News you can eat
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 regular roundup of the freshest Austin restaurant news.
The Drag has lost yet another restaurant. CultureMap has confirmed that Fat Sal’s Deli, the cult California mini-chain that opened at 2604 Guadalupe St. in 2014, is closed and a gate is now erected around the exterior of the restaurant. The company has yet to respond to multiple requests for comment, but according to a report from TheDaily Texan, the shutter happened sometime during the University of Texas at Austin’s winter break. This is the third recent campus-area eatery to shutter in the past month, following the closing of a location of Austin’s Pizza and ice cream sandwich shop Moojo.
Local sparkling water company Rambler was featured on CBS This Morning on January 15. Bon Appétit editor-at-large(and new Austin resident) Andrew Knowlton joined co-founders Dave Mead and James Moody in a lengthy segment discussing the boom in the carbonated water industry. Mead tells CultureMap the brand has big expansion plans for 2019, including a deal to place its product in all Texas Whole Foods Market locations in March. "[It] was such an honor for Rambler to receive national attention," Mead says. "I won’t lie, it was mind-blowing."
Like Fat Sal's, South First Street gelato shop Tasty Spoon is also shuttering after a little over a year in business. On January 19, the business announced via Facebook that the last day of service would be January 27. No reason was given for the closure and a request for comment from owner Ashley MacDonald was not returned at press time.
A rep has confirmed that Austin-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s is the latest restaurant to sign on with the Saltillo development. Since being founded in 1982, the brand has expanded to more than 100 locations in 18 states, including 6 in the Austin area. The new outpost will the the first on the east side.
Lake Travis’ Shack 512 is gearing up for a reopening. The restaurant was forced to close in October 2018 after it was almost completely submerged by floodwaters. A rep confirms that the eatery, known for comfort foods like pulled pork nachos, burgers, fried shrimp, and chicken tenders, will be back in action by March 7.
East Austin favorite Nickel City is one of 25 watering holes named by Garden & Gun magazine as The South’s Best New Bars. Cocktail expert Wayne Curtis praised the serious beverage program, including “top-notch standards” and “surprising originals, such as the coffee julep.” Nickel City was the sole Austin bar to make the list, and one of only three Texas entries. Houston’s Goodnight Charlie’s and Tongue-Cut Sparrow also receive nods.
Some of Austin’s best chefs are trading their pans for paddles at a pingpong tournament benefitting the Austin Food & Wine Alliance. On February 17, big names like Fermín Núñez of Suerte, Ben Schwartz of Vino Vino, Amanda Rockman of New Waterloo, and Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher of Lenoir will battle it out at downtown’s Spin while guests enjoy drinks and unlimited table tennis. VIP ticket holders get extra perks like priority seating to the final chef match and unlimited beer and wine.
Austin companies cleaned up at the annual Good Food Awards on January 11. Of the five Austin area finalists for the artisanal food honors, four took home wins, including The Art of Pecan for its pure pecan oil, Barrel Creek Provisions’ cucumbers, smoked salmon strips and maple glazed and smoked tender salmon bites from Epic Provisions, and Texas rye gin from Still Austin Whiskey Co.
The Austin Oyster Festival is returning February 23 to Republic Square. The annual shindig features hundreds of oysters, prepared in a variety of ways, a huge Bloody Mary bar, local beer, live music, and a raffle. Proceeds benefit Central Texas Food Bank.
Speaking of dining for good, Jack Allen’s Kitchen has set February 5 as the date for the ninth patio party. The yearly fundraiser for the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, held at the 7720 W. Hwy 71 location, features a lavish spread from the JAK and Salt Traders Coastal Kitchen chefs and plenty of libations from local brewers and distillers. The $150 ticket is all inclusive.