Rainey Street Bites
Cazamance96 Rainey, 487-7222
Monday-Friday, 6pm-1:30am; Saturday-Sunday, noon-1:30am
During our pre-opening tour of the new Whole Foods in Bee Cave, my wife was chatting with Austin media and Community Relations Manager Rebecca Scofield and mentioned we had just come from lunch at the Cazamance Cafe. Rebecca's face lit up; turns out Iba Thiam, the dreadlocked Senegalese owner of Cazamance, is quite popular around Whole Foods. He worked there for a while and created a couple of their most popular gelato recipes. He also became quite a proponent of local shopping and clean, fresh ingredients.
I first met Iba Thiam when we stopped at Bar 96 and discovered Cazamance around back. I'm a sucker for fusion food anyway, but the Boy Dakar lamb burger ($9) just sounded too good to pass up. Wrapped in a wheat tortilla, the ground lamb was fragrant with exotic spices and slathered with Iba's homemade tomato relish and cucumbers. For folks looking for something a bit less exotic, the smoked melt brisket wrap ($9) is similarly prepared, but tastes like what you might find at a very high quality barbecue stand. On a return visit, three of us wolfed down the seared yassa chicken quesadilla ($7) with housemade pepper jack cheese and a garlic paprika cream sauce. When we could talk again, we decided it was about the best quesadilla we'd had in Austin. Everything we tried was carefully prepared, skillfully spiced, and cooked to perfection. This place is very highly recommended and well worth a trip. – Wes Marshall