Photos: Matthew Wexler
I like to sit down at a proper table when I eat. And after closing the door on fifteen years in the restaurant industry, I like to be served. Sometimes I feel the phantom pain in my side when I see a defeated waiter struggling to get through a shift—but for the most part, I’m just happy it’s not me. So the thought of traipsing through sweltering downtown Austin like my ancestors crossing the Egyptian desert with matzoh in their pants made me wary. I imagined when I set off on a food trailer crawl that I might be disappointed with greasy funnel cakes and toxic yellow lemonade. And where would I pee? What I stumbled upon is an entire subculture of dedicated food artisans leaving their tire tracks all over town.
photos: Matthew Wexler
One of the newest additions to the food trailer scene is Chi’Lantro, a name derived from two cultural staples: kimchi and cilantro. The fusion of Korean and Mexican food had me all a Twitter, which is a good thing because it’s the only way you can track this trailer down. With locations that vary like the changing winds, I have to credit a friend’s i-phone for my spicy pork taco with Korean soy vinaigrette salad and salsa roja. I can’t get too attached though, as this newcomer is already revamping their menu along with their ever-changing locale.
Holding the Torch
Torchy’s Tacos is a benchmark of Austin’s food trailer scene. They are “living the taco dream” by serving up an array of tortilla-stuffed concoctions—from classic breakfast tacos to more daring fare like The Brushfire, filled with Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapeños and diablo sauce. Founder and Executive Chef Michael Rypka mortgaged his house and maxed out a couple of credits cards in pursuit of the perfect taco. And it’s paid off. The homemade salsas were a knockout, and I have to give the guy a hats off for continuing to locally source the majority of their products and meats.