Kate's Global Kitchen

Food Trailerin'
A How-To for Beginners

From Trailer Food Diaries, Austin Edition Volume 1

Tiffany Harelik

by Tiffany Harelik


Like most places in Austin, while eating at the food trailers you'll see every walk of life. Grandparents will be sitting next to tattoo-adorned hipsters who just rode in on their fixed-gear bikes, moms with their children will be standing in line behind businessmen in suits and ties and girls in sundresses wearing cowgirl boots will be borrowing sriracha sauce from a family speaking Mandarin at the next table. Bottom line: if you have a mouth and some cash, you're welcome at the food trailers in Austin. There are a few pro-tips for beginners, so if this is your first time at the trailers, here are some ideas to consider:

• Bring cash. Although most trailer vendors can accept credit, it's easier on everyone if you have cash in hand.

• Bring booze. If you want to drink alcohol, you'll have to bring it yourself. The trailers in Austin are not permitted to sell alcohol, but it is permissible to bring your own adult beverages. Get a designated driver, hire a pedi-cab or call a taxi, but please don't drink and drive to and from the trailers.

• Bring your computer. Many of the trailer parks offer wi-fi so you can work under a live oak tree while you wait on your order to come out.

• Be patient. It's trailer food, not necessarily fast food. The chef cooking your meal is making it fresh to order. It's likely that the same chef who bought the ingredients will also be doing the dishes. They are often manned with only one or two staff, so if they get a rush, you might wait a few minutes more than during non-busy times.

• Check social media for their updates before you make a special trip. The food truck owners are pretty good about updating their statuses on Facebook and Twitter. Although many trailers keep consistent hours, one of the perks of owning your own business is closing when you want or need to: If it's raining or freezing, they might close early. If they are out of town, they might not be open. If they ran out of food, well, hell, come back another day.

• Tip. Just like at a restaurant, a 20 percent tip is encouraged. Feel free to leave more when they've exceeded your expectations.

• Bring friends. They are small local businesses that need your support.

• Review them on Yelp, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter. They love to hear from you and appreciate your feedback on their products. When you follow them on social media outlets, it is a win-win. It helps you keep in tune with the pulse of the trailers and gives them an increased audience and online presence.

• Pick a park or map a tour. It is really fun to bounce from trailer food park to trailer food park because of the variety of food and personalities at each spot. It's also fun to note the different trailer architecture and design in each location. Whether you get there by bike, car or on foot, there are plenty of parks close together that will give you a plethora of foodie pleasures.


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Copyright © 2012, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

This page modified January 2012