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Critic's picks: Austin food trailers

Don't let the wheels fool you: These carts pack in a lot of flavor and flair per square inch

Mike Sutter

Bar-B-Q Heaven (Seventh and Red River streets, 945-8970): Glenn Simms sees his big blue-and-white trailer as part-restaurant, part-mission, a way station where after-hours party people can have a sandwich and a bottle of water and think about their next move. If you're going to remember one part of your Sixth Street bender, let it be the smoked bone-in pork chop. Simms and his brother, Darrell, also smoke brisket, ribs and even turkey legs.

The Best Wurst (Two locations on East Sixth Street, one near San Jacinto Boulevard, one at Red River Street, www.thebestwurst.com ): The little cart with buzz-satisfying grilled brats, onions and sauerkraut. Also try the jalapeño sausage and curry ketchup.

Bits and Druthers (1001 E. Sixth St. at the East Side Drive In. 361-850-0645, www.facebook.com/BitsAndDruthers): A British-style fish-and-chips and ice cream trailer. A sturdy paper bouquet of fries and fish with a side of slaw is $9.

Cazamance (90 Rainey St. 844-4414, www.facebook.com/Cazamance ): A softly lit courtyard oasis in the Rainey Street crush. African-influenced food, including stir-fried chicken with peppers and olives in a bread bowl and whole, frosty coconuts.

East Side King (behind the Liberty bar at 16181/2 E. Sixth St.; behind the Grackle at 1700 E. Sixth St.; www.eastsidekingaustin.com): The brainchild of three cooks at Uchi. At the Liberty, the trailer works with pork belly kimchee on steamed buns, fried beets and Thai fried chicken. At the Grackle, the King specializes in yakitori grilling. It's chef-level food for about $8.

El Naranjo (85 Rainey St. 474-2776): Interior Mexican food, exterior seating. Outstanding tacos include crunchy fish with cabbage and subtle chipotle cream, cochinita pibil with pickled onions or nopales tacos with tender cactus and tomato. Plus fried molotes stuffed with chorizo or plantains and black beans.

Flip Happy Crepes (401 Jessie St. 552-9034, www.fliphappycrepes.com): The cool aunt of all mobile Austin crêpe operations isn't afraid to blast your fillings out with flavor, like with the garlicky kick of a crêpe stuffed with moist roasted chicken, goat cheese and sweet caramelized onions. Be prepared to wait.

G'Raj Mahal Cafe (91 Red River St., 480-2255): Part trailer, part Indian pavilion, part backlit mirage when the serpentine bicycle dragon glows at night. A full Indian menu, with curries, biryanis, tandoori meats and Goan specialties. Need a nightcap? Take the short walk to Rainey Street.

Gourdough's (1219 S. Lamar Blvd. www.gourdoughs.com): An Airstream doing gourmet doughnuts with bacon, fried chicken, fruit and chocolate. Take the Porkey's: Canadian bacon, cream cheese and jalapeño jelly make this a savory-sweet exercise in late-night rationalization: Sure, it's a doughnut, but the protein makes it, like, an energy bar, right? Right?

Kebabalicious (East Seventh and Trinity streets and 211 Congress Ave. 468-1065, www.austinkebab.com ): Hot, crisp and fresh, it's good food regardless of your Sixth Street state of mind. The falafel wrap starts with soft, steaming pita, then adds fried nuggets of spiced garbanzo beans, lettuce, tomato, tangy tzatziki sauce and, because this is Austin, jalapeño hummus.

La Boite Cafe (1700 S. Lamar Blvd. 377-6198, www.laboitecafe.com): French pastries, sandwiches and deep-thinking coffee smuggled to South Austin in a plain white shipping container. The almond croissant carries the lush factor of an entire coffee cake.

Lukes Inside Out (1109 S. Lamar Blvd., next to the Gibson bar, 779-7489): Music caterer Luke Bibby (Willie Nelson, Austin City Limits Festival) makes sandwiches with Szechuan fried chicken with sesame slaw, chipotle-rosemary grilled shrimp with blue cheese and honey, even one with chocolate bread, bacon and chocolate cream cheese. Also look for a falafel-influenced veggie burger and "Armadillo eggs": potatoes wrapped in bacon with spicy sauce.

Lulu B's (2113 S. Lamar Blvd. 921-4828, www.myspace.com/lulubssandwiches ): There's a convivial, al fresco joy if you have the time, a book or like several of our fellow trailer travelers, a dog. The banh mi starts with a chewy baguette and a shower of crunch and color: carrot, daikon, cucumber, cilantro. It ends with grilled, barbecued or lemongrass-style pork or chicken, with avocado and tofu options. Plus vermicelli bowls, summer rolls and Vietnamese coffee.

Man Bites Dog (1311 S. First St., in the South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery. 445-5591, www.manbitesdogaustin.com ): A leash-free park for the insatiable dog lover. The Bird Dog is a fat chicken sausage with corn relish and herbed mayo. The Cuban packs pork sausage wrapped in ham, Swiss cheese and pickles.

The Mighty Cone (1603 S. Congress Ave. 383-9609, www.mightycone.com ): A steady destination for the king of Austin City Limits Festival food: the flaky crunch of chicken, shrimp and avocado wrapped in a tortilla with slaw and a Hudson's on the Bend pedigree.

Not Your Mama's Food Truck (2209 E. Cesar Chavez St. in the East Side Food Park. on.fb.me/nymamas ): Ron Chadwick is a culinary school grad making sit-down quality Korean fried chicken, barbecued beef tongue and steak sliders with chicken-fried gravy (yes, gravy).

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer (1219 S. Lamar Blvd. 695-6922, www.oddduckfarmtotrailer.com ): Even TV food crank Anthony Bourdain raved about the food, which might be Brussels sprouts and rabbit belly one day, pulled duck confit and grilled broccoli salad with feta another.

Osmo's Kitchen (801 Barton Springs Road. 514-1727, www.osmoskitchen.com ): Culinary Institute of America chefs Kent and Robin O'Keefe know Cajun cooking well enough to offer their oyster po' boy traditionally dressed (lettuce, tomato, mayo) or with spicy slaw. Either way, the Pacific Coast oysters are hot and crunchy outside, briny-sweet inside, served on crackle-crusted New World Bakery French bread. Also offering daily Italian specials.

Short Bus Subs (4550 Mueller Blvd, plus another bus that moves each day. Locations at www.shortbussubs.com . 535-7827.): The place's name might be a joke in poor taste, even if it is a chopped yellow schoolbus, but the sandwiches are serious, including a buffalo chicken with crunchy, fresh bread and shredded white-meat chicken with herbs, hot Buffalo sauce and ranch dressing with lettuce, tomato and cheese, served warm.

The Texas Cuban (1700 S. Lamar Blvd. 294-9259, www.texascuban.com ): The signature Cubano sandwich brings together grilled pork, ham, two kinds of cheese, pickles and mustard, then broadens your horizons with fried plantain chips and a deep-fried ball of mashed potatoes stuffed with ground beef called a papa rellena.

Sushi A-Go-Go (4001 Medical Parkway, 560-1655; also at 801 Barton Springs Road, 423-7170; www.sushi-a-go-go-austin.com ): Raw fish from a trailer? Trust Kayo and Také Asazu to channel their New Orleans and Japanese roots to turn out respectable rolls (the Fat Samurai, with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp and avocado) and colorful surprises (seaweed salad, sushi balls).

Spartan Pizza (1104 E. Sixth St. 484-0798, www.spartanpizzaaustin.com ): Pizzas from Zeus in heaven to the Cyclops in Hades. Oh my gods. With handmade dough baked in a vintage East Side oven.

Three Little Pigs (1209 Rosewood Ave. at East End Wines. www.3littlepigsaustin.com ): Raymond Tatum's been a fancy chef and a steakhouse guru, but his heart's always had a place for pork. Try meatloaf with pork, carrot and onions topped with cracklings and plated with collard greens and cheese grits, all for $6. Or Asian fried chicken with sweet chile sauce and sesame slaw.

Ugly Banjos (1001 E. Sixth St. at the East Side Drive In. 294-0911, www.uglybanjos.com ): Cousins Mike Hegar and Matthew Schaefer don't play the banjo. They make a meatloaf sandwich with cheese and bacon, a fried dish called Jimmy Crack Chicken and a sandwich called the Sloppy Banjo, made with ground beef, bacon, sausage and a fried tomato. Sides include green chile mac and cheese, collard greens and fried pickles. For dessert? Fried Oreos with chocolate ganache and crushed Butterfingers.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included Chris' Little Chicago. Chris' Little Chicago has closed.