Holy shawarma!

22 Aug

Two chicks has had quite a bit going on in the last few months; A is working hard, traveling and getting some extra schooling. I am working hard, traveling and planning a wedding. I’ve also started a new job in a swank office in the heart of downtown Austin. Not only is my new company pretty awesome, but I am literally a half-block away from a beautiful bevy of food trucks! If you know anything about me, you know that I started taste testing my first week in; six weeks later, I’ve already developed a couple of regular go-to joints. One such place is Kebabalicious, which is as much fun to say as it is to eat. Ignoring the obvious question (no, there are no actual kebabs on the menu), this little blue truck makes my belly happy.

This is what it's all about.

This place was actually at the top of my list, but on my first trip, I was lured away by a fairly aggressive carnival barker type guy manning the nearby Turf & Surf truck. I wasn’t thrilled with them my first go-round (though a subsequent visit proved fruitful), so on my next truck trip, I dutifully waited in line at K-bab, trying desperately to think cool thoughts under the blazing sun. The interaction was swift, the cashier friendly and the smells were pretty freaking delicious. And the little things didn’t go unnoticed — my gyro was handed over wrapped in foil and a small wad of napkins; there was no generic plastic bag with ‘Thank You For Your Order’ emblazoned across the side, no obnoxious coupons and I was asked if I needed a receipt. Given that I do my level best to save the environment between the hours of 9 and 5, the fact that K-bab doesn’t get down with the excessive waste is rather nice.

A gyro really is the ultimate street food, and each time I receive my bundle of goodness, I tuck it in my purse and saunter back to my office (they have tables outside, but seriously? By 1p in Austin it’s well into the triple digits, and I’m not down with melting into the blacktop). My staple is a mix of beef and lamb, with tzatziki, red onions, tomatoes and feta. The pita is warm and crisp on the outside, with just enough give when you bite into it. That first bite is always a bit too hot, but simply too good to ignore. The guys who make my kebab are always generous with the filling, and that initial bite (and each subsequent one) gives me a bit of everything — savory meat, the sweetness of locally grown tomatoes and red onions, the punch of feta and tangy tzatziki, and the spiciness of a red sauce that I’ve not quite figured out yet. It goes on all of their gyros, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.  It’s definitely messy, but good street food always is.

On my last visit, I got wacky and ordered falafel in addition to my kebab. I have a complicated relationship with falafel (which, incidentally, is actually more fun to say than Kebabalicious); it’s just ground chickpeas and spices, so you’d think it would be one of those foolproof type dishes, but I’ve had so many subpar incarnations of it, I’m usually confused as to whether I even like it or not. Every time I see it on a new menu, my internal dialogue goes something like this:

‘Falafel — I hate falafel. Wait, which is that one again? There’s hummus – I know hummus. Damn, I wish I had some good hummus right now… Tiffany’s dad made the best hummus I’ve ever had. So much garlic, so much goodness. Shit, wait – falafel. Is it that green salad stuff with too many onions? YES, that’s it. I hate… no, wait. That’s the baba ganoush. Or is that tabouli? TABOULI! That’s what I don’t like.’

The beef/lamb is my BFF.

But the falafel from K-bab has the power to clear those cobwebs and get straight to the point: falafel = delicious.  They are perfectly fried, non-greasy and just spicy enough to make you want an ice cold something to wash it down. One afternoon I got even wackier and went a step further, mashing them up (burning my fingers in the process) and adding them to my gyro. Once I re-wrapped the kebab and took a bite, OH MY GOD. My face melted in a tasty pool of what I like to call kebalfel. I almost didn’t want to finish it, just so I wouldn’t have to say a tearful goodbye. When I returned the following week, I ordered falafel again, and to my gleeful surprise, the cashier asked if I wanted the cooks to add them to my gyro! How did she know?! Why yes, wonderful Kebabalicious lady, yes. I. do.

Thus far, I’ve only encountered two downers: (1) their Tuesday-only zucchini fries were soggy and bland. I’d been angling to try them for a couple of weeks, and when I finally remembered to go on the right day, at the right time (meaning, before they ran out), I was hugely disappointed. For $4 ($5 if you order them sans kebab), I got about six zucchini sticks, roughly the size of a celery stick on a veggie platter. They were arranged atop a single leaf of lettuce, in a paper bowl from the Dixie picnic collection. The batter had sesame seeds and red pepper flakes, but none of that taste came through; the batter wasn’t crisp and the fiery red dipping sauce that looked so promising didn’t impart any additional flavor. It was so strange to put something in my mouth, chew and swallow, yet taste absolutely nothing.

The second bummer was a woman officially dubbed my least favorite food truck cashier — after experiencing the awesome falafel-in-gyro creation (of my doing and theirs), I asked if the cooks could add them to my gyro as they’d done before (and done during a huge rush of orders, mind you). But without even asking, the chick was like, “No, they can’t do that.” I replied, “Oh? They did last week and it was really awesome.” Her: “No, I don’t think so.”

I guess I fell, bumped my head and had something else then, right? Thanks, lady. You are mostly definitely not kebabalicious.

Those two speed bumps aside, I am definitely a fan, and have been openly recommending it to peeps in my office (who I now know read this blog. No pressure there). I plan to stray from my usual on my next go round and order the spoiled brat: a beef, lamb, chicken concoction with all the fixins’ and — you guessed it — falafel. I’m kebabahappy.

-B

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