The Scoop: Austin couples can spice up their date nights by stopping by Chi’Lantro, a beloved Korean BBQ restaurant and food truck brand. Korean entrepreneur Jae Kim opened his first food truck in 2010, and his authentic yet modern cuisine has been surprising and delighting customers ever since. Whether you’re in the mood for a grab-and-go taco or a shareable order of kimchi fries, you can depend on Chi’Lantro to deliver the goods and turn an average evening into a unique and unforgettable experience.
It’s important to choose the right date location to inspire romance and win over that special someone. You can’t just throw a dart at a map and go wherever it lands. That strategy can lead you to an overcrowded and overpriced restaurant or, worse still, a cheap and greasy fast-food joint. Not romantic.
A date location sets the tone for the date itself, and a bad dining experience can often leave couples hungry for something more. When planning a fun date night, you should look for unique places that have an interesting yet casual atmosphere where you feel comfortable being yourself. However, that can be a tall order for cities dominated by chain restaurants.
Fortunately, Austin, Texas, has a dynamic food culture where couples can always find something exciting, stimulating, and mouthwatering. Chi’Lantro is a great example of a locally owned restaurant and food truck brand that appeals to modern diners in search of a true original.
Since its first food truck opened in 2010, this Korean-inspired BBQ has wowed diners with its spicy, juicy, and savory dishes.
At Chi’Lantro, eating is a tactile experience. You’re crunching into a taco, digging into fries, and mixing fresh ingredients in a build-your-own salad, rice, or noodle bowls. You can savor authentic Korean BBQ and discover new flavor combinations on every visit. All in all, it’s a pretty romantic setting for a dinner or lunch date in Austin.
Daters can share chips and salsa or a 20-count order of wings as they enjoy the South Shore restaurant’s lively, casual atmosphere, or they can track down one of Chi’Lantro’s famed food trucks for a grab-and-go meal in downtown Austin. This original cuisine is as fun to look at as it is to eat, and the kitchen makes its tacos, burritos, fries, nachos, and bowls to order so everything comes out piping hot and just the way you like it.
According to Chi’Lantro Founder Jae Kim, “Our mission is to deliver an amazing Korean BBQ experience by building relationships where people are inspired to better their lives.”
A Beloved Eatery Sets the Tone for a Great Date
Chi’Lantro has seven casual restaurants and food trucks scattered throughout Austin, and its uniquely flavorful dishes can satisfy singles and couples looking for a special treat. First-time customers should note that all locations are cashless, so you should bring a credit or debit card if you want to pick up the check for your date.
Chi’Lantro’s menu draws inspiration from Korean BBQ, but the kitchen gives a modern twist to its dishes to make them more accessible to people who may not be familiar with Korean cuisine. Its fast service and international flavors attract a diverse crowd of Austin residents.
Some people show up for a quick lunch break, while others linger over a large order of specialty fries. There are plenty of shareable appetizers on the menu, so daters can try something new together and bond over the shared experience. The fries are a particular favorite among customers.
“We are known worldwide for serving The Original Kimchi Fries,” Jae told us. “It’s a bed of french fries with caramelized kimchi, Korean BBQ, cilantro and onions, our Magic Sauce, and sesame seeds.”
The menu also allows for a lot of personalization with its build-your-own options. You can order a rice or noodle bowl with your choice of spicy pork, spicy chicken, soy-glazed chicken, tofu, or ribeye beef served with lettuce, corn, red cabbage, kimchi, lime, and other optional mix-ins.
Daters can return again and again to Chi’Lantro and yet never get bored with this versatile, quality-driven menu.
Jae described the typical Chi’Lantro diner as a foodie who enjoys adventurous eating and interesting experiences. They come to the trendy eatery prepared to hashtag their meals and share mouthwatering photos on social media. The restaurant’s youthful spirit fosters memorable and Instagrammable moments, which makes it perfect for tech-savvy, worldly, and adventure-seeking Austinites. A majority of customers are between 25 and 44 years old, and they’re looking for something off the beaten path.
Since Jae’s 2018 appearance on “Shark Tank”, Chi’Lantro has capitalized on its local reputation and sparked interest on a national scale. The franchise is now investing in the future with dreams of building a Korean BBQ empire that reaches far beyond the Austin area.
The Sincere Team Makes an Overall Positive Impression
When hiring team members, Jae said he looks for passion, sincerity, and kindness. He prioritizes people skills over job experience, and he aims to build a tight-knit team of people who care about delivering excellent service and delicious grub.
“I’d describe our culture as dedicated, authentic, respectful, and trustworthy,” Jae said. “We hire, promote, and give opportunities to people based on their values.”
Customer service is a top priority for this local food and catering company. Its brand is built on a love of food, and that’s what keeps it innovating and growing. Many customers appreciate the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere and have given it stellar reviews.
“The staff is friendly, the food is always consistent, and the wait is never too long,” Jessica D. said in a five-star review. “Thank you for training your staff to know that every interaction at the register is an imperative one.”
The Chi’Lantro team prides itself on serving memorable moments to a community of adventurous eaters.
Some Chi’Lantro locations even have late hours to feed the local nightlife. The South Lamar restaurant is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, while the Chi’Lantro on East Sixth serves tacos and burritos until midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Chi’Lantro becomes a hub of activity as the night goes on and bar hoppers crave a hearty and indulgent meal. The restaurant offers a lively and flirtatious atmosphere where singles can have an intimate conversation and get to know the love interest they met on the dance floor or at a dive bar.
One night, two people actually met and fell for one another over a meal at Chi’Lantro, and they returned months later to request Chi’Lantro’s catering services for their wedding.
“If it wasn’t for us, they’d never have met,” Jae said. “We are here to create long-term relationships with our customers, and it feels great to experience these moments.”
Chi’Lantro is a Modern, Affordable & Hip Hangout
Chi’Lantro is much more than a food company — it’s a food experience. The Korean-inspired restaurants and food trucks treat customers to something special, proving that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a quality meal.
Couples can enjoy a full meal at Chi’Lantro and still have cash left over for movies, drinks, or dessert afterward. If you’re looking for a trendy date spot, you should check out these low-key restaurants. Such a cool, casual hangout won’t pressure you to leave just because you’ve finished eating, and that makes it great for couples who are still getting to know one another.
Jae said he loves being part of Austin’s cool food culture, but he hopes to grow his franchise beyond the city limits in the coming years. He has his sights set on turning Chi’Lantro into a world-famous Korean BBQ brand.
“Couples who eat together stay together,” Jae said. “Chi’Lantro tests the relationship because of its uniqueness as Asian and Mexican fusion cuisine. If couples like Chi’Lantro, they will most likely stay together for a long time.”