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Dec 31, 2009 10:41 AM

1063 Lıcensed Food Traılers ın Austın and I Ate at Each One

Someone suggested we start thıs post so here ıt ıs.

Lets be methodıcal-vısıt each one and wrıte a detaıled report complete wıth google map lınk to locatıon

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  1. I started that thread! Awesome! To start things off, I'd like to direct you to my review of Man Bites Dog hot dog trailer:

    Google Map link:

    Seeing as how I love trailer food, I hope to be a frequent contributor to this list. I've eaten at Flip Happy Crepes, the Texas Cuban place, the cake balls place near the man bites dog, the chicken and waffles... But now I must return to each one to give a proper evaluation.

    There will be times when the journey will seem not to be worth the effort, my friends. But stay true, fellow eaters. This is a project we undertake not for ourselves, but for our children. And our children's children. Well, not so much for our children's children. They are on their own. Come to think of it, I don't have any children. So, perhaps I've not made a terribly well-reasoned argument for this task. But it would be cool. So get out there and eat some food prepared in a structure that has wheels!

    1. Little bit off the mark, I too love trailer food, what type of cuisine are we missing at our trailers?

      6 Replies
      1. re: whoalilponie

        now there is an interesting question. i have taken a look at and we have quite a bit covered. what i would really like to see is either a dumpling or an egg roll cart.

        1. re: whoalilponie

          Interesting question. I think in the WSJ article they mentioned the Korean taco place in Los Angeles, which sounds amazing to me.

          1. re: whoalilponie

            Drive-thru coffee! (Why is that? As a mom of toddler, I NEED drive thrus, Seattle style!)

            1. re: mizznicole

              I think Brevita - on South Lamar, in the same lot as Gourdough's and Odd Duck - is a drive thru.

              1. re: mizznicole

                Not only Brevia is drive thru, but Sorrento's near Shoal Creek and Anderson is drive thru as well.

                1. re: mizznicole

                  Emerald City Press on Lamar (near 9th street) isn't a trailer, but they have a walk-up window and a drive-thru. I think they get ther coffee from Katz (the roaster, not the deli). They are a little pricey. One plus - they are absoultely the friendliest, nicest staff in town.

              2. Warning: Long-overdue rant

                Leave it to Austinites to f*ck up something as simple and straightforward as trailer food.

                Trailer food, no matter where you are, has always been synonymous with CHEAP, VALUE GOOD food, no more, no less.

                Sorry - but when you start charging $7 for a 'cone' (read: rolled-up taco), $8 for an egg crepe, $4 for a small taco, $4 for hot chocolate, or $2.50 for one oily, inedible cupcake (trust me, I'm not just talking about the taste - have you ever simply tried just *holding* the cupcake in your hand? It's physically impossible) - it's no longer called 'Trailer Food.' It's called a 'Rip Off.'

                Only in Austin, can something as simple and straightforward as trailer food be turned into sheer Novelty and Kitsch. Just witness the disgusting 'Pudding-on-a-Waffle-Wrapped-in-a-Cone-Topped-with-Ice-Cream-Served-on-top-a-Fried-Chicken' trend that's popping up all over South Congress and South Austin.

                Of course, I will be more than happy if someone can enlighten me to an exception or two to this. Until then, I'll gladly keep supporting our local waiters and waitresses.

                15 Replies
                1. re: conquer

                  One internet high-five to you, dearest Sir or Madam.

                  1. re: conquer

                    I mostly agree with you, conquer.

                    There is something that this trailer outbreak is demonstrative of though. The city of Austin has made it so difficult, expensive and cumbersome to open a proper storefront that these trailers are an easier and less expensive way for some of these folks to cook and sell their food. As a result, I think we are seeing the trailer thing go from what should be an inexpensive outlet for street food into something else all together.

                    not a defense so much as a discussion worth having.

                    I'd be interested in knowing who is providing all the commissary services for all these new trailers. As of 6 months ago, there weren't that many options. I wonder if they are all following that rule? not to say its a good rule, i just don't think our health inspectors mess with trailers like they hassle store front restaurants.

                    1. re: ieathereforeiam

                      i guess i am confused. is it written somewhere that trailers are required to be "inexpensive food outlets"? personally i like good food where i can get it, and am willing to pay what it is worth. I have found that some are good and worth the money, and some are not. if i don't like the price or the food, i don't eat there, kind of like any restaurant. I am not claiming that all the street food is worth the money, but I think it's pretty narrow to decide that just because it is out of a trailer it has to fit into someones definition of cheap.

                      1. re: conquer

                        Hey conquer
                        run on over to candys tacos at shady and e.7th and grab some homemade chorızo and beans tacos-then make your way to tacos el rıco at 809 vargas ın montopolıs for a couple wıll spend under 10 bucks-there wont be a ''chowhound'' ın sıte(unless mph comes back from the nether or carter b happens to be around) and you wıll have the best mexıcan food you ever put ın your mouth.

                        the south austın food carts are pıtıful-expensıve and desıgned not to feed the workers but to separate you from as much cash as ıs possıble for the least possıble effort

                        the lads over at tacojournalısm are doıng good work documentıng the good carts-check out theır sıte and get on out there and start houndıng ıt down

                        1. re: conquer

                          i disagree that food from a trailer has to be cheap, and i can assure you that the trend of having varied food from trailers, from cheap to upscale, from typical to inventive, from terrible to incredible is not unique to Austin.

                          the food trailer scene has been busting in NYmetro for years now.

                          yes, a traditional trailer/food cart serving medicore burgers or tacos or whatever is the common denominator for the region should probably be pretty cheap. most people don't go to those types of trailers with high expectations. some are terrible, some are OK, and a few hit a few distinct notes of great flavor. these are typically locale-oriented trailers, serving the neighborhood or the office, or whatever.

                          then there's the "new" trailer scene. some of it is hip, kitchey and/or terrible. these are entrepueners who may not have much to starting capital and/or investors. some will make a name for themselves (good or bad). others will tire of it and go out of business.

                          but it's a way to break out on your own, try your vision on a small scale with a more doable investment.

                          i will say that i agree that The Mighty Cone is a terrible ripoff. a poor attempt at making haute cuisine / streetfood hybrid at a high price. it carries it's Hudson's association like an endorsement brand. which makes me uncertain whether or not i should ever try Hudson's.

                          a lot of the trailers have been overly ambitious and disappointing.
                          but i can say the same for 90+% of the brick and mortar restaurants i've tried in Austin.

                          i'm excited to try some of the new ones and i hope not to be disappointed. if i am, i'm unlikely to repeat. if i enjoy it, i'll be back. same philosophy with the restaurants.

                          and, of course, there are the taco trailers, which do tend to be cheap. a lot of them suck. but there are gems out there of two types "good if in the neighborhood" and "worth a trip".

                          if cheap is an important criteria, then one should not even bother to try the hip or haute cuisine trailers. if trying new things is important, then you should try whatever sounds good to you.

                          if you are impressed, post about it -- talk about what was was good or bad.
                          if you thought it was mediocre -- talk about that too.
                          if it just wasn't your thing, well, then maybe those words won't help someone else.


                          1. re: charlie_b

                            $4.25 for a DONUT?

                            Holy f--k. I don't care if it *IS* the singlemost, divine, revelatory, ambrosial morsel of a bite of food one's ever had.

                            I'm a firm believer that value is as important a criterion when judging good eats. It is a part of the whole experience of food.

                            Seriously though, does this even look remotely appetizing to you? It looks like something either my 3-year-old niece would make, or that I would when I'm high as a kite on pot.

                            1. re: conquer

                              Just gonna throw my two cents in here and say that the Sailor Jerry (specifically) at the Gordough's Doughnut trailer (which is clearly the establishment referenced above) is, in my opinion, totally freaking delicious. I love homemade doughnuts, but it's a huge pain to mess with a giant frying pan of oil, and making the batter, when you just want one doughnut. The Sailor Jerry is about as big as my face, is made to order, and is soaked in delicious booze and butter, topped with nice crunchy walnuts, all for $3.25. AND it's big enough to share. I am a native Austinite, born and raised, and yes, I occasionally get disgusted with the some of the trendy, overpriced spots that spring up around town (I'm looking at you Hey, Cupcake & Cake Balls), but if a trailer has good food, I will pay. Anyway, I am happy that now, when I get out of a movie at Alamo South Lamar, I can hop across the street and indulge in a freshly fried snack with a friend.

                              1. re: femmenikita

                                Yeah, I've only ever had the Flying Pig, but it's totally big enough to share (actually, it's big enough for our family of four) and it's outrageously good.

                                1. re: addlepated

                                  Yep, Gourdough's is a winner. I was expecting an overpriced Voodoo knock-off when I first heard it was opening, but it's so much better than that.

                          2. re: conquer

                            A hip cluster of trailers are slapping patrons with sticker shock. They're either justified by the market, or they'll go out of business, or they'll reduce their prices. If the owner-operators have found rubes who enjoy chalky oil bombs from a blinky trailer, more power to them. They're filling some sort of niche, else the market forces would overturn their "applecart". Some comeuppances have already occurred, I wouldn't sweat it. Just continue to vote with your dollar.

                            Austin has many delicious carts, trailers, and sheds. Explore! Seek adventure on the high seas of chow. White whale! Holy grail!

                            I think I'll kill a brace of tacos from the wacky joint by the Citgo (Teri Rd) on the way to work tomorrow. At this place, five dollars will get you three heaping fajita tacos, fixins, and change. Let me know what you think when you make it down there!

                            1. re: tom in austin

                              If Tony really covers the upscale food cart movement on his show, I may owe Conquer an apology for my contradictory language.

                            2. re: conquer

                              youre overlooking the aspect that these trailers have become a middle ground for folks cooking out of their kitchens who would like to take it to the next level and those who are connected (or funded) enough to start a restaurant. Ive meddled with the challenge of starting a food biz here in austin (preservation bacocn) and let me report it is no small task to open an eating establishment. these folks making cupcakes out of trailers are not trying to put the taco carts out of business. completely different audience. this argument to me is like those who complain about Playboy at the 711. If you dont like em then dont buy em.

                              1. re: conquer

                                I couldn't disagree more. I think it is fun, is a great outlet for smaller businesses that can't afford a storefront and allows for creativity and risk taking. I think they are great.

                                1. re: conquer

                                  With all due respect , Bobby Flay couldn't produce a crepe better then an Austin trailer I would have to say that is some good food...

                                2. so i went by franklin bbq, a relatively new cart that has sprung up off of concordia and i-35, shortly before 38 and a half. ill be honest, i was surprised that it was a young white guy... usually i find its older black men who run barbecue joints/trailers around these parts. i got the brisket plate. truthfully, i was not exactly impressed by the standard sides of potato salad and cole slaw which came with it, but the brisket... man, that stuff was good! hes got three sauces and i only tried the sweet one, although theres an espresso sauce as well that i shoulda tried, but i was too hungry to notice! the brisket was obviously just-cooked, hes got the smoker in another trailer out back. a bunch of old white guys who seemed to work around there came by for lunch so he hopefully should make a few bucks. the guy workin there was chill and knew his stuff plus gave me a free piece of lean brisket which was just as juicy as the fat cuts, so all yall tryin to get up on your local bbq game should visit the man and pass your own judgment!

                                  also, while it is not a trailer, i finally visited mi ranchito. let me say god bless those mexicans, good call scrumptious!

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: glorpisgod

                                    The pit at Franklin BBQ is the old pit from John Mueller's BBQ. Aaron has been refining his BBQ for years. I think it's the best BBQ in Austin. He's getting so much word of mouth that he said he may have to hire someone to help him out. I went there yesterday and it was a 20 minute wait at lunchtime.

                                    1. re: The Tres Leches

                                      Finally tried this place on Saturday. Hands down the best brisket I've had in Austin...I'd put it up there with any of the Lockhart 3. Opted for the moist brisket and it was melt in your mouth tender with a nice bark on it. The ribs were also very good but almost too much black pepper for me. The sausage was ok, nothing special IMO. I tried the sweet sauce and the espresso sauce and preferred the espresso, the sweet one was too sweet for me. Ordered by the pound and it came with the standard pickles, onions, and white bread.

                                      The prices were a little high, brisket was $13/lb. He said he had recently increased the prices...and as long as he's doing a good business I imagine they will continue to go up. There were only 4 or 5 people ahead of us in line but with only one person cutting meat that equated to a 20 minute wait. With a little hired help the line would be much quicker.

                                      1. re: Madcap

                                        I just went for lunch today and am absolutely going to be a repeat customer. Very short wait and the two men inside were hi-lariously friendly. They let me get a taste-portion of everything I wanted and gave all of us a piece of burnt-end.

                                        I got one pork rib, three slices of brisket and a pinch of pulled pork (husband is the judge of sausage, so I passed on that). I got all three sauces and although I ordered slaw, I got potato salad. That was partially my fault because I switched choices. I took it all to go to really challenge the brisket. Whole cost was $7.

                                        Brisket was up there with the better ones in Central Texas. Not quite as peppery as Coopers and very close in flavor and texture to Muellers in Taylor. I'd say I even liked it better as it had a wonderful black crunchy crust and held up to travel much better. Pork rib was moist and fall off the bone tender, but I wish it had more seasoning. It was still quite good, especially with the espresso sauce (I'll get to that in a sec). Pulled pork was also quite moist, even with the travel time and went best with the vinegar-based sauce and would have made an excellent pulled-pork sandwich, if they're slaw is good.

                                        Sauces were the espresso, a sweet sauce and a vinegar sauce. Espresso was deep and satisfying and hit all portions of the palette. Yum. Sweet sauce was a mild, non-peppery version of Rudy's meets County Line. Vinegar sauce was somewhere between regular bbq sauce and Mueller's. Not quite as wet or zingy.

                                        Potato salad was very mustardy and half creamy, half chunky; similar to Coopers, but without the obvious chunks of veggies. I like Coopers better.

                                        Final opinion: While it's not quite as good overall to the Kings outside of town, I think it blows away anything within the city limits by a long shot, and since it's not 45 minutes away, will probably get much more repeat business and has taken away from trips to the others.

                                        1. re: amysuehere

                                          I'm pretty much with everyone else here -- delicious brisket and sauces, good sausage, plus pulled pork & coleslaw sandwiches. Love this place so far. The ribs were sold out when I went, so I didn't get to try them, but I'll be heading back soon.

                                          1. re: hlk

                                            I went this afternoon around 1:30 and he was sold out! He was able to put together a pulled pork sandwich for me (sans slaw because he was out) and it was really tasty: moist, nicely seasoned, and complemented nicely with the pork sauce (in a bottle on one of the picnic tables). Really delicious, and next time I'm getting there when they open at 11.

                                            1. re: bookgrrl72

                                              Ditto on all the comments. We went today at noon. Not terribly crowded (3 minute wait) had all brisket, pork, and ribs. They are not smoking their meats at noon so they definitely will run out early on busy days.

                                              Ribs were pretty good, pulled pork was better (the best in Central Texa--though that says nothing), and brisket was best. Great smokey intensity and even our lean brisket was still not too dry. Very much in the Lockhart/Taylor approach of meats. I'd give them an A and if they are always this consistent with their quality the only reason to go to Taylor/Lockhart is for atmosphere or the hopes you get lucky and get an A+ experience (one in three times I get A+ at Smitty's or Louie's).

                                              My only question is this the Street Fighting Man's (aka John Mueller's) rumored joint/cart or is his still to come? Things are looking great for barbecue in Austin this year.

                                              1. re: Carter B.

                                                I can't add much that hasn't been said, but I've been three times now to Franklin's and found it to be some of the best brisket in central Texas. The new issue of Texas Monthly gives a glowing blurb in the restaurants section. So I recommend paying a visit before the place gets mobbed.

                                                1. re: Carter B.

                                                  I had Franklin's today. Had both fatty and lean brisket - you are right...the lean brisket was very moist. I preferred that to the fatty because of that. We did get there at 11 today (Sat), so the briskets were newly cut and just off the smoker. I think that he may brine the briskets or something, but I might be dead wrong. There's actually a fourth hot sauce in addition to those already reported. I really like the espresso sauce, although I didn't expect that I would like it at all.

                                    2. I used my Groupon for Sushi-a-Go-Go today and I've gotta say: I'm hooked. I got the Crunchy Dynamite roll and the Trio roll and inhaled nearly all of it before I even gave a second thought to wasabi, soy sauce, or ginger. Holy wow -- the Dynamite roll is tempura crunchies, spicy tuna mix, and avocado, sprinkled with red sesame seeds. It's not too spicy and has a mellow smokiness to it that just sings. The Trio is tuna, yellowtail, and salmon and the fish is so fresh and buttery it melts in your mouth. The rice was just right and before my $10 coupon, the two rolls were $12. Highly recommended.

                                      They're in Rosedale now, though.