Paleo favorite Picnik opens first brick and mortar establishment

Stephen Acevedo

After years of struggling to find meal options within her dietary restrictions, Naomi Seifter decided to open her own restaurant Picnik, which upgraded to its first brick and mortar eight weeks ago. 

“As someone with tons of food allergies and sensitivities, it was impossible for me to find a place where I could go out to eat without getting sick,” Seifter said. ”Being a foodie, I felt this was a problem.”

Seifter said she wanted to create a place where customers didn’t have to risk gluten cross-contamination, sourced grass-fed and pasture-raised meat. Instead, Picnik focuses on safe, healthy oils and fats.

Offering Paleo options was important to Seifter because she wanted to disprove notions that healthy food has to be bland or boring. 

“When you order something healthy on a restaurant menu, it’s more than likely that it’ll be a plate of steamed vegetables, lean protein and no salt,” Seifter said. “We wanted to shift that paradigm of food everywhere by showing Austin that food can be good for you and still taste amazing.” 

Manager Marcus Young said although the original Lamar food truck only offered cold “grab and go” options, this new location will finally fulfill patron’s wishes by offering hot menu items and all-day breakfast. 

Kathrin James, an engineering sophomore and frequent Picnik guest, said while Austin establishments are generally pretty understanding and cooperative of people’s dietary restrictions, eating at Picnik is a particularly refreshing experience for someone who is allergic to dairy, gluten and soy. 

“I love that I can just walk up and order something and not have to think twice about asking about cross-contamination, or if it’s a shared fryer or what they cook with,” James said. “Something that simple makes me want to keep going back.” 

Picnik has already fallen into stride after only a few months of operation out of a brick and mortar. Considering the level of attention to detail that goes into each dish and beverage, the five to 10-minute wait between ordering and receiving menu items was a pleasant surprise. 

While everything on the menu was executed fantastically, the breakfast items are what truly shined, especially the harvest hash. This mixture of roasted sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, green apples and beef breakfast sausage brought together sweet, bitter and savory flavors in perfect balance. Breaking the poached egg on top really set the dish apart.

Picnik also succeeds in taking a greasy guilty pleasure like breakfast tacos and making them both healthy and tasty. The thin tortillas, made of almond flour, were flavorful enough to add to the meal, but still allowed every ingredient inside to shine. The chilaquiles taco, which resembles chorizo and egg more than true chilaquiles, was the standout. Slices of fresh jalapeño added a much appreciated kick, but a side of tangy tomatillo sauce is a good way to take the edge off.

Even the beverages offered at Picnik stand out. The juices and lemonades are freshly-squeezed and the teas are flavored with natural ingredients. The green lemonade, made with green apples and collard greens, is reason enough to go grab a refreshment.

Young said Picnik is trying to establish itself as a coffee shop, and they should have no trouble doing so with their selection of butter coffees. Using grass-fed butter instead of heavy cream or milk provides a beverage similar to a latte without being too hard on the stomach. 

Seifter said the care that goes into each menu item comes from a desire to encourage people to seek out the healthiest ingredients possible. 

“It’s our mission to really flip the food industry upside down and move toward a new culture of people eating real food,” Seifter said.