New-Age Austin Barbecue from a Food Truck
East Sixth Street
This lot is where you’ll find Way South Philly’s cheesesteaks, Artessano’s Colombian arepas (which are similar to the Tex-Mex gordita), mom-and-pop Bua Loy Thai Cuisine’s classic dishes, Greek (Aimee’s Super Fantazmo), Indian (Masala Medley), and Halal Time's much-loved halal plates and wraps. On weekends, Pangea Lounge also bustles with live music and booths from local artisans. If you’re willing to look just beyond the park itself, Baton Creole and Via 313 are both a short walk away.
Must-try foods: The generously portioned falafel over rice plate ($7) at Halal Time includes six pieces of falafel served over basmati rice, with a side salad, chickpeas, pickles, red onion, tahini, house-made tzatziki, and hot sauce; Aimee’s Super Fantazo fries ($9.49), seasoned curly fries topped with feta cheese, cucumbers, tomato, olive, tzatziki sauce, chili garlic sauce, and gyro meat.
East 11th/Rosewood Food Trucks
Unlike some of the other spots listed below, here we’re referring to a handful of great trucks -- from Waller Street to Angelina Street -- rather than an actual park. The unique assortment of eateries includes Thai Kruefha, Wasota African Cuisine made personally by the Nigerian chef/owner, Wild Magnolias’ Cajun/Creole cooking, Tony’s Jamaican Food, Detroit-inspired Delray Cafe at Nickel City, breakfast joint Paperboy, Juana Taco, Micklethwait Craft Meats’ Texas-style BBQ, and Cedars Crepes for Lebanese crepes.
Must-try foods: Delray Cafe’s double slider ($3.93), with double meat and grilled onions on a steamed bun, and make sure to add cheese; Mickelthwait Craft Meats’ brisket Frito pie ($10), a pile of Fritos topped with chili con carne, spicy pickled vegetables, and a slice of brisket; chicken served with jollof rice, Benin sauce and fried plantains ($9) at Wasota African Cuisine.
Rainey Street Food Trucks
Ms P’s Electric Cock fries double-brined, local, free-range chicken until it’s perfectly moist on the inside and crispy on the outside; Four Brothers makes killer arepas; the always-popular Big Fat Greek Gyros turns out, you guessed it, gyros; and Asian food (from white girls) courtesy of White Girl Asian Food. Rainey has a good number of trucks beyond this lot worth visiting too -- we like Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts, Tommy Want Wingy, Via 313 (of course), and Taco Baby.
Must-try foods: Big Fat Greek Gyros’ big-enough-for-two Hercules gyro ($8.21), stuffed with tender & juicy lamb, beef, or chicken, romaine hearts, tomato, onion, green peppers, oregano, and French fries; Tommy Want Wingy’s five-piece, Mexican-inspired chile limon wings, or the super-spicy Ranch on Fire wings ($6.50); Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts’ Chow Chow donuts ($7), a set of 12 warm mini donuts coated in sugar and cinnamon.
You’ll find food trucks scattered throughout the Spider House property. Syriano Shawarma offers enormous portions of tasty kosher shawarma, falafel wraps, and vegan options, while 100% plant-based Mexican street food truck Cool Beans (tucked behind Spider House Cafe) has hands-down the best vegan tacos in Austin, all of which arrive on warm, homemade corn or flour tortillas. And then there’s Arlo’s: Whether you're vegan or not, Arlo’s stoner fare (in the form of burgers, taco, fries, and tots) is arguably some of the best-tasting vegan food you'll find anywhere.
Must-try foods: Arlo’s Bac'n Cheeze Burger ($8), house-made soy-free/gluten-free patty stacked with house-made seitan “bac'n”, melted “cheeze,” and all the standard veggies; Cool Beans’ plant-based Warrior taco ($3.75) with homemade “chorizo,” potatoes, pickled red onion, and cilantro on a warm homemade flour tortilla, and its sweet, organic street corn ($4), mixed with homemade vegan lime mayo, chilito spice, and a squeeze of lime.
East Riverside Food Trucks
East Riverside South Shore District
Right around the corner from the sprawling South Shore residences, you’ll find Callejeros and Rosita’s Al Pastor both serving Mexican street food in the form of tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and burritos filled with flavorful asada, carnitas, al pastor, and more, topped with fresh salsas. Churro Co.’s highly photogenic churros are fried to crispy-on-the-outside-and-soft-on-the-inside perfection, and Cow Bells’ classic, homestyle burgers feature the perfect ratio of meat to crisp veggies.
Must-try foods: Cow Bells’ Archetype Burger ($6.25) dressed with mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion; Churro Co.’s Campfire Churro ($4.50) tossed in graham cracker sugar, and topped with Mexican chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and torched marshmallows.
The Picnic is in close proximity to Barton Springs pool, home to popular trucks -- Kebabalicious, The Mighty Cone, Trudy’s, Hey Cupcake! -- AND has a BYOB policy! Explore resident trucks like Cajun Creole Gambino’s Gourmet Exchange from chef Kevin Gambino who worked in NOLA’s top eateries, from-scratch Italian truck Cannone Cucina Italiana, Brazilian-inspired Açaí Hut, and Steel City Pops’ fresh, gorgeous popsicles. Expect ample parking, lots of shade, and actual restrooms (instead of port-a-potty).
Must-try foods: Steel City Pops' coconut or blood orange popsicle ($3); Cannone’s rich spaghetti carbonara ($11.50); Kebabalicious’ Spoiled Brat ($10.16), with beef, lamb, chicken, falafel, and jalapeño hummus; Gambino’s Louisiana-style blackened chicken with dirty rice ($12).
A whopping 12 food trailers at 5000 Burnet means there’s something for every taste. To narrow the field a bit, decide between The Big Kahuna’s Hawaiian cuisine, Latino-inspired Jewish-American truck Jewboy Burgers, esteemed T-Loc’s Sonora Hot Dogs (a style made popular in Tucson), Budare’s Venezuelan Food, and The Grip Coffee Co. Better still, the entire park is BYOB and dog/kid friendly!
Must-try foods: Jewboy Burger’s chopped onion and garlic latkes ($3.75); T-Loc’s Sonoran hot dog “con todo” ($6), a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with beans, tomato, jalapeño sauce, mustard, and mayo on a lightly sweet bun.
South Capital of Texas Hwy
West Austin’s Midway Food Park is one of the most modest in terms of selection, but it’s still a solid weekend option for friends and families (thanks to the on-site playground) to gather; the music lineup changes regularly, and you can bring your own beer, too. Grab a Maine-style lobster roll at Dock & Roll, vegan jackfruit tacos at Revolution Vegan Kitchen, or (our favorite) Lebanese fare like shawarma, kebabs, and falafel from Beirut.
Must-try foods: Beirut’s shawarma fries ($8), crispy fries topped with marinated beef, tomatoes, onions, pickles, parsley, and tahini sauce; Dock & Roll’s The Maine Event ($18), freshly-picked Maine lobster claw and knuckle meat served chilled with Dock & Roll’s special house mayo and chive served on a split-top roll. If you wanna get crazy, add Dock & Roll’s fiery habanero “truth” sauce.
South First & Gibson
Located across the street from El Mercado, this food trailer park is where you’ll find Torchy’s OG trailer for creative tacos, Conscious Cravings for vegetarian food that doesn’t skimp on flavor (or portion size), and Holy Cacao for all things chocolate. BYOB is totally OK here, and there is plenty of indoor seating for when the heat is especially brutal (aka summer). If you’re up for a stroll, check out Mellizoz Tacos for delicious tempura shrimp tacos, and Regal Ravioli for brisket ravioli (limited availability) just a block south from this lot.
Must-try foods: Conscious Cravings’ best-selling baked rosemary fries ($2.79), and its huge, spicy chickpea wrap ($6.69) with chickpeas simmered in Indian spices, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and green sauce all tucked into a tortilla; Torchy’s Trailer Park taco ($3.75), with fried chicken, green chilies, lettuce, pico de gallo, and cheese served on a flour tortilla with poblano sauce, and the chile queso and chips ($5.25), homemade chips with green chile queso topped off with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro, and fiery “diablo” hot sauce.
The Mueller Trailer Eats food park is easy to find -- just look for the historic Browning Hangar, the structure that serves as a landmark for the former Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. One of Austin’s favorite trucks, mmmpanadas, can be found here serving fresh baked (sweet and savory) empanadas alongside The Stonehouse Woodfire Grill, which has a surprisingly extensive menu of grilled burgers, toasted sandwiches, pitas, and kebabs, as well as options for kiddos. Or, try Booty Locos’ authentic Mexican tinga tacos (shredded meat marinated in tomato sauce, chipotle, and spices), Conscious Cravings’ mouth-watering vegan wraps, or Gravy’s fluffy biscuits and (you guessed it) gravy.
Must-try foods: Gravy’s Deep South ($6.50), a buttermilk biscuit loaded with a plentiful (to say the least) half pound of pork sausage cream gravy; Booty Locos’ spicy beef tinga tacos (2 for $7.50) topped with red cabbage, peppers, crema, avocado, and queso fresco.
Students flock to the food truck court found behind the Longhorn co-op for affordable and tasty offerings, including Taiwanese street food at Song La, sweet-and-savory egg rolls from Glory Roll, Ice Scrapers’ Thai ice cream, Jefe’s Street Tacos, and The Gypsy Kit ATX.
Must-try foods: Any of the rolled ice creams ($6) from Ice Scrapers, where you choose the base and mix-ins, the liquid is poured onto a cold surface and scraped into rolls and topped with your choice of cookies, candy, sprinkles, nuts, and fruit; Song La’s crispy Taiwanese-style chicken bites ($6) with Thai basil.
South First & West Gibson Street
Just a block north of the bumpin’ Torchy’s trailer you’ll find a quiet gravel lot that’s home to reliably great Little Thai Food, hard-to-pronounce French crêperie Saperlipopette, and Bombay Dhaba’s comforting Indian cuisine. Be forewarned: Little Thai Food is cash-only!
Must try food: Little Thai Food’s tom kha ($9), tangy, spicy coconut milk soup, and spicy panang curry ($9) served with white rice; Saperlipopette’s simple and elegant La Pompote ($6.50) crepe with caramelized apples, and a (not at all) optional scoop of vanilla ice cream.
South First & W Dittmar
This collection of food trailers surrounded by shady trees also serves as a neighborhood gathering space, with community gardens, a stage for live events, and even the occasional outdoor yoga class. Level Up serves smoothies and juices from a refitted double-decker bus (with seating up top), My Granny's Kitchen plates stick-to-your-ribs soul food, Revolution Vegan Kitchen puts veggie spins on staples like burgers and tacos, SoCo Burgers gives can't-miss sandwiches an "Argentinian touch," Dragon Delights does killer dim sum, Atia's Kitchen serves authentic Pakistani fare, and Gyros Gr is your Greek go-to.
Must-try food: Beef tip with rice ($7) from My Granny's Kitchen; chicken & basil dumplings ($5 for four) from Dragon Delights; "al pastor" tacos ($3.50) from Revolution Vegan Kitchen.
This trio of trailers is small but essential to the veggie-inclined community. Bistro Vonish is known for its elevated vegetarian/vegan dishes, The Great Y’all for vegan Asian fusion bar food, and Bananarchy for its over-the-top dipped and coated frozen bananas.
Must try food: You can’t go wrong with the BBQ seitan sandwich ($9) or black garlic bruschetta ($7) from Bistro Vonish; or The Great Y’all’s rangoons ($7) filled with roasted red pepper, green onions, and cashew tofu “cream chz” and jackfruit roll-up ($8) Korean spiced and seared jackfruit with Sriracha sauce, fresh cabbage and carrots, rolled into a scallion pancake.
East Cesar Chavez & Chicon
This corner has thinned out considerably due to the recent departure of la Barbecue -- which has taken up residence at Quickie Pickie’s Cesar Chavez store -- and temporary shuttering of Super Burrito East. However, let’s celebrate the fact that we still have Dee Dee Northern Thai, Toaster (on the Stay Gold patio) -- and while they’re not technically in the same park, Kerlin BBQ and Austin taco darling Veracruz All Natural are just a stone’s throw down East Cesar Chavez.
Must-try foods: Dee Dee’s pad kapow ($10), spicy stir-fried pork with Thai basil and steamed jasmine rice; Toaster’s cheesy The Baked Mac ($5) with added pepperoni for extra oomph; Veracruz All Natural’s migas taco ($3.50), which Alton Brown proclaimed to be his favorite breakfast taco of all time.
East Cesar Chavez
100% plant-based Curcuma anchors this small East Side park, and its Ayurveda-inspired bowls, colorful elixirs, and treats, made with high-quality ingredients, are already Instagram darlings. Eastside Pita has a loyal following for their generous portions of shawarma, pita, hummus, tabouleh and other Mediterranean offerings while one-woman operation The Lucky Belly cooks up homestyle Thai favorites like pad Thai and pad see ew.
Must-try foods: Honestly, these trailers are all winners. Try Curcuma’s activated charcoal black lemonade ($4) or super matcha latte ($4), made with maca, spirulina, chlorella, and house-made organic activated cashew milk; Eastside Pita’s beef shawarma plate ($?) with hummus and pita; and The Lucky Belly’s drunken noodles ($9).
South Congress Food Trucks #1
South Congress & Elizabeth Street
Hit up The Science Cream for liquid nitrogen ice cream (it ends up creamier with fewer ice crystals), PitaLicious for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern wraps, Hey Cupcake! for assorted sweets, Austin City Lemons for hand-crafted lemonade served out of a giant, very cute lemon trailer, and nearby Parisian Crepes for authentic French crepes with lots of savory breakfast and lunch options.
Must-try foods: Go for Austin City Lemons’ Cup of Happiness ($4.50), a classic lemonade with a dash of “lavender love” that’s the perfect cure for a hundred-degree day. Even if you aren’t a crepe enthusiast, you’ll love Parisian Crepes’ veggie breakfast crepe ($10) made with organic eggs, avocado, tomato, fresh basil, and goat cheese, and drizzled with homemade avocado dressing.