Micklethwait Craft Meats
Micklethwait Craft Meats is one of the best barbecue truck experiences you could ever have. The tender brisket, with a lovely smoke ring and peppery bark, is on par with many of the region's best barbecue spots. But Tom Micklethwait's homemade sausage—varieties like duck and cherry, lamb and apricot, which rotate daily—is what truly distinguishes his operation. Even the beef sausage, flavored deeply with Thai chilis, is moist and snappy.
Sides like coleslaw and mustardy potato salad are also assembled thoughtfully. Get some beers at the convenience store nextdoor and enjoy your barbecue at the picnic tables under the lights. Do it before the word gets out and you have to start waiting in line for hours like at Franklin Barbecue.
"I don't know what they do to this pizza to make it so good," I muttered between bites. I always promise myself that I'll save one or two pieces for later but then I can never... stop.. eating. Via 313 makes exemplary Detroit-style pizza from scratch inside a tiny trailer. All of the dough is made on-site and cold-fermented for 24 to 36 hours to achieve the chewy texture and yeasty flavor. Placed in a Bakers Pride oven at 550°F, the bottom of the pizza is baked to crispy perfection while the buttery center remains ever so slightly undercooked. But the addictive quality of this pizza experience lies in the crust. A generously thick layer of salty cheese is spread right to the edge, touching the pan. The result is an exceptionally caramelized and crispy edge.
Rosita's Al Pastor
With so many taquerias in Austin, tacos al pastor are pretty omnipresent. Unfortunately, mushy and flavorless pastor pork meat is usually what you'll get. I learned long ago, however, that if you follow the sign of el trompo, you won't be disappointed. This truck is so committed to the art of al pastor that it has a symbolic spinning pork spit painted on it. Their tacos are filled with charred and tender pork bits deeply flavored with dried chiles. Don't make the same mistake I did and order the corn tortillas—go for the handmade flour tortillas.
Rosita's Al Pastor:1911 East Riverside Drive(map); 512-442-8402
Biscuits and Groovy
You'll find this truck in the quaint Hyde Park neighborhood serving up disco-themed biscuits and gravy. The Gloria Gaynor is an indulgent dish of fluffy biscuits smothered in white gravy, sausage, bacon, melted cheese, and scallions. There are several options for vegans and vegetarians, too.
Three Little Pigs
This trailer, serving upscale restaurant quality food at lower prices, is on the property of East End Wines. You can purchase wine at the shop, and enjoy it with your meal outside for a $7 corkage fee (they only sell wine and cider). The Cracklin Meatloaf, served with creamy cheese grits and savory collard greens, is stellar. The soft and savory meatloaf is wrapped in bacon and dotted with crispy cracklins. There's also a rotating list of specials to keep regulars interested.
The Coolhaus ice cream sandwich empire from Los Angeles has expanded to Austin. The truck, serving all-natural, scooped-to-order cookie sandwiches in a custom edible wrapper, is popping up at farmers' markets and other locations. With unique flavors like potato chip and butterscotch cookies and candied bacon ice cream, it's a welcome addition to Austin's ice cream scene.
Coolhaus: various locations around town; 512-994-2616; eatcoolhaus.com
Love Balls specializes in Japanese street food like takoyaki, Japanese pancake balls stuffed with octopus. They're crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. These balls could convert anyone into an octopus fan, as the filling is savory, balanced, and without the rubbery texture. They're best smothered in spicy kimchi.
Hey!...You Gonna Eat or What?
This relative newcomer to the South Congress strip is run by a husband and wife team that lovingly makes homemade sandwiches. They're gaining a following for the Shiner Bock beer-battered Monte Cristo served with a side of homemade cherry and fig jam, but my favorite sandwich was the fried green tomato BLT. Somehow it was light despite the inclusion of crispy bacon and poblano pepper aioli.
East Side King
No list of Austin food trucks would be complete without mentioning East Side King. Eating at one of Paul Qui's Asian inspired food trucks is a quintessential Austin experience. Some favorite dishes include the pork belly buns, tongue buns, fried brussels sprouts, and beet home fries.
Kolaches, those fluffy pastry rolls filled with sausage or fruit, are ubiquitous in Czech and German-influenced Central Texas. The Zubik House truck serves Czech-inspired food and stands out with their rotating menu of creative kolaches. I was skeptical of fillings like smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers or apple, brie, and bacon, but I was converted after one bite.