Food Truck Heaven in Texas
One of the coolest things about SXSW was the South Bites Trailer Park. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the convention center, 15 different food trucks were parked to serve the hungry people of Austin. Open to SXSW badge-holders and locals alike, this was an awesome meeting spot for everyone to gather. I took full advantage of seeking out the lines with the most people not wearing a badge. After all, if local Austin folk were willing to deal with a bunch of techy tourists and wait in extra-long lines, then the food had to be pretty damn good. In my opinion, trying out the local food trucks is one of the best ways to gauge a city’s flavor. Many of the trucks available at the SXSW also had brick and mortar establishments scattered throughout the city and I made it my mission to trek back to the field each day and try a different vendor.
Chi’Lantro Korean BBQ is known as the home of the original kimchi fries and emulated by restaurants across the country. Of course, this is what I had to order. A mound of crispy fries topped with caramelized kimchi, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, onion, magic sauce, sesame seeds and your choice of protein (ribeye bulgogi, pork bulgogi, spicy chicken, soy glazed chicken, or tofu). I was told by the local in front of me to order the ribeye so that’s exactly what I did. Let me tell you there is no way to attractively eat the kimchi fries, especially if you do happen to be sitting across from Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids, Neighbors, Get Him to the Greek) at a picnic table. So just embrace the fact that these will be the best fries you will ever consume and get on with embarrassing yourself in front of a star and her best friends. I don’t know exactly what’s in the magic sauce but I will tell you that if you find out and don’t tell me, I will be very, very angry.
Veracruz All Natural is known for having the freshest, tastiest tacos in all of Austin. A good friend of mine and foodie recommended that I find wherever their trailer was in Austin and make sure that I don’t miss it, so I was lucky enough that SXSW brought Veracruz to me! I could tell immediately after taking a bite that a lot of effort went into sourcing the best ingredients in the tacos. I chose to try two completely different tacos, the steak and the fish. I loved that the steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned with just enough spice to give it heat but not make you need to drink a gallon of water afterwards. The cilantro and diced onions gave the taco a bit of fresh crunch. When I saw that the fish taco had mango salsa on it I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pass it up. I make a pretty mean fish taco with mango salsa so I wanted to see how I measured up. I usually don’t add cheese to mine and was pleasantly surprised that Veracruz’s version had cheese and with the addition of a spicy avocado/tomatillo salsa mixture, it was absolutely delicious.
When Nomad Street Cuisine lost its coveted parking spot in Fort Collins, CO they decided to embrace the nomad in their name and truck it down to Austin to serve the hungry masses. I was lucky enough that I benefited from their nearly 1,000 mile journey. Sticking to my BBQ theme of the trip I tried their Asian-style pulled pork sandwich on a French roll with Korean BBQ sauce and orange-ginger coleslaw. My favorite part of the sandwich was the unique orange-ginger coleslaw, which wasn’t overly creamy and you could really taste the two different flavors of orange and ginger. The pulled pork and Korean BBQ sauce came together to form a really juicy bite and I was happy with Nomad’s choice of a French roll to hold up its saucy creation.