Austin, Texas has been on the forefront of the still-emerging trailer food culture. The vendors here in Austin have taken the age-old concept of street food, and turned it into an art project with their unique cuisines and decked out trailers. They bring an element of nostalgia and mystique to the dining al fresco experience.
Yes, technically they are mini-kitchens on wheels; but there is a common misconception on just how mobile these vendors really are. With the exception of a few true food trucks that roam and a few trailers that stand alone, most of the vendors are nestled in groups (trailer parks) in different enclaves throughout the city as permanent as their lease agreement.
Since food-trailer parks offer a variety of chef-cooked cuisine in one location, you can take a group of friends with different taste preferences and still find something for everyone, while all sitting together. Although you’ll have to check with each vendor on hours and days of business, here is an overview of just some of the major trailer parks in town. You’ll want to add these to your ‘ATX-to-do list’.
You can get virtually any type of food from all over the world, traditional or creative, out of a trailer in Austin.
Where to go
A little further up the road, you’ll find Torchy’s Tacos, a founding father of trailers in this food movement. Torchy’s is situated in the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery (1st & Elizabeth) which is also home to Holy Cacao, a cakeball company. This park has a unique barn for special events which you can book for parties. And even further down South First you can visit the SoFi Food Court (1st and Live Oak), currently home to Azafran (Venezuelan cuisine), Arancini (Italian comfort food), Grill Haven (Sandwiches and Wraps), and Heads Up Tacos (tacos).
South Lamar is home to a well-known trifecta of trailers at the 1200 block: Gourdoughs (big fat doughnuts), Odd Duck (Farm to Trailer), and Trey’s Cuisine (kabobs and more). Up the street on a grassy knoll between the Saxon Pub and the Highball is a wonderful little pair of trailers: La Boite Café (local, bistro), and the Texas Cuban (Cuban sandwiches).
And to find a cool group of trailers close to campus, check out the Longhorn Food Court on MLK and Rio Grande. Here your tastebuds can choose from Cajun food at Lee’s Hurricane Party, vegetarian cuisine at Conscious Cravings, or some Asian fusion options at Yummy Bowl.
No trailer park commentary would be complete without mentioning East 6th, which has two thriving trailer parks. The East Side Drive In on East sixth between San Marcos St. and Medina contains Pig Vicious (pork inspired), the Local Yolk (egg sandwiches), Bits and Druthers (fish and chips), Pueblo Viejo (Mexican), Love Balls (Japanese), Eat and a few more I’ve yet to try. 6th and Waller is home to Lucky J’s Chicken and Waffles, Rockin' Rolls (sandwiches, but in rolls), and Spartan Pizza just to name a few of the fixtures in this park.
Three tips on planning your visit to the trailer parks
You can get virtually any type of food from all over the world, traditional or creative, out of a trailer in Austin. Here are some hints on how to best enjoy them:
- It’s fun to explore the options in self-created trailer park crawls, just make sure all your hot spots are open before your group heads up. Check their facebook, twitter and websites for updates on their hours and specials.
- Arrive early: a few of the most popular vendors will post a social media update when they’ve sold out for the day.
- BYOB – most of the parks serve canned or bottled soft drinks, but if you’re looking for a happy hour you’ll need to bring your own alcohol.
For more trailer stories and information about Austin's trailer food culture, check out the Trailer Food Diaries.