Whether you are visiting Austin for the first time or if you’ve lived here your whole life, South Congress is an iconic street that people from all walks of life enjoy in downtown. With opportunities to shop at unique stores that have everything from costumes to art, high-end shoes to low-brow gifts or once-published books to rare movie rentals, South Congress is the place where we keep it most weird.
But on the 1800 block of SoCo, as we locals call it, you can find the most interesting of all Austin food-icons: the SoCo trailer park. The lot opened in September of 2007 and has become a fixture in the hearts of Austinites and tourists alike. More than just a popular place to get your picture made, it’s a place to meet friends for a bite to eat, a place you can take your dog for a stroll and a place to try the latest haute cuisine.
This lot is home to established trailers like the Mighty Cone, one of the founding fathers of the trailer food culture here in Austin, and Hey Cupcake, the shiny silver airstream with giant, rotating cupcake atop. Other trailers gaining momentum and popularity include the Original New Orleans Po-Boy & Gumbo Shop, Coat and Thai, Wurst Tex, Fry Baby, Pitalicious, Diver City, Star Co. and The Frigid Frog and more.
The lot's variety is great news for groups of people with different palettes looking for an all-inclusive al fresco dining experience. One of my personal favorites is the vegetarian sausage at Wurst Tex. In Wurst Tex's words, "If you thought you knew what brats were capable of, think again." The 04 Delight has the look and texture of a meat sausage but, instead, is packed with yukon potatoes, sweet apples and sage. In the same vein, the Veggiano boasts eggplant, red peppers, fennel and garlic. Of course, meat-lovers can experiment with interesting combinations that include rattlesnake, rabbit, elk and duck, among other things.
In 2009, rumors started spreading that a boutique hotel would break ground where the trailer park is located, forcing the local trailer businesses to relocate. Currently, trailer owners are on a month-to-month lease agreement and when polled; the truth is that because of the high foot traffic, they probably have one of the best spots in all of Austin for a trailer food business. The word on the street at the November “First Thursday” was the hotel would break ground in March of 2012. (Note: This information has not been confirmed with the lot’s property management. No official announcement has been made at this time.)
What comes to mind is a ricochet effect leading to the closing of other local restaurants when and if a big business buys those sought after South Congress lots. Perhaps the best thing patrons can do to support the SoCo trailers after their probable move will be to follow favorites to their new locations, giving them monetary and social media support. To stay informed about this lot and others, please follow the Trailer Food Diaries.