The 4th of July is approaching and as always my thoughts turn to that irresistible combination: water and food. And then my thoughts turn to The Oasis on Lake Travis. Perched in a gorgeous setting 450 above Lake Travis, the Oasis began as the dream of interior designer and art collector Beau Theriot who grew up down the street from Janis Joplin in East Texas. Beau purchased several hundred acres of land back in 1979. Several of those acres bordered the cliffs above Lake Travis and Beau decided that would be a perfect spot for a restaurant. That was the beginning of what would become a nationally known and iconic dining and drinking emporium.
The Oasis has such a strong brand that when Garth Brooks wrote “Friends in Low Places” I automatically assumed the line “guess I’ll slip on down to the Oasis” was referring to our Oasis. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he was actually talking about a spot in Oklahoma!
Today’s Oasis has evolved into a fun restaurant under the direction of Chef Gerald Joshua that serves a diverse and highly approachable cuisine with a mix of Tex Mex, seafood and burgers/sliders.
On a recent meal we began with the virtually addictive Chicken Fireballs. Served along with a jalapeño ranch dressing, these golf ball sized doo-dads of crunchy chicken are hard to stop eating.
Next up were the new chicken and pork sliders. These passed the critical test for moistness and crispy texture so critical for sliders. They also tasted quite good although I leaned toward the pork sliders as the best of the two. Covered with fennel slaw, diced onions and pickles and served with BBQ sauce these are a great new addition.
We also tried another new dish called The Southwest Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocado. This begins with sliced avocado topped with a chicken salad made with black bean corn relish (great idea) along with tomatoes, spinach and plump, fresh strawberries. This dish was smashing: the perfect summer repast with its cool yet engaging ingredients.
We moved to the Tex Mex side after that to try the smoked chicken enchiladas with a terrific Hatch Chile cream sauce. The white chicken meat was moist and the flavor was beautifully subtle. I would have liked more of the cream sauce because it was absolutely spot on. But the dish held up as served. Definitely would recommend!
One thing we’ve always enjoyed at The Oasis has been the fried shrimp. They’ve altered it slightly toward a tempura style but it’s still good. The shrimp were prawn size and the first bite flavor rush was as it’s always been. The fries were crisp and very tasty. One minor gripe: I wish they would offer tartar sauce along with the red cocktail sauce. I suspect many transplanted New Englanders would agree. Other than that it’s still a very nice dish.
Another must try dish is the pork fajitas. The texture of the pork is remarkable. The tenderness of the dish is only enhanced by the lovely flavors of the pork. The requisite veggies that accompany the sizzling platter ramp the whole thing up along with the house made tortillas and pico de gallo. These are absolutely the best pork fajitas I’ve tasted anywhere in the area.
The Oasis had always been known for its libations and that hasn’t changed. They have introduced their Hurricane Drinks (limit two to a customer for obvious reasons) and they range from The Oasis Sunset (a blend of Bacardi rums with lemonade, orange juice and grenadine) to my fav The Spiced Banana Colada. And of course their famous Margaritas still rock the house.
And speaking of rocking the house, live music has become an integral part of the fun scene at the Oasis. If that’s your cup of tea check out their website for an update on scheduled bands.
One final note: the Oasis does not accept reservations but the seating capacity is so vast that waits are not much of a problem. And they’ve added additional kitchens which have dramatically improved the time it takes an order to get to your table!
The Oasis Lake Travis
6550 Comanche Trail
Austin, TX 78732