Eating Austin: Not-so-vegan

In Austin people look at you a little funny if you order cheese on the side. Though there is a thriving vegetarian/vegan/raw food scene (we enjoyed a remarkable and extremely precious snack at Beets Living Foods Cafe where we sampled sprouted lentil salad, kale salad and Tex-Mex Cabbage--yes, Mitch deserves a crown in heaven), most folks relish their migas (like matzo brei with tortilla chips), their BBQ (oh my God, did we have an amazing meal at Artz Rib House) and comfort food (Threadgill's chicken-fried steak is famous, though I've had better at Davie's Chuck Wagon Diner here in my own hometown).

The cuisine here is mostly on low-down. Obviously they have their fine dining but to eat in Austin is to indulge in Tex-Mex, BBQ and home-cookin'.

Both of us were impressed by the food truck movement here. The town even allows carts to congregate in established trailer park-like food courts, rounding up five or six stands schilling hot dogs, fried things, cupcakes, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, all manner of sliders, BBQ and Middle Eastern under sassy names like Pig Vicious, The Vegan Yacht and Odd Duck.

Wilting one 95-degree afternoon, we braved the line at Sno Beach, a gourmet snow-cone truck (pictured above) that dishes up champagne-powder-soft ice in flavors like Wedding Cake, Tea, Sangria, Tiger's Blood, Tamarindo and Leche Quemada. We slurpped our sweeties--Root Beer and cream for me, lime for Mitch--almost as aggressively as the truck's attendant bees, who know a good source of sugar when they see one.

About 9:30 on Sunday night, we headed out for some quick Chinese but were struck by the crowds at the establishment next door, Torchy's "damn good" Tacos. Founded in a trailer, Torchy's has since expanded to six stores and a trailer park. At almost 10 o'clock the place was crawling with students and it's not hard to suss out the winning formula--fast, cheap, delicious eats like the hand-battered fried avocado taco topped with tart pico de gallo or the sweet-spicy Brush Fire, jerk chicken, mango, grilled jalapenos, etc. wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Anyway, we had our fun. Back to the diet of twigs and sprouts and the occasional croissant.

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