Whether it’s fried, frozen or fusion, one thing’s for sure: Austin takes its food very seriously. Sure we have Tex-Mex, tacos and BBQ aplenty, but this culinary city is also a great place to try something a little different and even exotic. With creative concepts and fresh flavors popping up every day, there’s a plethora of new plates to try for every palate and preference. So, from the best of Austin’s fusion food scene, here’s a list of some of the most exotic dishes around the city and where you can find them.
Schnitzel and Spätzle at Fabi + Rosi – (West Austin)
Ideally located in the heart of west Austin, the chef-owned and operated Fabi + Rosi specializes in unique and decadent German/French fusion cuisine made with passion, creativity and ethically sourced organic products. The swanky interior of this hip downtown dinner spot is chic, classy and undeniably Austin. But the real reason to reserve a table at the trendy Fabi + Rosi is their WSPA awarding winning menu full of delicious dishes like the Brotzeit Board with Bratwurst, pretzel and beercheese and Kraftbrühe with beef consomeé. For a true taste of German tradition, try their irresistibly savory Schnitzel plate with heritage pork, Spätzle (German noodles), beet kraut and Pilzrahmsoße (a homemade mushroom cream sauce).
Tip: Go during their happy hour Mon-Fri from 5PM-6:30 and get a $6 starter, $10 board, $2 off wine by the glass and $3 off beer.
Khuroos-E-Tursh at Clay Pit – (Downtown Austin)
Almost hidden between the bustling bars and businesses of downtown Austin, Clay Pit is a quaint and exotic escape to another world right in the heart of the city. The restaurant itself has a very modern European vibe, with exposed white brick walls, gorgeous paned windows and intimate soft lighting. Clay Pit’s highly acclaimed menu is a mélange of traditional Indian dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala and contemporary fusion foods like Curried Mussels and Chai Spice Crème Brulee! Every item on the menu is thoughtfully created and prepared with intriguing worldly flavors and tastes. Play it safe with a familiar dish like Tandoori, or go all out and try one of their specialty entrees, like the Khuroos-E-Tursh: stuffed chicken breast with seasoned spinach and paneer in a rich, creamy korma (cashew/almond) sauce.
Tip: Reserve a table inside their unbelievably beautiful wine cellar and try one of their immaculately aged wines along with dinner.
Confits de Canard aux Abricots at Chez Nous – (East Austin)
Right off the notorious east Sixth Street is a pleasant visit to Paris called Chez Nous (“Our House”). This charming casual bistro has been serving authentic French fare in downtown Austin for over three decades in an intimate dining setting that feels like a Parisian café. No need for a three-piece suit or evening dress here, since the restaurant itself is fairly informal yet completely inviting. Order just about anything on the menu – from Escargots de Bourgogne to Côtes d’agneau Manon – and you’re in for a culinary trip of French decadence that will titillate your taste buds and delight your senses. For something exceptionally Parisian and indulgent, try the Confits de Canard aux Abricots with house made confit duck legs, apricot ginger compote, red wine gastrique and braised pistachios.
Tip: Kick up your French dining experience and order an apéritif of Muscat or Port before dinner.
Egusi Soup and Goat Meat at Wasota – (East Austin)
Located in the middle of burgeoning east Austin, Wasota African Cuisine provides a true taste of west African and Nigerian cuisine along with African culture, music and art. Visit this hip downtown Austin hangout and try something you’ve never tasted before! Don’t be shy about new and interesting flavors, because Wasota encourages you to “eat first, be happy, before you pay your meal”. Each West African-inspired dish is made with home-style influences and a passion for food that can be tasted in every bite. In true Austin-style, the menus are split up between vegan, meat and veggie menus to accommodate all diets, including gluten free. If you’re vegan, try their one-of-a-kind vegan sandwich found only at Wasota. Or go all out and order an authentic west African dish like the Egusi Soup and Goat Meat with yam fufu (African mashed yam).
Tip: If the weather is nice, grab a seat outside and dine under their beautiful string lights and ancient trees.
Venison Bolognese at Botticelli’s – (South Austin)
Nestled in the heart of hip south Congress, or “SoCo”, Botticelli’s offers the best flavors and traditions of Italian fine dining in a modern, downtown Austin setting. Every detail of this cozy restaurant, from the Artisan tin ceiling tiles to the enclosed courtyard with shaded seating, feels like having an intimate pranzo on the piazza with close friends. Each exquisite entrée is prepared with fresh ingredients, delicate flavor balances and a nod to traditional Italian fare. Whether you’re in the mood for pasta, antipasta, meat or vegetables, the menu at Botticelli’s will most definitely not disappoint. Try their tender Anatra Due Maniere with seared Duck and black pepper fig sauce, or taste the flawlessly prepared Venison Bolognese with broken arrow venison, cherry Bolognese, sweet potato gnocchi and pumpkin seed pesto. The perfect blend of sweet, savory and sumptuous.
Tip: Go during happy hour and try the shrimp and polenta with a home made peach sangria.
Soon Doo Boo Jjigae at K-Bop – (UT Campus)
Located right on “The Drag” near the UT Campus, K-Bop is a totally new and trendy Korean concept serving up authentic Korean teas, treats and delicious eats from Bulgogi to Bibimbop. This tiny Korean eatery boasts an ultra-modern interior, convenient downtown Austin location, light and fresh flavors and a twist on traditional Korean comfort food. Some of the more popular items on the menu include the Beef Bulgogi Kimbop (Korean Barbecue marinated beef) with seaweed, egg, fishcake, kani kama and pickled radish, Bibimbop (rice topped with veggies, pan fried egg, house spicy sauce and meat), and Kimchi Fried Rice with tuna, cheese and egg. But for a true Korean-style dining experience, the must-try menu item is the classic Soon Doo Boo Jjigae soup, a spicy tofu soup made with assorted seafood and vegetables.
Tip: Try one of their milk teas, like the Honey milk tea or the Taro Milk Tea, for dessert.