With colorful signage resembling oversized alphabet fridge magnets, it’s hard to miss this chrome Airstream trailer at the Gulf gas station on Manor Road. And you wouldn’t want to, because the shawarmas and falafel are some of the best in the city. Get cozy on the floor pillows in the tapestry-lined tent while you wait for your food.
2101 Manor Rd.
Ask vegans where to get the best burger in town and you’ll most likely be sent to Arlo’s. Hell, even non-vegetarians dig these greasy late-night trailers. And with three locations around town, there’s never one far away. Get the double bac’n cheezeburger and tots. You won’t regret it.
There aren’t a ton of places to get arepas in Austin, but this tiny trailer on East Sixth Street undoubtedly offers the best. Carlos Quitian opened up this Colombian food walk-up in November 2014, serving authentic empanadas and cooling ice pops in a casual spot in the middle of the Pangea Lounge.
1211 E. Sixth
Serving self-proclaimed “authentic badass Cajun,” Baton blurs that Louisiana-Texas line with ease, bringing Cajun-inspired, Austin-friendly twists on old faves. Dark roux gumbo, jambalaya batons, and poutine fries with brie are only a few of the mouthwatering bayou flavors on this menu.
1016 E. Sixth
Hawaiian slang for “big shot,” the Big Kahuna is the biggest, if not the only, game in town for real Hawaiian food. Anchored in the Rosedale food court on Burnet Road, the truck slings generous, heartbreakingly fresh poke bowls, the classic Loco Moco (rice topped with a burger patty, fried egg, and gravy), and simply outstanding coconut shrimp tenders.
1309 W. 45th
Since 2014, childhood friends Leo Mendoza and David Martinez have offered up the sweet treats of their Ciudad Juarez youth: churros made from scratch and topped with creative compotes, silky chocolate, and more. Look for a second location soon.
1906 S. First
Curcuma (aka turmeric in science-speak) offers healthy alternatives to the typical food truck fare. The ayurvedic meals like the kitchari bowl and raw pecan tacos are as full of flavor as they are nutrients, and the charcoal lemonade and Golden Mylk beverages have amassed a cult following.
2207 E. Cesar Chavez
Northern Thai street food made with fresh, high-quality ingredients is the name of the game at this trailer that’s recently made its first move to behind the new Eastside bar La Holly. In addition to spicy favorites like laab moo and pad kaprow, find newer additions like tofu stir-fry and som tom tod (shredded papaya and carrot in a crunchy tempura batter).
4204 Menchaca Rd.
If you’re still wishing you were an Oscar Meyer wiener, you have obviously not tried this delicious coney dog. (You’re also a weirdo.) Located just outside of the “anytime bar,” Nickel City – in the old Longbranch Inn space – this late-night trailer slings dogs, burgers, and chili fries, and they all go perfectly with a draft beer. Attention, Lubbockites: The bar serves Chiltons.
1133 E. 11th
Of course Austin would have a food trailer dedicated to the simplest of childhood pleasures: grilled cheese. But don’t expect the greasy, Velveeta-stuffed basics of your formative years. Between grilled chicken with pesto and provolone, and the classic tomato, basil, and mozzarella, this grilled cheese is all grown up.
440-F E. St. Elmo
Mainers know lobster rolls, and Garbo’s is owned by Mainers. This food truck (yes, their brick-and-mortar is stellar, too) blurred the Mason-Dixon line, making Austin forget the days when New Englanders kept that buttery crustacean all to themselves. The only question now is: butter or mayo?
This under-the-radar East Austin jewel focuses on velvety smooth hummus. Whether you try a hummus plate with brisket and hatch chiles, or a pita pocket with boiled eggs and eggplant, expect a bold interplay between Texas and Middle Eastern flavors.
Cheese and kimchi is a wildly underrated combo, but the good people at Jeonju have brought it to the masses with their wildly popular kimchi-stuffed quesadilla. It’s a little spicy, a little savory, crispy-edged, and soaked with melting cheese. Do you really need to know anything else?
1005 E. St. Elmo Road
We’re not going to discuss the San Antonio-Austin foodie debates, but we will be the bigger city and thank our South Texas neighbor for hosting the first iteration of Karam’s Tamales for more than 60 years. But they’re ours now. The eponymous menu items have a perfect ratio of filling to masa, and there’s also a dreamy guacamole tostada. We win.
7800 S. First
On the scene since 2006, this favorite with a cult following cooks up Turkish-style wraps. You choose the heat level, and they’ll take care of the rest. It’s the fresh-made falafel, though, that gets noncarnivores nomming just as happily. Extra: The zucchini fries, available only on Tuesdays, are alone worth a trip.
Third & Congress
Nestled in the cutest little turquoise school bus off Airport, this bright jewel-toned Instagram darling delivers as much substance as style, with Austin-influenced spins on Peruvian flavors. Think yucca hummus with white miso and kale chimichurri, or eggs Benedict with boar instead of bacon.
It might be an island thing, but Kreyol Korner’s gourmet Caribbean combinations have become an Austin thing. Specializing in Haitian dishes, they are bringing the Creole culture to Texas with their fresh herbs and spices and options like fried pork shoulder or legume combo plates with red beans & rice and plantains.
It’s hard to improve on the art of traditional Texas barbecue, so the way to stand out from the salt-and-pepper-rubbed masses is to reinvent the brisket. LeRoy & Lewis do just that, using left-field proteins like beef tongue and eschewing beans and slaw for inventive sides like barbecue fried rice.
121 Pickle Rd.
Gluten-free, grain-free, but definitely not cheese-free, Lua Brazil offers cheese bread that is a pull-apart globe of satisfaction. They’ve also recently begun offering tapi-tacos, which are exactly what you would expect, except the “tortilla” is made out of tapioca flour.
517 N. I-35
Everything is made from scratch at this renowned barbecue spot, from the smoked meats to the jalapeño cheese grits to the peanut butter pie. They may be known for the ever-changing sausage menu, but the sides are real good, too. (We’ll see you in Smithville soon.)
Now two locations strong, this stationary trailer specializes in breakfast and brunch with a short, ever-changing menu. The bacon, egg, and cheese on a buttermilk bun is a mainstay, as is the Texas hash, made with sweet potato, pork shoulder, kale, and pecan mole. Each new day brings a variety of other bowls, toasts, salads, pastries, fresh-squeezed juice, and Tweed coffee.
1112 E. 12th
Fresh pasta, pork, lemon, tomato, egg yolk, cheese – Patrizi’s doesn’t overcomplicate the simplistic and breezy nature of Italian food. There’s almost always a line, but the outdoor seating also has a real “Grandma’s porch” vibe going on, so it’s actually the perfect place to relax. Sorry, we just made your Sunday plans.
2307 Manor Rd.
Chef Deepa Shridhar designed her “low country Indian meets Hill Country Texan” menu using only local, seasonal ingredients. It changes often, but features dishes like spicy Caesar salad with sourdough roti churros, barbecue lamb dirty rice, and signature roti tacos, samosa pies, and naan croissants.
12521 Twin Creeks Rd.
True to its namesake, this longtime stand dishes out (dare we claim) the very best tacos al pastor in town. Their succulent yet crispy red-tinged pork is so good that some of the Chronicle Food section writers have been known to battle I-35 rush-hour traffic for a taste.
1911 E. Riverside
Soursop is the trap music of Austin food trucks, and it’s far too melodious and hype to be held down by its current food truck medium. This Pan-Asian nano-sized masterpiece is a sophisticatedly layered smash-hit of kick drum percussion and 808 bass samples like char siu pork belly, Thai chile sambal wings, kaeng kua barbecue sticky ribs, and the occasional salt/pepper chicken or cheesy lamb tots one-off. Grab a dead-cold Carl Kolsch inside hosting hot spot St. Elmo Brewery to complete the collab.
440 E. St. Elmo, Bldg. G-2
Fried chicken. It’s a simple concept, and one not restricted to omnivores. Get it in three forms at the Sundaze food truck: sandwich, nugget, and wing. There is crunchy, breaded, peppery fried chicken and homemade seitan No Frick’n Chick’n (for the vegans).
2323 S. Lamar
With most of Austin’s Filipino restaurants located north of the river, Tito Adobo’s south location is something we all need (and want). The tangy adobo fried rice and purple yam ube horchata are the perfect primer to the delicious playground that is Filipino-American cuisine.
2201 S. First
If Valentina’s doesn’t scream “puro Tejas,” we don’t know what does. From the handmade tortillas to the expertly smoked brisket, this food trailer-turned-restaurant is the epitome of Texas foodways. One Real Deal Holyfield and you’re fixed for the day – not that you’ll want to stop at one.
11500 Menchaca Rd.
The newest kid on the North Loop block proves itself a master with Vietnamese sandwiches that epitomize the flawless combo of spicy, fatty, and crunchy. If the baguette-enveloped tour de force isn’t your thing, opt for a vermicelli bowl or the pork egg rolls, but always, always say yes to extra house-made hot sauce.
201 E. 53rd
Sarah Lindsey spent over eight years developing recipes at Royal Blue Grocery before she opened this restored 1949 railway car as a grab-and-go scratch kitchen about four miles from the Y in Oak Hill. Specializing in rotisserie chickens, porchetta, and roast lamb – all from local farms – plus soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts, the menu is designed for takeaway. There’s also some seating, which makes it a great pit stop on a winery tour day.
Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin. Support the Chronicle