Posted December 12, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Community

New Food Review:
The Hot Box

By Ira Zuckerman

The Hot Box is one of only a few places that deliver late night food to Evergreen. But the convenience of delivery sandwiches is about the only thing it can deliver on, as there’s much room for improvement in this institution of grease.

Although there are seven sandwiches on the menu—and none are worth their prices—there is a champion: the Quinn. Anyone who reads the menu knows why it’s the winner: pork, chicken, bacon, cheese, french fries, lettuce, tomato, avocado, coleslaw, all inside a bun. Though at $12 it is the most expensive thing on the menu by three bucks, it is the only sandwich truly recommendable.

The Quinn is just the best parts of the other sandwiches thrown together into one. That “fuck it, more food” attitude is what needs to be brought to The Hot Box. Individually, all the ingredients are bland crap. Together, they’re a disgustingly thick pile of bland crap, sloppily arranged just right, to somehow make the customer’s taste buds happy.

Bland crap is a strong statement, but one of truth. If there’s one piece of blatant false advertising from The Hot Box, it’s the description of their sandwiches as “gourmet.” Yes, there are numerous other food trucks that call themselves “gourmet,” and nearly none of those have anything close to fine dining. The Hot Box is even further than most from “gourmet,” unfortunately. It may be the hip thing to call the greasy sandwiches served out of a repurposed trailer “gourmet,” but The Hot Box should know better.

First-timers may say to themselves, “Why did I come here? This isn’t nearly worth the price.” Then, later in the week, they realize that The Hot Box has stuck around in their mind. The next time they have a bad evaluation, get dumped, or have their therapy light stolen, The Hot Box will be there.

It’s more than likely you’ll hit The Hot Box on a bad night. Food and delivery range widely in quality and timeliness. But hitting a good night for the Quinn is a soul-warming experience. An experience worth $12? Absolutely not. However, that’s not the significant point.

The cart itself is parked in the West Central Park Project, at the corner of Harrison and Division on the Westside. It’s a mostly barren lot, filled up with muddy gravel. Remember, this is not an autonomous food truck, this is a kitchen with tires that is towed from place to place by the owner’s 4×4. Though difficult to see in the night, it’s painted with colorful wildflowers, snowy mountains: the whole picturesque Pacific Northwest view. While ordering at the window, you can hear the deep-fryer bubbling like a high school chemistry lab. While waiting, only the sound of the passing cars occupies the customer.

Upon opening the to-go box, you are overwhelmed by the smell of hot fat, despite the numerous ingredients. The aforementioned fries served at The Hot Box fill up what ever space the sandwich doesn’t, but they are sad, sad fries. Limp, but crispy. Greasy, yet a little flavorless. Palpably sickening, yet irresistible.

Yes, The Hot Box is greasy. Delivery food after midnight would imply so. The fries served with sandwiches are greasy, the sandwiches themselves are pretty greasy, and I swear, even the coleslaw feels a little greasy. This is good greasy though. Sometimes, a little grease can smooth out a bad week. After all, the cart’s slogan “comfort food at a comfortable price” would say that their customers need comforting.

This is why The Hot Box should succeed: empathy. It’s experience is wonderfully similar to the Olympia experience: sad, but infectious.    

The cart draws in those needing comfort: the sad, the glum, the lonely. Waiting the ten to 20 minutes for food, one may stare off at the intersection, or the color-shifting LEDs hanging off the cart, or any of the other nearby liminal icons, thinking “where did it all go wrong?” Your life, the world, whatever; it doesn’t matter. You’ll be accompanied by similarly sad-looking men and women, staring at the same sad things, eating the same sad food, feeling those same Olympian blues.

If you have plentiful spending money, The Hot Box is a good cause. But, Evergreen students usually don’t. In that case, save your pennies for better food.