Last night I was in Austin, Texas, and looking for something to eat. During the day, I had heard how Austin has seen a boom recently in food wagons, including some operated by legit chefs. It is a lot cheaper than starting a new restaurant and in a city that holds its weirdness as a point of pride, why not?
Typically, it's a trailer in a parking lot. The trailer is both kitchen and sales counter. It's strictly carry-out unless you want to sit on the curb.
The one I happened upon last night was about where Fifth Street meets I-35. I had been promenading east along Sixth Street, naturally, where there is a large concentration of drinking establishments, and had just turned around to head back west when I spotted it. The operation wasn't all in the trailer, as the BBQ cooker was out back. It was conveniently located next to Twins Liquor Store.
I got the two meats plate ($8), with brisket, beef sausage, potato salad, pinto beans, dill pickles, raw onions, and two slices of white bread (all the appropriate fixings), then picked up a 375 ml of J.T.S. Brown bourbon at Twins ($5.99).
The brisket was a little fatty but had great flavor. That flavor just came back to me as I was thinking about what to have for dinner tonight. There is plenty of good Q in Chicago, but not in my neighborhood, and it's pretty miserable out tonight, so foraging in the fridge will probably be my dinner strategy.
Street food is always a roll of the dice, but I had a good feeling when I saw the people hanging around the Night Ministry free coffee wagon parked on the same lot. This one came up a winner.