Restaurant Review: Peruvian-Inspired Food Bus Serves Killa Brunch

East Airport eatery Killa Wasi elevates casual dining

Killa Wasi

828 Airport, 512/730-0253,
Tue.-Thu., 8am-3pm; Fri., 8am-8:30pm; Sun., 11am-3pm; closed Mon. and Sat.
Peruvian-Inspired Food Bus Serves Killa Brunch
Peruvian-Inspired Food Bus Serves Killa Brunch

Killa Wasi is one of the most joyfully unpretentious restaurants in Austin. Duck inside of a teal school bus parked on the south side of Airport Boulevard to find their Peruvian-inspired fare, where everything inside – from the yellow bottles of bubblegum-sweet Inca Kola to the cheery chalkboard – pops brightly with color. It's a dream of a restaurant, with an aesthetic seemingly envisioned by the hippest of fourth-grade girls.

Peruvian-Inspired Food Bus Serves Killa Brunch

This kind of surface level pretty might make you suspicious of what else is going on. The whole enterprise is ruthlessly on trend. There's a baroque breakfast sandwich, a minimalist cacti mural, quinoa oatmeal, and cold brew for days. But at Killa Wasi ("Moon House" in Quechuan), everything is a little more complex, a little more interesting than it initially appears. The foodbus staff, under the direction of chef/owner Kati Luedecke, makes food that is not only visually appealing, but delicious. At an average of $7-10 an item, it's affordable enough that you can taste your way across the whole menu.

Peruvian-Inspired Food Bus Serves Killa Brunch

They serve breakfast daily, and their go-to mainstay is a monster of a sandwich, stuffed with a thick patty of crispy fried homemade chorizo. Its fatty heft and smoky sweetness is offset by baby greens and a brown-edged fried egg, and its yolk oozes béchamel-thick over the whole delightful mess. Brunch is the best way to get acquainted with Killa Wasi's charms, ideal for a hungover morning spent kicked back in the autumn sunshine swapping war stories. My favorite thing on the menu is the wild boar benedict, with eggs soft-boiled in their shells, perfect spheres teetering on top of a big pile of grilled bitter greens and pork cooked in its own fat until it collapses into confit crispiness. Underneath, instead of your typical English muffin, is a hockey puck of fried yucca mash. The clean, potato chip taste is a stoner's dream – a potato chip you can make a meal out of – all topped with a creamy sauce and served with pickled red onions on the side.

Peruvian-Inspired Food Bus Serves Killa Brunch
Photos by John Anderson

If you come for brunch – and you should – make sure to order their spiced pumpkin picarones, a kind of Peruvian donut typically made of mashed sweet potato and pumpkin, fried and drizzled with a bitter molasses syrup. The sprinkle of warm spices and raw pecans on Killa Wasi's version cuts through the excess and makes them feel almost virtuous. At least there's good fat here, you think. All those beautiful vegetables, cut up into little squares, stud the batter like tiny orange gems. The taste is less pumpkin spice latte-esque than you might imagine – yeasty, not too sweet, fluffy inside with an exterior that bends before it breaks, surprisingly pliant between your teeth. It's a basic brunch item elevated to reach new heights.

At lunch, Killa Wasi is considerably more casual. On my visit, my companion and I were the only people there to enjoy the quiet of the courtyard as we ate our sandwiches, both of which were dense and texturally compelling. Whether it's breakfast, brunch, or lunchtime, you really can't go wrong with the sandwiches here, but you will not look good eating them. They're not first date, lunch meeting-appropriate sandwiches. These sandwiches don't mess around. We split the Doña Lima and the Texas Brasa, both of which were sloppy, glorious, and larger than our heads. My favorite was the Doña Lima, which features the slow-cooked pork confit, topped with a pepper relish whose sugary sweetness was overwhelming on its own, but in sync with the porky umami and the requisite pile of herbed, pickled red onions. The Texas Brasa was somewhat more restrained, and less likely to put you into an hours-long food coma. I tend to find chicken sandwiches dry, but here the chicken is adorned with a thick swipe of mashed sweet potato, offering the same moistening function as mayonnaise. It's kind of a weird concept – root vegetables on a sandwich – but it worked so well I was left wondering why more people haven't thought of it.

Ceviches are a mainstay of Peruvian cuisine, so it's no surprise that Killa Wasi offers one. It is surprising, though, that this ceviche is totally vegetarian – a neat little jumble of guacamole, quinoa, sweet corn, pickled onions, and cherry tomatoes, topped with a few sprigs of purslane whose slimy crunch adds to the dish's strong, lemony viscosity. My dining companion found it unpleasantly goopy, but I was won over by the acidic bite of the dish, reminiscent of a really chunky gazpacho. Continuing with the unexpected use of vegetables theme, we washed down our lunch with the chicha morada lemonade, infused with cinnamon, pineapple, clove, and, oddly enough, purple corn. It was a little earthy, with a fullness that reminded me of persimmon pudding. It's a great choice for a clear blue Austin fall afternoon.

If you somehow have room left after all those sandwiches, you may be disappointed to find out there's only one thing available for dessert: their guava shortbread bars. Fortunately, the bars are delightful, with a buttery vanilla cookie base, topped with a jammy swath of guava paste, and studded with slivers of toasted coconut and oats. Fans of crunchy shortbread will be disappointed by the texture, which is a lot like Play-Doh, but it's hard to argue with the flavor.

For now, Killa Wasi is only open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. But with an adorable location, a warm and helpful staff, and a menu full of surprises, I don't think I'm alone in wondering what they might make for dinner.

Killa Wasi

828 Airport, 512/730-0253
Tue.-Thu., 8am-3pm; Fri., 8am-8:30pm; Sun., 11am-3pm; closed Mon. and Sat.

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Peruvian food, ceviche, pork confit, Killa Wasi

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