Secret menus are often used as marketing tools, part of a bigger promotional strategy and detailed on a Wikipedia page. In our humble opinion, the word “secret” does not mean what they think it does.
To that end, we spent some time digging up legit secret menus and eats around Austin for your culinary edification. We combed the interwebs for whispers of these sacred secrets and the hours of hard work have paid off in this fairly exhaustive list of items you need to know before you go.
Home Slice Pizza — The Vatican
Like its namesake, The Vatican is a thing of mystery and power. The Vatican is actually an Italian Sub (ham, dry salami, Capicola, Genoa salami, provolone cheese) baked inside a cheese calzone. A sandwich ... inside a calzone. Gird your loins (and your arteries).
Soto — Uni Shooter
Soto's clever chefs layer soft Hokkaido (Japanese sea urchin), a raw quail egg, Tobiko (flying fish roe) and a citrus Ponzu in a shot glass before setting fire to this decadent mouthful. Fire shots for everyone!
Taco-Mex — Fish Tacos
Your favorite breakfast taco walk-up window has been keeping something from you — and that something is fish tacos. Enjoy a tortilla heaped with grilled white fish, ripe avocado, cabbage and a creamy, spicy salsa verde. Simple, delicious and only $2.
Foreign & Domestic — Wagyu Burger
Ditch In-N-Out's “secret menu” for this hush-hush Foreign & Domestic burger. Twelve ounces of Wagyu beef augmented by Maytag Blue cheese, pork belly and smoked tomato jam. Served with a side of tempura-fried onion rings.
Contigo — Fried Chicken
On Fried Chicken Thursdays, you can add up to two pieces of fried chicken to your plate for $1 each. Free oxtail sliders are available on Wednesdays from 5-6 pm as well. Go during happy hour and pair it with $6 select classic cocktails.
Cafe Ruckus — The Thin Mint and the Ruckus
You can stop hoarding those freezer-burned Thin Mints because Cafe Ruckus offers them year-round. The Thin Mint Latte is a blend of rich Ghirardelli chocolate and peppermint which is served hot or iced. The cafe also offer a special off-menu drink called the Ruckus which is a Cortado (espresso "cut" with steamed milk) pumped up with hazelnut.
Trudy's — Sopapilla Tacos
Ditch the ‘tilla, yo. Instead, order your Trudy’s taco in a savory sopapilla. This Mexican goodness in a pocket of fried dough is hereby dubbed a "super-pilla." Oh, and if you get the Hondo Chicken Fried Steak you can add an entire extra steak patty for $1. That's right — double your chicken fried steak intake for just a buck.
Threadgill's — Orgy (Chef’s choice)
This old gal still has some tricks up her sleeve. The Orgy is a heaping plate of seven veggie offerings comprised of the chef’s choice. Make sure to tell your server if there’s something you don’t like. See also: collard greens.
Sushi Saké — Spicy Carlos and Spicy Susan
The Spicy Carlos is a shrimp tempura roll topped with Maguro and tempura flakes while the Spicy Susan is a salmon roll topped with spicy tuna and avocado. Both are drizzled liberally with spicy sauce. What do we have to do to get a roll named after us? Inquiring minds want to know.
Péché — The Devil's Cocktail
Not for the faint of heart. The Devil's Cocktail is a spicy gin beverage with lemon, muddled jalapeños (or serrano peppers) and a chile rim. Given the amount of heat, this cocktail may actually bedevil you later.
Peached Tortilla — Roppongi Dog
The Roppongi Dog (say it three times fast) is only available when Peached runs out of its house dog, the Yume Dog. The Roppongi is a quarter pound all-beef hot dog topped with braised pork belly, pickled daikon, carrots, Sriracha mayo and wasabi sesame seeds. Basically all kinds of goodness on a bun.
Black Sheep Lodge — Tachos
Do you love tater tots? Do you also love nachos? Someone who was really smart (or high) came up with the ultimate bar food: Tachos. The dish is tater tots topped with chili, green chile queso, sour cream and jalapenos. Our mouths are already watering.
Frigid Frog — The Secret Menu
Enjoy a Sixth Street Pub Crawl (pina colada, strawberry margarita and amaretto) without the hangover, an Animal House (blue eagle, silver fox, tigers blood) without the trip to the zoo and a Firecracker (cherry, lemon, blue raspberry) without the burn hazard. Insider tip? Ask for a Sweet Dill (pickle juice, lime and cream). At the risk of getting a cavity, you can peruse the full menu here.
The Jalopy — Mattitude, the KrunkOLicious and the Churchill
Like all good secret menus, these items were developed by and for regulars. The Mattitude has braised chicken, barbecue sauce, bacon, pickled peppers and apple cider slaw. The KrunkOLicious features chicken, red cabbage, parsley gremolata, pickled onions, chipotle aioli and a tomatillo cilantro pesto. And the lofty Churchill boasts warm flat bread, Asian slaw tomatoes, carrots, pickled onions, lemon hummus and a Thai peanut sauce
Golden Wok — Chifa Menu
You have to ask for the secret Chifa menu, which features a combination of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. Must-try items include Wantan Frito, Tallarin Saltado, ChiJauCai Chicken and Lomo Saltado. So if you're feeling particularly international, head to this Chinese restaurant and order Peruvian food in Spanish.
Pao's Mandarin House — Authentic Chinese Menu
At first glance, Pao’s menu looks like any other. That’s because you’re looking at the wrong menu, dummy. Take your most adventurous friend, ask for the Chinese menu and dig into fried pig intestines, delicate dumplings, chicken feet, smoked fish, tangy scallops, sea bass hot pot or anything that is not sesame chicken.