Eatery serves interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites
Some Southwest Austinites might not know it, but they have an option for interior Mexican cuisine right in their backyards. 400 Rabbits is the first separate restaurant Alamo Drafthouse has opened, and while diners must enter from inside Alamo Drafthouse, the menu for both food and drinks are completely separate.
Executive Chef John Bullington created a menu based on interior Mexican street food. The name 400 Rabbits comes from Aztec folklore. The Aztec goddess and divine embodiment of the agave plant, Mayahuel, was said to have given birth to 400 rabbits who were nourished by Mayahuel’s 400 breasts with fermented agave.
The bar and restaurant lives up to its name with an extensive list of tequilas, mescals, signature cocktails featuring the agave-derived spirits, and flights for patrons to try a variety of mescals and tequilas.
“I think this spot is totally unique to this side of town,” Bullington said. “Yes, it’s Mexican, but it’s interior Mexican, and it’s really good. It’s not just melted cheese.”
Since it opened in March, 400 Rabbits has expanded the menu twice. Bullington said he hopes the new brunch menu will give Southwest Austinites a brunch spot to call their own.
Brunch items include posole rojo ($7) and creme brulee French toast.
“I live in this neighborhood. There was nothing for brunch on this side of town that was even decent, so that’s why we started with brunch,” Bullington said.
Bullington has worked for the Alamo Drafthouse system since he was hired almost eight years ago to open the South Lamar Boulevard location. Since he has been with the company, Bullington said he has had the opportunity to cook almost everything he could dream up. In one week, he made Spanish tapas, Norwegian appetizers and Korean food for 500 people.
“I got to cook a whole cow,” Bullington said. “I don’t know where you really go from that. I told the owner [Tim League], ‘I wish we could invent more animals.’”
The parilla, or grill, menu at 400 Rabbits was made possible by the purchase of new equipment and Bullington’s desire to return back to basics. The menu features a spiced whole game hen cooked on a can of Schlitz filled with beer and tomato vinaigrette served with grilled avocado, jalapeño lime dressing, cilantro, roast shallot, lime and grilled flour tortillas ($15).
Bullington said the queso ahumado served with corn tortillas ($8) is an unconventional take on the Austin favorite.
“Instead of queso flameado, this is smoked on a smoker, so it gets a crazy flavor,” Bullington said.
‘Snacky’ bar food
Executive Chef John Bullington said he developed a menu to fit with the tequila and mescal focus by envisioning interior Mexican street food with “a snacky feel.”
- Chicharrones: Crispy, fried pork rinds, served with salsa for dipping ($5)
- Alambres: Skewers of New York strip steak, bacon and poblano peppers on avocado tomatillo hatch with cotija cheese ($10)
- Queso asado: Asadero cheese seared with toasted pasilla chiles and cilantro served with corn tortillas ($8)
- Tres Sabores: Three dips—refried white beans with roast garlic cilantro oil and pasilla chiles, roast tomato salsa on cheddar, and avocado tomatillo hatch—served with chips ($7)
Sandwiches and more
Though 400 Rabbits’ focus is bar food, each item on the regular menu, parilla menu and brunch menu has a thoughtful twist that sets it apart from similar items at other eateries.
- Torta ahogada: A toasted bolillo stuffed with carnitas, pickled onions, refried white beans and cotija cheese, drowned in arbol sauce, served with chips ($9)
- Sonoran hot dog: a bacon-wrapped hot dog grilled with green chile salsa, lettuce, white beans, pickled onions, tomato, jicama cilantro mayo and cotija in a bolillo ($9)
400 Rabbits, 5701 W. Slaughter Lane, 861-7069, www.400rabbitsbar.com
- Mon.–Fri. 5–11 p.m.
- Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.