When people debate culinary hot spots in Austin, the Anderson/Burnet corridor is not typically at the top of the list. The neighborhood has a few mainstays like Bartlett’s (formerly Houston’s) and the soon-to-reopen Suzi’s China Grill, but it does not have what's traditionally considered a thriving dining scene.
But as more young couples have moved into the area, scooping up affordable real estate still fairly close to downtown, the restaurants have followed. Madam Mam’s, Korea House, Hanabi and Cover 3 have all become favorites, as have a number of locally owned fast-casual eateries like Hopdoddy’s, Verts, Tarka and Phonatic.
Now, two anticipated restaurants, Dang Bánh Mi and Fork & Vine, are joining the growing dining corridor. Dang Bánh Mi opens Monday, July 21 in the Crossroads Shopping Center (9070 Research Blvd.) offering a fast-casual Vietnamese menu of bánh mi sandwiches, vermicelli bowls and pho soup.
"North Austin has always been the home to the majority of the mom and pop Asian restaurants in Austin, especially Vietnamese restaurants. It is the perfect location for Dang Bánh Mi since residents are already familiar with Vietnamese cuisine and receptive to new restaurants," says co-owner Dave Paul.
Over years of travel to Vietnam, the successful team from Pluckers developed a relationship with the owner of Bánh Mì Phuong food cart in Hội An, Vietnam, considered by some, including TV personality Anthony Bourdain, to be one of the best bánh mi sandwiches in the country. Phuong agreed to share her 100-year-old family recipes with the Austinites and the concept for Dang Bánh Mi was born, providing the same easy, casual service (with high-quality product) as her food cart back in Vietnam.
The restaurant group behind the popular Mighty Bird rotisserie chicken shops, one of which is located on Anderson Lane, is expanding its offerings to include the area’s first wine bar. Fork & Vine, targeted to open in early October in the Creekside Square development (3010 W. Anderson Ln.), will offer a carefully selected beer and wine list curated by Sommelier Chris Howell, formerly of The Grove, paired with a menu from Chef Camden Stuerzenberger.
Chef Stuerzenberger knows from personal experience that a wine bar would be a great fit for the neighborhood. "I lived in the area for three years and when I wanted to take my wife out for a glass of wine after work, there weren’t many options in the Anderson/Shoal Creek area," he says.
Knowing that the neighborhood is family-oriented, the team is designing the restaurant with a bright, airy feel versus a dark wood, bar décor. They have converted the space previously occupied by Casa Chapala by replacing the windows at the back of the restaurant with large garage doors that open up on a patio overlooking Shoal Creek.
"We want this to be a fun place to hangout for lunch or dinner; the kind of place we want to spend time every day, even when we aren’t working," says Chef Stuerzenberger.
With restaurants like Dang Bánh Mi and Fork & Vine opening, the Anderson/Burnet corridor might be moving up that culinary hot spots list faster than expected.