Here are our top picks for food trucks in Austin (photo: Madras Dhaba) — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
No other city in Texas has food trucks steeped in its culture quite like Austin. While Houston may be the clear winner when it comes to diversity and sheer volume of food options in a Texas city, Austin has a vibe all its own.
Most estimates of the number of food trucks in Austin start at 1,000. This means that the capital of Texas has at least one food truck for every approximately thousand residents.
While there are enough food truck parks around downtown to keep you exploring for days, you’ll also find some of Austin’s most revered food trucks lining farm roads in market that feel a world away from the cool capital of Texas.
Here are 10 of our best food trucks in Austin.
Cool off with a cone of Cannone Gelato at the picnic — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
While there’s no great foodie town without a mix of old-school ice cream parlors and a gelateria or two, Austin has an outstanding ice cream shop on wheels. Cannone Gelato is a spin-off of Cannone Cucina Italiana, which was started by Salvatore Cannone from Italy. Cannone moved from Monaco to Austin for love, and the rest is sweet history. Choose from two dozen flavors of ice cream and sorbet, ranging from traditional Stracciatella ice cream to spicy-sweet pineapple-jalapeno sorbet.
As of this writing, the two Cannone trucks are at The picnic.
Ceviche Love, just south of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
ceviche love, 10 miles south of downtown on FM 812, makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Mexico, as you sample frozen michelada and fresh seafood dishes. While the staff speaks English, the menu is mostly in Spanish, which is the language you’ll hear the most among customers.
At Ceviche Love, you’ll find a wide selection of aguachiles, ceviche, seafood cocktails and more, all under $20. The mango ceviche is a must-try dish here. The more traditional ceviche ingredients are topped with a whole chopped mango and sprinkled red pepper flakes on top to give it a bit of heat.
Try the Campfire Churro, a best-selling Churro Co. — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
With ingredients like popcorn sugar and goat’s milk caramel, Churro Co. is the most fun place on our list. The small but sweet specialty menu includes three items that seem to be in a “cuteness” competition for names. The campfire, mixed with a graham cracker and topped with flambé marshmallow and Mexican chocolate, is the top seller. Texas Comfort is as American as the apple pie filling and cardamom sugar that tops this churro.
east side king
East Side King Thai Chicken Kara-Age — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
You must be 21 to enter the Liberty Bar, which is the gateway to east side kingfood truck in East Austin. (There’s a brick-and-mortar location in South Austin.) This Japanese-leaning Asian street food concept seems hidden but worth seeking out. Kara-age Thai chicken, served with fresh basil, blends Japanese street food with Southeast Asian flavors. The sweet spice level complements the sweet sauce.
You can also enjoy their signature kara-age on a bao bun or in a bowl. The menu has many vegetarian options.
Traveling to Houston? East Side King also has a place at PUBLISHone of Houston’s eclectic food halls.
Madras Dhaba, where the chicken tikka taco is a best seller — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Madras Dhaba is the oldest vendor occupying a space at 1606 East Food Trailer Park. The turmeric-colored food truck is a popular place for biryani and Indian tacos. According to owner and Chennai native, Shyam, his chicken tikka tacos are a crowd favorite. At just $10.99, generous portions of the UK’s national dish are folded into paratha bread like tacos and topped with flavored rice, onion and cilantro.
Shyam also has the adjacent Royal Fusion Indochinese, which opens at 6 p.m. and hosts an evening crowd. According to the fiery entrepreneur, everyone is welcome in either truck. He likes to joke that his food is “spicy for white people”. If you’ve never had Hakka noodles before, Royal Fusion is the place to try.
Patrizi’s Watermelon Feta and Cacio e Pepe Salad — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
No other food truck on our list has a story like At Patrizi’s. The truck, located at The VORTEXis where you can try recipes that date back at least to 1948. That’s when the first Patrizi’s opened in Beaumont, Texas.
Eat pasta dishes, such as cacio e pepe (olive oil, grana padano cheese, cracked black pepper) and diavolo (lemon, olive oil, rosemary, egg yolks, red pepper, grana padano cheese) on paper plates might seem awkward at first, but Patrizi’s is one of Austin’s most popular food trucks. There are plenty of seats all around the truck and there is often live music playing.
Patrizi’s is open seven days a week for dinner.
Sammataro’s classic pie — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Sammataro is located along East 12th Street in Arbor Food Park. This mozzarella-colored pizza truck has a wood-fired oven attached to the back, from which the Sammatro team bakes three different crispy bottom pies.
We recommend trying the classic pie first. It’s a traditional margherita topped with grated aged parmesan cheese and whole basil leaves. The meat-centric Sammataro Supreme is the classic pie topped with sausage and pepperoni. The White Pie is almost like a dessert, thanks to the lemon ricotta cream.
Shirley’s Trini Kitchen
Shirley’s Trini Cuisine Stewed Oxtail — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Three generations of Trinidadian ladies from San Fernando (Trinidad, not California) run this Caribbean food truck, located in the same 1606 E. 6th Street food trailer park as Madras Dhaba and Royal Fusion. To at Shirley’sall meat is served with the bone, for maximum flavor.
The oxtail stew plate with rice is a popular dish and one we recommend for first-time visitors. It’s a perfect way to experience the flavors of South Asia and Africa, so prevalent in Trini’s cuisine. Shirley’s serves this hearty, hearty dish with plantains, salad and white rice. Oxtail meat is tender enough that you can pull it off the bone with a plastic fork.
Valentina’s Tex-Mex barbecue
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ Queue — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
valentina is one of those “get there before they sell out” food trucks. Sandwiches make up the “Tex” part of the menu, while a handful of meat tacos put the “Mex” in the Tex Mex. All meats used in tacos and sandwiches are available for purchase by the pound.
While every city has its destination restaurants, this is Austin’s destination food truck. It is located 14 miles from the city center, but people from all over the world have come here. Check the large map to the left of the tin shack, which serves as a dining room. According to the pins, customers traveled from as far away as Mozambique and North Korea to try the award-winning smoked meats.
The barbecue sauce you will find on every table comes with a written warning that it will self-destruct if removed from the premises. We recommend buying your own bottle for $9.
All Natural Veracruz
Veracruz All Natural is known for its migas tacos — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
While you could easily make a list of taco trucks in Austin, we’ve narrowed it down to All Natural Veracruz for this list. Run by two sisters from Veracruz, Mexico, this local favorite has a handful of locations across Austin and is known for its migas tacos. But there are 16 other options, ranging from barbacoa to half a dozen vegan dishes. The menu also offers a variety of refreshing juices and smoothies.
Regular customers know the drill: order online or enter your order via the point of sale. Completed orders are placed through the service window into a brown paper bag every few minutes with assembly line efficiency.
We recommend the South Austin location, which shares a seating area with the popular Radio Coffee and Beer.