6/26/2013 06:33:00 PM

Ask the Austin Zagat Blog: Why Are Food Trailers So Popular Here?

Frozen bananas at Bananarchy, modeled on the stand in Arrested Development
Eating out in our fair city raises all sorts of burning questions. Is it okay to take a date to a food trailer? Yay or nay on cargo shorts at Uchiko? Then there are the more general questions we’ve always wondered but been too afraid to ask. Are you allowed to eat garnish? Who pays for that extra appetizer? 

That’s where the Austin Zagat blog comes in. Ask us anything your heart desires in the comments section below, and we'll give you our honest opinion.  

This week a reader asked us, Why are food trailers so popular here? 

Austin has the second-highest number of food trailers in the country, trailing only Portland, where they’re called food carts. In 2012 there were about 1,200 of them here, and we’re sure the numbers are even higher now.

The mobile food stands first became accessible here because the city’s rules differ from other local governments’: Unlike other Texas cities like Dallas, Austin’s regulations have always allowed food carts in ways that other places have restricted, though recently more-stringent laws have been set in place.

But why are they so popular? Their quirkiness and off-the-wall niche food (think Bananarchy and Potato.A) drive straight to the spirit of our city. Plus, from the beginning, they’ve been a way for chefs to try out concepts without breaking the bank with a restaurant. In a town with a lot of culinary talent from young folks, that’s key. Paul Qui, Bryce Gilmore and others have all gotten their start in trailers. And where it was once looked down on, now they’re the epitome of cool, even when it's 110 sweltering degrees outside.

Have a restaurant query you need answered? Ask us below in the comments section.


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