allergen-friendly austin restaurant

Allergy-friendly Austin restaurant freshens up Montrose development with healthy fare

Allergy-friendly Austin restaurant freshens up Montrose development

Picnik ATX spread
Picnik is coming to Montrose.  Picnik/ Facebook

A popular Austin restaurant has set its sights on Houston. Picnik will make its Houston debut this fall in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development that's opening on lower Westheimer.

Typically described as a paleo restaurant, Picnik might be more accurately termed a restaurant that's welcoming to those with food allergies. All of its dishes are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and peanut-free. In addition, the kitchen only cooks with avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil. An emphasis on presentation means the dishes are meant to be both eye-catching and delicious.

“These are universal needs this restaurant addresses for people,” chief marketing officer Michelle Wong tells CultureMap. “Everyone has different dietary needs or approaches to food . .That’s what we do over food is connection. It’s hard to connect if everyone doesn't feel a part of it.”

For example, the squash arrabbiata is a vegan dish with a spicy kick. Other favorites include a tempura-fried, hot honey chicken sandwich, butternut squash polenta, and a taco bowl. Diners can give their meals a boost with adaptogens that are designed to improve focus or aid relaxation. Weekly specials like curry shrimp cakes and butter-braised chicken thighs keep things fresh and exciting.

While the restaurant’s current Austin location of Burnet Road serves cocktails, the Houston location will have a dedicated bar area. That should make the restaurant even more flexible in meeting people's needs. 

“You can have a couple cocktails and a cashew cheese queso and make a night of it,” Wong says. “It’s a totally different experience in that you can hang out for a drink, which we’re super happy about.”

Picnik will join two other Austin-based concepts at the Montrose Collective in cocktail bar Idle Hands and Japanese-inspired Uchi. Other concepts slated for the development are the third Houston location of Brooklyn’s Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Marmo, an Italian steakhouse from Loch Bar owners Atlas Restaurant Group. A site plan shows at least two more restaurants are coming: Graffiti Raw and Chelsea Oyster Bar.

Taken together, the new arrivals will be game changers for Montrose, and Picnik is excited to be part of that.    

“The fact that there’s so much energy around it really goes to what this restaurant means to people,” Wong says. “When there’s this much excitement and buzz, I can’t believe it. I’m so glad that people are talking already.”