The Austin food-cart scene is not all steak, tacos and steak tacos. In fact, on my visit to what's often considered the nation's No. 2 food-cart town (Portland is tops, natch), I even found a few items I can't seem to track down here. Yup, Texas has us beat—on a few fronts, at least. Here are three items from Austin's food-truck scene (they call them âtrucksâ!) we need here.
To Western taste buds, okonomiyaki tastes a bit like an inspired, textured cross between crab cakes and potato pancakes. It is dense and decorative, packed with roots, green onions, eggs and pork belly, though Pearson's cart—one of two that serve okonomiyaki in the Austin area—also serves these amazing pancakes Texas- or Cajun-style (the former topped with a delicious lime-Sriracha sauce). It's a beautiful-looking dish, with layers you want to eat as slowly as humanly possible.
Though Austin's warm clime makes Coolhaus a natural fit, it's easy to see the chain sending a truck to Portland. I mean, White Russian ice cream? Vegan chocolate banana truffle ice cream? Watch your back, Fifty Licks!
Ah, breakfast tacos—only nominally for breakfast and a staple of the Southwestern diet. In Austin, food carts are the delicacy's primary peddler. Nearly all of them serve my personal favorite, the migas taco, which is packed with eggs, crispy tortilla strips and jalapeño wrapped up in a soft taco shell (or two of them if the cart is legit). Locals often recommend Torchy's for out-of-towners (one restaurateur described them to me as the "Michael Jordan of Austin Food Carts"), though breakfast tacos are honestly kind of a hard dish to fuck up. And yet Portland has so few carts open for breakfast—Pepper Box and Chopollos are exceptions. Why is this? And can we change it ASAP?