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It will feel like the 4th of July every day when pop-up restaurant incubator Prequel reopens Tuesday at its new 19th Street NW location. Swizzler, the local food truck known best for its corkscrew-shaped hot dogs and decadent toppings, will be the first occupant to test Prequel’s new spot.
Try the fare Mondays through Fridays from 4-9:30 p.m. The menu from partners Jesse Konig, Ben Johnson, and Jack Zimmermann shouts Americana with a slate of five hot dogs, fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, loaded fries, and a Caesar salad.
The trio’s motto is “old dog new tricks,” in part because of the way they handle sourcing. “We take something that’s understood, where people know what they’re getting, and change up the quality,” Konig says. “We use humanely raised chicken and grass fed, grass finished beef.”
You can taste the quality of the beef in the burger, which comes with two patties for a single or three patties for a double topped with cheddar, dill pickles, and Swizzler’s signature “gigi sauzz,” a tricked out Dijonnaise. The burger is pink and juicy. “We’re not going to be asking anyone how they want their burger done, we’re just going to be making it the right way,” Konig says.
Swizzler also slathers gigi sauce on the fried chicken sandwich, adding to the fiery candied jalapeños. A second fried chicken sandwich isn’t on the menu. Just ask for the version that features a crunchy chicken breast swimming in a bath of Buffalo sauce. All of Swizzler’s offerings come on buttery brioche buns from Lyon Bakery finished on the flat top. See the full menu below.
The Swizzler food truck has been on the road in D.C. since Oct. 2014, but its origins date back to when the three friends teamed up for a college project junior year at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. “We used an entrepreneurship class to launch a food venture on campus,” Konig explains.
Students sought out Swizzler at backyard barbecues, tailgates, and outside of bars. Senior year, the friends started workshopping their brand and ultimately moved to the District to launch a food truck because of the egalitarian food truck lottery system and strong contingent of Wake Forest alumni.
Fans should know that one of Swizzler’s two trucks will remain on the road Tuesdays through Fridays for the duration of the pop-up. The second truck will be back in action once Swizzler secures more staff.
There’s no hard end date to Swizzler’s residency at Prequel, which took over Cities at 919 19th St. NW. (Prequel, operated by financing company inKind, used to be located on F Street NW.) The 8,500-square-foot space features multiple dining spaces and a full bar. Prequel will rotate pop-up restaurants concepts in an out, sometimes two at a time.
Popping up at Prequel is the next logical step for Konig, Johnson, and Zimmermann. They hope to gather data and feedback from customers, should the opportunity arise to open a brick and mortar restaurant in the future. For now, they have their sights set on opening in new Arlington development Ballston Quarter. Another goal? Open a stand in Nationals Park before the first crack of the bat in 2018.
But is Swizzler the next Shake Shack? “We’ve looked to them for a ton of inspiration, especially on the hospitality side. Danny Meyer has been hugely inspiring,” Konig says.
Prequel, 919 19th St. NW; (202) 510-9917; prequelrestaurant.com