Trailer Thursday

Trailer Thursday: Food Truck Park in Fort Worth Coming

Nov 17, 2011 By Jason Cohen

How a food truck scene evolves. First, trucks move around from place to place, in many cases because that’s what city law requires. Then they find a parking lot or vacant lot in which to stay parked all the time. If the landlord has more room to add…

Trailer Thursday: Hoover Alexander’s Soular Food Garden

Nov 10, 2011 By Layne Lynch

For the grand opening of his new “veggie-centric” food trailer, Soular Food Garden, Hoover Alexander invited attendees to take a celebratory stroll with him around his childhood stomping grounds. The small group began their walk at the trailer’s East 12th street plot, continued to his church’s community garden, and finished at the high school where his parents first met. Along the way, Alexander detailed his memories of living and cooking just east of IH-35. “Soular Food Garden came out of a desire to literally and metaphorically get back to my roots," Alexander said. "All of these things stirred around in my head in what I call ‘the divine stirring of the pudding.’ Thirteen years ago I opened Hoover’s Cooking, and I’d describe it as almost a spiritual experience. We looked at a lot of different places to open up, but it was meant to be here in the East Side. The same goes for Soular Food Garden. I’ve closed my eyes and taken a leap of faith.” The two establishments couldn’t sit further away from one another on the lifestyle spectrum. Frequenters at Hoover’s know the menu isn't “veggie-centric," unless crunchy fried okra, creamy macaroni and cheese, and sweet candied yams count. The healthier, greener menu choices of Soular Food Garden are Alexander's personal choice, a result of his efforts to take better care of his own health. By incorporating more vegetables into his eating habits, the chef has already lost 30 pounds. “I’ve got some work to do in terms of health and wellness, and the idea of taking baby steps resonated with me. I’m not an either/or kind of guy. I like my meat and ain’t no denying that,” he said. “This just gives me an opportunity to take a new direction. I can learn to plant some things, learn to grow some things, and just embrace what veggies have to offer.” It’s not that Alexander hasn’t always appreciated his Southern sides, but the affection for mashed potatoes and cowboy beans has been replaced with cleaner vegetables such as collard greens and beets. “I’m a product of the Texas culture,” he said. “But I’m going through a period of personal and business deconstruction.”

Trailer Thursday: Japanese Love at Love Balls

Nov 3, 2011 By Stephanie Kuo

I first saw Japanese takoyaki - a delectably ambrosial octopus dumpling that has graced the shops and street corners of Japan for centuries - on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Immediately I hopped to my computer and conducted a frantic search for takoyaki restaurants in Texas. There had to be some Japanese transplant living the American Dream somewhere in Texas peddling authentic foods of the homeland to American foodies. There just had to be. Needless to say, I got nothing, not even a nibble. I should’ve known better. The extent of authentic Japanese cookery here is as far-reaching as a Philadelphia roll at happy hour on a store-bought tatami downtown. Then one fateful afternoon, a friend called me up and suggested we visit a new food truck: Love Balls. Putting other possible connotations aside, this truck really holds true to the name. “We make balls, and we put love into them,” says owner Gabe Rothschild, 27. They certainly do, with all entrees made right to order. The process is a meticulous and slow one, but it’s worth the approximate 10-20 minute wait. Each order of takoyaki comes with eight chewy chunks of octopus encased in a searing-hot ball of dough, seasoned to savory perfection and topped with a helpful heap of special Japanese mayo, powdered seaweed and bonito flakes. “We were eating at a lot of food trailers and something was missing: Japanese street food,” says Rothschild. “And we thought takoyaki was accessible, quirky and fit into the Austin food scene. Nobody was doing it town; nobody was even doing it in Texas. And we figured a lot of people would be interested, curious about it. And it was a form we could play with.”

Trailer Thursday: Gypsy Picnic Preview

Oct 20, 2011 By Stephanie Kuo

Flickr/Sean Loyless Last year, a massive horde of foodies and families descended on Auditorium Shores for the first-annual Gypsy Picnic. This time around, festival organizers are making tweaks that they hope will ensure last year’s long lines and long waits remain a thing of the past. “We learned a ton from last year's festival and have adjusted our plans accordingly,” says Lindsay Hoffman, festival marketing manager. “We've expanded our footprint in Auditorium Shores giving people more room to spread out and enjoy the park. We've also been working closely with the trailers to prepare for the kind of numbers we saw last year.” And this means, as their website says, that visitors should expect “improved service to get food faster,” as well as a “larger line-up of Austin’s food trailers.” Oh yes, that's right; there’s going to be much more food, probably enough to stuff yourself to your heart’s, or, rather, gut’s desire. More than 40 vendors are on the bill, and the Picnic is welcoming back Gypsy veterans Torchy’s Tacos and Gourdough’s. Among the many trailers making their festival debut are Hey Cupcake! and Kebabalicious.

Trailer Thursday: Fryin’ It Old School at Austin’s Izzoz Tacos

Oct 6, 2011 By Jason Cohen

When you think "BBQ in Lockhart," you think Kreuz & Smitty's - but a lot of people swear by Black's. And when you think "taco trailer on South 1st St.," you think Torchy's - but there's also Izzoz Tacos, which opened in December of 2008 in the same parking lot that the first Torchy's used to be in. Izzoz has since moved its 42-foot trailer (bigger than some restaurant kitchens!) farther south, down to the corner of W. Monroe. But it's all still one big taco neighborhood. "A lot of people said 'you’re f’in crazy - why would you open up a taco trailer right across from Torchy's?,'" says Izzoz manager Adam Winters. "But we felt like we could compete. Other than the fried "avo," [avocado],  I don’t know if there’s too many similarities between our tacos and theirs." Now run by Winters and his wife, Jessica Galindo-Winters, Izzoz was originally started by Jessica's brother John Galindo, a professional chef whose resume includes stints at Wimberley's Cedar Grove Steakhouse, North at the Domain and Red House Pizzeria (he's now working for Texas A&M, having recently relocated to College Station with his girlfriend). The Galindo family's history with food in Austin goes back 50 years. They ran a restaurant called Casa Loma at E. 7th St. and Lydia; more recently they had a place of the same name in Wimberley.

Trailer Thursday: Gnocchi and Ravioli at Regal Ravioli in Austin

Sep 29, 2011 By Layne Lynch

Through recent years of watching celebrity chefs like Mario Batali and Giada De Laurentiis magically unveil classic Italian dishes on television screens, many have been convinced the dish is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (eggs, flour, water). But the chefs and cooks who have mastered it know better; the truth is, pasta is utterly deceiving. Nevertheless, a new food trailer has deemed itself up to the culinary challenge. Regal Ravioli, a vibrant yellow trailer, has parked its wheels in East Austin and invited all ravioli lovers to come out and chew. Speaking to those who are awaiting cooler temperatures to brave outdoor dining, the blackboard outside wants a word with you: “No, it’s not too hot for pasta.” Behind the trailer’s small, sliding window stands Zach Adams. Adams spent over a decade with The Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Washington, D.C., opening an eclectic mix of restaurants, and also has a film degree from American University. Two years ago, he migrated to Austin, hoping to undertake a new direction. He spent those two years working as a bartender at Corazon at Castle Hill, studying the techniques and styles of local food trailers in his spare time. Within a year, he found an open niche and began developing the menu and concept of his trailer. Despite being born and raised in New Jersey by a Sicilian mother, Adams quickly nixed the assumption that he cooks Italian food because of his heritage. “The idea to open the trailer came after I realized I wasn’t getting the food options I was used to after I moved here. It got me really excited to know that there might be an opening in this saturated trailer market,” he said. “I don’t want my food to be categorized as strictly Italian, though. Just because it’s pasta doesn’t mean that it is only Italian food. I’m going to think outside the box of heavy red sauce and loads of cheese.” The primary option on the menu, ravioli, is where Adams’ innovation breaks free. “I have hundreds of ravioli ideas in my head,” he said. “I can’t wait to start trying all of them out.” Utilizing Texas ingredients has only aided in his creations. “Smoked food is wonderful, and I want to figure out how to start incorporating more of that in my dishes, and the use of chili peppers has opened up a window I knew was there, but didn’t think all that much about,” he said. “I’ve been able to get in touch with all that this region has to offer.”

Trailer Thursday: Spicy Fried Chicken at Ms P’s Electric Cock in Austin

Sep 15, 2011 By Claire Canavan

A bright red sign outlined in neon lights screams CHICKEN as you approach Ms P’s Electric Cock, a large silver trailer on a quieter part of South Congress Avenue. As you may have guessed from the attention-getting name, Ms P’s is not a place for subtlety. It is, however, a place for really good fried chicken. Or should I say fried CHICKEN! Owner Perry Ray (a.k.a. Ms P) was inspired to open the trailer because she didn’t feel there was a place in Austin focused on putting out great fried chicken and southern comfort side dishes. Growing up in Tahoka, TX, Ray learned how to make fried chicken from her great grandmother, who she called “Big Mama.” (Awesome-sounding nicknames appear to run in the family). Ray says her great grandmother “was a self-taught cook and a baker and was really good at both. Since I could stand on a stool to reach the cabinets she was teaching me how to cook.” Big Mama made her fried chicken in a cast-iron skillet, but to make larger quantities to order, Ray had to learn how to make it taste just as good in a fryer. She developed a two-step brining process and amped up the spice level of the original recipe. I stopped by Ms P’s on a Friday night to sample the goods. Funky music blasted from the trailer’s window. Official t-shirts featured a proud rooster sporting a hip pompadour and radiating electric sparks. Slogan on the back of the t-shirt: Good Cluck’n Chicken. The chicken earned its star billing. Juicy meat was encased in a crispy coating that tasted just-the-right-amount of spicy. A three-piece platter was served with soft rolls and topped with big fresh jalapenos that just about dared you to bite into them. The fries, called Farm Frites, had an extra jolt of flavor from an unexpected sprinkling of thyme.

Trailer Thursday: Dogello’s Chili Dogs and Cuban Iced Coffee

Sep 1, 2011 By Jason Cohen

It wasn't chili dogs that brought me to Dogello's on yet another 105-degree day in Austin. It was coffee ice cubes. Joe Holland's trailer in the parking lot of Freewheeling Bicycles was formerly The Good Bike coffee stand, so when he opened up in January, he kept serving their signature Cuban coffee for existing customers. Hot or iced, he now makes it with Third Coast Italian espresso and cane sugar, French pressed all together and then mixed with 2% milk. I don't take sugar in my coffee ever, so I found it a bit sweet, in a dessertish Frappucino/Thai iced coffee sort of way. Fortunately, regular unsweetened coffee's also on the menu. The coffee ice cubes not only keep the drink at full flavor and strength, but melt more slowly. "Over time it turns into almost like a slushy for adults," says Holland. A Los Angeles native, the 47 year-old Holland has lived in Austin since 1999, working for various software and e-commerce start-ups. When his last job ended in November, he finally said, "I’m going to do this thing which surprisingly has been my dream." That dream: to make the perfect chili for the perfect chili dog, inspired by his favorite LA franchise Cupid's, which has been around since 1946

Trailer Thursday: Grilled kebabs and veggies at Trey’s Cuisine

Jul 28, 2011 By Megan Giller

Let’s face it. Vegetables aren’t usually a part of the trailer experience. So I was pleasantly surprised to find grilled veggies on the menu at Trey’s Cuisine, the newest trailer next to Odd Duck and Gourdough’s, on South Lamar. Despite the truck’s unfortunate and puzzling Celtic logo,…

Trailer Thursday: Yummy Bowl’s yummy beef bánh mì

Jul 21, 2011 By Megan Giller

It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re eating at a place with a silly-fun name like “Yummy Bowl.” Of course, I’ve always been a big supporter of such onomatopoeic interjections and have been known to order sushi rolls solely because they came with “yum-yum” on top.

Trailer Thursday, Special Edition: On the Trail of Reliably Open Trailers

Jun 23, 2011 By Megan Giller

Image courtesy Flickr user TheGiantVermin Photo by Daniel Ortiz If you’ve been to half as many trailers as I have, you know one sad little fact: Many of them are never open. Oh, all right—maybe “never” is an exaggeration. But many times, finding a truck that sticks faithfully to its hours is almost as tricky as gracefully eating those bulgogi chili-cheese fries once you find said trailer. So before I continue with my “epic trailer quest” and review another delightful food truck, I thought I’d pause to acknowledge the places that I would like to try, if they’d ever raise their darn gratings and start dishing out food when they say they will. Before I call anyone out, let me first say that it’s hard to be a trailer. Especially in the summer. In Texas. When it’s 104 degrees out. In many cases, these are ordinary, plucky folks running homegrown businesses and serving gourmet shoestring fries on a shoestring budget, and I admire the work that they do. I admire it so much that I would like to put the fruits of all of that labor into my mouth and enjoy it for lunch or dinner. For example, Diner on Wheels, I would love to try your spinach-ricotta enchiladas, with green chiles on a blue-corn tortilla. Your Grill Fiesta, with green

Trailer Thursday: Lee’s Hurricane Party

Mar 24, 2011 By Megan Giller

Fat Tuesday may have already flashed across Sixth Street this year, but you don’t need a holiday excuse to eat at Lee’s Hurricane Party, at the Longhorn Food Court, in West Campus. This Cajun trailer serves up some of the best gumbo and grub in town, year-round.

Trailer Thursday: SXSW Edition

Mar 17, 2011 By Megan Giller

  On Tuesday, the line for the Foo Fighters stretched from Stubb's all the way to I-35.   SXSW is not just about the music. Let’s be realistic: It’s about waiting in line. But anyone can wait in line, anywhere. The doctor’s office, H-E-B, Six Flags. Oh, but how…

Trailer Thursday: Man Bites Dog

Mar 10, 2011 By Megan Giller

Who cares how the sausage gets made? We’re back in Austin this week, and Man Bites Dog’s beef franks, brats, and sausages are so scrumptious that you’ll soon find yourself shoveling them in as if you’re part of a one-man hot dog eating contest. The front-runner was…

Trailer Thursday, San Antonio: Saweet Cupcakes

Mar 3, 2011 By Megan Giller

Last week we took a little road trip to a place called Bizarro Austin, otherwise known as Portland. While we’re out on the highway, let’s meander down to San Antonio and see what they’ve got going on in the world of trailers. Word on the street is that the…

Trailer Thursday: PBJ’s

Feb 24, 2011 By Megan Giller

  Photo by Sean Dunn   You’re walking through the east side. In front of you dashes a flannel-clad hipster, carrying recycling on the back of his bike. Suddenly he pulls over, to a food trailer park brimming with trucks featuring quirky names and colorful, kitschy exteriors. You’re in…

Trailer Thursday: Coreanos

Feb 17, 2011 By Megan Giller

One, two, three, four. I declare a food truck war! Spotted: The Coreanos guy grinning sly while saying, “We tried what Chi’Lantro had to offer, and we thought we could do better.” Them’s L.A. fightin’ words! He wasn’t just blowing smoke from the grill, either.

Trailer Thursday: Bits & Druthers

Feb 10, 2011 By Megan Giller

  Photo by Emily Lim, from MacNCheeseMedia.com The United Kingdom isn’t exactly known for its culinary choices. Toad-in-the-hole, bangers and mash, spotted dick: Foods you might eat for dinner, alternative names for a heart attack, or the titles of the porno flicks your creepy neighbor watched last night? Continuing…

Trailer Thursday: Little Thai Food

Feb 3, 2011 By Megan Giller

  Photo by Sean Dunn <p>It’s rare for a Democrat to walk to the back mike of the House and persuade his colleagues to change their minds. And for a freshman to do it? Unheard of. César Blanco had a chance to learn that…

Trailer Thursday: Conscious Cravings

Jan 27, 2011 By Megan Giller

Vegetarian Eating, Course Syllabus Discipline: Trailer Food Upper Division Spring 2011   Course Description It’s hard to believe, but a new semester has started, and students are sweeping in from across the state like surreptitious swallows (or, if you’re…

Trailer Thursday: Holy Cacao

Jan 20, 2011 By Megan Giller

I already know what some of you are thinking. “Cake balls,” you scoff. “That’s so 2009.” Well, it’s 2011, and Holy Cacao’s cake balls are here to stay, for a good reason. These beauties are moist, fluffy, and served in perfect little portions. If you’re a peanut…

Trailer Thursday: Spartan Pizza

Jan 13, 2011 By Megan Giller

  photo from spartanpizzaaustin.com   When the temperature drops a few degrees and it’s “winter” in Austin, I start craving pizza. There’s something about robust red sauce, crisp crust, and stringy mozzarella that recalls the warmth of summer and instant comfort. I started out my evening with…

Trailer Thursday: Tenderland

Jan 6, 2011 By Megan Giller

I never thought anything good could come from Taco Bell. The Mexican pizza, the Enchirito, the cheesy gorditas: No thanks. But I underestimated the power of their slogan, Think Outside the Bun. The new Tenderland trailer, on Manor Road, has appropriated that idea in the most literal…

Trailer Thursday: Kebabalicious

Dec 30, 2010 By Megan Giller

Oh, Kebabalicious, how I love you. Let me count the ways. Your falafel is crisp on the outside and fall-apart tender on the inside. You slather your wraps with cool tzatziki sauce and a fiery red concoction. You bring new meaning to the word “pun.” And you’ve…

Trailer Thursday: Pig Vicious

Dec 23, 2010 By Megan Giller

Pig Vicious has refined drunk food to a science. The science of bacon, that is. I started with a light hors d’oeuvre, the fried bacon-wrapped pickle spear. Never before has the calorie-full been so close to the calorie-less, and with your daily amount of sodium…

Trailer Thursday: The Vegan Yacht

Dec 16, 2010 By Megan Giller

When I was five, I brainstormed the best business model: My mom would open a restaurant drive-up window, through the backyard to our kitchen, so that the world (or at least Dallas) could experience her awesome cooking. I like to think that I was ahead of my time, since…

Trailer Thursday: La Boîte

Dec 9, 2010 By Megan Giller

  Photo by JP Bleibtreu <p>Most of the Republicans elected in the tea party wave of 2012 have evolved since their freshman session. And then there’s Matt Schaefer. In theory, he represents Tyler, but any claims to that effect are hard to reconcile with…

Trailer Thursday: The Texas Cuban

Dec 2, 2010 By Megan Giller

Pop quiz: What’s brown and stuffed and smoking all over? If you answered a Cuban cigar, then you lose. Forget the cigars. Cuban-pressed sandwiches from the Texas Cuban are where it’s at. But before diving into sandwiches so good they should be illegal, try a real cigar-shaped treat:…

Trailer Thursday: A Very Trailer Thanksgiving

Nov 25, 2010 By Megan Giller

Poor Snoopy. He concocted the best Thanksgiving dinner he could, but Peppermint Patty flew into a rage when she saw the spread: buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, ice cream sundaes, and jelly beans. I’ve never understood why Patty got so angry at Charlie Brown about that assortment of carbs…

Trailer Thursday: Cazamance

Nov 18, 2010 By Megan Giller

Oh, how downtown Austin’s Rainey Street has changed. This quiet little neighborhood used to be the last refuge of cute houses in the area, and its inhabitants probably never imagined such a transformation. It started with a modest influx of hula hoopers and beer-pong players at the trendy…

Trailer Thursday: Along Came a Slider

Nov 11, 2010 By Megan Giller

  Photo by Sean Dunn In Texas you can’t lift a fork without brisket raining down on you, à la Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. In the trailer scene, slap a bun around that baby and you’ve got the ubiquitously uniform brisket sandwich, ready to be eaten on your…