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Big, boozy changes for local brewery and more Austin food news

Big, boozy changes for local brewery and more Austin food news

Hotel Granduca Peach Crostata
New executive chef Will Packwood has introduced dishes like this peach crostata to Hotel Granduca's food and beverage program. Photo by Ashlee Huff

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 weekly roundup of the freshest Austin restaurant news.

Big, boozy changes are coming to Uncle Billy’s Brewery and Smokehouse. Stephen Wagner is transitioning from his role as general manager to head brewer and director of craft spirits and cocktails at the brewpub. In his new position, he will be overseeing the creation of a new line of craft spirits to be distilled on the premises. The owners are hoping to be in production as early as December 2017.

Chi’Lantro — the fast casual juggernaut from Shark Tank regular Jae Kim — is opening a sixth Austin location in Mueller in December. More locations are planned in Houston and Dallas, ensuring that every man, woman, and child in Texas will be eating kimchi fries by 2018.

On Black Friday, you can deck yourself in Under Armour and fight the masses for the last Laser X Tower toy blaster, or do the sane thing and drink among the decked halls of Christmas pop-up bar Miracle. The limited-run concept from the teams at Roosevelt Room, New York City cocktail bar Mace, and bar tool makers Craft Kingdom will be taking over The Eleanor beginning on November 24. The space will be decorated with ‘80s holiday kitsch and serve a jolly cocktail menu filled with drinks like How the Gimlet Stole Christmas (Plymouth gin, pine-caraway-sage cordial, sage leaf) and You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out (pumpkin-spiced Templeton rye, Budweiser/marshmallow syrup, egg, nutmeg).

Pioneering Austin chef Will Packwood, whose work at restaurants like Emelia’s, 7, Mezzaluna, and Cibo helped pave the way for our city's current culinary climate, has been tapped as the new executive chef of Hotel Granduca where he will introduce a new food and beverage program. The appointment of the Food & Wine's Best New Chef award-winning kitchen pro should help the 2-year-old hotel reclaim a place on Austin’s foodie map.

Speaking of anniversaries, Emmer & Rye is celebrating their two-year anniversary with a party November 9. The restaurant announced that 20 percent of the evening's sales will go to the Texas Farmers' Market's Farmer Emergency Fund which helps agricultural workers with hurricane relief, medical bills, and other hardships.

And since every Austin restaurant opened in 2015, Geraldine’s is also celebrating their second year with a “Birdday” party November 17 at 9 pm featuring a special duet between singers Jackie Vinson and Jai Malano — and a whole bunch of booze.

Eberly is lending a hand to those affected by the Sonoma fires with happy hour fundraisers benefiting North Bay Fire Relief until December 1. The onsite Cedar Tavern Bar will be donating a portion of the sales for featured Sonoma producer Chateau St. Jean’s wines during happy hour between 5-7 pm Tuesday through Friday and all day Monday and Sunday.

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance has released the menu for their annual pig-a-palooza Wine & Swine fundraiser for local culinary grants. Top chefs will once again be playing off the New Orleans theme with highlights such as Aaron Franklin’s pulled pork o’boys; Zach Hunter’s (The Brewers Table) smoked pork and barley boudin with beer-brined kraut; Sterling Ridings’ (Guild) crispy pig head with choucroute, sauce Gribiche, and hollandaise; Max Snyder’s (Pitchfork Pretty) pig chili; and Kendall Melton’s (Contigo) beignet with white coffee mousse, bourbon jelly, and glitter.

Round Rock Honey’s bourbon barrel-aged honey; Strange Land Brewery’s Scotch Ale and IPA; and Lox, Box, and Barrel’s traditional cold-smoked salmon are all local finalists for the 2018 Good Food Awards, a national competition honoring craft producers who make delicious, sustainable, community-minded products. Waco’s Balcones Distilling and Dallas-based Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters also received nods.