photo credit: Holly Dirks

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$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good CocktailsSpecial Occasions


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Sometimes, a building finds itself in a situation where it’s playing some weird, inanimate version of musical chairs with restaurants rotating in and out every couple of years. In Austin’s case, it’s that corner spot next to Counter Cafe near 6th and Chicon. Over the years we’ve seen it play host to a couple different restaurants, a tiki bar, and, at one point, a really big USPS office. Fortunately for you, there’s still a tiny post office next door, so there’s no need to resort to pigeons, owls, or any other alternative methods of mail transport. 

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Now it’s the home of Canje, a Caribbean restaurant from the team that brought you Hestia, Kalimotxo, Emmer & Rye, and Henbit. This spot, however, is a passion project from chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph—originally from Guyana—who you might know as the creator of those chocolate chip cookies from Henbit that are roughly the thickness of a copy of War and Peace, but a lot less dense. And much like the Napoleonic chronicle, we think Canje is going to endure the test of time. 

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photo credit: Richard Casteel

This is a fun, busy space with a lot of energy, but not in a way that ever feels too crowded. It’s cozy and inviting, with hip hop pumping from the speakers—the kind of place you’d want to come with a date or a group of friends. And given how much of the menu is made up of shareable plates, that’s probably your best bet. Start off with some tangy sour orange ceviche with housemade taro chips. Then grab an order of perfectly charred grilled shrimp with a zippy “green sauce” made from a puree of all the extra greens the kitchen has lying around. 

Next, move on to some heartier portions from the suppa section, like the wild boar pepper pot—a Guyanase specialty usually served at Christmas because of how long it takes to make. It could be a toasty 110° Austin summer evening, but those first few sips of rich, gingery cassava broth will throw All I Want For Christmas Is You right back into your head. And Jamaican classics like the sweet, extra-spicy jerk chicken are one of the rare instances where the poultry dish on the menu isn’t just there for the picky eater in your group. 

Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Then there are the cocktails. Rum is the highlight here—though pretty much all of the major spirits show themselves in some form or another—and it truly shines in drinks like the T’i Punch. Vaguely reminiscent of an Old Fashioned, it’s a darker, boozier take on the national cocktail of Martinique. Other drinks like the Good Neighbor, featuring banana-infused Plantation rum and the always fun and funky Smith+Cross, are so unique and fun, you’ll leave asking “why is the rum gone?” in your best Jack Sparrow. And if you’d rather keep things simple, we’ve found that an ice cold Red Stripe goes pretty well with just about everything on the menu.

We had high hopes moving into the dessert section. Every other spot this team has opened has had at least one firework of a finisher—Hestia’s kakigori, Kalimotxo’s Basque cheesecake, Henbit’s monster cookies, to name a few—but the approach here is a bit more mild. There are some really fun tropical takes on classics, like a wonderfully fluffy flan covered in tart dots of passion fruit. But there are also things like a guava and white chocolate tres leches that sounds more exciting on paper than they taste. While you won’t see any pyrotechnics here, the simpler approach they’ve taken still leads to a pretty satisfying finish. This is Toy Story 4. Did we enjoy it? Sure. But Toy Story 3 made us cry. 

Some of the timing can be a bit wonky, and there's a chance that after the first couple of dishes, you'll never see your original server again—it’s safe to say they’re still figuring a few things out at Canje. But with an exciting space, some really standout menu items, and a cocktail menu worthy of being a standalone bar, we think Canje just might be the one to end this never-ending game of musical chairs. 

Food Rundown

Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel


Some of the ingredients switch out occasionally based on what’s in season, but ultimately you’ll be enjoying some type of fish ceviche made with sour orange and sweet peppers. There’s also some peanuts to give it some crunch. It’s sweet, sour, and pairs great with the accompanying housemade taro chips.
Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Grilled Blue Prawns

In total, this plate probably had about 3-4 shrimp on it, diced up into little bite sized pieces and accompanied by a few chunks of fresh papaya. It all gets a nice bit of char, then tossed in smoked chili and served with a few dollops of “green sauce,” which is basically a mix of everything green they have in the kitchen—assorted herbs and vegetables mostly—all blended together. We imagine it’s a bit different every time, but our version was herby, a bit tangy, and tasty enough that we’d go back to try it just about any day.
Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Wild Boar Pepper Pot

Pepper pot is one of the national dishes of Guyana, though it’s traditionally reserved for special occasions—Christmas in particular—due to how long it takes to cook. Lucky for you, it’s Christmas every day at Canje, so you can enjoy a warm bowl of it whenever the mood strikes. You’ll want to order a side of roti to accompany the tender chunks of wild boar, and to help scoop up every last ounce of rich, sweet-and-spicy broth.
Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel


We’ve had some issues with the roti over our last few visits—on one occasion, it got brought out about 15 minutes before the dish they suggested we order it with, and on another occasion, it came out a bit undercooked—but when they get it right, it’s great. Flaky, buttery, and the perfect accompaniment to just about any dish with sauce (but especially the pepper pot).
Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Jerk Chicken

If Canje decided to start a new restaurant that only sold this jerk chicken, we’d be there in line on day one. This is the chicken that dreams are made of—we’re not the only ones who dream about chicken, are we? It’s perfectly seasoned, with enough little bits of char on the skin to add a bit of smoky flavor to the tender chicken below. It packs some heat—Taco Bell mild saucers beware—with an accompanying sweet-and-spicy dip that you’re going to want to finish with a spoon after.
Canje image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Tres Leches

We’re pretty big fans of tres leches, and while this one wasn’t our favorite we’ve had, it’s a reliable finish to the meal. It’s light, and a bit on the sweet end, but the roasted white chocolate and coconut add a nice tropical twist to a classic.

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