The operators have brought the truck to Austin for the past two SouthBites during South by Southwest, and enjoyed the experience so much that they are bringing one of their trucks to town permanently.
The Happy Lobster plans to be rolling around town in the first week of July. The truck will serve its existing menu of lobster rolls, lobster grilled cheese, et al and also introduce new Austin-specific items like Old Bay cheese fries and a fried fish taco, because duh. The Austin truck will be run by one of our the Happy Lobster’s founders, Neal Bassett.
“When we were looking to expand, we were looking for a few factors: a place where the weather permitted us to vend year round and a place that was food truck friendly (essentially the opposite of Chicago),” co-founder Alex Robinson said in an email. “In our trips to Austin the past few years we became comfortable with the city and developed a little bit of a following, so it seemed like the natural choice.”
The sabor of South Texas will soon be rolling up to Austin. Beloved Laredo-based Taco Palenque, which has locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley and north to Houston, San Antonio and New Braunfels, plans to open a food truck in Austin this summer.
Owner Juan Francisco Ochoa (Don Pancho) opened the first Taco Palenque in Laredo in 1987, several years after selling the American rights to El Pollo Loco, which he also founded. The fast-casual restaurant specializes in grilled beef and chicken plates and tacos, and is well known for its massive pirata, a taco slathered with refried beans and draped with juicy grilled fajita meat and melted cheddar cheese.
The restaurants make their own excellent corn and flour tortillas, the latter soft, chewy and spotted with marks from the grill, and feature fresh salsa bars, with several salsa offerings, grilled jalapenos, pickled and raw onions, cilantro, pico de gallo and more. A visit to Taco Palenque will make you totally rethink the idea of fast-casual Mexican food.
Ochoa and his team told me last week in Laredo that the truck will feature several of the restaurant’s most popular items on a smaller menu than that found in their 20+ locations throughout Texas. They are not sure where the truck will be located and say there is a strong possibility the truck could lead to multiple Austin brick-and-mortar locations of the massively popular family-owned chain of restaurants, which expanded to New Braunfels four years ago.