April 22, 2010

Lucky J's

location 1: Waller Creek (East 6th & Waller)
hours: M-F: 12p-3p & 7p-3a; Sat: 12p-3p; Sun: 12p-4p
location 2: UT campus Longhorn Trailer Park (MLK & Rio Grande)
hours: M-F: 12p-3p
cuisine: chicken & waffles; waffle tacos

Chicken for Strength, Waffles for Speed - is the tagline on Jason Umlas' food trailer.  But don't let the charming quirkiness fool you; the chicken and waffle concept was a deliberate business model highlighting a profitable breakfast-food-menu along with the niche market of real southern fried chicken.  But Lucky J's is more than a place to bring the hipster palette.  Jason's spot over on the Eastside hosts DJs and live gospel music along with some pretty spectacular campfires.  He's not from here, but he sure fits in good.  Admittedly, Jason never thought he would be parenting in Texas, but he has two little ones he is rearing here. Why Austin?  I love the way he puts it: "Being from New York and then LA I'm accustomed to having a diverse group of people.  For Austin being a smaller city, it's great in that regards (diversity).  You can have grandparents in tie dye sitting by punk teenagers sitting by a family of four all enjoying chicken and waffles around a campfire and getting along."

Jason describes the 'Ms. M's waffle taco' as one of the fan favorites.  It's a handheld wrap that includes boneless fried chicken strips with bacon and swiss plus a little powdered sugar.  What what?  And if you need help starting your own trailer vendor business, check out Jason's consulting firm: Lucky U's.  Get it? For new vendors, Jason reminds you that your ego is not always your amigo.  If your business plan doesn't make sense on paper it's not going to make cents on the street.  Lucky for you, Lucky U's is there for you to help with launching your business strategy and try a waffle taco from Lucky J's soon.

Holy Cacao

location: 1311 S 1st St
hours: Sun-Thr 12-8pm // Fri-Sat 12-10pm
web: www.theholycacao.com
cuisine: cake balls, frozen hot chocolate, treats
After dating for three months, Ellen and John decided to go into the cake ball business together.  Thus, Holly the Holy Cacao Cow was born on South First March 23rd of 2009.  When they were developing their concept, Ellen really liked the idea of hot chocolate based on some positive experiences in New York.  Understandably, John had his concerns about Hot Chocolate in, well - Austin.  But Ellen's entrepreneurial spirit prevailed."Ben and Jerry's made Ice Cream in Vermont," she justifies.  Red Velvet Cake Balls are the best seller, but if you want to try John's personal favorite go for the Brass Peanut Butter which has yummalicious-crunched-up-REAL-nutter-butters inside. 

If Ellen is working, you'll likely hear some tunes from the local favorite James McMurtry, and if it's John manning the pandora the Beatles will be playing.  Words of wisdom from the cacao-ers?  Get ready for charitable donation requests.  They had numerous requests within 2 days of opening and much to their merit, they attempt to fulfill at least part of every request.  Why do they do it? They love the people that have found them from all over the world. Stay tuned to Food Network this summer for a special show featuring Holy Cacao with Adam Gertler.

Edible Earth

location:1207 S. First St.
hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-5pm
web: find them on facebook
cuisine: vegan
Luci Rau, owner of Edible Earth is powered by 'comfort-veganism' and so is her food trailer.  This ex-DJ from Nebraska has been in Austin for about 5 years and is here to stay.  Why a vegan food trailer?  Even though veganism is a relatively popular movement there aren't a wide variety of vegan restaurants.  Inspired by the loss of her mother and with the encouragement of a wide-ranging support system, Luci saw her comfort vegan food concept as a way to get out of the 9-5 grind and into a more passionate life.

The Chick-un salad along with the vegan chocolate chip cookies and Popeye Salad are some of her best-sellers.  She is even serving up food to folks who aren't necessarily vegan. Her advice to new vendors?  If you don't have a business manager, check out the city's free tools and classes on small business development. 

April 14, 2010

La Boite Cafe

location: 1700 South Lamar Blvd 
hours: seven days a week, 7:30am - 4:30pm(ish) weekdaydays, 9am - 5pm(ish) weekends 
web: www.laboitecafe.com
cuisine: coffee, croissants, french-style sandwiches, tarts and baked goods (organic, local)

La Boite Cafe is nestled on the grassy hillside of the 1700 South Lamar shopping area.  I spoke with the charming and witty Victoria with her New Zealand accent as she was taking out a simmering tray of bacon from the oven.  She and her partner Dan met in Austin and started working on the La Boite concept in the beginning of 09 as an escape from the corporate life.  Their repurposed container is a walk-in, rather than walk-up trailer that earns high credibility with the environmentally concerned.  Their rainwater collection/purification system is quite unique as well.  Their menu has a bistro feel with multiple items from our local Austin farmers' markets including Pederson, Richardson, and Full Quiver Farms.  We suggest a croissant or macaroon for breakfast or a fresh, locally-made sandwich for lunch.

When I asked Victoria what inspires her, she said 'good food and travel.'  Her favorite part about the business is meeting people and staying involved in the foodie community.  For new vendors, she encourages you to work with the city through all of the intricate processes.  Her customers include poodles, kitties, and other regulars whom she is flattered to have eat at her establishment.  A true lover of fine cuisine, she suggests Odd Duck or G'Raj Mahal for other trailers outside of her own.  If you want her macaroon or bacon/egg tart recipe you're going to have to read our book.  Go visit Victoria at La Boite and tell her the Trailer Food Diaries sent you.

April 13, 2010

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer

Location: Southside - 1219 South Lamar Blvd.
- Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 5:30 PM - 10 PM 

- Telephone: 512-695-6922
- Website: www.farmtotrailer.com / Facebook: Odd Duck Farm to Trailer 
- Cuisine: Locally-sourced high end cuisine. Menu changes frequently 
Bryce Gilmore is the founding father of the Odd Duck concept and food trailer.  His culinary visions for upscale fine dining blended with the local food movement makes Odd Duck's creations a must-eat on any trailer food crawl.  He uses locally sourced ingredients by shopping at a few of Austin's favorite farmers' markets, which means his menu changes based on what is 
available seasonally.  The Pork Belly Slider is one of his favorites, and is his best selling item on the menu.  

Be sure to appreciate the craftsmanship on his food trailer; he drove all the way to Wisconsin to pick up his current model and repurposed it himself to give it a porch-screen feel.  His 700 lb wood-burning stove in the back allows him poetic license to blend the right smoke to food combinations that will leave your taste buds wanting more.  I want to try the grits with the soft-boiled duck eggs and mushrooms next time we are out.

Bryce picked up some of his culinary artistic flare from his father, Jack Allen, a founding chef at Z'Tejas who now has his own place.  However, Bryce also went to culinary school in San Francisco.  His advice to new trailer businesses?  Get Creative.  Show us something new.

Local.  Sustainable.  High End Foods.  What more could you ask?  Go see Bryce at Odd Duck, and tell him the trailer food diaries sent you.  

April 9, 2010


We set out today to visit local food trailer businesses in the Soco, South 1st and Sola areas of Austin and came back at least 2 lbs heavier each.  Stay tuned to find out more about our trailer food adventures and the book, "Trailer Food Diaries" coming this summer.

Trailer Food Cook Off: Auditorium Shores, this November (2010)

Trailer Food Diaries: book release held at the cook off