The Best Things I Ate While at SXSW Interactive


The kimchee fries from the Chi’Lantro BBQ truck made a magnificent lunch one day.

At the SXSW Interactive festival — which started last Thursday, and concluded today — I represented The Village Voice at a panel called “Bite Me” organized by concerning the ethics of food writing. But while I was working, I was also eating as much as possible as quickly as I could, both to add to my Fork in the Road food guide for festival attendees, but also just because I like to. Here are some of the best things I ate.

The Chi’Lantro BBQ taco truck at the event at the Pepsi lot.

Kimchee Fries from the Chi-Lantro Truck — Good fries prepared on the spot are smothered in kimchee, Korean ketchup, Sriracha hot sauce, grated cheddar, pump cheese, sesame seeds, onions, cilantro, and a few other things I probably failed to identify.

An assortment of by-the-pound ‘cue from Smitty’s in Lockhart.

Smoked brisket (termed “moist” on the menu) from Smitty’s in Lockhart — Walk down the blackened hallway through the door and brave the blast of flames that pour smoke into the pits to get the barbecue at Smitty’s, which occupies the original Kreuz space just off the square. The barbecue, rimmed extensively with fat and smoke-ringed, is the thing to get. No sauce! Eat with pickles and onions!

Smitty’s regulars.


Such a colorful display! At La Condesa.

Quartet of Guacamoles at La Condesa — La Condesa is a wonderful Mexican restaurant that finds a happy medium between traditional regional cooking and modern cheffery. This take on guac runs from doctrinaire to unusual, via the addition of ingredients like shredded crab, pomegranate seeds, slivered almonds, and diced apples. Four diverse sauces, also delightful, accompany — along with fresh chips, of course. 400 West 2nd Street, 512-499-0300

The taquitos that featured royal trumpet mushrooms seasoned with epazote were one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve had all year.

Lamb Frites at Olivia — Located in a limestone house with big windows and a patio out back on South Lamar, Olivia is the restaurant in Austin that most epitomizes the farm-to-table ethos, via chef James Holmes, who cooked along with David Chang under Tom Colicchio at Craft Bar. If you think the menu is a shade challenging for Austin, you don’t know the new Austin. The dish consists of fried lamb testicles, locally sourced, served with a yogurt dipping sauce, and they’re the tastiest McNuggets you’ve ever tried. 2043 South Lamar Boulevard, 512-804-2700

In the dim light of the back patio at twilight — lamb frites.

Chisholm Trail is the fourth barbecue in Lockhart — and the one no one has heard of.

Barbecue Taco at Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que and Hot Sausage — Chisholm Trail, founded in 1978, is a baby in barbecue years, but that’s an asset in an old-barbecue town. It leaves room for outside influences, in this case the amazing Mex-BBQ fusion “barbecue taco,” which is made by depositing burnt brisket ends in a flour tortilla with a modest squirt of sweet barbecue sauce. Like the sign says, the sausage is great, too.

The barbecue taco at Chisholm Trail in Lockhart.

Monday night I enjoyed the Village Voice Media party at Paradise Cafe at 6th and Trinity.

And don’t forget there’s a concession at Austin Bergstrom airport that sells Salt Lick barbecue, which you can take advantage of to buy a jalapeño sausage sandwich for eating on the plane. It beats the hell out of airline food.