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. We have you covered with our regular roundup of the freshest Austin restaurant news.
Former Austin chef Otto Phan may have found green pastures in Chicago (and a James Beard Award semifinalist nod), but the concept he founded here will soon be back on the scene. After an 11-month hiatus, Phan confirms that Kyōten Sushiko will reopen in May with an omakase menu helmed by protégé Sarah Cook.
One of downtown Austin’s most coveted restaurant spaces has been snatched up. According to a mixed beverage filing with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Sushi Junai owner Jaewoo Jang will be opening a omakase restaurant at 315 Congress Ave., Unit 100, the former address of now shuttered Counter 3. Five. VII. CultureMap was not able to confirm opening details prior to press time, but it seems the tasting menu format is a departure for a brand known for all-you-can-eat rolls.
Chihuahua, Mexico-based fast casual chain Woko Loco introduced itself to Austin’s Mueller development on April 9. Located at 1202 Barbara Jordan Blvd., the eatery specializes in build-your-own noodle bowls customized with a variety of proteins, vegetables, and sauces.
A new chef de cuisine is ushering in a change of direction for South Congress Avenue’s Lucky Robot. Julio-Cesar Flórez, who has been working as the restaurant’s sous chef since 2017, will work with executive chef Jay Huang to bring Nikkei cuisine to Austin — a mix of Peruvian and Japanese foodways popularized in the U.S. by Nobu. If Flórez’s name sounds familiar, that is because he is a longtime veteran of the Capital City’s dining scene, with stints at La Sombra Bar & Grill, Malaga, and Isla.
In homage to the world’s most famously dank musicians, Hopdoddy Burger Bar is running The Smoke Show menu throughout April. Offerings include the Red Eyed Stranger Burger with a hemp and oat seeded bun, red eye mayo, green chili sauce, tobacco onions, a fried egg, and a country style pork patty; a Gin and Juice cocktail with pineapple, lime, and guava; and the 420 Burger Remix (available only on April 20) featuring a munchie approved combo of a pizza bagel top bun, Cool Ranch Doritos-dusted fries, Flaming Hot Cheeto ketchup, deep fried Funyon mayo, and a taco patty.
Speaking of buzzy menu items, local açaí cafe Blenders & Bowls has introduced a new menu item with a little something extra. The CBD bowl is a blend of mango, banana, pineapple, spinach, and almond milk with a dash of cannabidoil from Austin’s Restart. One of the toppings is naturally hemp granola.
Austin’s Original Bloody Mary Fest is returning to Scholz Garten on April 21 for another boozy battle. The first 250 guests to purchase a $15 wristband at the door will receive a complimentary Bloody Mary with their favorite competitor’s mix, swag, and a chance to vote for the People’s Choice winner. Ten dollars more will get them a pound of mudbugs and all of the fixings.
Already a popular spot for happy hour, Bufalina Due has now extended its hours to lunch. Starting April 10, the hours will be extended to 11 am to 11 pm on Wednesday through Sunday to satisfy North Austinites' Neapolitan pizza cravings almost any time of the day.
The Sustainable Food Center has named the National Center for Appropriate Technology as its 2019 Sustainable Food Changemaker. The nonprofit has been working with SFC over the past 18 months in accessing the viability of a Central Texas food hub, a distribution center for area producers. NCAT will be honored at the 12th annual Farm to Plate gala on May 9 featuring 30 of Austin's top chefs.