Bless Austin’s food trucks. While local brick-and-mortars find themselves increasingly bowing to market pressure with safe menus, trailers are free to experiment with a world of cuisines. Lately, it can seem as if Austin's restaurant scene is seemingly stalled (really, who needs another regulation cheeseburger?). Luckily, these mobile kitchens are putting in the work to keep the Capital City cuisine interesting. Our mild January weather gives us the perfect opportunity to pay them a visit.
Carb lovers can rejoice at the arrival of this South First Street trailer, which specializes in (you guessed it) the art of pasta. The six offerings are mostly hearty (lasagna all Bolognese, spaghetti carbonara, tagliatelle with meat sauce), but the caserecce with sage and almond pesto keeps it light without sacrificing flavor. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s also a trio of desserts: a semifreddo, Sicilian cannoli, and sugulo — a pudding traditionally made with the grapes left over from a wine harvest.
ATX Food Co.
Keep your new year’s resolutions at this plant-based food truck, which shares space with SquareRut Kava Bar. The vegan offerings are designed for maximum energy, whether blueberry pancakes made of spelt flour, sea moss, wild berries, and hemp seeds or a colorful stir-fry packed with lotus, marinated mushrooms, Lacinato kale, sweet bell peppers, and spicy ginger dressing. If none of the signature bowls strike a fancy, guests can build their own from a selection of organic veggies, sauces, and condiments.
Cannone Gelato Italiano
After dipping his toes in the local food truck scene with Cannone Cucina Italiana, owner Salvatore Cannone decided to branch out with a gelato truck at 1720 Barton Springs Rd. in November. The selection includes crowd-pleasing flavors like traditional stracciatella (milk ice cream flecked with chocolate chips); tiramisu; pistachio, coffee; and ricotta with either figs or pears. Those wanting something lighter can opt for a sorbet. (Hot tip: The strawberry would be delightful topped with a rosé.)
This South First Street newcomer recently got some international attention from Deepika Padukone when the Bollywood superstar posted an Instagram story featuring a fiery hot chili and potato dosa named in her honor. Celebrity endorsement or not, we are loving the delicately crisp crepes stuffed with untraditional ingredients like quattro formaggi and hemp heart seeds. For your own social media shine, order the Chef’s Choice, which promises a very clickable surprise.
As the name implies, the owners of this East Austin truck take great pride in their house kimchi, using it on a cold soba noodle salad, fried rice, a sausage plate, and a savory pancake served with barbecue sauce and gochujang hot pepper paste aioli. Enjoy all of the above with a Umami Bomby Burger, a hefty beef patty topped with grilled mushrooms and fried shallots that practically demands to be enjoyed with a beer.
Pupuseria 503 Y Mas
Named for El Salvador’s country code, this Crestview trailer relishes in the nation’s cuisine with hard-to-find dishes like pastel de pollo (chicken hand pies); neugados (dumplings fried, then topped with cinnamon sugar syrup); and shucos (Central American hot dogs). But, of course, pupusas — thick corn tortillas stuffed with a variety of fillings — are the star of the show, especially when dipped in the tangy tomato salsa.
Entrepreneur Rod Crosby is all about the sauce at this trailer adjacent to Revival Coffee at 1403 E. Seventh St. The menu features nachos, rotisserie chicken, and roasted vegetables like fingerling potatoes, carrots, and beets as a vehicle for a rotating selection of 14 spicy condiments available from the self-serve bar. If guests find something that strikes their fancy, there’s no need to squirrel away the samples. All are available to take home from the cooler for $8.99.