Beginning late this week, thousands of rockers, filmmakers, web entrepreneurs and good-time enthusiasts flood into Austin, Texas for South by Southwest—the sprawling digital, film and music conference that serves as an ad-hoc spring break for the entertainment industry. Besides catching the hot new indie band or discovering the next Lena Dunham, festival-goers will also be eating. A lot. And Austin, with its revolutionary food truck scene, is ready to satisfy a lot of bellies-on-the-go. We consulted with some trusted Austin insiders to offer some can’t-miss options.
1. Luke’s Inside-Out (1109 S Lamar Blvd, (512) 589-8883)
Masterminded by a former personal chef for jam bands like Widespread Panic, this fetchingly fusion-bent food truck sits in happy symbiosis adjacent to The Gibson, a fine cocktail establishment opposite the Alamo South Lamar theater complex. Though simply everything is delicious, the dishes you want to try offer zesty mash-ups of various Asian and Southern cuisines (Spicy Szechuan Fried Chicken with Sesame Slaw) and anything featuring duck or rabbit.
2. Micklethwait Craft Meats (1309 Rosewood Ave. (512) 791-5961)
This promising new enterprise, housed in a 1960 Comet food trailer, already has Austin’s spoiled-rotten BBQ fans touting its wonders. Beast master Tom Micklethwait’s menu sprawls across the animal kingdom: there’s ribs and brisket, of course, but also pork loin, chicken and homemade sausage in varieties like lamb with Aleppo pepper and orange and duck with cherry.
3. East Side King at the Liberty Bar (1618 E. 6th St.)
With four locations at various east side bars, East Side King is beloved for eclectic fare that balances delicate flavors with inventive collusion between Southwestern and Asian styles. Most bars offer up sliders, but how many treat their patrons to Tongue Buns or Beet Home Fries? “It rocks my world every single time,” says our source. “Their brussel sprout salad thingy is dream-dream-dreamy…”
4. Arlo’s at Cheer-Up Charlie’s (1104 E 6th St., (512) 628-0608)
Besides being hitched at one of East 6th Street’s most welcome watering holes, Arlo’s can seduce even the most ardent carnivore with the joys of vegan dining. Because, well…it’s vegan junk food! Eat those tacos and chili dogs without guilt! You’re making yourself healthy and saving the planet!
5. Taco-mania (everywhere)
Austin has way too many taco outlets to choose just one, and luckily no one has to. Jarod Neece, a SXSW programmer who knows his asada and barbacoa, also blogs about the Mexican food scene at Taco Journalism. He’s just published his 2013 SXSW Taco Map, with capsule reviews of more than two dozen taco vendors. His first two rules:
“Everything tastes the same after six beers. Feel free to skimp on the quality.”
If you have consumed less than six beers, walk the few extra blocks to eat the good stuff.”
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