While Lockhart has long held renown as a day trip destination for barbecue enthusiasts, some Austinites are setting down more permanent roots in the small town just 40 minutes away (35 if you hit that Texas Toll Road 130). Nickel City owner Travis Tober opened Old Pal Texas Tavern in the downtown square in May 2021, and this weekend will see the launch of his new venture with sommelier Kaye Askins.
Adjacent to the square at 210 W. San Antonio St., Best Little Wine & Books is a boutique, neighborhood wine bar, and bottle shop offering over 150 wines. Now open to the public, the shop will celebrate its official grand opening this Friday, April 15, from 4-9 pm.
Serving a wide range of classic to natural wines, the wine list focuses on female, minority owned, and environmental wine-making pioneers. Guests can enjoy a glass from the rotating list in the tasting room or purchase retail bottles to open and consume on site or to-go.
“We are thrilled to bring our concept to life in Lockhart,” says Askins in a release. “We have a really special food and beverage community here and we hope to continue growing it.”
A 13-year hospitality veteran, Askins most recently served as senior beverage manager for restaurants at Eataly Dallas and was awarded Wine Spectator’s “Best Award of Excellence” in 2020 for the wine program she developed for The Capital Grille in Plano.
Tober opened nationally acclaimed Austin neighborhood bar Nickel City and its food truck, Delray Cafe, in 2017. His bar program has since garnered national attention, including Esquire’s “Best Bars in America,” and Nickel City makes a regular appearance in our annual Tastemaker nominations.
Also on the team is "hospitality specialist," Chicken (Askins' dog), a well-known Lockhart local in his own right and official greeter for the new venture. Guests may find Chicken waiting at the shop’s door or napping in the “Book Nook,” which features a growing collection of over 40 food and beverage titles from notable female beverage education writers like Karen MacNeil, Tara Nurin, Alice Feiring, Victoria James, and Wink Lorch. Other books available for purchase include genres such as wine, spirits, cocktails, cuisine, travel, and more.
Beyond books and wine, Best Little Wine & Books carries an assortment of Lockhart local goods, including custom, handmade wine chillers, copita sets from Hammerson Craft, and pickled goods from Willigan's Island. The community minded store plans to host a variety of events, from tastings and master classes to book signings with some of the top beverage educators in the country. Also in the works is a subscription and wine club program, available soon to customers.
Best Little Wine & Books is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 am-8 pm, and this weekend’s grand opening will officially add the store to a long list of beyond-barbecue reasons to visit Lockhart.