I can’t think of another single place in the world that combines the best aspects of craft beer, Indian food, live music, and grocery shopping. Whip In does exactly that, and does it pretty well.
My boyfriend, who happens to be Indian, and I came across Whip In’s website while searching for breweries to sample in the Austin area. We were intrigued at the unlikely combination of Texas comfort food, traditional Indian food, and craft beer. From what I understand, Indians aren’t exactly known for their breweries.
The Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern even did a little piece on the place, however, I don’t feel he does it justice. Sorry to call you out, buddy, it’s going to take more than footage of your chewing to convince me of Whip In’s awesomeness.
Back in 1986, the owners, Amrit and Chandan Topiwala, bought a convenience store in the Travis Heights Neighborhood and made a living off the gas pumps and B-movie selection.
For whatever reason, beer sales began to outweigh gas sales and priorities were shifted.
The convenience store was transformed into a dhaba (traditional Indian/Pakistani roadside restaurant) pub with a full kitchen and homemade brew house. The menu features a mind-boggling fusion of Texan comfort food and authentic Gujarati cuisine. And since it’s in Austin, Whip In practically had no choice but to service local and organic fruits, vegetables, and meats.
Whip In is big on brunch and it has a big section for it on the menu. We settled on a combo dhaba bowl with chana masala, masoor dal, and Zambian corn. We also got an appetizer of samosas and a follow-up entree of dal sliders. With their warm naan, spinach, and mushrooms, the dal sliders were definitely my favorite pick.
Appropriately, Whip In calls its in-house brew house, Namaste Brewing. They had a surprisingly number of beers, although several of the taps had run dry before we showed up.
You can order a sampler of four beers for $10, and we did exactly that. Our picks were the Brahmale, Sitas Revenge, Austinerveisse, and Vishnavi Triple.
- Brahmale = postcolonial IPA made w/goodflow honey, grapefruit peel & lemongrass 9.5%abv
- Sitas = french saison made w/striselspalt&aramis hops 6.5%abv
- Austinerveisse = berlinerveisse style german sour wheat made w/peaches 4.5%abv
- Vishnavi = strong triple brew I seem to have misplaced my notes on
Nearly all the beers on tap were high in alcohol content, with 8% and 9% being totally common. I must admit, the combination of strong beer and strong flavors did do a number on my unsuspecting stomach after awhile.
For a Saturday night, Whip In was busy, crowded, and a little chaotic. As a first timer, I was a little overwhelmed trying to wrap my head around this place. Fortunately, we found a seat at the bar, so there was no wait time. If you aren’t so fortunate, you can push your way to the back and browse the couple aisles of groceries that seem wonderfully out-of-place. The owners have traded in their convenience store snacks for hippie fair like tofu-turkey and Tom’s Natural Toothpaste.
Whip In has indoor and outdoor seating, and each space has its own stage. Rambler Rose, featuring a 8 1/2 month pregnant lead singer/percussionist, took the stage while we were finishing up our dinner.
Whip In definitely offers a unique dining/drinking/listening/shopping experience you can’t find anywhere else. Upon first impression, the spot seems to be a bit all over the board, and unable to decide what it is and what it wants to be when it grows up. But whatever it is, I like it. And I hope to visit another place like it some day.