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.
Buda, get ready to smoke ’em when you get ’em — brisket, that is. One of Austin’s best barbecue operations and official Austin FC vendor Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ is set to make the move to Austin’s neighbor to the south. According to pit master and founder Miguel Vidal, the forthcoming brick-and-mortar space (located in the historic Buda Mill & Grain Co. shopping center at 306 S. Main St. alongside such operations as Nate’s Coffee and Cocktails and Sweet Cakes 4 U) will feature vastly expanded seating and prep space. Per the company’s Instagram account, the move is set to take place “within the next year or so,” with Valentina’s continuing to operate out of its South Austin location at 11500 Manchaca Rd. until then, as well as slinging tacos and sammies within the newly debuted Q2 Stadium during Austin FC home games.
Say goodbye to your waistline because one of Austin’s most indulgent pandemic-era pop-ups is returning for good. Coming to dog-friendly Yard Bar in North Austin this summer: Fat City, the nostalgic, family-friendly slider operation from the team behind Asian-fusion favorite The Peached Tortilla. Founded as a way to keep Peached employees afloat during the lockdown, Fat City is already known for peddling classic beef and fried chicken sliders, plus golden crinkle fries, tots, and soft-serve desserts. Peached Tortilla founder and owner Eric Silverstein’s team will also be renovating the Yard Bar patio space, refurbishing four of the original mini-golf holes on the property and adding a turfed kids’ play area with games. While Yard Bar, located at 6700 Burnet Rd., will stop serving food items in late May to allow for the Fat City transition, Yard Bar’s dog park and bar will remain open noon-10 pm daily. Park day passes and memberships are both available for visitors and can be purchased at the park or online.
Other news and notes
If you add kimchi atop an order of fries — like Austin’s own K-Mex fusion icons Chi’Lantro first did back in 2010 — and everyone loves it, what’s the obvious next step? If your answer is “kimchi burger,” then you’re ready for the concept’s latest collaboration with high-profile burger kings Hopdoddy. This new menu item from Hopdoddy head chef Matt Schweitzer and Chi’Lantro founder Jae Kim takes the form of a Korean barbecue-inspired burger featuring a certified Piedmontese beef patty topped with Chi’Lantro’s Korean barbecue-marinated Angus steak and caramelized kimchi. The burger is the first in a series of menu collaborations Hopdoddy will roll out to celebrate its “legacy for quality through an inventive lens.” Starting May 19, the Kimchi’Burger will be available at Hopdoddy Austin locations for dine-in service, pickup, and delivery. Visit the Hopdoddy website to order.
The future looks bright for the next generation of Austin farmers. Thanks in part to generous financial backing, the Texas Farmers’ Market Ag Producer Support Fund is expanding to include a scholarship for prospective black, indigenous, and people-of-color farmers who’d like to become vendors at TFM-sponsored markets (which operate on Saturdays year-round at 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr. and 4209 Airport Blvd.). The new $1,350 scholarship will cover the initial annual fee for agricultural producers joining TFM, plus six months of booth fees. All sustainable fruit and vegetable farmers that self-identify as BIPOC and are located within 150 miles of Austin are encouraged to apply via the TFM website. (Note: When applying for the scholarship, applicants need to fill out the agricultural vendor application at the same time. The $25 application fee will be waived as well).
As the weekend brunch crowds begin returning to Austin’s mid-morning/afternoon meal purveyors, two such local operations are receiving a bit of high-profile recognition. Last month, humble east side taco truck Granny’s Tacos — operated by Armando Vasquez, father of Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, the founders of Austin taco truck icon Veracruz All Natural — earned the No. 7 spot on Yelp’s list of the top 100 brunch spots in the country. With such offerings as Granny’s masterfully crunchy chilaquil con mole taco, it’s easy to see why. Further down the list, the only other Capital City operation to earn a spot was Bee Caves-based Austin Tea Xchange, clocking in at No. 65.
Three of Austin’s hottest Asian concepts are teaming up for a good cause. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Tso Chinese Delivery has added limited-edition collab dishes with Bom Bakeshop and Jjim - Korean Braised BBQ to its menu. The dish from Jjim, which recently opened in South Austin, is a short rib Rangoon, featuring Jjim’s signature braised beef short rib stuffed into a wonton with Tso’s crab Rangoon stuffing then fried until crispy. (Insert drooling emoji here!) Additionally, Bom Bakeshop will make a mandarin orange mochi donut, which will be paired in a two-pack alongside a chocolate glazed mochi donut with rainbow sprinkles. The short rib Rangoon costs $10, while the donut two-pack will be sold for $9. Both items are available via online ordering. A portion of proceeds from these special dishes will benefit #TsoGiving, a campaign founded and operated by Tso Chinese Delivery that works to provide meal assistance to those facing hunger in Austin.
Texas’s prohibition-era ban on Sunday liquor sales has a new challenger: NASCAR Xfinity Series racing team Sam Hunt Racing. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States announced May 10 that in the upcoming Pit Boss 250 race (taking place at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas May 22), the No. 26 Toyota Supra will proudly carry the message that Texans should “Boot the Ban,” the rallying cry of a campaign that aims to remove the antiquated ban on distilled spirits sales on Sundays in Texas. To get involved in the “Boot the Ban” campaign further, fans and viewers can text “Boot the Ban” to 52886 or visit the website. There, they can make a request to their legislator to end the ban and provide more choices for consumers and more opportunities for local businesses.