Austin couple opens new passion project restaurant in the spirit of love

Austin couple opens passion project restaurant in the spirit of love

Honey Moon Spirit Lounge back patio
The back patio is a cozy spot to dine and sip. Courtesy of Cassandra Klepac Photography
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge chicken liver mousse
Chef Manuel Rocha's chicken liver mousse. Courtesy of Cassandra Klepac Photography
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge interior
Antiques and ambiance abound at Honey Moon Spirit Lounge.  Courtesy of Cassandra Klepac Photography
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge back patio
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge chicken liver mousse
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge interior

Love is in the air in Austin, and one new neighborhood restaurant and cocktail lounge hopes sharing the love puts diners in good spirits.

Honey Moon Spirit Lounge, which opened this week at 624 W. 34th St. in Central Austin in the space formerly occupied by Salvation Pizza, is the passion project of an Austin couple who parlayed their pandemic-affected wedding plans into a labor-of-love restaurant featuring a menu piled high with elevated comfort food.

Co-owners Reed Calhoun (a 25-year restaurant industry vet who previously worked at Enoteca Vespaio and Home Slice Pizza) and Adrienne Wiggins (a real estate expert) spawned the idea for Honey Moon Spirit Lounge after their wedding and honeymoon plans were pushed back because of COVID-19 concerns. Following their hearts, they opened the restaurant in an effort to share some tasty modern American plates, craft beer, cocktails — and a little love — with the Austin community.

Helming the Honey Moon Spirit Lounge kitchen is executive chef Manuel Rocha, whose previous cooking-in-Austin claims to fame include Hopfields, Academia, and Bonhomie. With a focus on locally sourced ingredients, his menu includes plates like koji-aged steak frites, smoked birria terrine, duck-fat-fried Seoul hot chicken (yes please!), vegan barbecue burnt ends, chicken confit, pimento cheese, chicken liver mousse, East Coast oysters, king crab tarts, and a chef’s selection cheese plate. The dessert menu includes a bourbon Applejack hand pie; a Guanaja dark chocolate tart; and a decadent toasted marshmallow, coconut, and chocolate ganache.

The beverage program is tended by bar manager Mallory Valentine (previously of L’Oca d’Oro and Bonhomie), while the wine program is led by certified sommelier Gretchen Van Eck (previously of Olamaie and Gardner). The bar program includes classic cocktails made with fresh juices (The Honey Moon Margarita and mezcal-forward Shady Lady will be difficult to resist), and the wine list features varietals from around the world. Local craft brews will be available on tap, and a range of other beers and ciders round out the beverage menu.  

Ambiance is one of the most endearing aspects of Honey Moon Spirit Lounge. The spacious front and back deck areas are ideal for lounging and, like the whole of the restaurant, feature a collection of Texas-found antiques, vintage chandeliers, and warm yet whimsical décor elements — all components that radiate an air of bespoke escapism while also beseeching guests, “Cozy up here.”

“Reed and I are so thrilled to bring this little love child, Honey Moon, to the Austin community,” Wiggins says. “Keeping the funky, quirky vibes of Austin alive is so important to us, and we can’t wait to share that with y’all!”

Honey Moon Spirit Lounge offers indoor dining, patio seating, and bar seating during its regular hours: Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4-10 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 4-11 pm. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.