Not too long ago, Osiris Hoil was laid off from a construction job. Hoil was feeling down in the dumps when someone suggested he pursue his real passion: cooking. With his family’s encouragement, the District Taco stand was born late last summer.
The tiny cart is staffed by Hoil’s brother and a friend. Hoil works the crowd outside, taking orders, swiping credit cards on a portable payment machine and making conversation as customers wait for their food.
For now, District Taco is exclusively an Arlington institution. They frequent the office worker havens of Rosslyn and Crystal City for breakfast and lunch on weekdays, with Saturday appearances at the Courthouse farmer’s market.
Starting on June 7, the cart will also provide dinner for moviegoers at Crystal City’s outdoor movie nights.
Hoil has a give-no-quarter approach to choosing locations. In Rosslyn, he positions the stand squarely between the Chipotle and the Baja Fresh. In Crystal City, he’s across from another Chipotle. Far from being worried about losing customers to the big guys, Hoil says the cart does “quite well,” thank you very much.
District Taco’s secret to success?
Fresh ingredients used in family recipes from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, to start. Throw in some web savvy, including an active Twitter following, and you have another Washington-area mobile food success story.
“Whoever tries it, they always come back,” Hoil says. The fact that three soft tacos (or one burrito) and a drink tops out at $7 also helps. “Cheap, fresh and good food — that’s what I believe.”
Hoil is hoping to add another cart soon. He also wants to expand the cart’s reach into D.C., but he says the regulations there are, for now, making the “District” part of “District Taco” merely an abstraction.
Another possible project: an actual brick-and-mortar storefront in Arlington.
More photos, after the jump.