With the food and entertainment options available in sight of the Tower or Capitol, it’s possible for students to meet their needs without leaving the campus bubble. But out in Austin’s great beyond, losing sight of the Tower can mean finding new flavor.
Such is the case for those hungry not only for food but for a stretch of the legs who can make it to the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. The historic neighborhood’s East 7th Street is home to a collection of food trucks offering a variety of cuisines to fill bellies on the fly.
String lights and picnic tables direct patrons to Saigon Le Vendeur at 2404 E 7th, where customers can get a meal of Vietnamese street food for under $10.
“Our banh mi in particular has been praised for authenticity and taste,” truck manager Brian Lieb said. “And we won $10,000 in the Trucklandia competition for being the overall favorite.”
According to Lieb, Saigon Le Vendeur focuses on serving authentic delicious Vietnamese street food in a community atmosphere at their truck location and at their brick and mortar counterpart.
For Lieb, the East Austin location is ideal.
“People in East Austin are interested in trying different types of cuisine so that makes this a great place for us,” Lieb said. “This area is great in that a lot of different types of food are right here together, so you can come down and find anything.”
Saigon Le Vendeur is neighbored by Chinese cuisine at the 2410 East 7th food truck Dragon Delights.
Co-owner Mark Hyatt described the truck, which he owns with girlfriend Lian Yan, as a passion project after working in computer support for 30 years.
“I was making more money (in computer support), but I wasn’t happy,” Hyatt said. “I love the Chinese culture and food, and being able to work doing something I care about is so much better.”
The truck offers a selection of classic Chinese sides like spring rolls and potstickers for under $7, as well as vegan options such as scallion pancakes and red bean sesame balls.
“Chicken lomein is my biggest seller,” Hyatt said. “It’s different than what you usually get at food trucks because it costs more ($11.95) and takes 15 minutes. But I get a lot of compliments on that dish in particular, and I think people enjoy being able to get more time-intensive dishes without having to go to a restaurant.”
Sharing the same address is Tacos la Sabroza, owned and operated by Gustavo Alonso Martinez-Cruz.
Martinez-Cruz said in the nine years since immigrating from Mexico, he has worked to share his home culture with his new city. The truck does so by offering Austinites familiar items like quesadillas and breakfast burritos as well as less-familiar ones like lengua (tongue) and tripa (stomach) tacos.
“Our carne asada is one of the more special things on our menu,” Martinez-Cruz said. “People here know what it is, but with mine in particular I’ve kept a taste of authenticity, making it like we really have it in Mexico. This food is my home.”
The truck’s menu is in Spanish and English, and nothing is over $10.