Indian Fusion Food at a(n ex-)Gas Station? The Good Ol' Whip In

You read about the good ol' Whip In all you want but the experience is what you want. I had flagged this spot on my list of places to visit even before we moved to Austin. Countless drives up and down I-35 would have me turning my head to look at the old-school sign out front and thinking, "We still need to go there." Well, we finally did. The former gas station turned craft bottle shop in 1986 (the original sign is still up!) has been servicing not only the thirsty but the hungry as well once it developed into a grocery market and then restaurant. Here's the catch though - it's not your typical gas station food; it's Indian-Texan cuisine.

With more than 65 drafts, 300 retail craft beers, and 400 bottles of wine, the Whip In (owned by the Topiwala family) is one stop you should make whether or not you're planning on eating there. There are many choices inside to slake your thirst, and with their layout including an extensive bar, you have the option of relaxing with your beer, wine, or cocktail inside with many others or outside under some makeshift overhangs, enjoying live music. There was a casual DJ out on the small stage when we went for brunch, playing some tunes for us to enjoy with our pints.

In addition to alcoholic beverages, we ventured around the corner with the refrigerators and saw that in another area, they function almost like a cafe with some coffee and tea options. At any point, we were able to put in our food orders too so we did and went outside to sit comfortably with our brews to listen to the music.

The menu itself was a fascinating fusion of Texas-style food with Gujarati influence. Put together by the mom (Chandan Topiwala) of the owning family, the dishes are made from locally sourced produce and combine Indian pub staples with the southern U.S region's flair which is only fitting for the community in Austin. Some examples included switching out spices to include turmeric, saffron, and cardamom. Curry found itself in the mix somewhere too. Overall, it spoke to us of comfort food, perfect for the location and paired with craft beers.

To begin, we chose the very popular Elegant Stoner Snack ($7.95 - fresh cut fries topped with Kashmiri pepper queso, crisp bacon, pico de gallo, sour cream and green onions) which were enough to pick at throughout our meal. The fries were thin but skin-on and had a great balance between crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. There was certainly a kick to it from the Kashmiri pepper but overall, a solid hit.

Duc's brunch order was the Bangalore Biscuit Sandwich ($12 - ajwain-seeded biscuit, goat chorizo patty, Vital Farms fried egg, melted cheese, grilled tomatoes and mixed greens served with grilled crushed coconut potatoes and curry hollandaise), a beast of a sandwich that was rightly served with the top biscuit bun on the side. With the generous amount of curry hollandaise slathered atop the patty, the "sandwich" was more of a fork-and-knife affair than a two-hander. We really enjoyed the inclusion of the ajwain seeds in the biscuits; they resemble caraway and added a different dimension to the buttery, flaky goodness. Additionally, the crushed potatoes were a pleasure as there were creamy from the coconut.

I spotted potato cakes in the Pork Belly Aloo-Tikki ($13 - Richardson Farms house smoked pork belly, coconut curry potato cakes, poached eggs and curry hollandaise topped with fried shallot & caper gremolata) description and couldn't resist. Though we don't typically have heavy breakfasts, I'm a sucker for potato cakes and theirs was one to come back for. The eggs were perfectly poached, and the beautifully vibrant, almost neon curry hollandaise held a savoriness that traditional hollandaise is missing. The pork belly balanced between tender and crunchy in all the correct places, and I really appreciated the occasional zesty bursts from my capers.

Are you going to find fine Indian cuisine at this changed-over gas station at 1950 S Interstate Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78704? Not necessarily but you'll definitely find creativity and dishes that you can easily imagine drinking a beer with. So next time you see Whip In's old sign as you drive up or down I-35, make a quick stop for a bite or sip and whip right in.

Photos by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.

Whip In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato