La Tasca may not be the most original name for a Spanish tapas locale, but the Texas-inspired, absolutely decadent, and beautifully presented food at this Central Austin station is a refreshing surprise. No longer do you have to travel to a certain odd spot on South Lamar to find gourmet small plates from a trailer. Plus, La Tasca and the other trucks at the Feed the Soul trailer park have the hottest commodity you can trade on these hot summer days: shade, shade, shade. And tons of picnic tables. It was quite a romantic setting as I sat down to the watermelon salad, a fresh assortment of baby greens in a light vinaigrette, topped with several thick slices of watermelon and great hunks of rich feta. And I was passionate about the salty Marcona almonds and tiny green olives served on the side. But the real love at Alex Gates’s trailer is the bread, which she has flown in parbaked from Tribeca Ovens, in the Northeast, and then bakes fresh herself daily. (For locavores, Gates mentioned several times that she’d like to source bread locally but hasn’t yet found the right fit.) She serves the baguettes and French bread with everything, and it’s a carb lover’s dream: yeasty and soft, with a crust thick enough to make you think you’re picnicking in the Tuileries. Dipped in the peppery sauce that accompanied the bite-sized Richardson Farms meatballs (served with roasted orange and red peppers), the bread was sublime. And it definitely elevated the “surf and turf”—an open-faced sandwich with tender grilled skirt steak, a pile of thinly sliced grilled onions, two fat shrimp, and a pour of a very orange smoked-paprika-and-crushed-red-chile aioli. The only slight disappointment was the haricots verts. Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing at La Tasca could actually disappoint. But in the face of so much fine food, I had higher expectations for the dish, with chilled haricots verts, a too-heavy truffled mayonnaise, smoked salmon, and a dense, bland duck egg salad. Fortunately, just one bite of the flavorful Spaniard sandwich restored everything to order. A simple trio of serrano ham, manchego cheese, and quince served on toasty French bread, it was addictive. In particular, I liked the dark purple, sweet quince paste (called membrillo in Spanish), with its overtones of pear and apple. La Tasca’s menu rotates, but most days you’ll find sandwiches, meatballs, other traditional dishes, and the most important staple: French bread. La Tasca and the rest of the Feed the Soul lot might be moving locations soon, based on the city’s zoning laws. But the park is definitely open through June 26th, and hopefully much longer. Hurry over to lounge under those big, leafy trees and enjoy some Texas shade with your Spanish tapas. For now: Feed the Soul trailer park, 1508 Rio Grande (512-426-5841). Open Mon–Thur 11–2, Fri 11–2 & 6–10, Sat 6–10. Closed Sun. Posted by Megan Giller. To read more from Megan Giller, visit her website at www.megangiller.com. Photograph by Christian Bowers.
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