Some diners are more than a little free-range in their meat consumption, and here in Central Texas, we don't shy away from hill country prey (quail) or predator (rattlesnake). Here are restaurants to satisfy wilder tastes.
"Bacon-wrapped jalapeño stuffed Texas quail." I'm pretty sure that anything I say after this point will be useless, because you'll already have risen up from your computer and driven yourself to Green Pastures to order this savory, tasty little bite. If you still need convincing, allow me to tell you about the "Texas Game Sampler" plate, which unites quail, venison, and wild boar together on one large platter, like a veritable buffet of woodland creatures.
One of the first places in Austin to legitimize hill country cuisine, Hudson's on the Bend is down-home eating with upscale sensibilities. I've always felt that Chef Jeff Blank should be much more famous than he currently is, because way before culinary fusion was a thing, he was topping pumpkin risotto with pheasant, turning rattlesnake into demure crabcake-like appetizers, making quesadillas out of bull's private parts. And that, friends, takes balls.
In their native habitats wild boars are big, mean devils, but here in Siena, they make sweet little appetizers. This restaurant has a serious affection for wild boar, using it in their protein mains, their pastas, and their Tuscan bread appetizer (think bruschetta): It involves an out-of-this-world wild boar ragout. Note that the menu is seasonal, so call ahead to see if Tuscan bread is on the menu.
The old guard of Austin fine dining, Wink is the Ewan McGregor of eateries: Always a pleasure, never seems to age. Perhaps because Wink -- white tablecloth establishment it may be -- has never been staid in its menu offerings, rotating out new plates and ingredients every day. Antelope, venison, and quail all make regular appearances; I've had the latter grilled with a honey soy reduction, and I'm not sure my table mates have recovered from the obscene sounds I was making as I was eating it.
If you're a "size matters" type of eater, you should know that Wurst Tex sells some of the biggest dogs in town. They are also the official game warden of Austin hot dog stands, specializing in offbeat meats like rattlesnake (yes, rattlesnake), elk, rabbit, and duck. Speaking of which, I recently tried the "Predator and Prey" brat, made with rattlesnake and rabbit sausage -- pleasantly moister and juicier than I expected.
Though the name sounds vaguely like a roadkill restaurant and it's unclear how legal some of this stuff is -- seriously, kangaroo? -- this is one of the coolest places in Austin to get a hamburger. On the menu: antelope, elk, BEAR, and yes, kangaroo.
Skip everything else on their extensive menu and order the "Big Game Hunter," a pizza topped with venison, wild boar, and alligator. Yes, alligator. Which for the record, does not (as Crocodile Dundee would have you believe) taste like chicken.