There is a saying in Austin, an unofficial slogan that someone wisely trademarked: Keep Austin Weird.
You’ll see it everywhere in this Texas capital, from t-shirts to bumper stickers to body art (yes, I saw it on tattooed arm.)
On our way to a new food-truck-in-the-making (more on that another day), we stumbled upon G’Raj Mahal Cafe.
Tucked on a side street near downtown, I thought, “Now this is weird – a restaurant plopped smack down in someone’s back yard.”
Under a carport-like structure, a dozen or so patio tables are serviced by the young, tattooed and pierced.
This funky, outdoor spot opened last December and serves Indian (both northern and southern) food from a … wait for it … trailer (Austin, like Portland and L.A., is a hotbed of food trailers & trucks).
Heady aromas of coconut, cumin and cinnamon fill the air, punctuated with wisps of cloves and cardamom.
Street foods — fried samosas and pakoras (vegetable fritters) — dominate the starters.
Vegetarian and vegan options are just as plentiful as the lamb, beef, chicken and shrimp dishes, most of them in the form of thick, spicy curries.
Warm, puffy, chewy naan comes plain or stuffed with potato, paneer (cheese) and onion. You can ask for a brush of fresh garlic oil — and you should.
Drinks include chai, of course, but I fell for a rose-flavored lassi (a tangy, barely sweet yogurt shake).
In fact, I just plain fell for G’Raj Mahal.
There’s nothing weird about delicious, value-priced cuisine.
91 Red River