There are thousands of them. They range from lousy commercial taco kitchens with owners who couldn’t make a tortilla from scratch if their life hung in the balance, all the way to exotic operations selling foods from southeast Asia, Iowa or even Louisiana.

They are Austin, Texas food trailers and we’ve been eating their food for well over a decade.

Back in the 90s you had one option: Loncheras serving Mexican food, primarily to working class Mexican cats and in the know regular folks who dug deep for their daily chow. Back then we loved the dollar tacos, we loved the handmade tortillas and we loved venturing deep into the barrio [back when that meant something] late at night to eat.

Days of being wild.

Nowadays things are a mite different. We can go nose to tail, farm to trailer and eat straight out of a circulator plugged into a light pole in far east Austin. It’s common-place now that professional chefs are vending heritage breed this and that from a sous vide-out of a food trailer in neighborhoods where hookers are now considered oddballs instead of just regular folks trying to earn a living.

Change has come.

Then, once every 50 or 60 meals, you come upon a restaurant that forces you to recalibrate your take on the current state of food in Austin Texas.

Like tonight at Pachamama’s Peruvian Creole Cuisine.

Chef Victor is breathing in some rarified air over here in East Austin.

“Everything is damn near perfectly balanced”

“He could be charging 35 dollars for this west of I-35”

“Technique and presentation are upper echelon”

“I’m literally trying to remember the last time I had food this good”

These were a few of the comments we were bandying about while we worked our way through 5 dishes off the menu at Pachamama’s tonight.

Papa a la Huincaina threw me off a little at first . I normally don’t eat potatoes served cold but after acclimating myself I foundered on them. Delicate, perfect texture and subtle flavors you have to reach for to fully appreciate.

Causa Limena comes out and it’s a sight to behold with presentation befitting an upper level fine dining restaurant. Layers of potatoes, chile sauce, chicken and cream arch toward the heavens. So pretty we’re loath to destroy it but destroy it we do. Achingly delicious.

Anticuchos is what got us here. There aren’t many places that serve beef heart skewers in Austin so we vectored in with extreme prejudice on this dish. Rich, bloody [as ordered] and perfectly salted, this was my favorite dish.

Bistec a lo pobre could be served in the best steakhouse in town for 3 times the 8.50 charged here and nobody would blink an eye. Perfectly grilled, medium rare sirloin,sliced and served over rice with deep fried plantains and a fried egg. Punch the egg with the fork, cream the rice with the hot yolk and then spear charred bloody strips of the steak through the whole affair.

Just a monster of a dish. An absolute monster.

We’re helpless at this point. Competely sated with zero room for any more food, yet we find ourselves walking, zombie-like back to the window where Chef Victor has us held powerless.

We order a pea soup and a flan to go. Unwilling to end this experience we do what we can to extend it to tomorrow.

As soon as the food runner brings us our final, to-go round, we immediately tear into the flan like ravenous hounds.

There may be no tomorrow so we eat now.

Finally satiated we make our way to the vehicle and burn out of the parking lot. Eyes bright, minds glowing, faith renewed in this modern Austin we find ourselves in.



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