Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the what’s what and who’s who of Austin food. We have you covered with our regular roundup of the freshest Austin restaurant news.
One of the San Francisco Bay Area's favorite sandwich chains opened its first Texas location on May 15, but it's not where some may think. Instead of moving into rapidly developing hospitality hubs like East Austin, downtown, or the Domain, Ike’s Love & Sandwiches selected 1335 E. Whitestone Blvd., Suite S-180 in Cedar Park for its first move into the Lone Star market. The operation, famous in California, Nevada, and Arizona for its Dutch Crunch Bread and Dirty Secret Sauce will be celebrating its grand opening on May 23 by giving its first 50 guests one free sandwich each. Stay tuned for more news — the company teased that a second store would land in Sunset Valley, although it did not disclose the timeframe.
The Round Rock shopping center that hosts Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon is rapidly becoming a go-to hub for cult fast-casual brands. Sometime in the summer, Philadelphia’s Sweet Charlie’s will move into 2800 S. I-35 with a menu of Thai-style rolled ice cream and Belgian waffles. Like Bonchon, it will be first area location for the brand.
Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio on South Congress Avenue are closing, but neither will be out of action long. Co-owner Daniel Brooks said via release that “the time has come after 20 years to get ready for the next 20 years by showing our kitchen some love,” adding that they will add new flooring and make other back-of-house upgrades. Fans of the two neighboring restaurants will be thankful that the hiatus will be brief — June 9-13 are the only blackout dates.
Henbit in the Fareground food hall is getting ready for summer with a new menu and expanded matcha drink offerings. Highlights include light dishes like a new Buddha bowl, harissa chicken, chimichurri shrimp, a green goddess chicken sandwich, and a ginger pork bowl. New matcha selections include a cooler made with a seasonal house shrub.
In other menu news, Le Politique launched a new spring menu on May 16. Among the incoming temptations are a full frites menu featuring toppers like mussels, grilled Texas ribeye, and a baked whole lobster with Americaine sauce (a traditional French tomato-wine sauce). Other selections include bone marrow with golden raisin mostarda, butter radishes, and quail with poultry sausage, butternut squash, and braised greens.
Highly regarded cocktail bar The Roosevelt Room is hitting the road with a 17-city North American pop-up tour at some of the nation’s buzziest spots. The takeovers kick off at New York City’s Pouring Ribbons on June 10 before wrapping up in Toronto on August 5. Some bars have yet to be confirmed (stay tuned to social media for updates), but the menu will include Roosevelt heavy hitters like the Cigar Box, Silver Meadows, and Milk Punch.
Bombay Sapphire has sent out a call for entries for its 2019 Most Imaginative Bartender competition, a search for the most innovative creation in North America that yields a $25,000 prize. Austin is no stranger to bringing the title home. In 2015, Justin Lavenue of The Roosevelt Room battled 28 mixologists in Las Vegas to secure the title with The Poet’s Muse, coincidentally one of the drinks he will be making for his bar’s pop-up series.