As is frequently the case on Wednesdays, we soak up some delicious news from our pulpy, fragrant, freshly delivered Wheaton Gazette.
Hollywood East Cafe (the restaurant formerly known as Hollywood East on the Boulevard, formerly formerly as Hollywood East) is about to reopen in the Wheaton Mall (“about” = this month, allegedly), specifically inside the Macy’s garage. Doesn’t seem like an ideal restaurant location, but hope it works out for them, as HE has been on the Wheaton scene for years and generally has done a good job, especially if you can order from the Chinese-language specials boards (which I cannot). Will be interesting to see if they can compete, given the new off-beaten-path location and the new, high-quality competition from New Kam Fong and Wong Gee.
The Gazette article notes HE will be across from “the new children’s pizza shop, Noble Roman’s Pizza and Playland, which [mall market director Sidney] Woods described as a “mini Chuck E. Cheese’s”.” First I’ve heard of that place — do they have skeeball? If so, Mrs. Me and I will be making a visit ASAP. It was not until this very moment that I realized how sorely Wheaton has lacked skeeball for lo these many years. If the pizza is decent, that would be a strong bonus, but my hopes are not high on that front.
Elsewhere in Gazetteland, the dining review focusus on MoCo purveyors of cupcakes, a trend whose backlash has already arrived and which I never really understood in the first place, but then, in general I’d much prefer an empanada or samosa to any kind of dessert. All the cupcakeries are in Bethesda except Silver Spring’s Cakelove. O-ver-ra-ted, as the sports fans chant. I fully acknowledge that I’m biased against, so maybe my cupcake-loving friend(s) (you know who you are) will comment…
So say the Taco Time adverts, although I am more amused by this 1983 ad, apparently from Australia. Taco Time is a Pacific Northwest-based competitor to Taco Bell, which I mentioned recently as I bemoaned my inability to get a taco in Buenos Aires. My friend Brent commented that TT is merely “average” and expensive compared to TB, which is “cheap, fast, maybe regrettable.” And he noted that in Seattle at least, higher-quality and not outrageously expensive taco trucks are now the way to go.
It is true that the Time is pricier than the Bell, but you get what you pay for: IMO, TB is cheap, fast, and always regrettable, sometimes instantly. TT’s soft tacos may not be any better, but I don’t order soft tacos. I order the two items that TT does better than anyone else, items that few other places even offer: crisp burritos and Mexi-Fries. You can now get the Mexi-Fries — slightly spiced tater tots — stuffed or swimming in cheese, but the unadorned variety are plenty good enough for me. The crisp burritos are sort of simplified chimichangas and I’m sure they’re terribly unhealthy, but they are incredibly good. Last I checked, they were in the $2.50-$3 range, which isn’t exorbitant. And TB offers neither sort of product, and I bet most (any?) taco trucks don’t either. I would sooner drink from the Chao Praya river than eat at Taco Bell, but I look forward to my next Taco Time visit, hopefully in the summer of 2010.
Having said all that, I have heard great things about taco trucks in Seattle and elsewhere, including here in the DC area; the Maryland suburbs are rife with them. Street food in general is enjoying a renaissance in the United States, from Seattle (I look forward someday to trying pork here, and a pre-Mariners meal from these guys) to LA to NYC to DC. The problem in DC is there are few options (other than hot dogs) near where I work, and I don’t have time during lunch to traverse the entire city looking for the best food carts. For example, I’d love to try Fojol Bros. but they only seem to be active a couple of days a week, and never near enough to me. But the street food situation is getting better all the time, to our collective benefit.