Since moving to Austin a few years ago, we’ve completely fallen in love with the Austin food trucks scene. We love the informal outdoor dining experience, especially when the weather is cooler. Food trucks in Austin also tend to sit higher on the value to enjoyment scale. You can have incredible food experiences for less than $20. And we’re not only talking about taco trucks. Austin has food trucks serving nearly every cuisine.
Tips for Eating at Food Trucks in Austin
Nobody wants to show up to a closed or sold out food truck or go to pay for your order with a card at a cash only food truck. Here’s a handful of tips we’ve picked up while visiting food trucks in Austin the past few years.
Research Before Going
- Most Austin food trucks are closed at the beginning of the week. Thursday-Sunday is the sweet spot.
- Check hours and/or Instagram accounts before driving to a truck. Some trucks only open in the evenings, especially those around breweries. And popular places tend to sell out later in the day.
- Be a romantic if you’re visiting Austin. Order from the window, hang out, and wait for your food. But if you’re local, most places have some form of online ordering or call ahead options these days. Some may still even operate that way where you need to order online once you get there.
- You won’t find alcoholic options at many trucks, but a few food truck parks in Austin like 5000 Burnet (North Austin) are BYOB.
- Like Austin as a whole, most food trucks and food truck parks are dog friendly.
Food Truck Etiquette
- Most Austin food trucks we’ve been to accept card payments, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. And don’t forget to tip.
- Go with the menu. Try not to make many substitutions.
- Don’t hold up the line. You can find menus ahead of time.
- Waiting is part of the experience. See above tip about ordering ahead if you want to skip that experience. Otherwise, be patient!
Now, let’s get to the food trucks in Austin you need to check out.
Leroy and Lewis Barbecue
What We Order: Barbacoa, Beef Cheeks, L&L Burger
Not to sound like a hipster, but I like to think we were early to hop on the Leroy and Lewis bandwagon. Well before they landed the number 5 spot on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ Joints list. I’ve even listened to every episode of their New School BBQ podcast.
Regardless of who dubbed it delicious first, you definitely need to add this Austin food truck to your list. You’ll find the truck at Cosmic Coffee next to Pueblo Viejo (great tacos) and Tommy Want Wingy (chicken wings), which are two more stellar food options. And there are plenty of great vibes and drinks to be had at Cosmic while you wait.
L&L was a big inspiration in our smoked burger recipe. Needless to say, try theirs if you visit on the right day.
What We Order:
As you’d expect, we eat a TON of tacos here in Austin. While Paprika is one of many Austin taco trucks you’ll see on this list, I’m pretty confident it’s our favorite. Maybe it’s because they’re a husband-wife team like us. Or maybe it’s because the truck is named after their dog, Paprika.
But it’s really because they do everything well. The first time I ordered I asked what they’d recommend, and you could tell they were proud of every offering. That really resonates with me. Because when people ask me for my favorite recipes, it’s like choosing a favorite child or something. They’re proud of their work, and you can taste it.
La Tunita 512
What We Order: Birria
If you’re looking for the best birria in Austin, this is the spot. You can get birria tacos, quesatacos, and even birria ramen which is just as awesome as it sounds. You’ll definitely want to check out their Instagram before visiting, as they sell out and have recently talked about moving the truck to a new location.
What We Order: Tagliatelle Ala Vodka, Ravioli, Gnocchi with Pesto, Meatballs
This is go-to Italian spot, and the food truck on this list we’ve ordered from the most since we used to live right down the street. They make all their pasta fresh in-truck, and you can’t go wrong ordering. I personally love the Titos Vodka cream sauce with mushrooms and sausage. Vanessa typically goes for cheese ravioli or lasagna. The arancini and stuffed mushrooms are great items if you’re ordering takeout and want a full spread.
Something else to love about this Austin food trailer is the value. One thing we love about taco trucks is the enjoyment to price ratio. You can spend $10-$20 and get a ton of amazing food. The price point here is a little higher, but the portions are huge and compared to other Italian options around town, it’s underpriced in my opinion.
Manolis Ice Cream Pastries & Cakes
What We Order: Ice Cream, Tiramisu, Ice Cream Cake Popsicles
You can find this Austin ice cream truck right next to Il Saporis. They make everything, from the ice cream and paletas to pastries and cakes, fresh in-house. You can also order cakes for special events ahead of time, if you fall in love with something during your visit.
Manoli’s is currently open on weekends, Friday-Sunday from 4:00-10:45 PM.
What We Order: Fresh Pasta with House Meat Sauce or Parmesan Cream, Lasagna, Maccheroni
You’ll find Artipasta in South Austin at the Thicket Food Park next to another popular food truck, Brooklyn Breakfast Shop. They’re serving handmade pasta with delicious sauce options like the house meat sauce and parmesan cream. The star of the show is the lasagna, but you’ll need to order it early since it sells out.
Don’t tell anyone, but our go-to strategy here is splitting the house meat sauce and parmesan cream and mixing some together.
What We Order: Taquitos
If you’re going to only serve one thing, you better do it right. And they definitely do it right. If you’re unfamiliar with discada, it’s essentially an assortment of meats traditionally cooked together on a giant disc from a tractor plow. Their style of discada is a little less traditional. According to Discada’s website, they blend the flavors and style of Mexico City with the classic Cowboy Wok-Cooking technique of Northern Mexico.
The meat is a combination of beef and pork that’s marinated for 24 hours and slow cooked for 6 hours. It’s similar to crispy ground taco meat (with SO much flavor), and the tacos are topped with onion, pineapple, cilantro, and a pink salsa. This is a unique taco that you’ll definitely be glad you tried.
Also, don’t sleep on the elote.
What We Order: Barbacoa and Discada
Important note: Taqueria Morales is cash only!
This Austin food truck is known for its barbacoa, but I was surprised to find a discada taco that’s very similar to Discada’s. If you’re looking for one of the best barbacoa tacos in Austin, you won’t be disappointed. It definitely lives up to the hype. They also have great salsa and tamales. And this place definitely ranks high on the enjoyment to price ratio scale. You’ll feast like a king for $20.
If you’re going around peak times, you may need to wait a few minutes. There are a few covered picnic tables at the truck so grab a tamarind water or horchata and hang out.
Veracruz All Natural
What We Order: Migas Taco, Veggie Tacos, El Tradicional Taco
With locations all over the city, you can definitely squeeze a meal in at this Austin food trailer no matter where you’re staying/living. The El Tradicional (egg, bacon, refried beans, potatoes, and cheese) and the Migas Taco are arguably two of the best breakfast tacos in Austin.
Austin (and Texas in general) is pretty meat-heavy, so I always like to point out places with awesome vegan and vegetarian options.
Veracruz also has a cool story as a family business with two female founders. So you can feel even better about throwing down on some tacos.
Side note: If you want to take a stab at making some at home, we made homemade migas breakfast tacos inspired by Veracruz.
Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ
What We Order: Brisket, Smoked Chicken, Charro Beans, Potato Salad, Tacos, Flour Tortillas
Valentina’s has a special place in our heart since it’s the first Austin food truck we fell in love with. But get it while you can before they make the move farther south to Buda, Texas. If you’re reading this after the move, I apologize. Though it’s still worth the drive because Valentina’s BBQ is some of the best BBQ in Austin.
It’s definitely one of the most unique options, with some of the best homemade flour tortillas, charro beans, and Tex-Mex BBQ sides you’ll come across. You can’t go wrong with their meat options, but the brisket and smoked pulled chicken are two of our favorites.
What We Order: Kerlaches (Brisket Kolache)
We’re a sucker for a specialty item, and Kerlin BBQ has just that with their chopped brisket and cheddar kolache. They serve it every Sunday from their food truck in East Austin starting at 11 AM until sold out. You’ll want to get there early.
Can’t make it on a Sunday? No worries. They are open Friday and Saturday as well without kolaches. Their brisket and sides (I love the blue cheese cole slaw) are top notch. You’ll hear people raving about their burnt ends as well.
What We Order: The Classic Pie
At Sammataro you’ll find New York style pizza made from 48-72 hour fermented dough that’s made with locally milled flour (Barton Springs Mill). They have some great toppings to choose from, but the dough and sauce are the stars. Just as it should be, in our opinion.
Gourdough’s Big. Fat. Donuts.
What We Order: Naughty and Nice, Miss Shortcake, Black Out
If you’re in South Austin around the South Congress area, just one street over sits this little food trailer where you can get ridiculously indulgent donuts. We’re talking giant donuts topped with everything from fudge chocolate frosting with strawberries (the Dirty Berry) to peanut butter icing, fresh grilled bananas, grilled bacon, and honey (the Fat Elvis).
These things are huge, so plan on sharing or having a stomach ache for an hour or two. We like the classic cinnamon sugar Naughty and Nice, as it’s a bit lighter than some of the others on the menu. Their base donuts are really great, with or without all the fixin’s.
Side note: The trailer is separate from the flagship Gourdough’s Public House on South Lamar, which you can visit for more food options like donut sandwiches and more.
Spicy Boys Fried Chicken
What We Order: Chicken Sandwich and Tots
If you’re into the brewery scene, you can’t go wrong with the St. Elmo area just south of 290. There are tons of brewery and food options in the area, but Spicy Boys is the standout. (They also have a spot on E 6th next to Zilker Brewing.)
You’ll find fried chicken with an Asian flare. We like the standard OG sandwich with sweet chili honey, papaya relish, and Thai basil ranch, but there are two more layers of heat if you’re a spice lover. You can also get bone-in chicken, nuggets, cauliflower nuggets, and sides like tater tots and spicy cukes (cucumbers). The flavors are all super unique, the chicken is juicy and tender, and if you’re planning to do a little drinking at the breweries this will definitely hit the spot.
What We Order: Best Birria in South Austin
Come for the birria, stay for everything else. This Austin taco truck has an expansive menu offering just about anything you could ask for. Burritos, tortas, quesadillas, breakfast tacos—you name it. The space is huge with plenty of outdoor (covered and uncovered) seating. And unlike a lot of food trucks in Austin, Sabor Tapatio is open every day of the week starting at 8 AM.
That should be plenty of spots to get you started. If you’re looking for more options beyond the Austin food truck scene, check out our full favorite Austin restaurants list. And if you’re an Austin food truck pro, let us know which trucks we missed or where we need to visit next in the comments.