On March 4, 1997, chef Charles Mayes opened Cafe Josie in a colorful, sun-drenched space with a menu inspired by the cuisines of the tropics. The cafe became a destination for adventurous diners who were eager to discover new flavors like chipotle and habanero, harissa, Jamaican jerk spices, and spicy fruit salsas. In 2012, Mayes sold the restaurant to manager Cody Taylor, a longtime employee who had worked in every capacity that the restaurant had to offer since 2005.
Taylor changed the concept into a globally influenced modern cafe, showcasing seasonal produce and local ingredients with help from executive chef Todd Havers, who had worked in the kitchen alongside Mayes for years.
In January 2016, the team launched The Experience, a new twist on the prix fixe menu that allows diners to customize an unlimited multi-course tasting menu for only $45. Expect dishes like smoked chicken thighs with bourbon mashed potatoes and Alabama white sauce; seared branzino with squash, blistered shishitos, dashi aioli, and yuzu kosho; and crab cakes with sweet chili aioli, basil puree, and candied grapefruit. Items change seasonally, sometimes even weekly, but customer favorites like the fried Brussels sprouts with rum-soaked cherries, candied pecans, and Dijon glaze usually find a way to stay on longer.
The success of The Experience led the team to add a full bar, serving classic and proprietary cocktails (discounted during their lunchtime happy hour) in addition to a carefully curated list of boutique wines and artisanal beers.
To celebrate 20 years of serving the Austin community, Cafe Josie will have Austin native Karen Tennison and her jazz band play during dinner service on Saturday, March 4. The cafe will also be offering drink specials all night long, including half off all bottles of wine, cocktails, and beer.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Austin dining scene for the past 12 years and to see the constant development of the culinary community,” says Taylor.
“I am also deeply honored to be a part of a restaurant that has been serving this amazing community for the past 20 years. We are all very excited here at the cafe and look forward to continuing to be an integral part of the Austin dining scene."