Happenings: Fall 2015 Austin Restaurant Openings, Part I

2015 has already proved to be a banner year for new restaurants, having already welcomed a slew of hotspots such as Launderette, Shake Shack, Dai Due, and more. And with new spots continuing to pop up everywhere you turn, Austin’s restaurant scene shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, which makes keeping track of where to eat no easy feat.

To help guide you along your eat, drink, and be merry little way, here’s a list of new restaurants opening in Fall 2015. I’ve already given you the lowdown on one new spot, Juniper (mentioned here), with more . . . → Read More: Happenings: Fall 2015 Austin Restaurant Openings, Part I

First Look: Chavez

With a number of highly anticipated restaurants in the works, 2014 is forecasted to be quite the year for eating out in Austin. Right off the bar, the first of these buzzworthy spots, the modern Southwestern-inspired Chavez, set the bar high with the opening of its downtown doors last week.

Located in the former TGIFriday’s at the Downtown Radisson, Chavez is part of the hotel’s larger top-to-bottom overhaul. To spearhead the restaurant’s new direction, the management team tapped Parkside, Backspace & Olive & June chef Shawn Cirkiel, and, based on first impressions, it’s a partnership off to a great start.

Smoked Cherry Habenero Margarita

Smoked Cherry Habenero Margarita

The gorgeous space might just be designer extraordinaire Michael Hsu’s best project yet. To capitalize on the hotel’s exceptional location, floor to ceiling windows overlook Lady Bird Lake and a glamorously redesigned pool area. Clearly a collaborative effort between chef and designer, Hsu made Cirkiel’s modern Southwestern concept come to life down to the smallest detail.

Grilled Shrimp al Mojo de Ajo (lunch) - $15

Grilled Shrimp al Mojo de Ajo (lunch) – $15

But what I found most appealing about the space was how well they incorporated different seating options throughout the bar and main dining area. From semi-private large tables to the open dining room, Chavez is the type of place you can take a client, and yet at the same time, it is a great spot for a laidback group dinner, which is somewhat of a rarity in downtown Austin.  Continue reading First Look: Chavez

First Look: Whole Foods Domain

A few exclusive Domain store goodies…

A few exclusive Domain store goodies…

Whole Foods officially opened the doors at its newest store location at the Domain in North Austin this morning! Here are the details of the new store I gathered during a sneak peek around Whole Foods Domain as the crew finished the build out last week.

In planning for the new location, Whole Foods expanded on some of the most popular components of other stores as well as worked with neighbors in the area to incorporate new offerings based on their feedback. It is also clear in walking through the store that this location was designed to be a community gathering place rather than just a grocery store.

From the produce containers to the wheelbarrow module created by Roadhouse Relics, Whole Foods used repurpused materials as much as possible. Like all of its locations, Whole Foods Domain will feature ample selections of local products, but the team is going the extra mile to highlight these partnerships with details such as increased signage to offering products exclusive to this location.

In scouting this location, Whole Foods found there was a gap in the number of fast casual/grab ‘n go dining spots in the area. Based on this feedback, catering to this need became an essential component of the new store. For example, the coffee bar has been amped up to include hand pulled espresso drinks and a state of the art slow brewing system designed to produce killer cold brew coffee.  Continue reading First Look: Whole Foods Domain

January Happenings, Part I: Downton Abbey, Crafting and Dining for a Cause

Downton Abbey Screening & Happy Hour at Goodall’s  – Sundays from 6-9pm

Fancy Cocktails + Downton Abbey = Goodall’s Sunday Nights

Goodall’s will be hosting a weekly Downton Abbey happy hour and episode viewing event beginning this Sunday, January 12 in honor of the show’s 4th season. Guests at the events will enjoy a happy hour prices on craft cocktails ($7), beers ($3) and wine ($7) as well as 50% off select bar menu items.

Downton Abbey will be available for viewing each week in the Goodall’s bar, beginning at 8:00 p.m. Bonus: Downton Abbey fans will receive . . . → Read More: January Happenings, Part I: Downton Abbey, Crafting and Dining for a Cause

Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part II: Bold-Faced Names and Upscale Eats

As 2013 winds down and we look forward to 2014, it’s time once again for a round up of the latest and greatest new additions to the Austin dining scene as well as a few newcomers to look forward to in the coming months. Go ahead and scratch any future New Year’s resolutions to go on that diet because we’ve got a lot of eating to do…

Part I available here.

Get your chicken fried egg on at Odd Duck

Get your chicken fried egg on at Odd Duck

The Bold Faced Names
Odd Duck – Opened in South Austin December 2013
Almost three years to the date of beginning service at his much-lauded Barley Swine restaurant, Chef Bryce Gilmore has opened his second brick and mortar restaurant in South Austin. Inspired by the food truck that started it all, Odd Duck will feature a rotating menu of inventive comfort dishes created from strictly local, seasonal ingredients. Lower in price and bigger in size, Odd Duck should serve as the slightly more approachable brother to Barley Swine. The ah-mazing menu includes the return of such favorites as the Chicken Fried Chicken Egg pictured above (and described here). Odd Duck, located at 1201 South Lamar, is now serving dinner 7 nights a week.

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Noble Sandwich Co. – North Central in Early 2014
After announcing its expansion plans earlier this year, the hotly anticipated central location of Noble Sandwich Co. will open on 49th and Burnet in early 2014. Known for ridiculously good sandwiches crafted from fresh breads, house cured meats, and from-scratch spreads and vegetables, the second outpost will also feature beer, wine, charcuterie and more.

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Chavez – Opens Downtown in Winter 2014
Chef Shawn Cirkiel & co. (parkside/backspace/Olive & June) will be opening the southwestern inspired Chavez restaurant at the completely revamped Radisson Hotel in January 2014. Chavez’s future space, formerly home to TGIFriday’s, is currently being overhauled to reflect the Radisson’s new direction as well as to capitalize on the location’s exceptional views of Lady Bird Lake.

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Laundrette/Angry Bear – Opens South Austin Summer 2014
After Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki abruptly departed La Condesa and Sway Thai earlier this fall, the rumor mill was churning with buzz that the duo was cooking up something amazing for Austin. Since that time, it has been announced that the James Beard nominated chefs have teamed up with Fresa’s owners Margaret Vera and Tracy Overath to launch a pair of eateries off South Lamar in summer 2014. As detailed in an interview with Texas Monthly, plans include Laundrette, an upscale café and grocery, and Angry Bear, a Szechaun takeout spot.

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Wu Chow – Opens Downtown Late 2014
The team behind downtown favorite Swift’s Attic recently announced plans for a second concept to open in late 2014. The new restaurant, called Wu Chow, will serve ‘authentic, modern Chinese cuisine’ from its space located in the forthcoming IBC building near Republic Square Park. In developing the concept, Wu Chow GM and co-owner C.K. Chin drew inspiration from his own Chinese roots and plans to feature dishes that blend his traditional family recipes with the modern face of Chinese cuisine today. Mouthwatering already…

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Best of the Rest/Upscale Eats Continue reading Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part II: Bold-Faced Names and Upscale Eats

Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part I: Burgers, BBQ, and Comfort Eats

As 2013 winds down and we look forward to 2014, it’s time once again for a round up of the latest and greatest new additions to the Austin dining scene as well as a few newcomers to look forward to in the coming months. Go ahead and scratch any future New Year’s resolutions to go on that diet because we’ve got a lot of eating to do…

UPDATE: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken – Now Open as of January 6, 2014
Memphis-based southern eatery Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is set to open its 5th location downtown in January 2014. The finger lickin’ good franchise will be located at 117 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701.
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Austin Restuarant Openings

Austin Restuarant Openings

East Side Kings – Open in South Austin December 2013
It’s a Boxing Day miracle! East Side Kings’ newest location on South Lamar officially opened today (12/26). Menu items include ESK favorites such as Liberty Rice, fried Brussels sprouts, and Chicken Kara-age and Asian-fusion tacos such as the ‘Ebi Ebi’ shrimp tempura, Spicy chicken thigh, and mocha vegetarian taco. East Side Kings is open daily for lunch and dinner at 2310 South Lamar, Austin TX 78704.
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P. Terry’s – Opened in North Austin December 2013
The end of 2013 also marked the beginning of the battle of the burger in Austin. Local favorite P. Terry’s opened its 8th location at 183 & Oak Knoll Road this December. The ‘anti-fast food’ chain also announced plans to open 12 area locations by the end of 2015, including a 9th spot on Burnet Road in early 2014.
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In-N-Out – Opened in North Austin December 2013
Meanwhile, California cult favorite In-N-Out opened its much-anticipated drive through windows early December. Known for its wallet friendly prices and a not-so-secret menu featuring the famed ‘Animal Style’ burger, In-N-Out’s new Airport & I-35 location has quickly become a local hotspot. Must be all those Californians headed to Texas we keep hearing about…
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Shake Shack – Opens South Austin Late 2014
Only further adding to Austin’s Burger Battle Royale was the announcement that East Coast transplant Shake Shack will be setting up shop in the South Lamar shopping center anchored by Alamo Drafthouse, which is currently undergoing extensive renovations. Shake Shack is expected to open late 2014.
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Schmidt Family Barbecue – Opened in West Austin Fall 2013
Lockhart BBQ fans now can enjoy the legendary eats from Smitty’s and Kreuz Market by way of Bee Caves with the recent opening of Schmidt Family Barbecue. Now under third generation leadership of Keith Schmidt, the family has granted the wishes of many by bringing its famed meats to Austin.  Sticking with family tradition, the Schmidt’s new restaurant employs the same cooking methods that have been passed down from generation to generation. Schmidt Family Barbecue is located near the Hill Country Galleria at 3812 Market Street, Bee Cave, TX 78738.
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Continue reading Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part I: Burgers, BBQ, and Comfort Eats

First Look: Arro

Arro, the latest project from the folks behind Easy Tiger and 24 Diner, softly opened its doors this week to allow for a peek at what we can expect from the modern French restaurant. Being that this was a soft opening, this post is more of a preview than full review as the new restaurant gets its sea legs. That being said, I’d be remiss not to mention a few exceptionally bright moments in an altogether stellar evening.

Bone Marrow Appetizer

Bone Marrow Appetizer

Our meal started on a high note after realizing Arro’s menu offerings include an entire section devoted to freshly baked bread and a rotating selection of accompaniments. Unable to decide what to order, we opted for a chef’s board featuring Easy Tiger bread paired with anchovy butter, pork pâte, cheese, and pickled veggies ($12).

Bread Offering Chef Plate

Bread Offering Chef Plate

Shifting to the main menu, Continue reading First Look: Arro

Summer Eats: Openings and Updates, Part I

Photo courtesy Umami Mia Pizzeria

Photo courtesy Umami Mia Pizzeria

Umami Mia Pizzeria, a pizza joint aimed at conquering that hard to identify 5th taste, is now open on in the former Romeo’s spot on Barton Springs Road in South Austin. Launched by a team of seasoned local restaurant vets, including Executive Chef George Thomas (Paggi House, Soleil), Umami Mia’s affordable food menu focuses on capturing ‘the beautiful taste’. The drinks menu includes pizza friendly wines, local brews, and specialty cocktails. Visit Umami Mia Pizzeria at 1500 Barton Springs, Austin, TX 78704.

Bridget Dunlap’s East Austin restaurant Mettle has opened just in time for summer. Helmed by former Olivia chef de cuisine Andrew Francisco, Mettle will serve French bistro fare with ‘an international twist’ with dishes such as salmon crudo, bone marrow, and braised pork spaghetti. In addition, Mettle will specialize in serving seasonal cocktails such as thai chili infused caiprinha and East Side Collins. Visit Mettle for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday at 507 Calles Street, Austin, TX 78702.

Take deep breaths: According to Eater Austin, Qui is set to open its main dining room on June 20th with plans to open its tasting room later this year. Qui, of course, is the highly anticipated new restaurant from Top Chef and East Side King Paul Qui. For more details, including menu secrets, check out Eater’s full post here or the official Qui website here.

Benji’s Cantina is now open for dinner 7 nights a week, with plans for lunch and brunch service in the near future. The West 6th Street restaurant specializes in serving Tex-Mex favorites such as enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas by the pound. Visit Benji’s rooftop lounge, the El Gusano Bar, for a specialty margarita or mezcal. Benji’s is located at 716 W 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701.

‘Fabric-inspired’ restaurant Searsucker by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey has softly opened* its downtown Austin doors. Continue reading Summer Eats: Openings and Updates, Part I