Tag Archives: tacos

Top food truck spots of SXSW 2012

Top food truck spots of SXSW 2012

Coolhaus' mobile gourmet treats include this red velvet ice cream sandwich.

The following is an article I wrote for the newspaper that I freelance for, Creative Loafing Tampa. There were plenty more of my favorite food trucks that I could have added to this list, but I unfortunately had the restraint of a 650 word count. Check back later for more musings on the fabulous food trailers and my culinary adventures here in Austin, Texas!

The food truck revolution was late rolling up to the Tampa Bay area, but here in Austin, Texas, it has its roots firmly planted and is one of the city’s main attractions — besides the amazing music scene, of course. Like most things in Texas, the food truck community is big here — one of the biggest in the country, actually, right up there with Chicago and San Diego as the top spots to find mobile eateries. Having moved to Austin from the Bay area almost a year ago, I’ve missed out on the great new food trailers I keep reading about that have been popping up in Tampa and St. Pete, but luckily I can get a taste of trailer food here — and plenty of it.

Like their compatriots in Tampa Bay, Austin’s food trucks aren’t just serving up hot dogs and hamburgers. Fusion food, ethnic eats, American diner classics, gourmet ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts and so much more are available at the “around 1,350” food trucks and trailers in and around Austin as of today. (That’s according to MSNBC.com, which based its count on the number of permits given out by the Austin/Travis County Department of Health.)

Since there are way too many rolling restaurants to sample during the South By Southwest (SXSW) music/film/interactive festival going on in downtown Austin this week, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my many top spots that had either fantastic fare or free munchies (which are not mutually exclusive in all cases). So read on and pay some of these trailers and restaurants a visit the next time you’re deep in the heart of Texas.

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Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Carne Guisada is a Tex-Mex carne-val for the taste buds

Not to be confused with carna asada (which is marinated flank or skirt steak) carne guisada (CAR-nay gee-SA-da) is a Mexican-style beef stew that’s braised low and slow with chilies, onions, tomatoes, spices and, in this case, beer for hours until it creates its own “gravy” sauce. While fantastic on its own, carne guisada makes an amazing filling for tacos and one great cure-all for anything that ails you — from a cold to a hangover to a bad mood.

It’s often found in Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries in the Southwestern states, and is also offered as a filling at roadside taco stands and food trucks. Besides making a perfect comfort food (and even better leftovers), carne guisada is inexpensive — cheap stew meat is the most expensive component — and easy to prepare. It’s one of those unfussy, “set it and forget it” type dishes.

The ingredients and methods of preparation vary from cook to cook — some use only dried chili powders, while others swear by fresh green chilies; some add an array of veggies, and others simply simmer the beef in chilies and water. It’s all a matter of personal taste, but no matter the differences in ingredients, I bet you’ll never come across a bad version. (Unless, of course, it’s a burnt batch.)

To pay homage to this Tex-Mex staple, I opted for a true Texas beer, Shiner Bock, as braising liquid in place of water or broth. For preparing it in taco form, as I’ve done below, it’s best to keep the toppings simple as to not lose the flavors of the stew: cilantro, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salty cotija cheese.

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