Tag Archives: Austin

Maria’s Taco Xpress (Austin, TX)

You know you’ve been traveling a lot when you can’t even keep track of every place you’ve been. I was getting ready to write up a few places from our New York City trip, when I realized that one place in Austin I hadn’t actually reviewed. So, going back two weeks in the time machine…. Before heading out for a second day of BBQ, we decided breakfast was needed. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found over the two Austin trips that a good breakfast taco is a great way to start out the day. This time, we decided to descend on one of Austin’s better known taco joints, Maria’s Taco Xpress…

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Franklin Barbecue Redux (Austin, TX)

After three days of touring around central Texas eating BBQ and food from trucks, it was finally time for le pièce de résistance! Another trip to Franklin Barbecue! I’m not going to do a full repeat review, because, in short, Franklin is doing just as phenomenally this year. The brisket is still top notch, with good bark, excellent moisture, and good smoke, and it’s pretty much worth all the hype. Just two things have changed… The first is that the lines are, if anything, quite a bit longer. This year, we got organized at the hotel and all headed over to Franklin, arriving 30 minutes before they they opened (on a Sunday….), and the line was all the way down the block… Indeed, at T-30, I’m pretty sure that the people at the end of the line were going to find themselves getting… coleslaw…

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Coat and Thai (Austin, TX)

Well, our third day in Austin ended up primarily being BBQ: one visit to a new place for me (Black’s) and two visits to favorites from last year (Kreuz and City Market). After all that, and a quick refreshment break at Dairy Queen in Lockhart (another part of the annual Austin tradition), we headed back downtown for some more food truck action. The interesting thing about the food truck scene is that it’s always in a bit of flux. Indeed, almost every food truck I had visited in 2011 had either relocated to a new spot (indeed, the two major “food courts” from 2011 had both been sold for development, in what’s likely going to be an ongoing phenomenon in the mobile food business, so Gourdough’s and Love Balls found themselves uprooted), turned into a brick and mortar restaurant (like Odd Duck), or just plain gone out of business (I’ll miss you, Bits and Druthers). So we ended up going to a new (for us) food truck venue, the South Congress Strip. I went to South Congress with one particular food truck in mind: The Best Wurst, which sells all sorts of great sausages and such from the South Congress Strip. They get great reviews and people like them. They also sell out early, they had finished up for the day at least an hour before I got there. However, I found myself lured in by the sights and smells of the nearby Coat and Thai food truck.

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East Side King (Austin, TX)

Austin’s East Side is known for several good food trucks. One of the better known ones is East Side King, run by Paul Qui (of recent Top Chef fame). Actually, there are several East Side King food trucks, each with a different menu. The this one being located at The Grackle bar (the others are located down the street behind Liberty Bar and Shangri La). They’ve got the now-standard standing arrangement with The Grackle where you can get your food from the food truck, and eat it inside the bar (or on their spacious patio), while drinking beer off their license. The menu at the Grackle location focuses on Ssam (lettuce wrap) and rice dishes. Looking over the options, the top options were mushroom dishes, vegetarian dished (mostly with eggplant), and pork belly dishes. So it’s pretty obvious what I ordered: the pork belly Ssam…

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Via 313 (Austin, TX)

After a brief period of convalescence from all the meat eating earlier in the day at JMueller and Stiles Switch, we decided to indulge in the other type of cuisine that really makes Austin special: more food trucks! The nice thing about the food truck scene is that it’s forever changing. Trucks move to new locations. New places show up all the time. Other places close. Yet others convert from trucks to permanent location. It’s never the same scene twice. So this time, despite returning to East 6th Street like last year, the makeup of trucks was almost entirely different (this was made even more clear by the closing of the East Side Drive In collection of carts). One member of our group was really craving Detroit Style Pizza, primarily since she’s had several good trips to Buddy’s in the Detroit area. Well, there actually is one food truck in Austin that specializes in Detroit-style Pizza it: Via 313…

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Stiles Switch (Austin, TX)

After a rather successful outing at JMueller BBQ, our BBQ crowd decided that our next stop would be another relative newcomer to the Austin BBQ scene: Stiles Switch. Stiles Switch opened up late last year on North Lamar towards the north end of Austin (down the street from Black Star Beer Coop, which Carol and I had enjoyed the night before). For those of you that recall the cult 1993 hit Dazed and Confused staring Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, and others, Stiles Switch is actually located in the same storefront that was the cheezy pool hall (The Emporium) in that film. Stiles even has a few stills from the film located in the dining area. But our trip was not about mediocre 90s films, it was about BBQ, and BBQ is what we got. One of the nice things about Stiles Switch is that unlike many of the BBQ joints that are set up like butcher shops or food carts, Stiles Switch actually runs a full BBQ restaurant…

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JMueller BBQ (Austin, TX)

(Closed) After our breakfast at Flaco’s, the 2012 Central Texas BBQ run began in earnest on May 11th with a visit to JMueller BBQ (That’s pronounced “J. Meller”, btw). JMueller was definitely one of the most anticipated places on our 2012 itinerary, since it is one of the up and coming BBQ spots of the Austin area, and has been getting favorable reviews from the standard sources like Full Custom Gospel BBQ, who give it a solid 5 star rating. Since none of us had been there, we made it our first stop. Carol and I were the first of our group of eight diners showing up that Friday morning. And, true to our expectations, JMueller is still a relative newcomer to the scene, running out of a modest cart and smoker on South 1st St (in much the same sort of setup Franklin was running a few years ago). JMueller has been “discovered”, but hasn’t yet gotten the crazed following that several of the other area places (again, like Franklin) have gotten, so a mere five minutes before their official opening, there was actually no line at JMueller. Yup, we showed up, and managed to even sit and relax at a table waiting for the rest of our party to arrive. So JMueller might be getting some good press, but it’s not yet attracting the massive throngs of BBQ-seeking fanatics that some of the other places have….

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Flaco’s Tacos (Austin, TX)

So, the morning of May 11th, we officially embarked on the 2012 Austin BBQ tour. But I’ve found that it’s best not starting your day beginning with a bunch of barbecued brisket and ribs; despite the fact that most of the day was going to be dedicated to eating large quantities of meat, we both decided that it would be a good idea to start things out with some breakfast. And Austin has a rather good breakfast taco scene going on, particularly since it’s a town that already has a large population of taco joints and taco trucks. The previous night’s stand, Torchy’s Tacos has quite the breakfast menu, for example, as does Maria’s Taco Xpress over on South Lamar (we’ll get back to Maria’s in a few posts, I promise!). But between our hotel and our first BBQ joint (JMueller) was a fairly simple Austin taco joint: Flaco’s Tacos (aka “El Flaco”, as it is still named on some of the signage).

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Torchy’s Tacos (Austin, TX)

Still no rest for the weary. After getting back from my Dayton Trip (which was right on the heels of my Chicago trip), it was time to repack the suitcase, grab my appetite and a fresh CF card, and head off to Austin. In what’s becoming an annual tradition, several of us from TivoCommunity.com descended on the Austin area for several days dedicated to eating, both BBQ and Food Trucks (of which the greater Austin area has plenty of both). Carol and I arrived a day before most of the attendees, which gave us an opportunity to start sampling food trucks a bit early. From the airport, we headed to South 1st Street in the SoCo (“South Congress”) and decided to indulge in Torchy’s Tacos.

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Franklin Barbecue (Austin, TX)

Franklin Barbecue was the last, and the finest, stop on the Central TX BBQ Run. We now come to the last of my Austin trip food reviews. After two days of seriously gorging ourselves on BBQ and street food, for Sunday we had a relaxed pace. Sure, by this point I’d been to four different BBQ joints (some of my fellow travelers had been to seven by that point, including a second visit to City Market!) and sample food from at least a dozen street carts, but, surprisingly, I found myself a little bit hungry on Sunday morning. Our group rendezvoused for the last time at the hotel, and headed over to our last stop, Franklin Barbecue…

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