If you’re looking for Poke in Austin it seems you’re in luck: the Poke craze is showing no signs of slowing down, with not just one but two new Poke restaurants opening just recently within the last several weeks. If you haven’t heard of Poke (or Poké), it’s a salad made of raw fish (kind of like ceviche), and it’s typically served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Poke is the Hawaiian verb for “section” or “to slice or cut”. This dish is having a major moment, kind of like açaí bowls or avocado toast, and it’s popularity looks like it’s here to stay. This is potentially “the dish of the summer”, and if you’re into sushi or ceviche then you’ll most likely jump aboard the poke train.
Here are my favorite spots to get Poke in Austin, in no particular order:
Elizabeth Street Cafe
I was delighted to see this on their menu, especially since I love the quality of ingredients that ESC uses in all of their food. I think this was a recent addition to their summer menu, otherwise I never noticed it before! This is a sizeable dish, and is great for sharing or having as your main dish. Their Sesame Ahi Tuna Poke is made with avocado, spinach, tangy pickled mushrooms, fragrant jasmine rice, and topped with a lemon chili soy sauce.
This is one of the poke-centric restaurants I referenced above. They claim to be the first poke shop to pop up “on the mainland (i.e. not Hawaii)”, and this is the second location other than the original based in Venice, California. This fast-casual restaurant lets you create your own poke bowl, by first choosing your poke flavor, then choosing your add-ins, then choosing your size, and finally choosing between white rice, brown rice or no rice (Hawaiian style). If you like really spicy food like I do, then try JT’s Poke Bowl, an original poke made with chili oil, jalepenos, Sriracha, Sambal, ginger, crushed red pepper, carrots and avocado 😉
Café no Sé
Café no Sé serves up California-inspired American cuisine–think avocado toast, gravlax tartine, and delicious poached egg dishes, so it’s no surprise that they offer a fantastic big eye tuna poke bowl, especially if this dish was first seen in Venice Beach outside of Hawaii. What I love about the poke bowl here is the juxtaposition of flavors and textures, since they make theirs with briny castelvetrano olives, pickled jalapeños, crunchy pistachios, juicy grapefruit, and toasted rice. Each bite is crunchy and tangy and delicious, and this specific dish always keeps me coming back for more.
The second restaurant opened with Poke as the main attraction, Ola Poké opened up shop on North Lamar just a few weeks ago and also serves sushi, korean bowls, and Hitachi style food. Similar to Poké Poké, you get to choose your size of bowl. Pick from tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore, or shrimp, then choose your base, sides, add-ins, and toppings to create the ultimate bowl. For those wanting to limit their carbs they also offer a spring mix instead of the brown or white rice, and have interesting add-ins like pineapple, masago, wasabi mayo sauce, and more.
Monger’s Market + Kitchen
Perhaps the first poke dish I spotted in Austin, this poke appetizer at Monger’s has been on their menu since they opened. This simple poke dish is all flavor, as it’s made with shoyu, scallion, ogo (a type of sea moss), and macadamia. The flavors all blend beautifully, and it’s a great way to start your meal at Monger’s. I also love that they’re a fish market, and you can buy fresh catches straight from the Gulf.
Now I know there are countless restaurants that are serving up poke in Austin, but these are the ones that keep me going back! If you have a favorite spot for poke in Austin and it’s not on this list, let me know! You can leave me a comment below, or tweet me at @hungrychronicle.
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