Guest article by Ashley Alkek
Every now and then, you just need to feed the travel bug. If your travel bug is on a budget, take a trip to one of the many ethnic restaurants in Austin.
There are dozens of spots in our city that offer uniquely regional dishes derived from centuries of cultivating family recipes. Below, I’ve included four of my favorite ethnic places to eat when I’m feeling the need for spice.
1/ Indian: New India
South Austin has a gem of an Indian spot by the name of New India. The owners are originally from Mumbai, and most of their family-inspired recipes come from the western coast of India. Their lunch special is fantastic in terms of variety, as is their “Hippy Hour” from 4-7 p.m.
For me, the best reason to visit is the buttery, savory Tikka Masala. It’s stellar with any level of spice, as long as you have a side of naan to clean the bowl toward the end of your meal.
2304 S. Congress Ave. – Website
2/ Mediterranean: Arpeggio Grill
Fresh, lively and uniquely comfortable is how I’d describe my experience at Arpeggio Grill. The Chicken Shawerma lunch special was a great balance of fresh produce and Eastern spices. For a good part of 11 years in Austin, they have been filling their space with delicious food and authentic tunes—anything from Turkish to Mediterranean to Greek.
What makes Arpeggio Grill one of the most unique dining experiences in Austin is the option to plop down on their soft rugs and pillows to eat and chat with friends. Just don’t forget to take off your shoes!
6619 Airport Blvd. – Website
3/ Ethiopian: Aster’s
Located right off I-35, Aster’s provides an easy-going atmosphere for adventurous foodies. The lunch buffet is an excellent place to start, as you can try a little bit of everything, using injera (traditional Ethiopian flatbread) to soak up the rich flavors. The spicy Menchet Abesh beef dish simmered with Berbere sauce, garlic, ginger and black pepper is incredibly tasty.
This is also a great spot for vegetarians, as Aster’s serves up many veggie-friendly dishes. Lentils and charming service are definitely celebrated here.
2804 N. I-35 – Website
4/ West African Fusion: Cazamance
This epic food trailer is located next to Radio Coffee and Beer on Manchaca. The head chef, Iba Thiam, has created some truly wonderful dishes with a focus on health. The Vegan Curry with rice pairs superbly with an IPA from next door. Thiam and his team are beyond kind and knowledgeable about the food they serve daily.
Bonus feature: They’ve got tarot cards for tabletop markers.
4202 Manchaca Road – Website
Other Ethnic Restaurants to Try
These are just a few of many amazing restaurants that provide an authentic cultural experience in Austin. Other places I’ve heard great things include:
- Asiana (Indian)
- Tarbouch (Lebanese)
- Alborz (Persian)
- Clay Pit (Indian)
- Balkin Café and Grill (Turkish)
- Sarah’s Mediterranean Grill and Market (Greek)
- Llama’s Peruvian Creole (Peruvian)
- Casa Columbia (Columbian).
The list is ever-growing and I can’t wait to try more of the world within the city limits of Austin, Texas.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What are your favorite ethnic restaurants in Austin?