FOOD TRUCKS AREN’T JUST FOR AFTER-HOURS BUT THIS STORY IS
It was late Saturday night at SXSW. The lights at the South Bites food truck corral were going out one by one as a mob of hungry festival-goers ran from one dissipating line to another, desperation rising as options depleted.
I stood about twelfth in line at an unmarked taco truck, when the girl upon whom we had all pinned our hungry hopes checked her watch and slid the window up. No one got angry, no one shouted. My friend Annie placed a hand on my shoulder.
“It’s okay,” she said, “we can make something at home.”
But it wasn’t okay. I was hungry, and I knew what “we can make something at home” meant. It meant everyone would be tired and forget about it and fall asleep while I stayed up huddled over the kitchen sink de-shelling and consuming the entire bag of pistachios I had stashed away in my carry-on for the flight home.
“We have to find a place!” I panicked.
I didn’t have to look for long. Just short of Rainey Street my keenly attuned nostrils struck upon the scent of something wonderful: lamb. Around the corner a bright blue truck—lights bold, line short—declared with unwavering doubt and Turkish music that it was, indeed, still open.
And so we stepped in line at “KEBABALICOUS.”
“Lamb plate for two?” Annie suggested.
“Sure,” I mumbled begrudgingly. I had been eying an entire order for myself.
But when the lamb came out it was perfect and totally satiating: tender, lightly greasy in just the way you want a hunk of meat fresh from a truck to taste, and cut in medallioned portions. As I picked up each morsel my fingertips brushed barely-blackened edges, crisp with char. We polished off a whole basket.
And in a very zen moment, I saw the beauty of the art that is the Austin food truck.
Four Food Trucks (Besides KEBABALICIOUS) with which you can’t go wrong
Gordoughs / Gordoughs serves shamelessly delicious and creative donuts. Consider the Porkey’s with Canadian Bacon, Cream Cheese & Jalapeno Jelly. Sound gross? I dare you to click through their online donut gallery without developing a craving.
Way South Philly / Chopped meat. Tater tots. Melted cheese. Go with the Rocky Balboa for a solid take on a classic, complete with cheese whiz. You won’t find anything quite as tasty or authentic anywhere in Austin.
The Peached Tortilla / The Peached Tortilla has already established quite a name for itself, but like most great restaurants, there is a reason. You simply can’t go wrong with their tacos; in fact, they’re so good I had to stop walking and plop down on the grass to appreciate them fully.
The East Side Kings / Confession: I’ve had East Side Kings before, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I did not try anything new. The fried beet home fries with aioli go down quick as candy, but here is the thing: they are beets. And I could care less. How about another order?
More reading: Eating Through SWSX, Part 1