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 Closings
As Austin restaurants and breweries resume operations as part of phase two of Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening plan, Jester King is brewing up something special for guests. The Hill Country brewery is giving limited groups the chance to enjoy craft beer while still maintaining social distance. Parties of up to six guests can now reserve a date, time, and table at one of the Jester King’s six individual outdoor “lands” spread across 165 acres of farmland (a space larger than some Texas state parks). Upon arrival, guests will be guided to a table, where they’ll be able to order farmhouse ales, wines, and scratch-made pizzas for no-contact pickup. Afternoon and evening reservations for Thursday and Friday can be placed online. Jester King’s takeout and beer-to-go services will continue to remain operational seven days a week, from noon to 8 pm.
Award-winning contemporary Japanese restaurant Uchi and sister restaurant Uchiko announced on May 26 the return of dining room and patio seating on a limited, reservation-only basis. A press release notes that both restaurants’ reopenings feature extended “Sake Social happy hours,” as well as updated safety protocols including digital menus accessed via smartphone and staff undergoing an “11-point wellness check-in” before beginning shifts. Dine-in reservations can be made ahead of time on Uchi and Uchiko’s individual websites. For guests not yet comfortable with in-restaurant dining, the releases also announced extended curbside pickup hours (4:30-9 pm) at both establishments
South Austin breakfast taco institution El Primo os temporarily ceasing operations while moving a new food truck into its current 2011 S. First St. location. “[May 30th] will be our last day serving up tacos,” reads an Instagram update, which went on to clarify the establishment would resume operation from a new, larger trailer after its employees take some much needed time off. El Primo owner, Michoacán, Mexico native Jose Luis Perez, told Good Day Austin back in February that increased customer volume was the reason for his operation needing a larger workspace. In the meantime, South Austinites in need of their morning papas, egg, and cheese fix can visit nearby La Mexicana Bakery, which currently operates daily from 5 am-8 pm.
Other News and Notes
Toni Tipton-Martin, a longtime Austinite who has since decamped for Baltimore, has earned her second James Beard Award. On May 27, the James Beard Foundation named Tipton-Martin the award for Best American Cookbook for Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. She also won the award for her previous cookbook, The Jemima Code, which was published by UT Press. The news was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
Looking for a new quarantine project? How about a home garden? Driftwood-based Desert Door distillery has partnered with local harvester Trisha Sutton and Comedor chef Gabe Erales to create the Austin Seed Exchange, a modestly sized collection of free seeds located in front of Eden East Farm at 755 Springdale Rd. Guests can swing by the seed exchange any time to pick up Southern Exposure brand seeds, including cucumber and Jacob’s cattle beans. In return, home gardeners are asked to leave a monetary donation directly in the seedbox or through Venmo @createurbanfarms. Sutton tells CultureMap that she hopes the idea expands into other Austin neighborhoods and beyond. Parties interested in hosting a Seed Exchange in their neighborhood, building a seedbox, or volunteering to sort and stock supplies can contact Sutton directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Austin-based taco chain Torchy’s Tacos announced last week that it would be giving free tacos for a year (in the form of $500 gift cards) to 20 recent graduates. Using the hashtag #TorchysClassof2020, high school and college graduates can enter to win by posting a photo of themselves in their cap and gown or holding their diploma, plus a brief writeup detailing their “Taco Dreams for the future” (hopeful entrants can increase their chances by filling out a separate online entry form here). Torchy’s will contact winners directly after the promotion wraps on Friday, June 5.