Austin, Texas, or ATX as it's lovingly referred to, is a food mecca that has more than just great breakfast tacos. Whether it's local fast food, a food truck, or a fine dining experience, the city has you covered for any food craving.
Jewboy Burgers is a beloved Austin restaurant that serves more than just a great burger. Mo Pittle owns the restaurant, which has come a long way from its early days as a food truck. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mo to learn more about his unique business and the importance of food and culture.
Mo grew up in El Paso, Texas in a reformed Jewish family. He grew up being immersed in Jewish culture while living alongside a Mexican-American culture. While the cultures are different, they have very similar aspects that bind them.
Back in the day, friends referred to one another as "homeboys." The endearing term is rooted in Mexican border culture and Mo was affectionately called "El Jewboy." Everybody had a nickname to accompany their given name. Mo pointed out that it was all in good fun, and never had an antisemitic or derogatory meaning.
Before getting into the food business, Mo worked as a copywriter. He opened a consulting business in El Paso but moved himself and his business to Austin. He felt Austin had a unique culture that also served as a creative hub.
After two years of consulting, he got bored and decided to start a food truck. He said, "The food truck got me out of the house and let me explore my creative side."
The original truck opened in 2016 outside a Mattress Firm on Burnet road. His following grew organically and he did a brief stint on E. 6th Street. He eventually moved to the Burnet Road food trailer park.
In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Jewboy won the title of Austin's best burger. When an opportunity for a turn-key restaurant presented itself, Mo jumped at the opportunity and opened his brick and mortar on airport boulevard in September 2020.
Mo was adamant that even though his restaurant is called Jewboy, he doesn't serve "Jewish" food. He told me, "Jewish food is food made by a Jewish person. There are Jews all over the world. Judaism can't be defined by one specific cuisine."
Instead, what he serves is a menu that celebrates his Jewish upbringing, combined with the El Paso border town culture he grew up in.
Like most burger joints, he serves up onion rings, tots, fries, and burgers. Unlike most burger joints, you'll also find potato latkes, burritos, chile con queso, picadillo, and pastrami. Mo felt he needed the culturally Jewish elements like latkes, but he makes them with a twist. There's bubbe's original latke or a latke with green chili and cheddar cheese.
His specialty is a smash burger, cooked to perfection on a flat top grill. His key to keeping them juicy is to mix the beef with onions, which melt away into the burger and provide moisture. Onions are also central to both Mexican and Jewish-style foods.
Their standard "Jewboy" burger is served on Martin's potato roll with two pieces of cheese, chopped lettuce, pickles and mustard. Order a Yenta burger for an entire latke placed directly on your burger. The Oy Vey Guey (Way)burger is topped with hatch green chiles and melted pepper jack cheese.
If it's your first time visiting, try the Oy Vey Guey, a burrito, chips and queso, and a few latkes. Jewboy Burgers is located at 5111 Airport Blvd. They have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, as well as takeout.
Expanding the Brand
In April 2021, Mo opened Jewboy Sub Shop. The Sub Shop is described as "Not a deli, we're a sub shop. That means sandwiches. Hot or cold, if it tastes good, we're gonna do it."
The flavors and menu items at Jewboy Sub Shop also combine Mo's Jewish upbringing with Texas/Mexico border culture.
Mo's favorite sandwich is the Philly cheesesteak. That was the inspiration for his sandwich, the Southside Carne Asada. Mo's issue with the cheesesteak was the beef was always cut so thin, that you barely knew it was there. He uses carne asada and tops the sandwich with white American cheese, instead of cheese whiz.
He serves Matzoh ball soup to honor his Jewish heritage, and Fideo, a traditional Mexican comfort food soup.
No matter what your heritage or cultural background, Mo welcomes everyone to enjoy the food at Jewboy Burger and JewBoy Sub Shop.