A Foodie Kind of 16th Birthday

Peas and carrots.

Peanut butter and jelly.

Sweet and tea.

Teenagers and food.

Some things just go together, don’t they?

For our oldest son’s 16th birthday, I struggled with wanting to throw him an epic birthday with not wanting to embarrass the heck out of him. It’s a fine line, this parenting a teenager gig. As I stood in my (almost) empty pantry one day, the idea hit me. Feed them, and they will come. Just make it cool.

Looking for a fun, and easy, birthday for your teenager? Just feed them! Venture to any of Austin's best food trailers and maybe catch a mural or two, but be prepared to roll home.

God bless Austin and its food trucks. Here’s the invitation we emailed out. Call me nuts, but I just can’t bring myself to use Evite.

I found a sweet van online to rent and began mapping all the fun food trucks in Austin. Then, an unexpected death in the family and we had to scrap the original date. But, serendipity is a beautiful thing and the new date ended up being the day before high school final exams.

In other words? A much needed break for a bunch of aspiring high school juniors.

Enter: the van.

Did I mention it had a TV screen, with an XBOX 360 and remotes included? Minor detail. Huge hit.

Now, for the good stuff. We loaded it up, headed south (wayyyyy south) and popped in line at Valentina’s BBQ. As in, “Top 50 BBQ Joint” according to Texas Monthly. And, after sampling pretty much everything on the menu, I’d say well deserved. Make sure you get the smoked corn. The brisket is off the hook, as is everything else. They even had corn hole, y’all. Hecho con amor, indeed.

We rolled right out of there and over to South 1st Food Trailer Park. But, not before we snapped these gems.

Next up, Torchy’s. Because those are damn good tacos. And queso.

Then, dessert. The first one.

Aaaand, the second one. I. Die.

It was at this point, we all just rolled back to the van. Twenty minutes later, they were all outside playing basketball. What? Teenage boys fascinate me with their hollow legs, growth spurts and boundless energy.

May I say how much I adore Will’s tribe of friends? They are polite, funny, faithful, real and so much more. Long ago, when Will was just an infant in my arms, I prayed for boys just like this to be in his life. They’re the keeper kind of friends and I am so grateful Scott and I got to spend the afternoon with them.

Sappy paragraph complete.

After the crew left and we deemed the party a success, Will looked at me and said, “Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?”

Party Details
Van Rental: Bandago
Stop #1: Valentina’s BBQ
Stop #2: Torchy’s Tacos
Stop #3: Holy Cacao
Stop #4: Gourdough’s
Mural: “Greetings from Austin” on S. 1st


  1. Verdina on May 30, 2017 at 8:37 am

    You never cease to amaze me! That is the most awesome idea!
    Happy birthday, Will!

  2. Nicole on May 30, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Brilliant idea!

  3. Lisa on May 30, 2017 at 9:34 am

    This is awesome and perfect for Will’s age! Don’t be surprised if you hear about something similar for Luke’s birthday!!!

    • Kathryn on May 30, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Oh I hope you do. So fun!!

  4. Sarah on May 30, 2017 at 10:56 am

    How fun was that? Great idea!

  5. karen on May 30, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Be still my heart – I LOVE it!!! It is SO hard with these older teenage boys. This was perfect and I loved seeing those awesome smiling faces – a few of my favs! I’m impressed you ended with Gordoughs – I’ve never seen more over-the-top ‘doughnuts’ – not for the faint of heart but perfect for teenagers. So fun! Congrats on another amazing bday celebration in the books! A very Happy 16th to Will and may it be a very blessed and fabulous year!!

  6. BBQ: It's a Family Affair - Team Whitaker on July 2, 2018 at 12:00 am

    […] and he and his buddies were hankering for some good food. Teenagers. We almost went broke, but we rented a van and shuttled them around Austin, stopping at several food trucks. I wish I would’ve thought to take photos of Scott and I […]

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