Head east on 11th street past the Texas state capital and you will encounter a pocket rich in establishments to fix your hunger, particularly the kind that strikes in the morning hours. Yet, while doing a double take on the names like Hillside Farmacy or Quickie Pickie, you may very well miss the new kid on the block: Paperboy.
This shiny black food truck, which rolled into its gravel lot last November, offers yet another destination for seasonally inspired, locally sourced fare in Austin. Its cursive baby blue lettering punctuates the traditional Saturday morning vibes of comics and tabloid newspapers that one might be longing for in this whirlwind they call the 21st century. To take literal matters further, the truck offers a rack full of crisp editions of the Austin American-Statesman and New York Times for your reading enjoyment.
As for the food, Paperboy offers a menu that's concise and straight forward, highlighting classics such as Steak & Egg, Oatmeal, and B.E.C (Bacon Egg and Cheese), with a twist. Though the prices all float under $10 and seem modest (with the exception of your $4 glass of Orange Juice), the temptation to try multiple sides and fair portion sizes make it easy to rack up a bill fairly quick. This truth was evident as soon as we sat down next to a girl on her phone, which happened to be at the only picnic table in the lot with space. Hearing her say, "this is like, my $15 breakfast…or something. There you go Mom," as she snapped a photo of her food, admittedly helped to build excitement for ours while also serving as a reminder that this was no ordinary breakfast.
By the time one of the roaming staffers found us, with a pair of cardboard boats in his hand, our picnic table had reached capacity and we were well into the fresh squeezed orange juice and Coffee ($2.50).
My Hash Bowl ($7) arrived as a bed of roasted sweet potatoes hoisting a poached egg, while hiding shreds of braised pork belly. A drizzle of coffee mayo was placed for visual effect, but lost its ability to shine among the dense and rich flavors of egg yolk and sweet potatoes. In light of recent disappointments regarding poached eggs (see Hillside Farmacy and Hyde Park B&G), I was relieved to find that the execution of this particular egg was flawless. A firm, almost gritty outside lead to an explosive and rather runny interior, making the dish an instant hit. Sweetness from the potatoes almost overmatched a subtle gaminess of the pork belly entirely, but played quite well with the yolk to create a balance and provide an experience was far from your typical meat and potato dish.
For conscious relief, to some degree, the Savory Toast ($7) offered a combination of both fresh and greasy ingredients while acting as a rendition of eggs and toast. While the inclusion of sweet broccoli and strawberries could be lauded for creative contrast in texture and flavor, the unshakable level of butter from the toast and saltiness from the eggs nearly dominated the dish. Moreover, the menu advertised goat chorizo as one of the ingredients, yet we were unable to find a single trace of the meat in our dish. Mistakes happen, ingredients are forgotten from time to time, but this was one of the selling points of the dish and was rather disappointing. Worth noting, however, was the addition of a purple (pickled?) broccoli which had a tanginess that helped cut the saltiness and stood out among everything else going on in the dish.
As our food digested, we sat in the bustling lot and listened to others talk about their food while contemplating our own. Most noticeable was a feeling of unsettlement as others, too, wondered if there was more to be desired for the other menu items. Perhaps it's due to the portions we've grown up on and accustomed to, but our desire for just a little bit more food seemed to be justified.
Considering everything positive about the truck; its location, relaxing vibes and original concept, it's fair to say that the shortcomings can be chalked up to growing pains as a new establishment. A second visit would surely be justifiable, and done in the spirit of trying something new.
(Items ordered: Orange Juice, Coffee, Savory Toast, Hash Bowl)
Rating: 3 & 1/2 Pork Bellies (out of five)
203 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702