kimchi fries for all

Shark Tank-backed Austin restaurant cooks up first Houston location

Shark Tank-backed Austin restaurant cooks up first Houston location

ChiLantro BBQ food spread
Chi'Lantro serves a mix of Korean-inspired dishes. Courtesy of Chi'Lantro BBQ
ChiLantro BBQ Jae Kim
Founder and CEO Jae Kim. Courtesy of Chi'Lantro BBQ
ChiLantro BBQ Korean bowls
Build a bowl using different proteins and toppings. Courtesy of Chi'Lantro BBQ
ChiLantro BBQ food spread
ChiLantro BBQ Jae Kim
ChiLantro BBQ Korean bowls

Another popular Austin restaurant is coming to Houston. Chi'Lantro BBQ will open its first Bayou City location in The Heights this summer. 

Originally founded as a food truck, Chi'Lantro operates eight locations throughout Austin and a busy catering business. It operated food trucks in Houston briefly but left the city in 2014; finally, Chi'Lantro has found a spot in the Heights Forum development (1324 N. Shepherd Dr.) for a return. 

“To me, Houston being one of the most creative and diverse cities in America makes it the perfect setting for serving Korean BBQ cuisine approachable and fast.” Chi'Lantro founder Jae Kim said in a statement. “I have been wanting to open a physical location in Houston for a very long time since we left with our food trucks in 2014. The timing is right and I can't wait to serve our beloved customers in Houston.”

Named for a combination of cilantro and kimchi, Chi'Lantro serves a creative mashup of Mexican and Korean-inspired dishes. True to its food truck roots, the restaurant's signature item is french fries topped with kimchi, Korean BBQ, onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, and sauce. In a year, the restaurant will serve more than 200,000 orders of kimchi fries, according to a release. 

In addition to fries, the menu includes Korean fried chicken sings, ssams (wrap-style sandwiches), and bowls that can be customized with a range of proteins and toppings. Meat choices include Korean BBQ steak, spicy pork, spicy chicken, and soy-glazed chicken. 

Chi'Lantro has also had some success on reality TV. In 2016, Kim secured a $600,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran on a season eight episode of Shark Tank