July 29, 2010

Big Top Dogs

- Location:  Downtown - 201 E. 6th St. - @Brazos
- Hours: Thursday -Saturday: 8 PM - 3 AM
- Telephone: 512-484-0050
- Website: www.bigtop-dogs.com
- Cuisine: Late night hot dogs

Long before John Dawson had his hands in the mobile vending scene, his grandfather was selling peanuts out of a push cart in Toledo, Ohio.  A Greek immigrant coming through Ellis Island at age 16 his grand-dad eventually developed his street food business into a brick and mortar restaurant/diner that was called ‘Clean Bite’ where John’s mother spent time as a waitress during the depression and war years.  So it was a bit of fate that John would develop ‘Big Top Dogs’ after traveling to and living in New York, where his grandfather started their family’s journey to pursue the American dream.
As part of his mission to provide authentic New York hot dogs, John contracted with Sabret, which is a New York family owned business that offers nitrate-free 100% all beef dogs with natural casing that are also gluten free.  In addition to the quality of his food, the stainless steel cart also lends to the authenticity of his business.  So what makes a New York Style dog so unique?  John instructs, “Take a bun and a stick, put some push cart style deli mustard on the bun, then put the dog down and add the sauerkraut with onion sauce (Vidalia onions and tomato sauce).  Mustard is the foundation of everything.  If someone wants ketchup, they have to do it themselves.”

Veracruz All Natural

- Location:  Eastside - 1704 E. Cesar Chavez St. - @Chicon
- Hours: Monday - Friday: 7 AM - 7 PM
              Saturday: 7 AM - 6 PM
- Telephone: 512-963-1428 / 512-964-8414
- Website: www.veracruzallnatural.com 
- Cuisine: Breakfast & Lunch ...fruit cups, sandwiches, smoothies, tacos...

As you might suspect, Reyna Vasquez, owner of Veracruz All Natural is from the sunny shores of Veracruz, Mexico.  She moved to Austin 11 years prior to opening her trailer.  She had experience working as a waitress but ultimately wanted to be in business for herself so she and her mother and sister started making smoothies and other fresh treats in 2008.  Her personal favorite items on the menu are the smoothies and the fruit cups.  She sells the most smoothies that have a blend of berries and orange juice.  When asked what her favorite part about owning her own business is, Reyna says, “I like to talk to different people from different countries or cultures.  I like to meet new people all the time.  The weather is similar as Veracruz, where I came from and the people are really friendly.  This is a really nice way to live.”

Elotes Locos

- Location:  Outlier - 6301 W. Parmer Ln. - @Little Woodrow's Bar
- Hours: Wednesday -Saturday: 6 PM - 2 AM
- Telephone: 512-909-6767
- Facebook: Elotes Locos / Twitter: ElotesLocos
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Originally from El Paso, Texas Chris and Liz Aguirre moved to Austin about three years prior to opening their food trailer in May of 2010.  After 12 years in corporate America, enough was enough.  The simple pleasure of working for themselves is one of the most satisfying things about Elotes Locos for the Aguirres.

Liz had always had a passion for food and the couple thought a trailer was the best way to showcase her skills while leaving room for their business to grow.  It took about 14 days for their brand new trailer unit to be manufactured from scratch in Monterey, Mexico.  Their favorite items on the menu are the tacos bistec and the tacos al pastor, although their best seller is the steak quesadilla.

Austin Daily Press

- Location:  Downtown - Red River & 9th St. 
- Hours: Tuesday -Saturday: 8 PM - 3 AM
- Telephone: 512-644-2959
- Website: www.austindailypress.com / Facebook: Austin Daily Press / Twitter: AUSdailypress
- Cuisine: Pressed Sandwiches

Cory Nunez was traveling through Austin from his hometown of St. Simmons Islands, Georgia, visiting his brother when he decided to park it here permanently.  He worked at his chef-brother’s restaurant for a few months before eventually opening up his own Austin Daily Press with his business partner Amy Hildenbrand.  At first, they did a lot of deliveries of hot sandwiches to people’s bar stools from his downtown location.  57 different bars were the recipients of Austin Daily Press delivery, and the team anticipates getting back into their delivery aspect with an emphasis on green via their new electric scooters. 

Meanwhile, back at the trailer, Cory recommends the Steak and eggs which has Munster with Habanero Cream Cheese or the Baloney Sandwich.  Their Gyro is another crowd favorite which is a play on the wrap containing Israeli salad with lemon juice and parsley plus Tabasco(TM), Tzatziki  and Feta cheese all grilled on a fresh sandwich.  You can hear Amy & Cory cooking to the tunes of 70s and 80s jams such as Hall and Oates, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and the News, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and beyond.  Cory & Amy have served Elijah Wood, Drew Barrymore, the entire cast of ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, and a ton of UT football guys out of their trailer.

Old School BBQ

Location: Waller Trailer Park Eatery - 1112 E. 6th Street - @Waller
- Hours: Monday & Tuesday: 11 AM - 3 PM
             Wednesday: 5 - 10 PM
             Thursday & Friday: 5 PM - 12 AM
              Saturday: 12 PM - 3 AM 
- Hours: 512-947-6830
- Cuisine: BBQ

“Old school quality of service without the rip off pricing”

Having gone to the Cordon Bleu school under a master chef in France, his corporate experience with Hard Rock Café and TGI Fridays as well as having opened 56 restaurants in 2 continents and 3 countries, Dan Parrott brings over 35 years of experience to the table at Old School BBQ & Grill.  As a single Dad he brought his son Danny with him to build restaurant concepts from the ground up.  They would hire and train the staff and move on to another project.  So the restaurant business was in Danny’s blood early on.   Their third business partner Trey is responsible for the trio’s move from L.A. to Austin and it was driving around with realtors that they noticed the boom in the trailer food scene.  Thus, the Old School BBQ concept was born.

Dan says, “Old school going back to when it was your pride and your pleasure to serve others because they were giving you their most precious commodity – their time.  We aren’t trying to make all the money we can – I was making ridiculous money and left it all behind to come back on this hot bus just to look at someone when they take a bite and I can see their face.”

Their brisket is their best-selling item and although their namesake highlights their BBQ, the grill side of this trailer is pretty strong too.  For their hamburger, they start the day with two choice cuts of angus steak that they grind every morning themselves.  On top of the burger, they add caramelized onions and Vermont aged sharp cheddar cheese that is melted on the patty.  If you want tomatoes on it, they will slice it right in front of your eyes.  There is a limited amount of this product, so when it’s gone for the day, that’s it. 

Dan offers his perspective on how the food industry has changed and why he feels it is important to serve his guest good quality food at a reasonable price:  “I love what I do but I don’t respect the industry I’m in anymore – after 35 years, the industry has defaulted into one more us corporate structure.  People in offices are making decisions about people in food – I don’t think that’s right.  Back in the day when you went out for food it was a special event, a really big deal you looked forward to – and the people feeding you knew it was a special event – they knew they had to capture your grace that one time.  When you went to eat and someone else did it, you would get dressed up, service and quality were incredibly important.  After all, if you are going against ‘mom’ you better be good.  Then there’s the aspect of value –the money the patrons raised in their livelihoods had to be used to buy farm parts.  The food culture back then, you knew you were working with a group of hard working people that deserved the best.  And that is what we are doing at Old School.  The main thing for us, I really hope people understand that if nothing else, we do what we do with great passion.  We are going to give it our all.  We just love making people smile when they have a really good meal.”

Osmo's Kitchen

- Location: Southside - 801 Barton Springs Rd
- Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11 AM – 6 PM
- Telephone: 512-514-1727
- Facebook: Osmo's Kitchen / Twitter: OsmosKitchen
- Cuisine: Italian & Cajun fare

Kent & Robin O’Keefe each had over 20 years of combined cooking experience under their belt when they met at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.  Prior to starting their food trailer, they had a catering company in Austin called Two Bodacious Chefs.  They picked Austin because it seemed to be a good spot between his hometown of Houston and her hometown in New York where they both felt at home.  Their Osmo’s Kitchen trailer developed out their love of culinary arts and has a two-boots concept offering a combination of Italian and Cajun cuisine.

When you walk up to the trailer with unique paintings on the side, you’ll hear some Zydeco music coming from the trailer in addition to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ray Charles, Alman brothers, Led Zeppelin, and ZZ Top.  If you ask Kent, his wife’s Sicilian gravy with meatballs and pasta takes the cake, but their best seller happens to be the Blackened Catfish Poboy with spicy slaw.  He says the best part about the business besides the actual cooking is interacting with the customers and seeing people enjoy what they have prepared.

Flip Happy Crepes

- Location: Southside - 400 Josephine St -@Barton Springs Rd. 
- Hours: Wednesday & Thursday: 10 AM – 2:30 PM
               Friday: 10 AM - 2:30 PM / 6 PM - 9 PM
               Saturday: 9 AM - 3 PM
               Sunday: 10 AM  - 2 PM
- Telephone: 512-552-9034
- Website: www.fliphappycrepes.com / Facebook: Flip Happy Crepes / Twitter: fliphappycrepes
- Cuisine: Sweet & Savory Crepes

Nessa Higgins and Andrea Dayboykin were good friends with children in the same elementary school obsessing about vintage trailers before they developed the Flip Happy Crepes concept.  Nessa grew up in the Caribbean and moved to Austin in the 09’s by way of the Midwest and New Orleans.  Andrea also spent some time living in New Orleans but originally comes from Houston.  She met her husband Patrick Gannon in New York and when he took her to his homeland of Ireland, she fell in love with him and the crepes she tried there.  Since no one was doing crepes out of an Airstream in Austin in 2006, the dynamic duo decided to put their plan into action and manifest their food trailer business crepe-style. 

Andrea would say the food is what she likes best about their business while Nessa would say the people.  Nessa shares, “I like the production of it, I like it that we just mad something out of nothing.  Our concept is gourmet street food. We are not your average hot dog or burger.  It’s about quality ingredients that are affordable and served in a casual setting. We put a lot of time and care into our food.”

Both ladies had exposure to the food industry although neither worked directly within.  Nessa’s grandfather owned several bars and grills while she was growing up and Andrea’s husband Patrick has been a chef for over 20 years.  He is the brains and creativity behind the Flip Happy menu development.  While Nessa favors the fried egg and ham with gruyere and mornay sauce and Andrea prefers the spinach feta with garlic aioli, their fan favorite is the Cuban and pork crepes, which happened to beat Bobby Flay in a Food Network Throw Down.  Another crowd pleaser is the chicken and mushrooms.

July 26, 2010

Lulu b's

- Location: Southside - 2101 South Lamar
- Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11 AM – 4 PM
              Saturday: 11 AM - 5 PM
- Telephone: 512-921-4828
- Website: www.lulubssandwiches.com / Facebook: Lulu B's Sandwiches / Twitter: lulub0107
- Cuisine: Vietnamese Sandwiches

Laura Bayer was teaching elementary school before opening her Vietnamese trailer food business in January of 2008.  In comparison to teaching, Laura says about the trailer food industry,  “When it was new, it was completely different.  I got out of teaching because it was emotionally and physically draining.  But now that we are busy, it’s just as demanding just in a different way.”  Her mother is the beacon of Vietnamese cooking in Laura’s eyes.  In fact, when Laura was in elementary school it was well known among the teachers that her mother’s egg rolls were highly sought after.  Laura says, “Every teacher in every school we went to would ask if mom was making egg rolls.”   

A lot of her lemon grass recipes were learned from her mother including her fish sauce and summer rolls.  The grilled pork sandwich and the summer rolls are her favorite items on the Lulu b’s menu, but the Chinese BBQ pork sandwich takes the win for the crowd favorite.  One of Laura’s favorite things about the business is serving repeat customers and having the satisfaction of people who really love and appreciate our food.  Having done no advertising, all of her customers have come from word of mouth, including Jake Gillinhall and a lot of famous local musicians.  One of her customers is a dog trainer who brings dog treats for lulu b’s to give away. 

In addition to Vietnamese fare, Laura used to sell Vietnamese smoothies.  She remembers, “I went to Vietnam when I was 31.  My aunt actually had a little coffee stand outside her house where she sold smoothies, coconuts, coffee – that’s where I learned to do those items but the trailer is too small to accompany that now.”  What makes a Vietnamese smoothie different?  It is a refreshing combination fresh fruit, condensed milk, sugar, lime and ice. 

Originally from California, Laura moved to Austin in July of 1999 with her best friend at the time, whose father had recently passed away and her mother was moving back to Texas.  Initially, Laura said no, but she found herself falling in love with Austin and agreed to go only if Austin was the city her friend would choose.  When asked what inspires her, Laura says, “My love of food – I get excited when I have good food.”

Hola Aloha!

- Location: Southside - 2113 South Lamar
- Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 12 PM - 4 PM
              Saturday: 12 PM - 5 PM
- Website: www.holaaloha.com / Twitter: holaaloha
- Cuisine: Shaved ice and gourmet waffles made with homemade fruit syrup. 

A former entertainment wardrobe stylist and set designer, it wasn’t Chella’s intention to start a food trailer business.  She was back in town after touring with a ballet company doing wardrobe when a dear friend of hers approached her about a coffee trailer start up.  After some initial research, Chella offered the shaved ice idea.  With her friend’s heritage in Hawaii, and her growing up in West Texas with Raspados (the latin version of shaved ice), the snow cones made more sense to her although she was serious about providing a healthier option for the summer time snack.

Inspired by her Aunt Mary who always made everything from scratch with fresh ingredients, without using recipes, Chella serves only wholesome homemade goodness out of her trailer.  She makes all the syrups with organic juices and flavors, generally fresh fruits and berries.  Depending on the ingredients she will use organic cane sugar or agave nectar for the sweetener.  Her personal favorite is the Lemon Ginger syrup with Coconut ice cream at the bottom and her equally delectable best seller is the Strawberry Basil with a sweet leche dulce cream.

Chris' Little Chicago

Chris Miller and his mother had been doing fresh salsas and spreads along with homemade cookies at multiple farmers markets when their customers demanded they open a storefront so they could buy products year round.  So the pair opened a gourmet food store and catered in the Chicago land area of the North shore for a total of 14 years before Chris decided to make a move to the Austin area in 2005.  The reason he opened Chris’ Little Chicago, and his trailer’s namesake, is because he realized there wasn’t any true authentic Chicago style food in Austin.  Specifically he wanted to bring the Chicago style hot dog and the Italian Beef sandwich to Austinites. 

So what is it that makes a Chicago dog different?  Chris shares, “What makes the dog authentic Chicago is using a Vienna beef hot dog 100% beef, on a steamed poppy-seed bun, topped with mustard, Chicago relish (which is bright green), chopped raw onions, and then a pickle sphere.  That’s where it gets confusing; a lot of people use the little circular hamburger ones but it has to be a sphere.  Then you add two wedges of tomato, two sport peppers (which are kind of like little Serranos – little green pepper that is spicy), sprinkled with celery salt.”  Chicago customers also know that how you assemble it makes a difference.  First comes the dog, then the relish and onions.  The pickled sphere goes on one side and the tomato wedges go on the other side.

Since living in
Austin, Chris has served Chicago Bears player’s families along with Willie’s ex-wife and daughter.  He has amazingly had two women on two separate occasions drive down from Seton hospital to get a Chicago dog as their first meal after child birth.  Chris says, “My enthusiasm remains in introducing to the Austin people a new style of food they haven’t had an opportunity to try before and change their opinion about hot dogs.”


- Location: Southside - 600 South Lamar Blvd. - @Barton Springs Rd.
- Hours: Monday – Saturday: 12 PM - 9 PM
- Telephone: 214-883-3473
- Website: www.bananarchy.net / Facebook: Bananarchy / Twitter: bananarchy_atx

- Cuisine: Dessert - Frozen Bananas

University of Texas student Anna Notario was watching a marathon of “Arrested Development” episodes when it dawned on her that the family in the show was on to something big with their frozen banana stand.  She shared the idea with her friend Laura Anderson who ended up writing her thesis on the experience of trying to open the stand.  Once that paper was in play, the girls got more serious about the big idea.  The bought an ex-lemonade stand from Fiesta Texas off of craigslist and opened shop in May of 2009.

Laura and Anna, both native Texans met as house mates with a group of almost 30 people.  The house is owned by a college pastor and many of the people who lived their were somehow associated with it.  Both girls are well traveled, Laura having spent some time studying in Mexico and Anna in Thailand on an 11-month mission trip helping with a range of projects including girls in the sex trade industry and countries heavily afflicted with AIDS.

Although her favorite item on the menu changes everyday, Laura really likes the chocolate covered with cinnamon, the Afternoon Delight, or Vanilla with Cinnamon.  Their best selling dipper is chocolate, and their best selling topping tends to be toffee or reeses pieces.  In addition to selling frozen bananas, the bananarchists enjoy having events with bands playing.  At their first Bananarchy Awareness Party they had a band that played video game music in rock form while party-goers held ‘fight the man’ signs and dressed in banana costumes.  This party was their record day for sales, selling 229 bananas.

Pick Up Stixx

- Location & Hours: 
  SoFi Food Court - 2202 South 1st St. - @Live Oak 
      >Monday - Thursday: 11 AM - 8 PM
      >Friday & Saturday: 11 AM – 6:30 PM
  Downtown - E. 7th St. & Trinity
      >Friday & Saturday: 9 PM - 3 AM
- Telephone: 512-234-2103
- Website: www.pickupstixx.biz / Facebook: Pick up Stixx / Twitter: pick_up_stixx

- Cuisine: Fusion Kabobs

Don’t be scared of Cowden Ward’s big sideburns and crazy eyes, he’s really a nice, cultured cook with 20 years of experience in the food industry.  Originally from Dallas and raised on Lake Buchanan, Cowden has spent time working outside of Texas in Arizona and Europe.  Having been in Austin on and off for 20 years, he finally sunk some roots, mobile though they might be, with his Pick up Sticks trailer.  Keeping his cool in the mass chaos of a busy run, Cowden likes to have the music blaring in his trailer.  He has everything from Tibetan Monk chants to Salsa to Metal to Stevie Ray Vaughn to Cowboy Junkies, Beethoven and Mozart, and his favorite – Junior Brown. 

In Cowden’s words, he loves this business: “I can do whatever I want.  I can play with food.  I’ve been known to run specials in restaurants and do well – so I can offer something different than what everyone else is doing (other than tacos and burgers).  There are so many other starches to play with! I’m going to try and run 20 different sauces – Mexican, Mediteranean, something weird like jalapeno tomato mint, or saffron pickle relish.  I’m trying to work with a local grower that is consistent with local produce and meats – that is where I can offer my special at market price and keep it real.”  And why does he do it? “To see that smile – to see people enjoy life a little more.  It’s a challenge to make someone smile through your food.”

Izzoz Taco's

- Location: Southside- 1207 South 1st St. - @Gibson
- Hours: Tuesday - Thursday: 8 AM – 9 PM
               Friday 8 AM - 10 PM
               Saturday 9 AM – 10 PM
               Sunday 9 AM – 9 PM
- Telephone: 512-326-4996
- Website: www.izzoztacos.com / Facebook: Izzoz Tacos / Twitter: IzzozTacos
- Cuisine: Tacos - breakfast, lunch, & dinner
“Where good friends make tacos and good tacos make friends.”

Being a fourth generation Austinite with a family history in the restaurant business, John Galindo is a hometown hero.  Austinites will recognize his great grandfather’s efforts in working to open the iconic ‘Tavern’ on 11th and Lamar as well; and his grandmother used to waitress at Jaime’s
Spanish Village which sadly is now closing.  In fact, there are over 100 years of combined experience in the food service industry working in the Izzoz trailer today.  Izzoz is a shortened word in Spanish for twins.  Since twins run in the Galindo family, and John has niece and nephew twins, the name ‘Izzoz’ made since.

Having cooked with the some of the best, John’s food certainly stands out as does his customer service.  He calls you his guest, never a ‘customer’ and goes out of his way to remember your name and what you like to be sure to put a smile on your face the next time you visit his establishment.  Having been rooted in the business for so long, he has some suggestions for new vendors: “It’s not what you’re selling, it’s how you sell it – it’s the same with tacos or cupcakes or pies or stuff in a cone – attention to detail, the character you bring every day is what matters.”

Down Town Burgers

Born in New York, raised in Chicago, Steve McDermott lived in 8 states and spent over 40 years working in nearly every genre of food in the restaurant industry.  Steve says, “My mother was Greek and she and my grandparents and aunts always cooked, so it’s in my blood.”  Among his restaurant victories, he used to have a pizza joint in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin called ‘the Original Chicago Pizza Company’.  Additionally, he spent some time with the Austin icon “El Arroyo” after having met Clay McPhail in New Orleans.  
However, Steve didn’t set out to start another restaurant when “Down Town Burgers” came about.  On the contrary, he started a business called ‘e-cars of Austin’ that consisted of 10 electric cars.  He set up an office for his rental car business out of a trailer which the city wouldn’t allow.  As such, Steve decided to take matters into his own hands and do something out of his trailer that the city would allow: grilling burgers.  Steve’s attitude? “If you can’t beat’em might as well join’em.”  He ran up against another wall trying to get a permit to serve beer and wine.  His solution was to have BYOB and provides Free Beer Fridays with a keg for his customers.  

You better be hungry for a hamburger when you walk up to Steve’s stand; that is all he sells.  In his words, “My menu is limited – I do one thing and do it great.  I’m the original McDonalds; you cant get anything besides burgers.  My grill has a char broiler, and I always fresh meat (never frozen).  We have fresh toppings everyday.  We are the most inexpensive place to eat downtown serving a quarter pounder with fries and a drink for $5.95.”

Turf Grill

CLOSED - 9/2010 - goodbye, Turf Grill. 

Cuisine: fusion sandwiches - grilled, of course.

Stratton Weekley grew up in the food industry and although he diverted when he went to college and was a software engineer for 13 years, he wasn’t satisfied with his corporate life and decided to follow a more inspiring and fulfilling path.  His uncles and grandparents all had restaurants in Galveston, Houston and here in Austin that covered seafood and Italian fusion genres.  “I remember being 8 or 9 years old helping him (his uncle, Ronnie Maceo) slice corn beef and roast beef and make meatball sandwiches….that restaurant was a lot of the inspiration behind what I’m doing.  The sandwiches I have are all sandwiches he made there; I grew up eating them and couldn’t find anything that could match it,” recounts Stratton.  His family’s Turf Grill in Galveston is his current trailer’s namesake. 

While his favorite is the Muffaletta  and the crowd favorite is the Reuben, Stratton does offer delectable vegetarian options as well.  You can always substitute grilled onions and peppers and artichokes for any of the meats.  All of the Turf Grill’s produce is local; he goes to near by farms for his peppers and onions and cabbages.   

You’ll notice the 6 foot long wooden alligator sitting on one of the picnic tables outside of his trailer, which was given to him by one of his customers who is a chain saw artist.  Another customer thought it would be funny to attach some deer horns to it, and thus the Turf Grill creature was born.  Stratton said he gets emails from customers from Germany, China, Sweden and beyond where they are sending pictures of themselves with his alligator.

Sno Cone's

Career waitress Debbie Campbell and her husband Tim who was a glass company owner in northwest Indiana were looking for warmer weather and an early retirement.  It was on a trip to Austin to visit their youngest son who was stationed in Fort Hood and heading to Iraq that they decided to close shop and move south for good.  Debbie says, “My original plan was to do a cookie shop in a mobile concession stand.  I always made cookies for Tim’s clients around Christmas time. No one baked up there.  I would take a week and bake and put them in tins or baskets and deliver to the companies he did business with.  They all asked when I was going in business, but I said it was just a hobby.”   

Instead of cookies, Debbie decided to try her hand at a Texas favorite to see if she was going to adjust to being inside a trailer.  “It gets hot in Austin and everyone likes their ice,” she says.  “We did not have snow cones in Indiana growing up – you get four months out of the year where you could call it summer and then you start running into fall and we like comfort warm foods when it’s getting cold.  We never realized how big snow cones were until we got to the South.” 

Debbie says it’s popular to mix a few flavors together at her sno cone trailer.  For example, she likes the ‘melon berry’ which is a blend of the strawberry and watermelon juices.  One of her customers, Razz, ordered a Mojito and Root Beer combination, which they named the ‘Razzle Dazzle’ after him.  Tim likes the sno cone classic Dreamcycle which is a combination of ice cream with orange.  And the kids seem to love a mixture of cherry and bubble gum.  “Hi, look what you did to my tongue,” said one of their four-year old customers after eating some blue ice.

The Flying Carpet

- Location: Gibson Trailer Park - 1318 South Congress Av. -@Gibson St.
- Hours: Wednesday - Friday: 6  PM - 10 PM

              Saturday: 12 - 3 PM & 6 PM - 10 PM
              Sunday: 12 - 3 PM & 5 PM - 7 PM
- Telephone: 512-744-5651
- Facebook: The Flying Carpet / Twitter: TFCAustin

- Cuisine: Moroccan Burgers

Maria & Abderrahim Souktouri are the heart and soul of the Flying Carpet with cultures as bold and brilliant as the food they are serving.  Maria grew up here in Austin, while Abderrahim haled from the ghetto in Morocco.  He won his United States citizenship in the lottery when he was 27 and came over to the states.  They met at a party with the Latin American studies department at UT and ended up hooking up at Club Rio.  Eventually they married and had their first-born, Talib, and with his birth came a change in lifestyle.  With a leap of faith, Maria quit her job as a paralegal for a civil rights attorney in order to stay home with Talib while Abderrahim kept his job at the Dell factory.  It was during these moments of chance that the couple decided to do something ‘just for them’ and try their hand in the food industry.   

Maria tells it like this, “We’ve always entertained and been foodies; having parties for 30-40 at our house is not a strange thing.  People rant and rave about our food and we’d always talked about what it would be like to open a restaurant ever since we first got together fifteen years ago.  But we knew enough to be scared…. When we thought about opening trailer we had plan b, c.  “b” was sell the trailer – “c” was move to Morocco.   But there were so many confirmations once we did this, and I realized the house, the biggest thing we’ll ever buy, even if we lose it, it doesn’t change who we are. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal its now.  What are we waiting for?  The trailer was something we could financially and logistically do.” 

Back in Morocco is where Abderrahim tested the waters with his trailer food endeavors.  He had a street food business there, selling roasted nuts.  He has taken his bride to his hometown twice, and his son got to go once so far.  The couple feels strongly about serving people what they would eat out of their own home, so all of the ingredients come from hormone free and cage free animals as well as organic vegetables.  Former Barton Springs Lifeguard Maria says, “The food in Morocco is clean and brilliant because it is not mass produced.  Even though I’m Mexican we never ate at trailers because they were dirty.  But Morocco is different.”   

In fact, the “Moroccan” is the Souktouri’s best seller. They use a very pure bread made of flour, salt and water which they buy daily.  Next, they pour a tomato sauce that includes tomatoes they have peeled slow cooked in spices, onions and then garlic at the end so as not to burn.  (The minimum they lovingly cook the sauce is 2 ½ hours.)  They use vegetarian hormone free beef and plop three little nuggets of the beef on top.  A vegetarian-fed, hormone free, cage free egg is fried and put on top as a final touch.  If that doesn’t have your tastebuds watering with underground soul food, I don’t know what else to write.

Trolley Cafe

CLOSED - 9/2010 - goodbye, Trolley Cafe

Cuisine: Coffee and Sandwiches

The concept of the Trolley Café began as an animal conservation project when Dustin Butler was volunteering in the Philippines for the Peace Corps.  There, he started working with locals to protect the Civet cat, a fruit-eating, tree-dwelling threatened species that is part of the mongoose family.  Fruit from the coffee plant is part of this rare wild mammal’s diet; they climb up to the top of the coffee trees and eat the sweetest fruits, leaving the beans on the jungle floor for people to harvest.  So Dustin worked with farmers in the area to develop a rare strain of coffee known as “Civet Coffee” using the beans the Civet’s leave behind.  And the money goes directly back to the conservation efforts he established with the same people he befriended while living in a tool shed in southeast Asia. 

The coffee is shipped from the Philippines through Adam Valenzuela’s shipping company in San Antonio.  Adam, a Pilipino himself, met Dustin through his shipping company and quickly realized Dustin spoke two of the native languages from his area.  The two went into business together and the Trolley café is a result of their friendship and business relationship.  Additionally, the pair have partnered with Sesa teas, which is a local company that imports Indian teas.   In addition to serving wellness teas and iced coffee, the Trolley Cafe offers breakfast, lunch and frozen deserts with an Asian flare.  From waffle stix, to grilled breakfast and lunch sandwiches, to real fruit smoothies, your taste buds are in for a real treat.

Their trolley is a nostalgic image.  It happens to be the same make, color and model as the old dillo trolleys that used to run here in Austin.  Dustin says, “We bought it out of a shopping center in Colorado.  We had it towed down and I converted it myself to a mobile kitchen, added a bunch of brewing and blending equipment… it still drives, it even has a bell on it.  In fact, people have tried to get inside and ask where we are going because they think it’s the old Dillo.”  Before setting up shop in the South Lamar / Barton Springs area of Austin, Dustin was driving the Trolley to various rodeos and events.  He anticipates utilizing the seating and rest area behind the trailer for live music, artists and other creative endeavors.

July 17, 2010

The Jalopy Rotisserie & Press

- Location: Downtown - 1502 San Antonio St.
- Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:30 AM – 7 PM 
              Saturday: 11 PM -  3 AM
- Number: 512-814-8557
- Website: www.jalopyaustin.com / Facebook: The Jalopy - Austin / Twitter: jalopyaustin
- Cuisine: Sandwiches - rotisserie pressed

When Nick Patrizi graduated from The University of Texas, his family was very serious when they sat him down and told him he could do anything he wanted except something in the food and beverage industry.  Afterall, coming from a large Italian family with a history of owning restaurants they knew first hand the ups and downs of the restaurant business.  But instead of taking on corporate finance banking gigs, Nick decided to try his hand at the family business but in his own way – out of a trailer. 

The contrast of clean quality product with super friendly Nick in a white chef coat out of an old 18 wheeler is beautiful.   He uses an onion marmalade with reduced red wine, reduced balsamic and clove in a demi glace to sauce up his chicken and he has a huge pot boiling down chicken bones to make chicken butter with fun seasonings which takes 72 hours to make.  He has an asian-based sauce with oyster and sweet chile.  My favorite part of the ingredient discussion: “We have seven different peppers that I pickle (that’s a peck): anaheims, poblanos, hatch, serranos, etc.”  Nick’s Asian Chicken Hot Sandwiches are not a panini – he likes his bread toasted and caramelized so there is a little burntness factor to it, just like home. In case your mouth isn’t watering yet, he has a caprese, but instead of basil he uses a juicy spicy parsley pesto with a medley of six different nuts (not quite a peck) with lemon juice, serranos, garlic and olive oil. 

From Beaumont to Switzerland, Nick has seen many beautiful places in the world, but he chooses Austin to call home.  You can hear an eclectic mix of Rolling stones, Earth Wind and Fire, Lady Gaga, and more when you walk up to make your order from the Jalopy.

Good Bike Cafe

“We feature locally handcrafted food & beverages, Cuvee direct-trade organic & single-origin roasted beans, Grand Cru espressos and the best darn Cuban coffee in town,” is the Good Bike Café way.  Originally from Miami, co-owner Mike Hanna’s parents owned a restaurant for 20 years and as such, he went through every position and area of the food industry from waiter to sous chef, general managing to bar tending and beyond.  Since his father spent some time living in Jamaica, he features an authentic spiced Jamaican jerk.  They are also serving up creative concoction including medieranean roasted lamb wraps and a tabouleh and hummus that will impress any hunger pang.  Regardless of their rich and tasty lunches, the Cuban coffee is hands down their best seller and crowd favorite.

Primarily because their theme and concept is Islander, you’ll hear music from different regions of the Caribbean and Jamaica including reggae, latin flare and even Mediterranean sounds when you bike up to order at this trailer in the UT campus area.  Their ’09 trailer was previously used as a coffee and hot dog cart prior to the Good Biker’s revamping and repurposing it.


Matthew (the Muck of Muck-n-Daves) remembers an old barrel smoker their family had under a pecan tree behind his house in Pleasant Grove, Texas when he was a kid where the men would bar-b-que and the women would dish up the fixins and sides.  He and his nephew Dave had experience winning the hearts of their family as BBQ enthusiasts prior to opening their food trailer on the popular food cart park on South Congress in March of 2010.  In fact, the pair had always talked about doing BBQ competitions with a mobile smoker when they retired, but as fate would have it they came across a good deal on a trailer and decided to realize their dreams a little faster.  With the help of some skilled welders and electricians they were able to create a unique detachable screened in area for their 800 pound grill designed for easy transport. 
Although sandwiches are their best-sellers since finger food is a popular portable lunch item, Matthew confides it’s his brisket that is really the king of the menu if you have time to sit down for a mid day picnic.  In addition to his love of cooking BBQ, it’s his customers who make the job worthwhile.  Matthew shares, “ It’s watching people take the first bite of my food and shake their head like ‘oh yeah, that’s what I m talking about’ – it’s rewarding for me.  I could work all day and all night and it’s that moment when I see someone take a bite and they cant even talk they just agree with shaking heads.  That’s why I do it.  That’s the moment when it comes full circle.”

The Texas Cuban

Hector Ward is the real ‘Texas Cuban’.  He grew up in southwest Houston on a cattle ranch that has been in his family for 120 years.  He is the first born of a Cuban refugee.  His parents came over to the United States via boat when Castro came into power when they were only 13 years old.  As many from his family that could come across, came over and landed in Miami.  In fact, a lot of the recipes from the Texas Cuban trailer are inspired from traditional family recipes from his grandmother, aunts and mother.

As to be expected, the ‘Texas Cuban’ sandwich is one of the trailer’s best sellers.  Other favorites include the Croquetta’s which involve mango nectar shipped from eqgypt to
Miami and the Media Noche sandwich.  The Papa Rellena offers a scrumptious take on hamburger meat cooked with green bell peppers and olives, balled up and surrounded with mashed potatoes and deep fried in the healthiest possible of oils.  Have a Mexican coke with real sugar and some plantain chips with one of these and you’re set.

Hector cooked throughout his younger years in the commercial food industry and in the family kitchen before he became a musician.  It was in October of 2009 during an economic downturn that he and some of his band members decided to pool resources and try their hand at the trailer food business.  Hector Ward and the Big Time is a 10 piece band and Hector employs not only his own band members but other musicians as well.  “We’re all certified to do what we do in the kitchen, it’s just a way to get the good food out there and put good people to work,” Hector reports.

Phoebe's Mud

After Jonathan and Melissa Insley had had enough of the East Coast weather, they flew down to meet ‘liberal, unpretentious’ Austin for a change of pace with Phoebe, their King Charles Cavalier.  You guessed right, Phoebe is the namesake for Phoebe’s Mud.  She is the color of their caramel mocha latte (with homemade whip and caramel sauce on top) and we are told Phoebe is as sweet as the drink she looks like.    ‘Mud’ is in there with good reason too; it is slang for strong coffee.  Jonathan and Melissa  put it this way, “We believe in strong coffee.  Weak coffee is inexcusable.”

Whether it’s a mocha banana frap or a strawberry banana smoothie, the Insley’s can’t seem to make them fast enough.  They are in a roving tricked out 2006 Chevy truck and provide reliably strong coffee without a bitter taste and refreshing smoothies to their customers all over the city.   As part of the Phoebe’s Mud evolution, three of their drinks are named after customers: Joyce, Brock, and Gracie.  In addition to roaming to various lucky locations throughout Austin, the Mud truck is also part of the Staving Art Studios and EAT on East Ceasar Chavez.  This unique spot is a blend of food trailers, local art, film, music and other artistic endeavors.

Neither Insley were experienced in the food and beverage industry prior to Phoebe’s Mud.  In their former lives in
Hoboken, New Jersey, Jonathan was an entrepreneur dabbling in multiple projects and Melissa was in the clothing industry with a European company.  When asked what they like best about their coffee truck delivery endeavor, Jonathan says, “I look forward to working.  It’s a great satisfying feeling when you know someone is relying on your coffee/smoothie to get through the day.  I’m genuinely excited to serve people and I’m always excited to go work.”  Rest assured coffee and smoothie drinkers, as a sufficient amount of quality control is being done throughout the day by the management to ensure your happiness.