Healthy food pioneer Picnik plants new roots with South Austin opening
One of Austin’s healthy eating pioneers, Picnik, has made a permanent home in the city’s bustling South First district. On the heels of an announcement earlier this year, the new spot officially opened its doors on June 21 in Suite 110 at 1600 South First St. This marks the company’s third location, after its original South Lamar food truck and beloved Burnet brick-and-mortar.
Founded as a food trailer in 2013 by Naomi Seifter, Picnik’s mission is to make real food inclusive and accessible to all. Championing the belief that healthy food should also be tasty, Picnik uses only the highest quality ingredients with a refined sugar-free, gluten-free and peanut-free menu.
“Our core mission at Picnik is to expand the possibilities of what healthy eating looks like. Each creation stems from the desire to create something that is ‘better for you,’ with the same level of culinary execution and artistry, making Picnik ideal for all diners,” says Dan Mesches, CEO and partner of Picnik Restaurants.
The new South Austin location brings this mission to life through a colorful all-day dining space that complements an eclectic made-from-scratch menu grounded in purposeful ingredients. Designed by HapstakDemetriou, the 3,500 square-foot restaurant features an expansive mural depicting a colorful and modern Texas landscape from Austin artist, Micheline Halloul. White oak accents line the airy interior with pops of color from blush and turquoise tiles, and colorful light fixtures hang above the tables and booths.
The third Picnik outpost also features the company’s first full-service bar, set among an intimate lounge seating area, which stretches alongside the restaurant. Director of Operations Tom Moon spearheads a cocktail program that uniquely infuses signature cocktails with functional ingredients, adaptogens, and superfoods. Highlights include the Pitaya Margarita (a vibrant pink dragon fruit known for calming properties) and the Agua Azul (Picnik’s spin on Ranch Water, featuring reposado tequila, Chareau, coconut water, fresh-squeezed lime, cucumber juice, mineral water, and E3 Live Spirulina for a natural blue hue).
Complementing the bar menu is a new summer menu taking full advantage of the season. Grass-fed Wagyu from Rosewood Ranch is the hero in the Wagyu caponata, served alongside a summer squash caponata, Italian salsa verde, and fresh herbs. A vegan Himalayan red rice bowl is filled with carrots, peas, radish, cucumbers, red onion, avocado, cashew dressing, hemp seed, pepitas, and fresh herbs.
As a nod to Picnik’s original trailer, a walk-up coffee bar is found at the side of the restaurant on South First Street, which opens into an expansive patio guests can enjoy all day. The walk-up window opens daily at 8 am, followed by the dining room at 11 am (9 am for weekend brunch, after July 5), and the bar remains open one hour later than the dining room. Added bonus: Underground parking is validated for the first two hours.
Oh, and Houstonians, watch this space: A fourth location of Picnik is projected for Houston in fall 2022.