Restaurant Switcheroo

Houston restaurant chain swoops into popular downtown Austin locale

Houston restaurant chain swoops into popular downtown Austin locale

Peli Peli restaurant vegetable curry
Look for South African concept Peli Peli in 2017. Peli Peli Galleria/Facebook

The former home of Cantina Laredo won't be vacant for long. On Tuesday, Houston-based restaurant chain Peli Peli announced it will slide into the 2nd Street District space in 2017.

The upscale restaurant specializes in South African fare, incorporating Portuguese, Dutch, and Asian flavors. Named after a spice native to the South African region — and used heavily by Executive Chef Paul Friedman — Peli Peli aims to be approachable even to those who are unfamiliar with the cuisine. Diners can expect mainstays like curried chicken and Chilean sea bass in addition to more traditional dishes such as espetada (Portuguese meat skewers) and bobotie (South African beef casserole).

Friedman and business partners Thomas Nguyen and Mike Tran, both University of Texas at Austin graduates, received national attention after an appearance on CNBC show Restaurant Startup. The trio turned to the NextSeed crowdfunding platform to raise money for new locations, which has already sprouted three higher-end spots and one casual Peli Peli Kitchen concept.

"Some of our best years were spent in Austin at the University of Texas, so we could not be more excited to bring our unique concept to the city that means so much to us," said Nguyen in a statement. "Our concept is about embracing diversity and encouraging people to make an impact, therefore making Austin the perfect place for us to grow."

Peli Peli will serve dinner, lunch, and weekend brunch when it opens in 2017. In addition to a long list of international wines, craft cocktails, and beers, the restaurant will also offer a selection of wine from its own South African label.