foodspotting street food fest

Hungry SXSW’ers braved the rain Saturday afternoon for some trailer food treats at the third annual Foodspotting Trailer Food festival, where some of Austin’s best names in the food truck scene gathered to represent Austin’s growing reputation as the city for the best trailer food. The Foodspotting app is handy for finding great food near you wherever you are- just load up the app to see user-uploaded photos of dishes at restaurants (or trailers!) closest to you. During SXSW, users can load up the app and discover golden tickets to win prizes ranging from a free t-shirt to a pair of Southwest plane tickets.

The fest’s surprise guest was revealed to be competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi, who is best known for his six world hot dog eating championship titles, but also holds Guinness records for devouring meatballs, pizza, pasta, and hamburgers in a matter of minutes. After stopping to take a few photos with fans, he made his way around the circle of trailers to sample a dish from each one. It isn’t often that so many amazing food trucks are together in one spot (aside from the Gypsy Picnic) so I took advantage of the opportunity.

A few trailers seemed to have at least one veggie-friendly option. The Peached Tortilla’s veggie szechuan taco came stuffed with fried tofu and a rainbow of veggies, including stir-fried Japanese eggplant, red peppers, pickled daikon, carrots, and a sprinkling of cilantro. The sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo were a crowd favorite, and the huge portion was definitely worth the $3 price tag. The brightly-colored fries reminded me of something else delicious and orange: the carrot cake cupcake from one of the first Austin food trailers, Hey Cupcake! If I had Kobayashi’s stomach, I might have eaten one of those too.

Hankering for more trailer food at SXSW? All week, Squarespace is giving away free food from more of Austin’s best trailers, including Top Chef winner Paul Qui’s East Side King. Check out the schedule here.

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austin taco experiment

To say that Austinites love tacos would be the understatement of the year. We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and sometimes, especially during SXSW, at 2 a.m.) We develop extreme loyalties to our favorite spots around town. Like your astrological sign, the place you go to get your morning breakfast taco speaks volumes about your character. The taco business in this town is a serious one, as the thirteen chef-testants demonstrated at the Austin Taco Experiment on Sunday, serving up some killer tacos in the hopes of winning prizes and (most importantly) bragging rights.

Team Temple’s Bo Lo Taco, pork belly with fried green apple puree and kimchi

With much horn-blowing and shouts of “Hallelujah!” the Holy Smokers served up a Grec-Mex taco that effortlessly fused Greek and Mexican flavors. Served on a mini pita square, the Grec-Mex boasted gyro meat laid on a slathering of habanero hummus, topped with jalapeno tzatziki sauce and “Greco de gallo,” a fresh mixture of tomato, corn, onion, cucumber and mint. It was unlike any other taco there, and everyone at the table agreed it was a welcome change from the abundance of pork and beef tacos. This was the taco experiment, after all- and the team was rewarded for their bold ingredient choices with second place from both the audience and judges.

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I was excited to find a dessert taco at the very last table. Mary Makes Dinner presented The Frio Tillo, a bite-sized ice cream sandwich with roasted tomatillo buttermilk ice cream and avocado buttercream layers sandwiched between two mini corn tortilla shells, topped with a candied jalapeno slice. The cold ice cream neutralized the burning feeling left on my tongue from some of the spicier tacos, and the avocado and tomatillo flavors were clean and fresh. It was a perfect end to the taco experiment experience, and it was naturally vegetarian!

And the winning taco? Depends on who you ask. The judges chose Zesty Bean Dog’s Pecan Smoked Duck Pastrami taco as their number one. Starting with a made from scratch tortilla, the succulent duck was topped with a pickled yuzu slaw, Brooklyn Lager duck egg aioli, and crunchy tortilla strips. The audience loved Sous Me Alchemy’s Tacos Amores, a slow-smoked pork taco with homemade queso fresco, roasted corn, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a choice of red or green salsa. This also happened to be my favorite taco. Everything was so incredibly fresh, and they happily gave me extra queso fresco in place of meat. I’m such a sucker for homemade cheese.

It was evident that lots of love, patience and quality ingredients went into both the winning tacos. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Brooklyn Brewery for hosting such a fantastic event. Looking forward to next year! To see all thirteen tacos, check out guest judge Stella’s mouthwatering taco by taco round-up.