Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.
Openings and (temporary) closings
Two of the city’s most outstanding taco operations are taking a much-needed winter break. South Austin’s Valentina’s Tex-Mex Bar-B-Q temporarily shuttered on January 4 and will resume serving its usual menu of succulent brisket and smokey pork on Saturday, January 9, at 7:30 am. On the east side, Nixta Taqueria served its last duck carnitas taco on January 3 and will reopen for business Tuesday, January 12. In the meantime, local taco junkies can get their fix of both barbecue and traditional tacos at such quality operations as Jamie’s BBQ & Mini Tacos at 8006 Bluff Springs Rd. and Paprika ATX at 6519 N. Lamar Blvd.
Other news and notes
Austin lost a member of honky-tonk royalty last week. Ginny Kalmbach, the former owner of Little Longhorn Saloon on Burnet Road, passed on December 30 at the age of 85, according to a posting on the iconic venue’s social media page. “It is with great sadness that we have lost one of the most special people on the planet today,” reads the emotional post. “Our Honky Tonk Angel Ginny Kalmbach ... You will be dearly missed.” Known for using her venue to foster the careers of countless up-and-coming country and rock artists, including one-time Longhorn regular Dale Watson, Kalmbach took over ownership of the bar in 1982 following the death of then-owner Dick Setliff. Kalmbach retired in 2013, and sold it to former Little Longhorn bartender Terry Gaona, her husband, and Watson (who has since sold his share of the business). While the saloon remains shuttered in accordance with current COVID guidelines, Gaona continues to livestream daily performances by local musicians as well as the venue’s infamous Sunday afternoon party game, Chicken Shit Bingo.
File under “collaborations we didn’t know we needed until just now.” Throwing a proverbial hat into the chicken sandwich ring, Detroit-style pizza purveyors Via 313 is teaming up with Austin-based fried chicken chain Flyrite Chicken. The team’s combined effort is a new chicken Parmesan sandwich, which comes layered with juicy fried chicken, house-made pesto, shredded Parmesan and provolone, and is finished with a hearty dollop of Via 313’s signature marinara sauce. The collaborative menu item is currently available exclusively at all three Flyrite locations for $7.59 each.
It may already be 2021, but that doesn’t mean the holiday celebrations have to end. For Epiphany Day on January 6 (known in some countries as Three King’s Day), local bakery operations are offering traditionally indulgent sweets. Residents can currently preorder Easy Tiger’s festive king cake, made with pain au lait dough and laced with cinnamon sugar filling, for pickup for $26 each. King cake orders must be placed online at Easy Tiger’s website for pickup on Wednesday, January 6.
Also for Epiphany Day, French-inspired Julie Myrtille Bakery is offering traditional galette des rois (or French king’s cake) made using homemade inverted flaky puff pastry. Julie Myrtille’s galette des rois is available to order online from January 3 through 31, and serves a family of eight for $48. In-store pickup and delivery options are available at Julie Myrtille’s website.
If you haven’t tried Bummer Burrito yet, the burrito outpost from the local restaurateurs Matthew Bolick and brothers Grady and Matt Wright, now’s your chance. On Tuesday, January 5, the comfort-food outpost will be offering a new buy-one-get-one-free burrito special. Opened at quite possibly the worst possible time in recent Austin restaurant history (pre-COVID 2020) Bummer Burrito remains resilient, delivering indulgent late-night fare to those brave enough to (safely) venture out to Rainey Street. Its menu consists of tortilla-wrapped menu items stuffed to the brim with such fillings as jalapeño poppers, refried beans, and carnitas. Bummer Burrito is located at 89 Rainey St. and is open daily from 10 am-9 pm. Orders for the eatery’s BOGO special can be placed via its website.