Trailer. Not Trash.
Houston is great. It's big and cosmopolitan, a bustling modern city that ticks a lot of my boxes. San Antonio is also great. It's smaller, but it's got a greater sense of community and reeks of the "Real Texas" I was expecting from this state, where Cowboy and Mexican mingle to charming effect.
And then there's Austin. It's got the cosmopolitan feel of Houston but a greater sense of community I've never found. The music scene is incredible, the atmosphere electric, the food is brilliant and diverse, the people are sweethearts and the domestic beers are rather tasty too. If Houston is the equivalent of London, Austin is like a flatter, nicer, more colourful Edinburgh (with a hearty dash of Toronto) and, while it might not sound like it, that's a pretty blooming hefty compliment in my book.
In short? I absolutely adored Austin. It leaped, in a matter of hours, from somewhere quirky and charming to the top of my "places where I'd most like to live" list. How can you resist a city with "Keep Austin Weird" as its motto? Not only that, the motto has been embraced so wholeheartedly that Austin has managed to see off many of the big chains and kept a huge sense of individuality.
One example of this is the rise of the trailers. Over the last few years, food trailers have popped up in parking lots and on side streets to bring great food to the masses at seriously good prices. Some are little newcomers - in the spirit of our own beloved ChocStar - but many are offshoots of existing businesses, taking advantage of the low overheads to spread the word without reducing the quality. Even one of Austin's most acclaimed - and expensive - places, Hudson's On The Bend, has a trailer. They even cheerfully acknowledge the fact that they're upscale by marketing the trailer as "the only way you can eat at Hudson's for less than $10".
It's irresistible. Breakfast today was a Ranch Hand taco - steak, cheese, egg, incredibly spicy "El Diablo" sauce - and a good coffee from Torchy's Tacos. I'm pretty sure it's about the best way of spending $5 as you'll find in Texas.
I'm looking forward to Dallas. I'm also looking forward, more immediately, to cocktails at VOICE in about an hour's time followed by a steak at the Houston outpost of Strip House. But I very much doubt they'll replace Austin as my personal "rose" of Texas.