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6 things to know in Austin food right now: Anticipated Greek eatery makes waves downtown

6 things to know in Austin food now: Greek eatery makes waves downtown

Simi Estiatorio scallops
Delicate scallops and other fresh fish dishes anchor the menu at Simi Estiatorio. Courtesy of Simi Estiatorio

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 and re-openings

The long-awaited downtown Greek concept, Simi Estiatorio, will open to the public May 7, with reservations available now. Located near the corner of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue on the first floor of the historic Littlefield Building, Simi Estiatorio was originally announced in late 2019, but its planned opening date of spring 2020 was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Debuting now with dinner service, the restaurant boasts some serious talent behind the scenes. Managing partner George Theodosiou is a 25-year veteran of the service industry, having launched concepts in both Greece and New York City, while executive chef Diego Sanchez brings his Peruvian roots, culinary training from the Art Institute of New York, and global experience to the helm of the Simi kitchen. Simi Estiatorio’s dining experience includes fresh fish from the Mediterranean, which will be flown in weekly, plus salads, and 13 uniquely Greek wines. The menu also features a wide variety of mezethes, raw bar choices, and entrees for carnivores and seafood lovers alike. While the restaurant will officially begin dinner service Friday, May 7, reservations can currently be secured via OpenTable or by calling 512-886-0999.

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic forced the closure of Mexico City-born chef Marco Hernandez’s downtown Austin crepe concept — less than a week after it opened, no less. Now, Ze Crepes has returned! The latest from Hernandez, a culinary veteran, Ze Crepes offers a variety of sweet and savory dishes made with fluffy, buttery batter filled with locally and responsibly sourced ingredients. The concept’s unique offerings include the savory Goatshroom crepe, made with oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, spinach, black garlic aioli, and truffle oil, as well as sweet options such as Ze Rocher, with devil’s food cake, praline crunch, Frangelico, and Nutella custard. Ze Crepes, which is located on the ground floor of the historic Scarbrough Building at 522 Congress Ave., is now open weekdays from 8 am-3 pm and on weekends from 11 am-6 pm.

Other news and notes
Austinites have much to celebrate this Cinco De Mayo, and the city’s hottest Latinx-owned restaurant group is ensuring all its locations are bringing the party. The fun-loving folks at Gabriela’s Group have lively events planned for all their company’s concepts, including Taquero Mucho, Gabriela’s South, Gabriela’s Downtown, Revival Coffee, and Mala Vida. Patrons can look forward to all-day drink specials, including $6 margaritas and $3 Espolon, mezcal, and paleta shots. What’s more, all locations will feature performances from live musical acts, including DJ Kick It at Taquero Mucho and Bidi Bidi Banda — Austin’s premier Selena tribute band — at Gabriela’s. The group’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations will run all day Wednesday, May 5, with live music starting at 6 pm at all locations. Mask wearing and social distancing will be enforced.

Summer is just around the corner and in Austin, that typically means two things: outdoor activities and day sippin’. And in an industry that’s currently overflowing with hard seltzers and canned cocktail options, the team at Austin Eastciders is offering local craft fans a flavorful alternative. Introducing Luck Springs. Touted as the only hard lemonade and craft tea from Texas, Luck Springs offers a light yet flavorful assortment of flavors, including peach tea, half & half, lemonade, and raspberry tea. All are 100 calories each and pair perfectly with an evening campfire, afternoon on the front porch, or a sunny day spent at the Greenbelt. Luck Springs is now available at retail stores across the state, as well as for home drop-off via alcohol delivery services Drizly and Gopuff.

One of Texas’ favorite build-your-own burrito concepts is paying tribute to society’s perennially unsung heroes: teachers and nurses. To celebrate both Teacher Appreciation Week and National Nurses Week (both this week), Freebirds World Burrito will donate more than 1,000 meals to schools and medical centers across Texas. Donations will take place in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston starting Monday, May 3 and run through Wednesday, May 12. But the solid burrito deals don’t stop there! Freebirds’ popular catered boxed lunch, which includes a burrito with chips, salsa, and a chocolate chip cookie, will be available for a discounted price of $10 throughout both weeks. Guests can order their boxed lunch by calling the Freebirds catering team at 888-811-BIRD or online at Freebirds.com.

If you’re craving some sweet retail therapy, one South Austin beer garden has you covered. Easy Tiger South is reviving its popular Market Days series on May 4 and 5, bringing with it a women-owned vendor market featuring local artisans like Karacotta Ceramics and Rosagitana Jewelry. The daylong parties will also feature family-friendly activities, including an alpaca meet-and-greet hosted by Texas Party Animals and lively tunes from DJ Chino Casino. What’s more, the event will celebrate the launch of author Lorena Junco Margain’s debut memoir, On My Way to Casa Lotus. Lastly, to celebrate both Market Days and Cinco de Mayo, Easy Tiger’s bakers are sharing their own family recipes with a limited-time cookie tin featuring cookies inspired by traditional panaderias. Market Days cookie tins run $25 each and are available on May 4 and 5 while supplies last. The event itself runs from 10 am-5 pm on May 4, and noon-9 pm on May 5. Reservations for market days can be made via Eventbrite. Easy Tiger South is located at 2508 S. Lamar Blvd.