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Foodie in training. Currently focusing on my senior year curriculum, so there have not been recent posts. Please peruse previous posts for recommendations!

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trading Spaces, Trading Places

Returning to Austin after a three-month hiatus in Dallas has been like a breath of fresh air. It may be really hot, humid air, but it's good to be back nonetheless.

This fall I'll be balancing a healthy diet with exploring new food trucks (and visiting my old faves, of course!), so that means you'll get a balance of healthy and indulgent options from the trucks. This stricter diet is a goal of mine because I'm planning for a trip to Europe this summer! I want to be able to eat all the cheese and drink all the wine I want with a guilt free conscious. Annnd that's the last time you'll be getting a diet update from me!

Since I've been gone, not only have a few food truck lots shut down, but there've been other relocations and food trucks that have become (or at least plan to be) full blown brick and mortars:

Brick and Mortar:
Prepare your pallet for the sweetness that is to be served up at Gourdough's Public House! The king of Big. Fat. Donuts. is going brick and mortar this fall, Relish Austin reports. I can't wait to see what kind of over the top cocktail recipes they come up with.
From the new Gourdough's Pub website.
Keep updated on the grand opening here.

Yumé Burger
Eater Austin reported a couple of weeks ago that our beloved Yumé Burger was closing permanently. Fans across the interwebz collectively mourned the loss of such a deliciously unique food truck.
From the YB Facebook page.
On the bright side, The Peached Tortilla & Yumé Burger may be opening as a brick and mortar restaurant. As soon as I learn more information, you'll hear about it.

East Side King
Paul Qui has been especially busy in the last year and a half, and he's not slowing down anytime soon. Qui told Eater Austin in August that he'll be opening a brick and mortar of ESK around March 2013. 
If you can't wait that long to eat some fried Brussels sprouts in the luxury of AC, then just hold out a little longer for the East Side King menu to take over the kitchen at Hole in the Wall off Guad. 
The caption says it all.
A review of ESK and more details coming soon!

Leaving Austin:
Star Co. Mobile Coffee House
The trailer is putting in a bid to move to the potential new "food trailer park" in Roundrock. Because Roundrockers want all the good Austin grub up North too.

Back in Austin:
Fresh Off the Truck 
They've been serving troops stationed in Fort Hood for the last month or so, but returned to Mueller Trailer Eats this week.
A happy customer from Ft. Hood! From FOT Facebook page.
Grab a Char-Sieu BBQ Pork Baguette this weekend and thank them for supporting our troops!
*Note: the truck is closed if it's raining.

Which brick and mortar are you most excited for? How bummed are you that Yumé Burger closed? Tell me whatcha think in the comments below!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Portland Food Carts - A Food Truck Foodie's Dream

I've long heard that Portland's food truck cart scene was something to drool over. What I didn't realize is that the city of Portland is the MECCA of food carts (especially for a mobile food fan like yourselves).

My first Portland food cart siting!
Let me paint a picture.

In Austin, you've hit the jackpot if you've found a lot with more than 5 trailers (not including the atypical, large lot on South Congress). Now in Portland, if you're on a food cart block, you're lucky to find less than 15. I say "lucky" because it makes it so incredibly difficult to make a decision on what cart you want to try.

The Grilled Cheese Grill. "Come by or a taste of your childhood. Unless your childhood sucked, then we'll share a taste of ours."
The variety of cuisines is incredible. I saw the traditional taco, pizza and corn dog carts, but there was also cart after cart of Asian Cuisine, ranging from sushi to thai to chinese, Indian carts, Cuban carts, Grilled Cheese carts-- need I go on?

Just a few more options...
I ultimately decided to sample a Thai dish because the abundance of Thai carts made it feel like Thai was a sort of cultural staple that has grown into the typical Portland-area lunch.

straight to the point.
The smell coming from the cart, let me know I made the right choice. I heard several people at this cart and another one nearby ordering the Pad Kee Mow, so it must be a hit. I wasn't in the mood for noodles, so I went for the Cashew Nuts with chicken--an odd name for a Thai dish, but I love me some cashews and spicy chilis.

While I waited, I chatted with the bearded, archetypal Portland server (which sort of made me feel like I was right back in Austin). He said I Like Thai Food is rated among the best food carts in Portland on some list that I wasn't able to verify online...let's just take his word for it. He told me it wasn't his truck, that he just married the cook, so he could eat the delicious grub everyday of his life. Something tells me he may not have been kidding. We got to talking about our mutual love for chocolate somehow and he drew me a map to place famous for its DRINKING CHOCOLATE, but we'll get to that later.

I walked down the street and sat on a bench across from Powell's Books and enjoyed my meal while listening to the blues player on the corner. I may or may not have been an extra in Portlandia at that very moment.
Cashew Nut with chicken, brown rice, extra side of chili flakes
The Cashew Nut was a great choice; there were so many cashews! The chicken was tender and all white meat and was swimming in the delish sauce. It wasn't quite spicy enough, so I added about half of the chili pepper flakes my cart friend recommended. The veggies were crisp (not soggy like some take out can be) and the rice was cooked just right. I recommend the place!

After my lunch, I toured Powell's where I watched a book binding and bought two new ones. I wandered down the street and got lost twice found the chocolate shop Mr. I Like Thai Food told me about, Cacao. Holy Willy Wonka geek out moment. If you're a big fan of chocolate you need to visit this place. I had the shot size of the dark chocolate drinking chocolate. Pure bliss.

My new love.
I was disappointed I couldn't try more carts, but on such a short trip I didn't have the time. I'm going to go back though and try one of every type of cuisine. And finish every meal off with some drinking chocolate while I'm at it.

If you've been to Portland and tried a food cart, tell me about it below! I'd love to hear about your experience!

I'm sure they don't hold a candle to Hill Country Pierogi.

"Fried Egg, I'm in love." --On my bucket list.
Powell's Books <3 td="td">
The Magic is in the Hole!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Trailers Around Town

This post may be a little un-kosher because I've never been to these trailers, but it's more of a "to-eat" list of mine. I thought I'd share it with you, so you can add them to your ever growing list of Austin places to visit. Let me know if you have a favorite menu item or recommendation. I can't wait...

Urban Cowboy
We've got another fusion truck on our hands. And I'm completely fine with that.
Cuisine: "Southern Fusion/Tex-Mex Fusion with Urban influences."
Open: Grand Opening TOMORROW - July 20 at 3 p.m.
LocationJessie Street Eats lot.
Mouth-watering menu items:

  • Smoky Chopped Chicken Taco- Mesquite Caramelized Onions, Avocado, Sweet Potato Straws, Cotija $3.75
  • The Kind Cowboy Burger (vegetarian)- Our signature Soychorizo & Black Bean Burger, Roasted Corn, Peppadew Relish, Green Leaf, Go Texan Tomato, Tomatillo Sour Cream $6
  • Cowboy Fries with Citrus Garlic Oil- Season Salt, Cilantro . Cotija $3
I love tapas and the outdoor atmosphere somehow seems more fitting than a regular indoor tapas bar. Also their food comes from a lot of my favorite vendors in Austin: Antonelli's, Easy Tiger and Countryside Farms, to name a few.

Cuisine: "Authentic Spanish tapas" - basically small little plates of delicious Spanish food. You'll probably want to go with a friend or two (bring along your Sangria) and share several tapas, so you can try everything on the menu!
Open: Opened July 11
Location75 Rainey St..a couple blocks down from Lustre Pearl & Bar 96
Mouth-watering menu items:

  • Cantimpalito de la Sidra - Pan-fried mini chorizos in cider glaze $6
  • Albondigas (one of my favorite palabras en español) - Pork meatballs in a tomato brandy sauce $5
  • Crema Catalana - Catalonian crème brûlée
Be More Pacific - Disclaimer: They're new to me, but have been around since at least February 2011
I don't think I've ever had, or heard of, Filipino Comfort Food. I'm down to try just about anything! (No pig intestines please.)

Cuisine: "Filipino-American Cuisine" or "Filipino Comfort Food"
Open: According to when their Facebook was created, around February 2011.
Location: Traveling trailer, but they seem to hang around 5th & Colorado quite a bit. Check their Twitter updates for their current location.
Mouth-watering menu items:

  • Adobo- sautéed  chicken or tofu in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and oyster sauce .
  • Sweet Garlic Fried Rice- Chicken or Tofu (Vegetarian) with scrambled egg, garlic, carrots, bean sprouts, onions sweetened with hoisin and garnished with green onion.  Add a fried egg or a longanisa pork patty for a $1.00.
  • Traditional Filipino fried eggroll- (Vegetarian) stuffed with cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, tofu rolled in a thin crispy wrapper served with sweet chili sauce

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2nd & Congress Food Trailers Closed - UPDATED

I feel like it's happening on a monthly basis now. Trailer parks closing all over Austin for condos or offices to move in; it's truly a sad sight.

If you haven't heard, the food truck lot at 2nd & Congress closed about a week ago. Five trailers were forced to relocate and with the move, Congress Ave. will definitely lose some of the best lunch options on the street.

My office used to be off 4th & Congress, so every week I'd walk a couple blocks down the road to have a choice of turkish wraps, korean-mexican tacos, seafood po boys, a calorie controlled burger or a good cup of coffee. The lot catered to almost any craving. As we bid adieu to the trailers at this lot, make sure to keep your eyes out for their new locations. I've tracked down most relocation plans for the trailers, but I'll be tweeting and updating this post as I find out more.

Couldn't find any news of a the new trailer spot, but they have three other trucks in Austin and I'm sure you won't have trouble finding those Kimchi fries. (YUM)

This place is amazing- which is clear since they also went brick and mortar earlier this year. I recommend the beef/lamb kebab with hummus and zucchini fries. SO GOOD.
Their brick and mortar is off East 7th & Navasota, but if you want the true trailer experience, their new spot is going to be off 4th & Guadalupe by Republic Square Park. UPDATE: After what seemed to be a week's long fight with "power issues," Kebabalicious is set to open up Tuesday at 7th & Congress!
Patika Coffee
I never had the chance to try Patika, but my friends all love their French press coffee. A close friend and fellow blogger, Austin Caffeinated, said she hasn't been yet either, but she's heard that "along with Franks they have some of the best espresso in Austin." This is something coming from the coffee aficionado. There's a post on their Facebook page that says they have a secured new spot, but to stay tuned. UPDATE: Looks like another member of the group is moving down the road!
Snap Pod
This trailer's dedication to serving local and organic food may not sound unique among the Austin local-food-culture, but their mission to serve healthy trailer food is. It's quite rare to find a trailer menu that allows you to order a guilt-free and calorie-conscious lunch. That's probably why there's such a huge rally behind the Snap Pod to find the trailer a new home. On Snap Kitchen's (the parent and brick and mortar of the pod) blog they're asking for fans to offer suggestions on how and where the pod should move. Help Snap Pod find a new home!
UPDATE: As of June 11, Snap Kitchen still seems to be on the hunt.
UPDATE: They're still looking for a new place to call home.

UPDATE: Snap Pod has found a spot!
According to a recent article in ABJ the food truck will open sometime early this month (November) on the "northeast corner of Fifth Street and Congress."

Turf N Surf Po'Boy
Their new digs are off 4th & Congress - just down the street from the old spot. A post dedicated to this trailer's cajun deliciousness is coming soon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

G'Raj Mahal - Rainey Street Food Truck Review

I've been to Rainey a handful of times, but this occasion was special: my last day as an intern with the company I had been with since January, my first office happy hour and my finally turning 21 (I was the only underage intern all semester)!

After a few measly pretzels for lunch, I was ready to try a new food truck in the historic district of Austin. First we stopped off at Clive where I was comped a drink from the friendly bartender and forced to drink tequila far too early in the day. "But we're CELEBRATING" they said. Right.

The sweet Belgian beer I was sipping couldn't hold me over much longer, so three of us headed across the street to G'Raj Mahal. None of us had ever tried it and I had heard great things about the food.

Photo cred: Tracy Hunter
It was 6 p.m. on a Friday and the place was packed. I enjoyed the sheer hangings and lights that made the place feel like a little shaded vacation spot. We placed our order to-go and sat down in a few squat law chairs.

Okay, I know I said it was a Friday evening, and I even acknowledged that it was busy, but we waited 45 minutes for our 3 orders all the while watching plate after plate go out to the tables around us. If the conversation and company hadn't been so great, I would have definitely said something by the 35 minute mark.

On top of that, when we finally received our food, the hostess double charged my friend's card and asked if the other friend could just give her cash, so they didn't have to handle it. I thought this was unprofessional, especially having worked in the bar and restaurant industry since I was 15.

The food, though a little pricey for a food truck at $14 a plate, was delicious and hit the spot. I was advised against the non-cream sauces and went instead for the Chicken Korma. Cream sauce with cashews and golden raisins. I added paneer, a suggestion of the hostess, that reminded me of a slighty chewier, cube shaped mozzarella. I may be way off, but comparing Indian to Italian is what I've got to work with.

I didn't get to snag a pic, but this is close to what it looked like, with more sauce of course.
Photo cred: ERecipe
The sauce was creamy and just what I needed after a long day on an empty stomach. The Basmati rice was cooked perfectly, and the chicken was great too. Next time, I'd like to add a little spice to the dish though.

If I were a star-ratings kind of site G'Raj Mahal would rank as follows:
Ambiance 4/5 stars
Customer Service 1/5 stars
Price 3/5 stars
Food 4/5 stars

I hope the next time I go back, the one outlier will be brought up. I'll even order my food at the table if that's what it takes.

What are your opinions of good food and bad service? Is it worth it?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Food Truck Foodie, Gettin' Social

Hey guys-

Just wanted to let everyone know that I now have a Facebook fan page to make it easier to stay updated on my posts. 
Please go 'like' it!
Also a reminder that I tweet about food trucks and food truck news from my personal twitter account @rachaelsperling, but again it is mixed in with personal/random tweets if you can handle it.

If you're on Foursquare (I don't know why you wouldn't be!) I have a running list of the food trucks around Austin that you can follow here.

Lastly, I may be switching over to Wordpress. It's something I'm playing around with, but no big moves yet.

Thanks for the support and readership. As always, I appreciate comments and suggestions for reviews or whatever you feel like sharing!

Happy eating,

Food Truck Foodie

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The mighty duck returns! - Odd Duck Farm to Trailer

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer Photo: Austin360,  by Mike Sutter of AMERICAN-STATESMAN
When I heard that Odd Duck Farm to Trailer was closing on December 10, 2011 (back before the lot of Lamar was shut down for good), I made it a point to pay a visit to the trailer that boosted Chef Bryce Gilmore into his chef stardom.

I actually had the chance to dine at Barley Swine (Gilmore's brick and mortar spot) before I went to the trailer. I knew if the trailer menu was anything like its sister restaurant, I was in for something good.

The atmosphere of the lot was like any other trailer lot in Austin: casual, friendly and homey, with a mixture of intriguing aromas in the air. But this lot also had that sad feeling of an old friend leaving town. Austinites were crowding to visit Odd Duck one last time, or for the first and only time, like myself. Entire events were set up to pay homage to this beloved trailer.

Parmesan grits garnished with a soft boiled duck egg, zucchini & mushrooms
Since the closure, Barley Swine has grown in popularity and has been ranked nationally as one of the best restaurants in America. Recently, Gilmore revealed that he will be reopening Odd Duck! This time however as a 100-seat restaurant.

What can you expect at the new place? The food will be "similar to the trailer...with lots of grilling and wood," Gilmore said in an interview with Eater Austin.

The "farm to table" concept of both Odd Duck and Barley Swine is serving 100% locally sourced, seasonal options.

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for this new addition to the Austin food scene!
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