So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown – don’t wait a minute for
Downtown – everything’s waiting for you
Downtown, downtown, downtown, downtown …
From “Downtown” by Petula Clark
The Update for 2013, second verse, same as the first.
Variety is the spice of life, and for downtown Austin trailers, it seems to be a mantra. Many changes since the 2012 Guide, and many things have remained the same. As a caveat and reminder: If you are using this guide for SXSW be warned that trailers move and hours change.
Let’s orient ourselves, shall we. For our purposes let’s assume that Downtown is defined as Lamar on the west and I-35 on the east. North let’s use 25th Street [so we can include the Rio Rancho Eatery] and the river as the southern border. p.s. check out the other Trailer Austin City Guides: North Austin, South Austin, East Austin, Vegetarian Trailers, New Food Trailers and the full 2013 City Guide.
Here is a list of areas and some of my favorites in no particular order For a mobile guide to all of Austin’s Food Carts check out my iPhone App.
Roving trucks mean just that. These guys got wheels and often visit the downtown areas. Check before you go.
2012 Austin Food Bloggers Alliance City Guide
Downtown, the hub of Austin’s daytime business activities also provides entertainment at night for both partiers and gastronomists alike. If you are looking for trailer food, downtown Austin has a bountiful selection for you to choose from, and being Austin, you’ll be able to sample from a wide variety of trailers since they generally hub at single locations.
Let’s orient ourselves, shall we. For our purposes let’s assume that Downtown is defined as Lamar on the west and I-35 on the east. North let’s use the UT Campus (19th) and the river as the southern border. p.s. check out the other Trailer Austin City Guides: East Austin, South Austin, New Trailers and the full 2012 City Guide.
Here is a list of areas and some of my favorites in no particular order (caveat, where the actual location is better gained from Twitter, I will note this, also note during festivals like ACL and SXSW the carts may be moved for particular events). For a mobile guide to all of Austin’s Food Carts check out my iPhone App.
It seems only appropriate to attach a music metaphor to the Austin Trailer Food Community. After all, Austin is known as the Live Music Capital and has seen numerous musical luminaries rise from small town band to major international star. As far as food goes you can bet that some of those that have started out working in trailers have a long and successful run in them as creative and unique chefs in the Austin community and have started to make a name for themselves on a much larger scale. Since becoming one of the leading lights in trailer cuisine Austin has become host to all the cooking channels on cable. Even the ultimate trailer guy, Anthony Bourdain, has come to investigate this unique and formerly underground community.
Someone asked me last week, “where should I start, where do I eat first”. Not an easy question to answer. From Caribbean to Cajun and every other cuisine imaginable you can find virtually any type of food coming out of a trailer in Austin. So to steal another musical metaphor, “let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start”. [Note to self, try using updated metaphors next time instead of Sonny & Cher and Julie Andrews].
Navigation, the first task [Skip to Favorites HERE]
Whether you are driving or walking, as long as you are close to the central city there are probably carts or trailers serving food near you. To make life easy for you, there is a map of a large number of trailers either at AustinFoodCarts.com or AustinFoodCarts.com Google Map whichever is easiest for your phone or computer. In Austin trailers tend to congregate allowing you the opportunity to exercise your taste buds in a number of directions no matter where you visit. The major areas close to downtown will bring you a plethora of options when it comes to trailer food.
A few major caveats first:
So How do I Sample?
Pick a direction and start walking. Depending on your fancy you can walk East 6th Street, Rainey Street, Second and Congress or 7th and Trinity without working up a sweat. Each of these locations has a number of places for you to explore. If you want to walk a bit further, head down Congress south of the river, hitting both Gibson and Congress first, then hitting up 1600 S. Congress which will again get you a bunch of different types of food. Bottom line is pick a direction and explore, no doubt you will find a trailer that suites your fancy.
Here is an outline of the major locations close to downtown:
East 6th Street (East of I-35, easy walking from downtown and the convention center)
Rainey Street (just south of Cesar Chavez and the convention center) – some great choices here and one of my favorite places for atmosphere. If you have never seen what can be done with an eating area at a real trailer check out both Cazamance and G’raj Mahal. In addition El Naranjo is owned by Iliana de la Vega, an instructor in latin food at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio.
Congress Avenue (moving from downtown south)
South Lamar (moving from downtown south). There are a couple places here I take everyone that comes to town. Specifically odd duck Farm to Trailer and Gordough’s. Hit them if you can…but a warning. Both get very busy and can take a while to get your food (it is made to order after all). Odd duck and Gordough’s are grouped together, then La Boite and Texas Cuban, with Lulu B’s further down and alone.
South First (moving from downtown south)
801 Barton Springs (moving from downtown south)
Where Does AustinFoodCarts Eat?
Everywhere, but that doesn’t help. My Fav’s are [in no order and with no disrespect to any other trailer operator] Cazemance (try the Bunny Chow – great location, great outdoor seating, great
food, not afraid to use spice), odd duck (pork belly to me isplayed, but the other dishes here usually rock), Gordough’s (sucker for hot fried batter, especially with chocolate and strawberries),Chi’Lantro (two words Kimchi Fries), Along Came a Slider (sliders that rock…maybe they have the scallop that night), Old School BBQ (okay, it’s Austin, I have to include one BBQ place…I would also suggest Franklin’s BBQ, but the are supposed to be in brick and mortar by SXSW) and finally Not Your Mama’s (beef tongue if they have it). Gotta stop there, though there are many more I can recommend based on individual questions or requests.
So I started out with the question, “where should I start, where should I eat first”…and I didn’t answer the question. Hopefully this handy guide will help you jump start your taste buds and get out and try something old or something new. Whatever you do, Eat Local, Eat Mobile.
http://www.turfnsurfpoboy.com [not yet active]
Mon – Wed: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thurs – Sat: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thurs – Sat: 5:00 pm – 3:00 am
Sun: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
farm-fed seafood such as fried shrimp/catfish, shrimp scampi, free range chicken po’ boys (buffalo w/bleu cheese, blackened, Parmesan, or Philly), burger and South Side of Philly Cheesesteak, and pork specialties like the Italian sausage/red pepper/grilled onion sandwiches
– Jumbo Fried Shrimp served with cocktail or tartar sauce 9.00
– Jumbo Shrimp Scampi 9.00
– Shrimp Salad (with or w/o avocado) 9.00
– Fried Catfish served with tartar sauce 8.00
Foul Play Po’ Boy
– Brookes’ Chicken Meat Balls & Cheese with marinara sauce 8.00
– Chicken Meat Balls served with onions, red bell peppers, and mushrooms 9.00
– Chicken Parmesan served with marinara 8.00
– Buffalo Chicken served with bleu cheese 8.00
– Blackened Chicken 8.00
– Chicken Philly served with red bell pepper, mushroom and onion (with or w/o cheese) 9.00
Patty Po’ Boys
Your Choice of Sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, or mustard
*Add any of the Burger Fixins to your patty
– Fresh Ground Chicken Patty 7.50
– Breaded Chicken Breast Patty 7.50
– Ground Pork Patty 7.00
– No Mac Danald’s Here! Hamburger Patty 7.00
*Own it! Add some Fixins
Goat Cheese .75
Blue Cheese .75
Grilled Onion .50
Sweet Red Bell Pepper .50
Jalapeno Butter .50
Pickled Bread Butter .50
Farm Free Range Fried Egg 1.00
Breakfast All-Day Po’ Boy
*Add a Fixin
– Big Buster Browns’ BLT served with slices of Richardson Farms Sliced Bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo 7.00
*Try a fried egg for 1.00
– Ralph’s Homemade Chorizo 8.00
*Add Goat Cheese .75
– Breakfast Sausage and Egg 8.00
– Hot Link and Egg 7.00
– French Toast 5.00
*Add fruit 2.00
– French Toast (with bacon or sausage) 7.00
*Served with Fries (sweet or seasoned) and Coleslaw
*Add a Fixin
– Jumbo Shrimp 9.00
– Breaded Fried Catfish 8.00
– Chicken pieces 8.00
– Buffalo Chicken 9.00
*Add Prime Rib 4.00, Chicken 3.00, or Shrimp 5.00
– Shrimp Salad stuffed Avocado, served on choice of greens 8.00
Mixed Greens sm. 2.00, lg. 4.50
Spinach sm. 2.00, lg. 4.50
Caesar sm. 2.00, lg. 4.50
– Seasonal French Fries, with a splash of cilantro, lemon, and sea salt
– Fried Sweet Potato Slices, with Cajun seasoning, and orange honey butter
– Red Beans & Rice add Hot Link
– Ralphs Rice (has a sliced hotlink) a cross between dirty rice and fried rice
– Sweet Potato & Pecan Pie 3.50
– Fresh Fruit Cup 3.50
Mini Me Po’ Boys
*Served on a 2 inch Po’ Boy*
Tiny but makes a BIG Impression!
Recommended you add a Hamburger Fixin ”Ya’ hear..”
– Jumbo Fried Shrimp with cocktail or tartar sauce 3.25
– -Jumbo Shrimp Scampi 3.25
– Hamburger Patty 2.50
– Fresh Ground Chicken Patty 2.50
– Ground Pork Patty 2.50
Turf Po’ Boys
*Love cheese… gotta have it….add it 75¢
*Cheese Choices: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Goat, Blue Cheese
*Meat from Richardson Farms*
– Texas “Red Hot” Sausage served with mayo, grilled onion, and red bell pepper “I’m not dressing this unless you want it!” 5.50
– Red Beans and Rice with Hotlink 7.50
– “The Godfather” Italian Sausage with mushroom, grilled onion, and red bell pepper “Am I getting dressed?” 5.50
– Fried Pork Chop dressed and crossed with a bread butter pickle 7.00
– Mercedes’ Prime Rib served with au ju and horseradish sauce 9.00
– *South Side of Philly- Ribeye Steak with grilled onions and marinara sauce, add cheese you cheesy Yankee 9.00
– *Ribeye Philly Cheese Steak with grilled onion, marinara, and mozzarella “Suggestion” For best experience Phyllis from Philly for fifty (50¢ each) recommends you add mushrooms, red bell pepper, and spinach 9.50
– Pulled Pork served with BBQ sauce, jalapeno, and butter pickles *This little piggy went to the market naked, i.e. not dressed 7.00