The economic downturn has had a bizarre side effect in Austin, Texas: It has given rise to an explosion of trailer-based eateries on prime lots that had been slated for development, only to see the plans slow or change while the landowners weathered the storm.

At first, these food trailers offered fairly standard fare -- tacos, hot dogs, cupcakes. But in a city known for its creative class, the prospective restaurateurs have been emboldened.

Now, you're able to walk around south Austin and enjoy cake balls, chicken donuts, and something called a "Mighty Cone" -- inventive offerings created by decorated chefs and master's-level engineers who decided to use the trailer opportunity to chase a new dream.

All of this sounded interesting to Asylum -- and, more importantly, kinda tasty -- so we decided to do an eating tour of some of the more unique trailers, as soon as we stopped giggling over the phrase "cake balls."

Cake Balls
Holy Cacao
What It Is:
A cake ball is cake with frosting that's rolled into a ball, dipped in chocolate, and served cold -- on a stick. Flavors range from the standard -- "Holly's Favorite Balls" (chocolate cake with chocolate icing, dusted with cocoa powder) -- to the "Diablo," a spicy chocolate cake baked with ancho, mixed with ancho cream cheese frosting, and topped with cayenne toasted walnuts.
Origin: Ellen Kinsey came to operate a trailer after working for years as a city planner, developing low-income housing in New York. "I always had an entrepreneurial bug," she explains, before clarifying that cake balls aren't strictly her invention. "I'd like to take credit for inventing them, but I can't. I think they were someone's family recipe for a long time, and I picked up on them, figured out how to make them from scratch, and went with it. A lot of people like to make them really high-end and elegant, but we're serving balls. On a stick."
How It Tastes:
Like a little ball of heaven. The crunch of the chocolate coating surrounding the squishy chocolate inside reminds us of a non-nasty variant on a Hostess snack cake.

Chicken and Waffles
Lucky J's Chicken and Waffles
What It Is:
Depending on where in the country you live, you've either eaten chicken and waffles at three in the morning a dozen times in your life, or you're shocked to discover that someone would put those two items on the same plate. Most Texans tend to fall closer to the former category.
Origin: Lucky J's proprietor Jason Umlaus spent several years serving as the executive chef of two downtown hotspots before arming himself with the battle cry of "Chicken for strength -- waffles for speed!" He opted to leave behind the glitz of Rio Grande and Roux for a little trailer that he could own himself.
How It Tastes: Dumb question. Everyone knows chicken and waffles are amazing.

The Mother Clucker
Gourdough's Big Fat Doughnuts
What It Is: Gourdough's features a variety of gourmet donuts, including the "Heavenly Hash" (a marshmallow donut with chocolate fudge icing dipped in fudge candy) and the "Porky's" (a donut with Canadian bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeno jelly). But we felt we had to sample the most gluttonous of all: the Mother Clucker, a donut fried with a chicken strip and served with honey butter icing.
Origin: Gourdough's owners were unavailable for comment, but we don't really think the idea of going over the top in the quest of donut gluttony requires much explanation.
How It Tastes: The first three bites are a sweet, savory miracle. Any consumed after that point should be done at your own risk. Do you really need to eat a whole chicken donut?

The Mighty Cone
The Mighty Cone
What It Is: Chicken, shrimp, or avocado, fried in a sesame seed/corn flake/almond/chili flake/sea salt/sugar mix, wrapped in a tortilla, dressed with mango-jalapeno slaw and ancho sauce, and served in a little paper cone for easy eating.
Origin: The Mighty Cone is a creation of Hudson's on the Bend, a five-star restaurant on the outskirts of Austin. Hudson's, the Cone's manager explained, is famous for a "hot and crunchy" breading that they serve on fancy-schmancy dishes like trout. But in the interest of frying something up for the people, the cone was developed to be served in a trailer at the Austin City Limits Festival, and the annual snaking lines led them to believe that a permanent base in a lot slated to become a luxury hotel at some point in the future would be worth pursuing.
How It Tastes: Like something that should cost way, way more than five dollars, and which feels more than a little bit weird to be eating with your hands.

All of this makes us wonder, what's the weirdest thing you've ever been served out of a trailer?