G’Raj Mahal

G’Raj Mahal seems to encompass everything there is to love about Austin.  Amazing food, friendly people, and a one of a kind “Keep Austin Weird” style food truck. Calling it a food truck would be a lie because it doesn’t move, but calling it a restaurant is further from the truth – it doesn’t even have walls. But somehow they turn this parking lot and trailer into one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I have ever had.

It located in the unique Rainey Street neighborhood where a bunch of old houses have been converted into bars and the whole block has a laid back vibe. G’Raj Mahal is only open for dinner, as we found out a few weekends back when we tried to go for a late lunch only to be disappointed. There was a lot of hype about this place because we had seen it on the Food Network show Eat Street and were really excited to see what it was all about.

It’s a bring your own booze joint so we grabbed a 6-pack of Shiner Ruby Reds and strolled over. Ruby Redbird is Shiners summer beer and has ginger and grapefruit and is one of my new favorite beers. It went really well with our dinner and I’d highly recommend it as your booze of choice at G’Raj Mahal.

The decor here is a contrasting mix of scrap metal, flowing white linen, and a few cats laying around the outside of the dining area. We were sat by a host and given a friendly server who helped us pick out our dinner since neither Katy nor myself are Indian food aficionados. It was very cool to be served at a food truck and it really gave it a brick and mortar restaurant feel.

We started with garlic naan and a side of Raita which is homemade yogurt sauce served cold with chopped veggies and is seriously AMAZING. Literally when the naan was gone I ate the rest of the sauce with my spoon. It should be noted that everything is served on styrofoam plates which completely adds to the no worries vibe at this place and I loved it.

For the main course Katy ordered chicken malabar which is a creamy curry made with a coconut milk base. It is thickened with a caramelized onion sauce and mixed with more spices than I knew existed, and had a perfectly creamy texture and sweetness. I was feeling spicy so I ordered the rechaad masala with shrimp, which is a red-chili paste that was pan-fried with huge plump shrimp. It was hot but not over-whelming or uncomfortable. I actually wanted something hotter but this is apparently their hottest sauce. I asked. It all comes with a big bowl of basmati rice and needless to say, there was nothing left when we stood up to leave.

I really, really enjoyed our trip to G’Raj Mahal and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a unique date idea or something other than the food truck parking lots. It has an eclectic vibe in an unusual neighborhood and is very much “Austin”.

G’Raj Mahal

91 Red River

Austin, TX

http://grajmahalaustin.com/

Food Truck Review: Kebabalicious

I’ve fallen in love with many a food truck here in Austin.  But my favorite so far has to be Kebabalicious.  They serve Turkish-style wraps and operate out of two trucks permanently stationed (for the most part) downtown — one at Congress and 2nd (for lunch during business hours), the other at Trinity and 7th (for the late-night drunk crowd).  Fortunately, I fall under both categories and I’ve tried both locations.  The product and service is exceptional and consistent at both.

Kebabalicious is family-owned, locally sourced, and run with real passion.  The wraps are made for you on the spot and truly have thought put into them.  Each bite contains a bit of every ingredient.

I almost always order the same thing — the king-sized (12″) beef/lamb kebab.  I go for the regular size (8″) when I’m lunching, but at night after a few beers, even when Kyle responsibly orders the regular size (and the lady serving us mistakenly assumes the larger one is for him), I need as much Kebabalicious as I can get.  If I can’t finish it that night, into the fridge it goes until I open my eyes the next morning and crawl to the fridge to finish it at 10 AM.  Not even kidding, it is THAT addicting.

The sandwich is wrapped in a perfect, squishy pita bread.  It’s just thick enough to hold its contents without overtaking you with breadiness.  It doesn’t crack when it bends, it’s warm, soft, and supple.  The beef/lamb shawarma appears/tastes to be mixed with falafel or some type of grain.  It’s formed into nuggets that are likely heated through on a griddle — amazingly seasoned, savory, and well-textured succulent meat, no icky bits.  Each nugget is slightly charred and crunchy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.  Tons of flavor and enjoyable on their own, they melt in your mouth.

Next are the veggies…lettuce, locally grown tomato, red onion, and fresh parsley.  Unlike other shawarma wraps I’ve had, the veggies are consistently fresh and perfect every time.  No haphazardly chopped pieces, no off-tasting onion, just light, crunchy, ripened bites that perfectly complement the heaviness of the bread and meat.

They make these wraps mild, medium, or spicy (adjusted by how much crushed red pepper they shake on).  Spicy is best — nowhere near unbearable or even overpowering, just another note to cut the richness.  I also have them add feta to mine.  Not necessary but a perfect extra indulgence.  Amazing.

Last, but not at all least: the sauces.  The wraps come with two sauces on them, both of which are incredible and balance each other out perfectly.  One is a tzatziki (strained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, lemon, dill, often other spices), both creamy and herby, but not too tangy.  Each component of the wrap is seasoned very well and this sauce is no exception.  The coolness of the sauce also brings the heat level down a notch.

And finally, the spicy red sauce.  I would pay serious, serious dough to get just a glimpse of this recipe.  It’s also creamy but slightly heavier than the tzatziki, coral red in color, and appears to be almost a spicy or red pepper aioli.  Phenomenal and adds the perfect amount of richness and a tad of garlicky flavor.

I remember Bobby Flay saying on TV once that the most common problem he notices in sandwiches is that they aren’t sauced enough and are therefore too dry on the mouth.  The Kebabalicious sauces solve that problem all too well and provide the perfect vehicle to marry all of the ingredients together into one phenomenal experience.

The combination of these perfectly orchestrated ingredients create a heavenly, constantly crave-able meal.  I really can’t say enough about how much I would recommend this to anyone who ever has the opportunity to try it.  I also do not ever want to know how many calories are in one of these things.

Another thing to note is that I love how Kebabalicious brings to the masses what could be intimidating to some in such a great way.  What better way to try out a cuisine that isn’t as familiar to Americans as Italian or Chinese than something this incredible?

Other options for the wraps are chicken shawarma, falafel, and the “spoiled brat” (chicken, beef, lamb, falafel, and hummus!) and run at about $7 for a regular, $9 for a king size.  The chicken and falafel are exceptional, though I can’t speak for the spoiled brat as I haven’t graduated to that level (yet).

Finally, and this I can’t stress enough: if you have the good fortune to try Kebabalicious, try the loaded french fries. Words simply don’t exist to describe them.  The fries alone are hot, fresh out of the fryer, perfectly crispy, and would be amazing all by themselves.  But, they’re taken to the next level with tons of parsley, spicy red sauce, and feta.  Tasting these fries for the first time was the biggest food-high I’ve had in a long time.

In closing, thanks for reading and please share your Kebabalicious-related experiences here.  Kebabalicious has about 200 reviews and has earned itself an average of 4.5 stars on Yelp.  That’s very impressive, but my rating is a solid 5 out of 5.

Read more here: http://www.austinkebab.com/.

Turf N’ Surf Food Truck


This eclectic gem of a food truck has abolished my cravings for east coast seafood that I’ve had since I moved here. Done is Louisiana style po’ boys, the seafood is AMAZING and completely filling. We’ve tried fried shrimp, seared tuna, and fried catfish, and all were worth ordering again. They offer everything in the form of two tacos instead of a po’ boy which is nice since lately everything is better as a taco to me.

As the name states they have more then seafood, offering all your favorite land animal snacks but I haven’t been around to try them yet. If they are anything like the seafood then you won’t be dissapointed. Prices range from $8- $13 for po’ boys/tacos and are completely worth it.

$3 Jalapeno hush puppies and a buffalo chicken po’ boy are on my menu for the next visit.

Turf N’ Surf Food Truck

207 Congress St. between 2nd and 3rd

fried shrimp taco with slaw and greens