It was announced last week that Cantina Laredo has closed after 11 years in the 2nd Street District. That space won’t sit empty for too long. The South African-inspired Peli Peli restaurant from Houston will open at 201 W. Third St. in 2017.
The restaurant, named after the bird’s eye chili pepper often pronounced piri piri, serves dishes that blend South American and South African flavors, using sweetness and heat to punctuate its meaty flavors. The menu features dishes like curry chicken, pan-seared kingklip, and mixed South African grill plate with filet medallions, lamb chops and Boerewors sausage with poached egg and Madagascar peppercorn sauce. Influences can also be seen from places like Portugal on a flame-kissed chicken espetada dish with garlic herb butter, roasted potatoes and carrot bredie.
Executive chef and South Africa native Paul Friedman helms the culinary side of the restaurant, which has appeared on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” and CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup,” co-hosted by sometime Austinite Tim Love. Friedman’s partners, Michael Tran and Thomas Nguyen, both attended the University of Texas.
“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,” Nguyen said. “Our concept is about embracing diversity and encouraging people to make an impact, therefore, making Austin the perfect place for us to grow.”
The over-the-top design of Peli Peli’s two Houston locations have garnered as much attention as their food, and the group plans to “create a never-before-seen interior” in the 2nd Street District space.
For more on the Houston locations, read this 2009 review from the Houston Chronicle’s outstanding restaurant critic Alison Cook.
Watch Peli Peli pitch “Restaurant Startup,” as they try to raise money to convert their fine dining restaurant to a fast-casual concept.