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I don’t usually go in for what looks like a stunt burger. So I approached JewBoy Burgers’ Goyim burger ($12) with a side of trepidation: a 1/3-pound burger topped with both bacon and pastrami? It seemed a little too cute by half. Not to mention too loud and discordant. I was happily mistaken. It’s hamburger harmony.
The housemade pastrami gives the burger a peppery bite complemented by the sweet smoke of crunchy caramelized bacon also made in house for one of the most savory burgers I’ve eaten in Austin. As with the standard cheeseburger, the onions are grilled into the 80/20 patty from Longhorn Meat Market, giving the burger an added touch of sweet savoriness. The dill pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard team up for a tangy trio that tempers the three meats, with a soft Martin’s Potato Roll gamely holding it all together.
As for the name (both the food truck itself and the burger highlighted here): Owner Mo Pittle, who is Jewish, was born in Cleveland but moved with his parents to El Paso as a 3-month-old after his mother declared she’d had enough of the former’s cold weather.
“She didn’t care where we went, as long as it was warm and sunny,” Pittle told the American-Statesman recently.
El Paso checked both those boxes, and Pittle felt an attraction to the multicultural community of his adopted hometown, where his Latinx friends lovingly referred to him as JewBoy.
“We weren’t so politically correct back in the ’80s,” Pittle says with a laugh.
Raised in a Reform Jewish household, Pittle sensed a compatibility and similarity between his Jewish culture and his friends’ Latinx culture, both of which he saw as celebratory of food and family.
Following a long career in advertising, the University of Texas graduate combined the two defining cultures of his childhood for the food truck he opened in 2016.
Beyond the pastrami-laden Goyim burger (so named for the bacon on top, a poster child for food that's not kosher), you can taste the cross-cultural communication in the truck’s crackling latkes, an expressive version of which is made with green chilies and cheddar cheese ($3.75 for two). And tell me another food truck that serves both queso and a black-and-white cookie.
“A narrative is critical. People don’t just want to get something to eat; they want the experience of you. They want a story,” Pittle said. “I also wanted to get outside. And I love the tangibility of food. I love the visceral reaction you get from somebody when they take a bite. It just soothes my soul.”
Information: JewBoy Burgers. 5000 Burnet Road. 512-694-2002, jewboyburgers.com
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Dinner: 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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