Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the what’s what and who’s who of Austin food. But we have you covered with our regular roundup of the freshest Austin restaurant news.
Austin Food and Wine Alliance has announced an all-star lineup for the return of its can’t-miss culinary party, Live Fire!, on April 5 at Camp Mabry. This year, the beef-centric event has a new theme, Taste of Mexico, with chefs cooking a variety of regionally inspired bites over an open flame. Chefs include Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue); Joaquin Cardoso and Sofia Cortina Camargo (Hotel Carlota, Mexico City); Susana Trilling (Seasons of My Heart, Oaxaca); Kaelin Ulrich Trilling (Bajo Sexto Taco, Nashville); Food & Wine’s Best New Chef 2017, Val Cantu (Californios, San Francisco); and more. Drinks will be provided by Washington State Wine and Hops & Grain (serving beer that will only be available at Suerte) and music will be provided by Vanessa del Fierro and the Mariachi Las Coroneles. Get tickets (the first 150 are discounted to $85), and see the full chef lineup here.
AFWA is also making this year’s Luck Reunion even more delicious. The curated “corral” lineup from the culinary nonprofit includes Hoover’s Cooking, Salt & Time, Puli-Ra, Tamale Addiction, Fluff Bake Bar, Second Bar + Kitchen, LeRoy & Lewis, Mixtli, and Vaquero Taquero. Profits will help create a new $5,000 grant in Willie Nelson’s name to honor a chef who has made a lasting impact on Texas cuisine.
During SXSW, chef Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie will host five of the most dynamic chefs in the culinary world for a one-night-only event. The menu will be designed by chefs Ashley Christensen (Death & Taxes, North Carolina); Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio, Chicago); Alex Raij (Txikito, New York City); Ashleigh Martin (Vivian Howard’s culinary assistant); and Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar, New York City). Drinks will be curated by Alba Huerta (bartender Julep, Houston) and Carla Rza Betts (co-winemaker of An Approach to Relaxation).
Food truck Tommy Want Wingy is bringing its cult lollipop wings to Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden at 121 Pickle Rd., joining Pueblo Viejo and LeRoy & Lewis at the new South Congress area hot spot. The truck will be the second in the fleet, with the original location staying outside Lustre Pearl at 94 Rainey St. remaining open.
The second Austin location of North Italia is now open at 500 W. Second St. The restaurant from Arizona-based Fox Restaurant Concepts (who also operate Culinary Dropout and Flower Child locally) serves a variety of artisan pizza, pastas, and Italian entrées for lunch, dinner, happy hour, and weekend brunch.
Uncle Billy’s Brewery has acquired Fredericksburg’s Pedernales Brewing Company, known for German-style ales and lagers and the popular Robert Earl Keen brand of beers. Pedernales founder Lee Hereford will remain on board for the foreseeable future to oversee distributor relationships, and head brewer Josh West has joined the team over at Celis Brewery.
Speaking of Celis, the famous local witbier will soon be available in cans. The brewery, relaunched in June 2017, says the cans will start hitting shelves sometime the week of March 5-9.
Also coming to a grocery store near you, Austin-based Live Soda has introduced its first shelf-stable probiotic soda. The sugar-free concoction, sweetened with monk fruit extract, will be available in cola, root beer, ginger, lemon-lime, and “doctor” flavors.
Juniper has introduced Nic’s Picks, a tasting menu of some of the restaurant's most popular dishes curated by executive chef Nicolas Yanes. The menu will change seasonally, but for now, it includes oysters on the half shell, celery root soup, and quail saltimbocca.
Hank’s, the new project from the owners of much-missed Henri’s, is hiring all front and back of house positions in preparation for its impending opening. Those interested in applying can do so at email@example.com. The rest of us can look forward to seeing the debut any day now.
Counter 3. Five. VII is launching lunch for the first time under new chef Alan Delgado and pastry chef Audrey Scheib. The a la carte service — Tuesday through Friday from 11 am-2 pm — will feature dishes like chicken with curry, mussels, and ice cream.
The two restaurants inside the Hilton Austin have revamped their menus just in time for the SXSW rush. Under chef Yesica Arredondo, Cannon + Belle brings new regional flavors in dishes like Texas brisket hash for breakfast, smoked corn and tomato chowder with cornbread croutons for lunch, and ancho chili espresso-rubbed ribeye for dinner. Austin Taco Project chef Kevin Spencer brings new bar snacks such as chicken wings, samosas, and tots to the menu, plus some new tacos especially focused on vegetarian and gluten-free options like pierogi, esquites, and avocado.
Speaking of new menus, La Condesa has launched a spring dinner menu with shareable plates and more vegan options. New dishes include tiradito ceviche with hamachi, charred scallion vinaigrette, avocado, ginger, and serrano and Oaxacan tlayadu with chorizo and cauliflower.
The staff at Otoko are having a staff shokuji while head chef Yoshi Okai is away at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. On March 2 and 3, the team will create dishes that are completely different from the regular service to showcase the talent of the full staff.
Slow Food Austin is hosting an event on March 3 featuring two woman-owned businesses. Join the group at La Flaca Organic Farm for a farm tour and bites from the Puli-Ra food truck from 2:30 pm- 4:30 pm. RSVP here.