Rising from the ashes

2 new restaurants try their luck at Austin's troubled Lamar Union

2 new restaurants try their luck at Austin's troubled Lamar Union

Lamar Union Austin
The retail space at Lamar Union will soon be full again with the introduction of two new restaurants. Lamar Union

Since Lamar Union opened in 2014, it seemed the only constant at the South Austin development was change. While anchor Alamo Drafthouse and eateries like Vox Table, Shake Shack, and Lick Honest Ice Cream continue to draw crowds, 2017 saw three high-profile projects — Cantine from hospitality vets Lisa and Emmett Fox, Delicious from Live Oak Market owner Raj Singh, and the Vox Table team’s El Burro — fall in short order.

Now the complex is filling up again. Cult Cedar Park sushi restaurant Soto opened a second location in October 2017 in the former home of Cantine. Comfort food spot TLC followed that December in a space diagonally across from the theater. And now the vacant spots that housed Delicious and El Burro both have “coming soon” signs.

First up is Mandala Kitchen and Bar, which will open in the former El Burro space, and began looking for new staff on Craigslist in January. Little is known about the restaurant other than what was provided in the post (the project does not appear to have a social media presence or a website), but the concept is “modern home style Vietnamese and Thai restaurant.”

The hiring notices indicate an opening date is on the horizon, possibly as soon as next month. Although no major renovations appear to have been done to the dining room, the owners have brightened things up significantly with white walls and chairs replacing the former occupant's bright colors.

A little more is known about the replacement for Delicious, where a buildout is currently in progress. According to the website, Artista Rosso is the work of Barley Bean CEO Mohit Mehra and executive chef Jennifer Coffman. On paper, the concept does not seem to be far off from Delicious, with a small upscale grocery market, a cafe, and a counter for grab-and-go chef prepared meals all in the plan. No word on what direction Coffman will take the menu, but her recent certification from New York City’s GoodFellas Pizza school (not to mention the name) might provide some clues.

Although construction is still in the initial stages, a rendering shows a drastically different space than the cafeteria-like Delicious with a large bar and an upstairs loft. CultureMap has reached out to the owners to confirm a target opening date.