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.
The city’s most Instagramable Mexican eatery, Gabriela’s Downtown, is planning a South Austin expansion. Founded by siblings and Michoacán natives Gabby and Arturo Bucio, Gabriela’s Downtown opened in early 2018 and has since garnered a great deal of social media attention for its DJ-scored brunches, house-made choriquesos, and hearty mole enchiladas (and who could forget their colorful array of alcoholic options including fruity margarita flights and chamoy-rimmed Modelos). A baby-blue banner announcing the Bucio family’s expansion currently hangs over the Gabriela’s forthcoming south location at 9600 S. IH-35, Unit B-500, which is on track to open in spring/summer.
A restaurant/bar hybrid is shooting onto South Congress. White Tiger is the brainchild of notorious restaurateur Bob Woody, the mind behind such downtown watering holes as Shakespeare’s Pub and Buford’s. As first reported by Austin360, White Tiger is advertised as South Congress’ "first and only restaurant shot bar." It also offers bar food staples like burgers, nachos, and tacos, a full bar, and a menu of specialty shots ranging in price from $3-$6. White Tiger is located at 1321 S. Congress Ave., formerly home to Botticelli’s, which shuttered permanently last July.
Beloved Oak Hill eatery Austin Pizza Garden announced last week it will close on January 17. Impossible to miss while driving out of town via 290, the 27-year-old pizzeria slung pies, sandwiches, and salads (plus offered an admirable array of draft beer) from the historic James A. Patton building at 6266 US-290, which opened in 1898 as a general store and was designated a city landmark in 1970. Though an employee told Eater Austin there’s “a possibility” that the pizzeria will reopen in a new location, nothing official has been announced. Austin Pizza Garden will continue to offer takeout and third-party delivery service via its website leading up to its closure on Sunday.
After years of anticipation, Austin Beerworks' Beerdrop is cleared for takeoff at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The new outpost serves a variety of canned, bottled, and draft ABW beer for pre-flight consumption, and was first announced in 2017 as part of the airport’s Austin City Market food hall . Though the local business can’t legally claim ownership, management, or control over their airport location in accordance with Texas law, Beerdrop’s ABW branding is unmistakable and you’ll even find the brewery’s famous 99-pack of Peacemaker Anytime Ale proudly on display.
New Thai ghost kitchen Charoen Express has pulled into town. Curated by co-owner and chef Char Chongchitmate, formerly of Thai Lada and Madam Mam’s, Charoen Express’s menu offers made-to-order appetizers, soups, curries, and noodles, crab rangoons, omlet Pad Kra Prow, and a ‘"tangier, spicier" version of Pad Thai. The kitchen itself is located at Cloud Kitchens at 5610 N. IH 35 and includes a spacious courtyard area that’s open to guests. Charoen Express is open daily from 11 am to 10 pm and is available for takeout, catering, and third-party delivery via Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, ChowNow, and Chowbus.
Other news and notes
After a brutal year for the state’s (and indeed, the nation’s) hospitality industry, food delivery app DoorDash announced it would be providing $500,000 to the Texas Restaurant Relief Fund. The contribution is part of DoorDash’s $200 million, 5-year Main Street Strong pledge, which includes a $10 million effort to help restaurants in cities across the United States and Canada.
Texas Hill Country Wineries, a nonprofit focused on promoting Texas’s rapidly growing wine industry, will hold its annual scholarship award celebration virtually this year. The Hill Country Wine Industry Scholarship Award is available to Texas residents enrolled in a state-based school or college program related to the wine industry. This year’s event will see $9,500 distributed to nine students at institutions as Texas Tech University, Texas A&M, and the University of Houston Hilton. The scholarships be awarded via Facebook live during the nonprofit’s virtual Hill Country Happy Hour on January 14 at 6 pm. Interested parties can learn more about the group’s scholarship program and RSVP for the event at the ceremony’s Facebook page.