The addition of several food trucks over the past year has made North Loop a serious contender in the city-wide ring of engined eateries. Nestled among suburban residencies, vintage clothing shops, a slow-filling gas station, and an explosive collection of street art are five locally-owned, locally-inspired food trucks.
Here’s a look at each one, collectively showing what makes the North Loop food truck scene such a special mix.
1/ Elevated Vegan Cuisine at Bistro Vonish
The most sprawling and time-tested member of this food truck five-some is Bistro Vonish. Founded by Craig Vanis in 2013, Bistro Vonish initially operated in supper clubs and private events, then posted up on Manor before making the move to North Loop in October 2015.
In the nearly three years since, Bistro Vonish has created a real home for vegans and non-vegans alike, crafting a stellar aesthetic on the east side of 53rd Street. The small, open plot of land is complete with candle lanterns, great music all day, multiple tents, dining tables, fire pit, and string lights.
When asked about the history behind the restaurant, Vanis weighed in, “I wanted to see a place that was serving vegan food you would want to eat on a special occasion, but still approachable enough where you’d feel comfortable for a weekday lunch.”
Last week, I enjoyed the BBQ Seitan sandwich to the tune of Ella Fitzgerald. Ben and Anders (two Bistro Vonish employees) hand-delivered water to each customer, creating the feeling of being at an outdoor restaurant. As far as being both approachable and classy, Bistro Vonish is supreme.
701 E. 53rd St. — Website
2/ There’s Sno Place Like Home
Right next door to Bistro Vonish is a newly opened truck selling the perfect summer treat: shaved ice. Sno Place Like Home opened only a month ago, May 2018. Owners Susan and Juan are fulfilling one of Susan’s early childhood ambitions. When she was a kid, she’d often tell her mother, “I’m going to have one of these [snow cone stands] one day. I want to be just like you!”
The prophecy came true in the form of an awesomely designed, quaint shaved ice stand, adorned in bright colors and friendly paraphernalia. Learning that the inspiration behind Susan and Juan’s stand is a desire to carry the family torch makes the whole company—and the name especially—that much more endearing. I recommend watermelon flavor, though I’ve got my eyes on Piña Colada and Tiger Blood next.
701 E. 53rd St. – Facebook
3/ Asian Fusion at The Great Y’all
Completing the trifecta on the east end of North Loop is The Great Y’all. Headed by owners Beth Davidson and Jenna Ryan, The Great Y’all spent its first year on 12th and Chicon. A year ago, the wheels moved to 53rd. Since then, the truck has been operating opposite Bistro Vonish, forming a powerhouse duo of vegan cuisine.
My go-to order is the fried spring roll (two rolls for $3–an excellent deal). The bao sandwiches are also delectable.
701 E. 53rd St. — Facebook
4/ Award-winning Van’s Bánh Mi
A quarter mile down the road is the most spirited venue on this list, Van’s Bánh Mi, which specializes in Vietnamese cuisine. The most popular dish is bánh mi (of course), the staple sandwich of Vietnam, eaten at all times of the day. It consists of a split French roll and any kind of meat or tofu, with a savory assortment of vegetables and sauces on top.
Van is the energetic, incredibly kind, and sociable owner of the truck. He was sure to let me know, as he stood beneath a banner saying the same thing, that Van’s Bánh Mi was selected as one of Austin Chronicle’s “100 Restaurants Defining Austin Now.”
Having enjoyed the “R1” on multiple occasions (aka rice, beef, veggies) under a tropical straw umbrella, I can vouch not only for the food, but also for the service and atmosphere. Van’s is doing it all right.
201 E. 53rd St. – Website
5/ Tacos & Deli(cious)
Twenty feet across from Van’s Bánh Mi sits the smallest truck in the bunch, newly established Tacos & Deli. Owners Emilio and Mariah are incredibly sweet multi-business owners who make a mean soft taco. They also do any kind of deli sandwich, breakfast sandwich, or breakfast taco, covering an entire day of meals. Simple and deli-cious.
The positioning of Van’s Bánh Mi and Tacos & Deli across from one another, combined with a few well-placed outdoor rugs, makes for a cozy oasis at the center of 53rd.
201 E. 53rd St.
North Loop has always been known as an eclectic neighborhood in Austin, featuring knick-knack shops and 24-hour cafes. I think it’s time to recognize the strength of its food truck scene. Each one of these local businesses is worth a special trip (or two…or three). If you live in the area, then you already know how good you’ve got it.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What are your favorite North Loop food trucks?