a chocolate hazelnut ice cream flauta. Somehow reason and will power won out and I resisted it yesterday, but perhaps next time… (The Post’s Tim Carman did not make the same mistake, and shared a photo.)
If you already know and love Andrés, you’ll love Pepe. And should you find yourself visiting DC, check out @Pepefoodtruck on Twitter to track it down.