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Your SXSW Trailer Food Guide, From A Local Austinite.

Austin's South by Southwest, coinciding each year with the University of Texas' Spring Break, runs from March 11 to March 20 this year, and the official venues are scattered over a fairly robust amount of real estate.

There are plenty of great primers on South-by-Southwest out there, many of which are written by people who live in other states but have had great experiences in Austin in mid-March. There are survival guides for entrepreneurs, vegetarians and vegans, hip-hop fans, nerds, first-timers, attendee archetypes, and more.


This particular guide is all about street food, mobile food vendors, food carts, taco trucks, food trailers, trailer eateries, or whatever else you want to call them.

So let's get right into it, shall we?


Turf N Surf Po' Boy

My favorite overall spot is actually located at 2nd Street and Congress, very, very close to the Austin Convention Center. It's called Turf N Surf Po' Boy. I usually get the Kiss You Mama po' boy (bacon-and-jalapeƱo-wrapped shrimp) minus the slaw. I hear the slaw is great if you are into that sort of thing-- I am just not a big slaw guy. These guys have plenty of options (snapper, oysters, catfish, beef, etc.) blackened, fried, grilled, and you can get it on a taco as well if you'd prefer. They even have large breakfast tacos. Are you from some other land and don't know what a breakfast taco is? We'll get to that later.

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BONUS: If you for some reason aren't into Turf N Surf, you can also get Kebabalicious or Chi'lantro most days at the same food trailer cluster.


G'Raj Mahal

G'Raj Mahal is located in the Rainey Street District, which is a cool spot in a neighborhood adjacent to downtown. The food is good (even according to some of our Indian friends), but the atmosphere is just awesome. In front of the robust kitchen stands a large, serpentine art installation. It's basically a gigantic snake bike. And it's really just a cool, hip spot right next to downtown, yet off the beaten path a bit.

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BONUS: It's right next to El Naranjo (tacos), Cazamance (African), and the entire Rainey Street scene, which is pretty cool and unique.


Odd Duck Farm To Trailer

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer lives up to its name. It's sort of haute cuisine. French-ish, in the sense that it is creative and uses interesting ingredients. Just try it. It's good times.

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BONUS: Right next to Odd Duck is Gourdough's, which, with its big, fat donuts, is famous in its own right. You can sample the small places at Odd Duck, then sample some of the fare at Gourdough's. You're also really close to the Alamo Drafthouse for movies and The Highball for bowling and karaoke.


Lucky J's Chicken & Waffles

Lucky J's Chicken & Waffles on the East side of I-35, at 6th St. & Waller. Chicken for strength. Waffles for speed. This place was so good that someone actually stole the trailer just a couple of days before Christmas Eve last year. They're opening another store elsewhere, so I am not sure if they plan on staying at the 6th and Waller location, but they're there now.

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BONUS: You're also right next to the Old School BBQ Bus, which is literally an old school bus that cranks out BBQ goodness, as well as Me So Hungry, an Asian place. You're also in the vicinity of the Vegan Yacht, Ugly Banjos, Pueblo Viejo, the Local Yolk, Pig Vicious (where you can order a bacon shake, no joke), Bits and Druthers, and the No. 19 Bus. Lot of trailers in that general vicinity, in other words.


La Boite Cafe

La Boite is a converted shipping container on South Lamar that sells coffee, pastries, croissants, and all kinds of other goodness.

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BONUS: There are two, count 'em, two yoga studios within 50 yards.



This is a tough one. Tacos might actually be one of the more common "street food" items on the agenda at mobile vendors in Austin. I'm going to go with Torchy's at the Trailer Park Eatery on this one, although there are some vocal Torchy's haters out there.

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BONUS: If you like hot dogs, Man Bites Dog. If you like cake shakes and frozen hot chocolate, you've got Holy Cacao. There's also Izzoz Tacos very nearby, and some people prefer it to Torchy's. You can also walk to the convenience store across the street to pick up cold BYOB drinks.


South Congress

The Mighty Cone, Wurst Tex, Hey Cupcake!, and others, on South Congress. If you're really into cupcakes, don't go to Hey Cupcake. Instead, avoid the lines and just-okay cupcakes, and head over to 1st Street and pay a visit to the vastly superior Sugar Mama's.

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BONUS: You're in the South Congress scene, which means you're also close to the brick-and-mortar Home Slice Pizza, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, one of my favorite places, Perla's, and a host of other places you should try.

You might also hit up Lulu B's, the Jalopy, and the Peached Tortilla, for other trailers worth visiting. There's also Franklin Barbecue, which is one of the top BBQ places in Austin after a short time in existence, but it is becoming brick-and-mortar and possibly losing the trailer entirely.

You can find these top recommendations and check in at all of them on Gowalla.

I like to joke that the Austin economy, one of the more vibrant in the country, is based entirely on its 1600+ food trailers. In just the past six months, 386 new permits for mobile food vendors have been issued by the city, with 253 of those actually opening for business.

It's a creative city, Austin, and there are some creative food trailer creations. Mobile food is like social media relative to old media, but for food. The barriers to entry are much lower and lighter than opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, the overhead is lower, the flexibility is greater, and, generally speaking, Austin, like most places in Texas, is relatively laissez faire (compared to, say, California cities, or Chicago, or somewhere like that) about small businesses doing their thing and "keeping Austin Weird."

Have a favorite food trailer in Austin that I missed? Let me know, and I'll gladly check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 March 2011 06:30 PM


Yummy! ;)P

Posted by: ZsaZsa at March 10, 2011 07:18 PM