Chowhound Assignment:Late Night-Streetside.Downtown Austin Texas.
Let's get to the bottom of the matter.
A lot of new food carts are popping up downtown after dark.
How good are they?
Who can give the Best Wurst guy [ who,aside from the stale buns,is good] a run for his money?
The other night when I got my Al Pastor taco from El Rapido [ formerly good ] the guy put cheese and lettuce on it and I had to restrain myself from lunging into the cart and giving him a good thrashing.Blasphemy.The taco was bad bad bad.It wouldn't have been good adorned with what the gods of cookery ordained are the standard garnishes[Cilantro,Onion and Lime]but it was angeringly bad with lettuce and cheese....on AL PASTOR? Come on.
Hoeks streetside is gone.Relocated to the punkrock treehouse 3rd floor of Headhunters so they're off this map of discussion.
Let's lay down some physical boundaries:The Eastern Border is I-35.The Western Border is Guadalupe.The Northern Border is 8th Street.The Southern Border is Cesar Chavez.
If 10pm is "getting kind of late" you are excused from this discussion.However,I've noticed there are a few hounds who regularly post around 2 to 3 o'clock in the morning and this assignment should fit nicely in their world of late night liquor and food based revelry.
After this post garners a good 30 or 40 responses we'll move East of the highway where MPH can weigh in with extreme gravitas on the Eastside Taco Cart Wars of 2007.It's my favorite food zone as well but lately I've found myself on the Westside quite a bit at bartime and I need some guidance on this important matter.
Has anyone tried the BeelzeBuns food cart on 6th st in front of Jackalopes?
It's gimmick is selling hot dogs that are perhaps, thematically at least, Satanic in origin.Surely the overtly devil worshipping lads of Hoeks down the street in the old Torchy's Tacos building are going to have something to say about this...
I haven't been there yet, but seem to always bump into the cart-man over at the Peacock as he fixes himself up before the late-night shift. IIRC, he tells me the dogs are quarter-pound Hebrews. Hold on a sec - yep, there's a menu out there:
Prep is obviously done in the Jackalope kitchen which bodes well for the cart.
After catching my Sox get back into the swing of things at Woodrows (any other Red Sox bars out there?), I headed out and noticed dueling carts on that block of W. 6th. On the one side of the street, repulsive Roppolo's crankin' out loud and terrible radio (and pizza), and directly across the street, a cart with a spiffy new set-up including a flat-screen mounted on the side belting out a live Zeppelin show with a handful of fold-out chairs to soak it in. I think they go by the name of "Meat Heads", but could be wrong. For the spell-checkers out there, they have 'boudain' on the menu, along with burgers, sausages, and a few other things to round it out. I'm told the boudin comes from Beaumont. Details are fuzzy, but it seemed to be a cajun-spiced rice sausage, served on two corn tortillas with some shredded cheddar and maybe slaw. Nothing really sung boudin to me about it, but it worked alright and was pretty darn good for downtown late-night W 6th block. Though perhaps a bit spendy at $4 (it's a small link). Unfortunately, Roppolo's was winning the business battle, but I was happy to kick back in the chair, watch some Zepp, and eat something, anything, other than terrible pizza.
Latenight streetside last night on Red River dodging the tumult of balas pouring out of Spiros I spot a brand new food cart on the corner of Red River and 7th.Smoke is rolling out of the small pit and the whole contraption looks like it was thrown together in a handymans shop in rural Tennessee.
In other words I'm completely entranced.
Tariq's Barbecue is out of Houston and the smell is right at intoxicating.I bull my way up to the counter and place my order for a sandwich of good fatty brisket[4bucks],watch the meatman slice off a few good chunks and mentally prepare myself to eat.
I got sauced.My reflexes have been slowed by multiple Live Oak Pilseners and I can scarcely protest before the man squirts stuff[I can't call it sauce...sauce is what you get at City Market,rapturous,delicious,well thought out sauce.You know the liquid garnish that someone spent years perfecting before they trotted it out for their eating public?]
This is some vile,disgusting black liquid.Ripe with liquid smoke and sleazed up with tons of corn syrup.It's nauseating.
I take one half of the Texas Toast and try to rescue the sandwich by daubing up as much as the stuff as possible.I get the majority of the bile off but the sandwich is DOA.
Eating on the streetcorner is fun as the crowd is a sea of humorous acting drunks.Some guy's joyriding the wrong way on 7th and here comes the law...on mountain bikes.Pulled over in a Cadillac by a guy on a 10 speed!Packs of girls,packs of men,packs of ?Not sure about some of them.
Tariq's is doing some good business,the man announces he's out of brisket shortly after my order.There's a goodly line of folks waiting patiently for his other offerings.I'll be back down around that way and sample more of the man's menu inspite of the fact that his barbecue sauce is a grotesquerie.
The Onion for pizza. While not a cart, it is streetside on 5th just West of Congress. They have really good sized slices that will fill you up. Best is the fact that you can get a slice and a soda for $3.25. Not bad especially considering the restaurant is not located on wheels.
I'll second the vote for Torchy's Green Chile Pork. The White Trash is pretty good as well.
Often with SXSW blazing so hard food becomes 2nd on the list,shouldered out of the way by Film for a few days anyway.So it is with a heavy heart that I find myself walking into Torchys new location on 6th st next to Flamingo Cantina.I have a few moments between movies,not enough time to eat properly but plenty time to grab a taco and a bowl of Queso.
Right up front I gotta say the Green Chile Pork Taco is delicious.It's Carnitas under a different name and they are fine.The taco arrives enormous,garnished with Chopped onions,Cilantro and Cotija Cheese,the tortilla is store bought and decent but the meat is very good.The Queso is thin[my preference] filled with Green Chiles and garnished with a chunk of Avocado...the chips are thin,salty and house fried...nice and greasy.The tariff is $7.50 cents an outrage to be sure but this is the high rent district and the guy could probably charge more and get away with it.
I'm not a big Torchys fan.I get my tacos from the ladies working the carts on the Eastside and truth be told they are better and cheaper but...If you're starving on 6th st this is one of the better options available.
I agree with the Kerbalicious vote... insanely good gyros at a great price. Had a chance to speak with the owner and we exchanged some friendly banter about our love of Greek food and the overwhelming lack of it in the Austin area. I could tell that he was dedicated to what he was doing and had a true love for the cuisine which was surprising considering he looked like a just-graduated college student. Probably my favorite truely late-night food fix downtown.
I think most people who enjoy a real beefy hamburger will like Casino El Caminos... it's tied at first with Hut's as my favorite Austin hamburger. Juicy, All-American patty with a nice almost deli-style bun, cooked to perfection. The wait is ridiculously long but it's well worth it. The jukebox is a winner too.
Jackelope on 6th street also has some pretty decent food offerings. I had a fried catfish poboy and they put a damn-near entire catfish on a bun for me. The batter didn't have much taste but the tartar sauce was delicious, as was the bread it was served on.
I'm really saddened to hear about Hoek's on 6th... despite my slight favoritism because of their musical offerings I still stand by the statement that they were my favorite pizza joint on 6th street. Greasy, cheesy, and a nice crust--everything a post-vodka evening meal should be.
Kebabalicious is on 7th one block west of Red River. Insanely good gyros, with their lovely tzsatzikiszsz/cucumber-yogurt sauce (veggie friendly too). It's our new favorite street stand lately.
I second the hot dog truck next to Red Eyed Fly on Red River. REF sucks, but that hot dog stand is great.
Also worth mentioning, even if it isn't a cart, is Go Bites, on Red River between Emo's (Inside) and Emo's Lounge. OUTSTANDING sliders and fresh cut fries. Also veggie friendly with well tought out grilled cheese and other options. Haven't been there in a couple months but I've been about 10 times since they opened during SXSW and have never been disappointed. I believe the owner was a former chef at Central Market, if I recall correctly.
btw, this thread was a great idea.
I had high hopes for that Go Bites counter, but ended up sacrificing most of my grub to the garbage gods. Can't remember what 3 sliders I had, but they were all literally burnt. I felt like I was eating a hunk of charcoal off the grates of a gas-grill. The worst was the slider with bacon, because the bacon was terribly overcooked too, doubling my burnt pleasure. After taking a bite of each burger, it finally made sense to me why it took at least 10mins to prepare. 10 minutes is a long time when you're rowdy and have places to go at 2am.
I guess my experience could be an outlier.