The Clay Pit is an authentic Indian restaurant with a past… Downtown Austin TX

Zagat rated and featured in Bon Appetite magazine, the Clay Pit is a fabulous downtown Austin find.  They are located in the Old Betram Building at the intersection of Guadalope and W 16th St.

This is a very hip and happening downtown spot!  Fabulous food and a great environment is their hallmark.  In fact, they are scheduled to shoot an episode of #FoodParadise for the Travel Channel in a few days on November 12th noon-3 for Sunday brunch.


We stopped by last weekend for dinner Saturday evening.  They close between lunch and diner and, where we were a few minutes early, I got a chance to look around before they opened the doors.  This is the main level dining area.


Down a very old stone stairway is the cave like lower level or ‘the Cellar’.  It feels like catacombs… with old brick arched supports, old rounded brick ceilings and original limestone walls.  It is dark and cool both in temperature and atmosphere.

This building and location have some interesting and spooky secrets to tell but first the food…


We started with two of their freshly made Tandoor Naan, Onion and Cilantro Naan and Palak Paneer Naan (spinach & paneer cheese).  For a main course we chose traditional Indian dishes, Lamb Tikka Masala and Coconut Curry Shrimp.  It was amazing! For dessert we went with a light classic Indian treat of Kheer a thin rice pudding with nuts, raisins, cinnamon, cardamom and rosewater. A perfect way to conclude a wonderful meal.


This photo of the building at 1601 Guadalupe in Austin is thought to have been taken around 1873 after the original building was purchased by OR Bertram aka Rudolph Bertram.  He and his family lived upstairs on the second floor and the main level became a wholesale grocery, saloon and Bertrams General Merchandise which was an Austin landmark for decades.

The basement was used for storage but was also widely known to house a tunnel that lead next door to one of the local brothels.  There were several brothels in this area of Austin in what was once known as the First Ward or more commonly Guy Town.  This must have provided clever cover for local officials, state legislatures, business men and students who frequented these establishments.

Today this fun and contemporary downtown restaurant and nighttime hot spot also has another resident who likes to visit and play harmless pranks on waitstaff and employees.

Sadly, Rudolph Bertrams’ 5 year old son died of Typhoid in his bedroom upstairs. It is widely believed that his tiny ghost roams around the building and likes to goof around and make his presence know.

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