A longtime fixture of the fall society calendar, The Contemporary Austin's La Dolce Vita returns next week for a 25th anniversary celebration. The event is a party with a cause; proceeds help fund and develop the education components of programming at both the Jones Center and Laguna Gloria museum campuses.
And those who attend are rewarded with one of the city's best annual events: they'll find performing artists roaming the beautiful grounds of the Laguna Gloria gardens, a DJ spinning relaxed party jams, and a litany of chefs, bakers and artisans serving up samples of some of the best bites in Central Texas.
Like last month's Texas Monthly BBQ Fest, veterans of La Dolce Vitas past realize that one's stomach space is usually far more limited than the event's selection of food and drink. To help narrow the field, we've selected a dozen dishes from the just-released menu to help guide you to the best plates at the party.
- Barlata's Paella: The new-ish South Lamar favorite does what they do best.
- Eddie V's Crab Cakes: For some reason, the steakhouses always over-perform at charity events. Restaurants like Eddie V's may not be the coolest kids in town, but they do their standards to perfection.
- East Side Show Room's Pulled Pork with Chimichurri: The locavore favorite brings local pork to the party, and always cooks with care and style.
- FIXE's Puffed and Cooked Grains with Mushroom and Uni: Here's a great sneak preview of Austin's other fancy Southern concept, which will open late this year.
- Finn + Porter's Poached Sea Bass with Caviar: The Hilton's flagship restaurant is often overlooked, but does steak, sushi and fish with precision. Also, this has caviar.
- Jasper's Ancho-Smoked Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks with Garlic Grits and BBQ Sauce: Kent Rathbun shows off the big flavors that have made him a Texas institution.
- Kome's Maze-sushi (mixed sushi in rice) and Poisson Cru (Tahitian salad): Kome's take on ceviche is marinated with coconut milk and lime juice and served with shrimp chips. If you've missed out on Kome's brilliance, here's your chance to catch up.
- LaV's Brandade Fritters with Smoked Onion Marmalade: LaV is delicious. This dish is a salt cod and olive oil fritter (and we're already hoping for seconds).
- Noble Sandwich Co.'s Beef Cheek Kielbasa with Onion and Sauerkraut: John Bates and Brandon Martinez cook their proteins slow, low and with care. This German-inspired dish should be perfect for late October.
- Ramen Tatsu-Ya's Ramen-N-Cheese: This dish includes a melange of cheddar mornay, ramen noodles, housemade bacon and pickled jalapenos topped with bonito flakes. It may sound like Ramen Tatsu-Ya is messing with us, but having experienced the Frito pie ramen at a past event, even the most whimsical of ideas ends up surprising and delighting diners. Laugh, then eat it all.
- The Bonneville's Red Curry and Coconut-Steamed PEI Mussels: The Bonneville's odd location on Cesar Chavez has left it under the radar for some diners. The food is worth discovering, though and this spicy treatment of mussels should be a priority bite.
- Dolce Neve's Gelato: 78704's new favorite brings a sweet finish to the fancy event. Don't miss them.
While all menu items are subject to change, these planned dishes look to be the best in recent memory. If you're ready to splash out for a charitable night on the town, this is your year to pull the trigger. In addition to all the food, VIP's will have access to a cocktail lounge curated by Tipsy Texan David Alan. The lounge features a selection of drinks from a half-dozen craft cocktail bars including San Antonio's Hot Joy, Austin's Qui and VOX Table, and Dallas' Proof + Pantry.
Those with general admission tickets won't be left in the cold. Twin Liquors provides a number of stations around the grounds offering an international selection of wines, and a half-dozen Texas wineries including 4.0, Becker and Duchman will showcase their local tipple. Coffees from Casa Brasil and Texas Coffee Traders help round out a big night of eating and drinking.
La Dolce Vita takes place at Laguna Gloria on Thursday, October 16 from 7-10 pm. Tickets, $175-200, are available now via Eventbrite. Proceeds from the event benefit the Education Programs at The Contemporary Austin, which provide art classes and visits for children, schools, teens and adults throughout the year.