When the shutters pop up from the side of its rustic trailer, Trai Mai Thai’s kitchen is ready to transport diners to Thailand. The business's owner and head chef, Ning Kongla, purportedly impressed her boyfriend so much with her cooking that he convinced her to pursue it as a career. With that, Trai Mai Thai was born. There, she stuffs crab rangoon with blue crab from the Gulf to prelude the thai soups, dumplings, and noodle dishes that populate a menu that “reeks of authenticity," according to Austin Monthly. Picnic tables and other food trailers populate the sunny area—dubbed the South Lamar Trailer Bazaar—where the sounds of live music drown out the sound of fancy white tablecloths picketing on the street.
The sustainable Thai cooking classes at Thai Fresh have an edge on any cooking course looking to compete: their instructor is co-owner Jam Sanitchat, who developed her skill set over countless hours spent in her grandmother’s kitchen in Thailand. The fully stocked market not only hosts classes where students learn how to cook, but supplies them with the ingredients they need to make their own Thai meals. The deli area serves up inspiration with an extensive menu featuring classic Thai dishes and samples of dishes currently being taught in Sanitchat’s classes. Sanitchat brings an extra kick to her authentic recipes with local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients such as free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, and rice noodles shaped by local document shredders.
Thrice, the neighboring café, serves fresh-baked pastries and sandwiches made onsite daily. A schedule of singers and folk artists entertains diners as they sip coffee, wine, or give themselves suds mustaches with local beers on tap.
In early 2010, small business owners David Ansel and Matt Shook both happened to grab a midday bite at the same local bakery, according to the Austin Chronicle. As David lamented the summer lags at his soup shop, Matt commiserated with recollections of wintertime dry spells at his smoothie business. The solution suddenly became clear: they would combine their seasonally oriented enterprises and together enjoy thriving business year-round.
Matt and David’s joint enterprise, Juicebox & Soup Peddler, launched in a small, rehabbed shed. There, the duo began to dispense their largely vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free soups and sandwiches through a food window, as well as appease patrons with fruity juices and smoothie blends that are easier to throw in rivals’ faces than wet cement. In June of 2012, their venture expanded to include a storefront splashed with an orange hue and a mural of veggies, as well as a booming delivery branch that drops ready-to-heat soups and sandwiches on doorsteps or down chimneys.