If the restaurant explosion over the last decade has made Austin a more interesting place to eat, it has also come at a cost. After years of risk taking — the very thing that made the city's cuisine so electric — local business owners are now dealing with higher costs and fierce competition. More often than not, that leads to playing it safe rather than sparking innovation.
But one bright spot has been the local food truck fleet, which has dealt with its own pressures such as decreasing real estate, but still produces some of the most interesting and diverse dishes in the city. Arguably, no truck has shined brighter recently than Dee Dee, a mom-and-pop operation that has lived up to its name (good good in English) by delivering thrilling Northern Thai cooking since 2016.
Beginning this fall, the owners are building on that formula with a new trailer serving rustic Thai barbecue right next door to the original truck outside East Austin bar La Holly at 2300 E. Sixth St.
Co-owner Justin Trubiana tells CultureMap that he is nearing completion on the project, which required the construction of a custom motorized rotisserie from motorcycle chains and sprockets and “a big ass fire pit.” Though the date is still up in the air, the new truck will debut in October, barring any construction delays.
Justin says that an expanded menu was part of the business plan long before the opening. The farmer-style of barbecue Dee Dee will soon be offering was a big part of wife Lakana’s upbringing in the Isaan district of Thailand, where live-fire cooking could be found at every food vendor.
With help from longtime employee Connor Wood, the Trubianas have developed a simple menu they plan to initially roll out one day a week. Among the dishes will be spatchcocked marinated whole chickens served with the truck’s signature sticky rice and spicy and sweet dipping sauces, dry short ribs, and Thai beef jerky. Justin says the truck might also add sour fermented Isaan sausage and whole grilled fish crusted with salt and stuffed with lemongrass.
Besides the new dishes, the expansion comes with some other good news. Justin hopes the expanded cooking and storage space will allow Dee Dee to start offering catering and possibly allow pre-orders, a boon for fans.
Once open, the Trubianas will start off slowly by selling only one or two menu items available until sold out. As with all things in Austin, be prepared for a line.