It was nine thousand, seventeen-hundred degrees when I (Megan) arrived around 6pm last Wednesday evening for the South Lamar Trailer Bazaar to sample dishes and meet the chefs from each trailer. The fronts of my knees were sweating since everywhere else on body was already taken with the process of sweating the sweat.
Do you see the sun trying to laser its way through the fabric?
Collie’s Real Serious Burgers, Tacos la Guera, Boxcar Bistro, Trai Mai Thai and Honky Tonk Hot Dogs are located next to Red’s Porch and have a gravel/dirt parking lot for people who like to 1.) drive and 2.) eat.
Where was I? Oh yes, sweating.
We were sweaty, and we were going to EAT, and we were going to do that as a group. (Makes me think of the old adage: There’s no “sweat” in “team”.)
Those aren’t misters…that’s HEAT, making things buuuuurn.
First up: Collie’s Burgers.
For the most part, our samples from Collie’s Burgers were dainty, and now, looking back, it makes me laugh that the daintiest sample of the entire bazaar was provided by the trailer that offers the meatiest, most hulking-est portions of food.
The burgers are a blend of chuck and brisket and are half-pound patties. Our samples (which were ground only 3 and a half hours earlier) were enough to give us the best idea of what the burgers are like, according to Rob Collie, burger chef extraordinaire.
He knew he was the first on the roster, and didn’t want to overwhelm our stomachs right out of the gate. This kind of thoughtfulness is threaded throughout his approach: loving tributes to his lineage line the menu, with his grandmother Lexie’s coleslaw a staple on there (there’s also a burger named after her).
“All of my burgers have a story,” he says.
Have you heard the one about the Mason Farguson? Check out Collie relaying the tale on Thrillist.
So far, he says, only 13 year-old boys order the Mason.
Someone give this guy a show already. I’d watch it.
Karina from Tacos La Guera came by next, bearing homemade fresh tacos that are made to order.
“There are 27 tacos listed on our menu, but, with all of the ingredients available, you can create 120 different kinds,” she said. Well, don’t mind if I do!
The al pastor taco was quite tasty and had a pineapple salsa, I believe. I squeezed a wedge of lime on the inside and chomped away. I’m craving it again right now.
Karina beaming by her trailer.
Boxcar Bistro (headed up by Ivo Gruner, serving classic and casual French food) followed, with an elegant serving of chicken salad on mixed greens and a side of dressing. Fellow bazaar-goers were guessing aloud on the ingredients and suggested that apples, tarragon and walnuts comprised the salad.
“Oui!” said Ivo.
Ivo then served a taste of his croque monsieur, which was actually the catalyst for his trailer. “I didn’t know where I could get a good one,” he admitted, so he opened the trailer to honor his French heritage.
The croque monsieur, just the way Ivo likes it.
Next up was Trai Mai Thai. Go ahead, try it! (Is this thing on?)
The background on this trailer is pretty darn cute: Ning’s cooking so wowed her boyfriend that he insisted she quit her job and open up her own place instead, and so he put forth the money for her trailer.
Me, swooning at their story.
And oh my God, can Ning cook.
This sample is just a fraction of what their menu offers, it’s so extensive.
The crab rangoon is made by hand by Ning, twice a week. It’s filled with blue crab meat from the Gulf of Mexico. See the dumpling on the plate? Heaven. It’s steamed, not fried, and filled with pork. The topping is fried garlic, which is enjoyably crunchy.
The soup seemed to be everybody’s favorite: Tom Kha (special guest star: the straw mushroom).
Their food is all made to order AND…they deliver! (In a very limited portion of 78704, but still — this food trailer delivers.)
Here’s another fun tidbit: free beer. Every Tuesday, they purchase a keg, and let people drink it until it floats (usually by Saturday evening). The limit is three per person but they don’t charge, AND you don’t have to buy any food either. Just come by and say “hai” to Trai Mai Thai.
This is when I heard the news about the free beer.
Last but not least was Honky Tonk Hot Dogs.
Singin’ n’ playin.’
About four months ago, Scott Angle (that’s him on the right) got the idea to open up a food trailer combining his love of two things: hot dogs and impromptu country music. Honky Tonk Hot Dogs was open six weeks later.
The atmosphere he aims to create is an actual honky tonk, complete with a peanut-shell covered dance floor. “It’s an experience,” he says.
Ah wait, excuse me: Scott’s third love is the spork. He’s been a fan of them ever since since he was a kid. “And it’s my right to bring them back!” he declared, and we cheered.
Serving us sporks.
Some of his gourmet dogs are named after Austin music legends who have agreed to support his business (like Dale Watson, Cindy Cashdollar, and Dallas Wayne).
Often, musicians will come by and play on the stage near the trailer before heading across the street to their gig at the Broken Spoke. And … Awesome Citizen Alert: in the near future, Scott is going to donate a portion of proceeds to HAAM.
Honky Tonk Hot Dogs is BYOB and uses 100% all beef hot dogs from the Vienna Beef Company in Chicago.
This pretty little thing features pickled jalapenos and a dash of chili powder. The chili was served on the side (avec sporks) because Scott knew we’d be quite full at this point and wanted that to be an option. You should know that the (Dale Watson) chilidog is the most popular one on their menu, complete with Scott’s personal chili recipe.
What really struck me about everybody at the South Lamar Food Trailers is that, much like the good people I met at Casa Brasil and the South Austin Brewing Company, this is their heart’s work. It’s not their first job. This is what they’ve chosen to do: make people happy with their food.
“My grandfather and father once sat me down and told me that thing I should be doing is the thing I love and would do for free,” says Collie. “So I took their advice.”
So glad he did.
*And all trailers have vegetarian options, darlins. So mosey on by.