Mexican snack foods are so much better than those typically trendy Instagrammable decadent dishes. It’s easy to find the best of the outrageous specialities in Austin. pice, salt, and citrus are mainstays of many of these complex street snacks. It’s a profusion of flavors, textures, and, yes, typically calories, all creating the most insane carnival of flavors.
Before embarking on the city’s best offerings of the flavorful treats, here is a handy glossary defining the snacks, styles, and ingredients. When in doubt, just know that any fruit or snack can be topped with any other fruit or snack.
Chamoyada: This concoction varies from place to place but usually has a slushy fruit base along with fruit chunks, like strawberry or pineapple.
Mangonada: A type of chamoyada where mango is the star of the show. Typically served with a tamarind straw.
Bionicos: A mix of fruit topped with cream made from condensed milk and sour cream.
Fruit cups: This is beyond the average fruit cup that children typically eat. Add chamoy, a sauce that tastes sweet, sour, and spicy. Add lime. Add chile.
Loca or loka: Anything with “loka” at the end of its name is usually served in the scraped-out shell of the fruit and topped with everything available.
Elotes: Grilled or boiled white corn with mayonnaise, lime, chile powder, butter, and cotija or parmesan cheese. Served in a cup or right off the cob.
Pepino: Bowl of cucumbers flavored with lime, chile, and salt.
Dorilocos: Nacho cheese Doritos topped with more nacho cheese and a variety of other salty items like pork rinds, chile powder, lime juice, and crema. An alternative is the Tostiloco, made with Tostitos.
Cochinada: Hot Cheetos with nacho cheese, crema, and chile.
Picadilly: Shaved ice or raspa flavored with Kool-Aid, dill pickle, and chile powder like Trechas.
Duros: Wheat snacks topped with sour cream, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, sliced avocado, cueritos (pickled pig rinds, see below), and hot sauce.
Chamoy: A savory condiment made from pickled fruit spiced with chiles, which makes it salty, sweet, and sour. Chamoy can be served as a liquid or paste.
Sour candy: Sour belts, sour worms, or Sour Patch Kids can be added to anything on the menu.
Chile: This spicy addition is a powder made from chile peppers, salt, and dehydrated lime juice. Typical brands include Tajin, Trechas, and Lucas
Cueritos: Pickled pork rinds, sometimes in spicy sauce.
Tamarindo: Made from tamarind fruit, it’s a pulpy, sweet, and spicy paste that is often served as candy on its own or adhered to a large drinking straw.
Hot Cheetos: The chips are ground into dust and sprinkled atop other savory snacks.
Feel better equipped? Here’s where to dig in and find all of those sweet, savory snacks in Austin:
2214 East 7th Street, Holly
This shotgun-style shop is probably the best known in Austin. One glance at its Facebook page, and it’s evident that the staff are true masters of the snack stack. Every dish is a cacophony of sweet and savory flavors. It’s much loved for its elotes on the cob, dusted with hot Cheeto powder; and the Mango Hill (strawberries stacked atop mango wrapped in sour belts drizzled with chamoy and chile).
7135 North Lamar Boulevard, Highland
The tiny Lamar spot is home to a fruit shop, an ice cream parlor, a taqueria, and all the Mexican snacks. The staff will carve a mango like a rose and stuff an entire watermelon with fruit if so desired. There are heartier items like shrimp cocktails, ceviche, and tacos.
23 Flavors & Snacks
5808 Manor Road, Windsor Park
23 has it all: mangonadas, hot Cheetos, ice cream, shaved ice, and creative hot dogs named after Austin neighborhoods. The seating area includes brightly colored chairs and umbrellas, which create the perfect scenery to enjoy raspas and chamoyadas. It also offers rusas (sparkling soda with fruit and chamoy) and tepache (a cold fermented drink made from pineapple peels and rinds, flavored with cinnamon).
500 West William Cannon Drive, Sweetbriar
The bright yellow sign of this small spot found between the HEB and the Dollar Tree stands out like a beacon. Its claim to fame is the carne asada fries which consists of, duh, french fries liberally topped with beef, avocado, crema, and various sauces. Wash that down with a large creamy, cinnamon-y horchata.
Mango King Loncheria
10205 North Lamar Boulevard, North Lamar
Visiting Mango King is like hitting the Mexican snacks jackpot. The menu has everything: churros, tostilocos, nachos, mangonadas, sopes, sundaes, crepas, and a chicharron preparado (an enormous loaded fried chicharron). As a nod to health, there’s also “verde” juice made of cactus, celery, apple, spinach, and cucumber.
729 East Slaughter Lane, Crossing at Onion Creek/6100 East Riverside Drive, Montopolis
(512) 428-5016/(512) 906-2986
Crazy Fruits has what could be described as a leveled-up fruit salad. Pick from cantaloupe, coconut, cucumber, mango, watermelon, pineapple, orange, jicama, and strawberries, and top them individually or all together with cream, yogurt, or granola. There’s also a full menu of tacos, dorilocos, ceviche tostadas, and raspados.
3504 Burleson Road, East Riverside
This small, colorful neighborhood shop has a smattering of everything. Mangonadas, bionicos, cucumbers with chile, chicharrons, tostitos, elotes, and a frito pie thrown in for good measure. There’s also Mexican ice cream, raspas, and aguas frescas for those hot summer days.