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7 things to know in Austin food right now: Buzzy restaurant debuts sweet summer menu

7 things to know in Austin food: Buzzy spot debuts sweet summer menu

Meridian 98
Just in time for summer, Meridian 98 at Sonesta Bee Cave debuted a new menu of savory bites and honey-inspired cocktails.  Courtesy of Sonesta Bee Cave

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.

Openings, new offerings, and celebrity visits

Meridian 98, the restaurant and rooftop bar at the Sonesta Bee Cave Austin Hotel, is introducing a brand-new menu meant to complement the breezy atmosphere. The new selections by executive chef Patrick Newman and new executive sous chef Adrian Brice are largely inspired by honey, both in cocktails and food. Bacon-wrapped gulf shrimp are served with grapefruit and honeycomb, while a new cocktail called The Beekeeper is built on New Amsterdam gin, orange liqueur, lime, simple syrup, and cucumber mint.

Freebirds World Burrito, a convenient and consistent choice for fast food that doesn’t taste like it, opened its first location in Dripping Springs on April 27. The Texas-born Chipotle competitor recently announced huge expansions throughout the state, and marked the opening by giving free burritos for a year to the first 25 visitors in line. 

Iconic weather presenter and journalist Al Roker recently got familiar with the Austin food scene for his “Family Style” segment on Today All Day. The exploration focused on diverse immigrant-owned restaurants Tony’s Jamaican, Me Con Bistro, and Habesha. Today shared its findings in video clips and written vignettes, which all focused on the influence of family in starting these businesses and keeping them going. The full-length video is 25 minutes of interviews, behind-the-scenes food shots, and background on the Austin food scene.

Other news and notes

III Forks is looking to the future of dining out, and is now accepting BitCoin as a form of payment. The steakhouse is testing the waters in tech-savvy Austin so the rest of restaurant group CRO, Inc., nationally, can later follow suit. At the end of a meal, if a customer decides to pay in BitCoin, the server will bring a QR code, and the payment will clear in seconds via Bitpay on the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Farmhouse Delivery, a grocery service that focuses on local organic foods, acquired a similar service, Good Apple, on April 25. Good Apple’s business plan reallocated profits from its paid subscription service to make free deliveries to food-insecure customers, and included collaborations with community organizations like CapMetro and Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Good Apple is turning over all operations and vendor relationships to Farmhouse Delivery after the merge on May 2. The latter makes Austin-area deliveries Tuesday through Friday.

Il Brutto is celebrating four years of classic Italian cuisine on April 28. Its Fourth Anniversary Parti brings special menus, flash tattoos, live music and DJ sets, and more. As the restaurant has grown in popularity, it’s become known for its beautiful decor and lives up to it through chef Erind Halilaj’s authentic touch, drawing from his past being raised in Italy. It also announced a new series starting May 3 called “un altro,” which brings live music to the patio every Tuesday from 5-7 pm.

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, Hat Creek Burger Company is honoring teachers and other school staff with free burgers this Sunday, May 1, from 11 am to close. The promotion is viable across all 26 Texas locations, four of which are in Austin. Visitors just have to show a school ID to receive any burger they choose. Founder Drew Gressett claims a personal connection to this cause, citing his wife’s past as a teacher.