It's a Wrap!

The Rap on Three Austin Wrapeterias

Bohemian WrapCity

photograph by John Anderson

Bohemian WrapCity

511 East 6th St., 457-9727
Mon-Wed, 11:30am-10pm;
Thu-Sat, 11:30am-3:30am

Bohemian WrapCity may not be the only restaurant taking advantage of both the national frenzy for "wraps" and Austin's embrace of punny names for the restaurants that specialize in them, but it is the only one with Russian proprietors.

When it comes to wraps, a cross in cultures makes sense. They're the melting pot's answer to sandwiches, a sandwich's answer to fusion food. Choose a "flavor" of oversized tortilla -- tomato-chipotle, spinach, whole wheat, etc. -- and overstuff it with Mexican, Thai, Mediterranean, or Indian fillings. They can be healthful -- like the deliciously spicy vegetarian Kalis Curry Wrap ($4), bursting with rice, curried potatoes and carrots, tomatoes, and lentils -- or decadent. Even on the best of days, no one expects to be offered a sandwich full of mashed potatoes and marinated grilled steak, but that's exactly what the Uncle Strogee wrap ($5) is. Unfortunately, the overall effect is too much like that of a shepherd's pie, catering to comfort instead of convenience. But that's the effect that wraps everywhere seem to have; often they are touted as a more nutritious option than fast food, and ultimately they probably are just that. But a huge tortilla full of rice or potatoes can be too much of too much. The Middle Eastern Peace Wrap, a carbo-loader's dream, is packed with both mashed potatoes and basmati rice.

Located in a warmly painted brick hole in the wall on East Sixth Street, Bohemian WrapCity caters to a late-night crowd, and after a few hours on Sixth Street, the absorbing properties of bread, potatoes, and rice may be invaluably grounding. Each wrap can be made with or without tofu, chicken, or steak, and at about $5 for a fully-loaded wrap, you can't beat the price.

If a fresh, inexpensive wrap is what you want, this is a great place to get it. And don't be deterred by the location -- the Sixth Street area can be a difficult place to park at times, but the proprieters have made the shrewd move to expand business by offering delivery service. -- Meredith Phillips

Snow Pea

3706 Jefferson Street, 454-3228
Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm;
Fri & Sat, 11am-11pm

You know wraps are the rage when an obscure Chinese restaurant, a small spot that has earned the favor of its Bryker Woods neighbors, adopts designer tortillas (fat-free and spinach are among the choices) and creates credible versions of these chubby meals-in-one. Snow Pea, an airy little place with fresh flowers atop every table, serves standard Chinese fare and seafood-laden chef's specialties in addition to a few token American items (chicken fried steak and T-bone steak). Thanks to its wraps in particular, the restaurant also does a mean business in the take-out department. (They'll even deliver for free if you're within three miles of their Jefferson Street home.) Far from simply stuffing General Tso- or Kung Pao-type dishes into a tortilla, Snow Pea's takes on wraps are so good that you wonder whether these Californian creations have secretly been a part of Szechwan and Mandarin diets for centuries. Plus, every wrap order comes with a cup of soup (egg drop, hot and sour, or wonton), a wax-paper sack of fried wonton strips, and a fortune cookie -- an amazing deal when you consider it will set you back less than $5.

The Szechwan Pepper Chicken Wrap ($4.65) combines stir-fried chicken breast with crisp steamed vegetables and rice. Snow Pea enlivens the blend with a generous dose of ginger, Szechwan pepper, and a spicy Chinese chile sauce. It's a dripping affair, but the highly perfumed, mahogany tinted sauce is worth sopping up as you make your way around the meal. Tofu fans will delight in Snow Pea's two soy-based wraps: a Mandarin Tofu ($4.25) that mixes marinated tofu cubes with vegetables, rice, and cilantro, then blankets the combination with peanut sauce; and the more inventive Szechwan Tofu ($4.25), made of stir-fried dried tofu, potato, onion, snow peas, rice, and a piquant jalapeño sauce. My favorite wrap, however, features all the richness of a Thai curry pot. The Potato Curry Wrap ($4.65 with chicken, steak, or pork; $4.95 with shrimp or a meat combination) is a dense, hearty affair lightened by the citrus punch of lemon grass and a spicy Malaysian curry sauce. One piece of advice: Wraps aren't fast food at Snow Pea, whether ordered in-house or to go, so even though they might seem easy to assemble, expect a little exercise in patience. Your appetite certainly won't suffer with the wait, and your palate will eventually thank you. -- Rebecca Chastenet de Géry


3023 Guadalupe, 476-9727
Daily, 11 am-10pm

Despite the instructional placards on the tables at Wrapido -- Austin's nuttiest purveyor of wraps and smoothies -- you'd best grab a fork before diving into one of the eatery's messy "eclectic burritos." The signs show an unsullied hand carefully removing a wrap's foil jacket in a spiraling manner, revealing just enough to take a gentlemanly or ladylike bite. But odds are, without a utensil, you'll be wearing half your meal before you're through. In short, Wrapido is a terrible place to take a date, but a great place to eat if you're a kid.


photograph by John Anderson

After a recent tweaking, the menu boasts seven tried and true standards, including the popular spicy Thai Chicken Wrap, the very blackened Blackened Fish Wrap, and the hardy Big Tex Steak Wrap, as well as soups and a new special wrap of the day, such as Tandoori chicken, Mediterranean, or BLT. Each wrap features a hefty dose of fresh vegetables, rice (excluding the chicken Caesar salad wrap), and one of several fine salsas all rolled inside a giant plain or flavored tortilla. Prices vary from $4-$6.50 for large, depending on the protein (chicken, fish, beef, tofu) you choose to add to your filling, or $3.25-$4.75 for small. First-time wrappers may wish to opt for the latter before stepping up to one of the mammoth options.

While you're getting your fork, be sure to fetch a spoon if you've ordered a smoothie; using a straw to down one of Wrapido's wonderfully dense concoctions may cause an untimely aneurysm. You'd die happy, though, if you'd ordered the guiltless chocolate, a creamy combination of fat-free chocolate syrup, nonfat frozen yogurt, skim milk, and ice ($2.75 for 14oz; $3.75 for 24oz). Or go out kickin' with an energy smoothie, such as the Powerhouse, a yummy non-dairy shake of fruit, protein powder, bran, and nutritional yeast ($2.75/$3.75). Whichever way you leave this wacky wrapeteria, though, you're bound to exit with a smile. -- Patrick Earvolino

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