Lizzie’s Lunchbox knows how to mix Tex-mex and Mediterranian

Elizabeth Hinojos

Austin’s newest food trailer resides in the Arbor Carwash lot in northwest Austin, boasting its hot-pink flare beneath a lofty oak tree. Lizzie’s Lunchbox sets itself apart in its suburban location and, despite the trendiness of central Austin food trailers, offers a new taste to tantalize trailer-goers through a fresh “Tex-Med” fusion of Tex-Mex and Mediterranean cuisine.

Lunchbox owner Lisa Allen was inspired by a trip to West Texas for the idea of the trailer. After eating great food at a trailer in Marfa, Allen and her friends were talking about how great it would be to open a food trailer of their own. With encouragement from her husband, Keith Allen, Lisa Allen decided to buy a tool truck off Craigslist in Dallas and get the ball rolling.

On the drive back to Austin, the truck engine blew up on Interstate Highway 35. “That’s when the adventure began,” Allen said. She and her husband gave up every weekend for a year and a half to renovate the trailer into a mobile-mini-restaurant.

A former technical writer, Allen was working for the pharmaceutical industry up until mid-June before she switched over to work at the Lunchbox full-time. Allen also runs a catering company part-time.

The disadvantage of the trailer is that it runs on an electrical circuit. Though Allen plans to use the trailer to commute to big events where there are more customers, for now, the Lunchbox will remain on Jollyville Road.

“Our biggest hindrance is that we have to be plugged in to this one location,” said Amy Richards, a Lunchbox employee.

Regardless of this minor setback, it is Allen’s love for Tex-Mex and Mediterranean food that spurred the creation of these blended cuisines that draws a public interest. Cooking since she was a girl, Allen was led to the “road of experimentation” at a young age; growing up watching Julia Child exposed her to a variety of cuisines.

“I love everything about Tex-Mex,” Allen said. “The heat of the peppers, smoky cumin, tangy citrus flavors, the cool and creamy avocado, they kick the flavors of fresh and healthy Mediterranean fare up a notch.”

The Lunchbox’s menu offers wraps that exemplify the spices of the Tex-Med fusion. The chile-lime marinated chicken kabob and Dr. Pepper Cherry-marinated lamb kabob are both served on pita bread with feta, kalamata olives, cucumber yogurt sauce and honey tahini dressing. Allen said they also “throw some heat into the mix with a sprinkling of jalapenos and some Sriracha.”

More traditional Mediterranean options on the menu include the falafel: ground chickpea patties shaped like meatballs consisting of onion, garlic, fresh herbs, spices and lemon, fried golden in non-hydrogenated canola oil.

“With Mediterranean and Mexican food, you get a lot of spices and fresh vegetables with a little bit of heat to it,” Richards said. “The good thing about the fusion is you won’t alienate a lot of people who don’t want to ask what a falafel is.”