6 things to know in Austin food right now: Longtime French bistro bids adieu to downtown

6 things to know in Austin food: Longtime French bistro bids adieu

Chez Nous
Au revoir, Chez Nous. Chez Nous/Instagram

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

One of the city’s staple French eateries has officially ended its nearly four-decade run in downtown Austin. Chez Nous was opened in 1982 by three friends who came to Austin by way of Paris, France: Sybil Reinhart-Regimbeau, Pascal Regimbeau, and the late Robert Proprota. Chez Nous served a wide variety of French fare, including confit duck legs, sauteed rainbow trout, and escargot de Bourgogne. The closure was announced via a company newsletter sent June 14, in which Reinhard-Regimbeau and Regimbeau share how the pandemic was a “trying 15 months” for the team, and that they have since opted against reopening, even as the state’s pandemic restaurant restrictions loosened. Chez Nous, located at 510 Neches St., has remained shuttered since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

If you needed another reason to roll up to the Domain this summer, a new sweet bakeshop, Cranky Granny’s Sweet Rolls, awaits. Opened May 29, Cranky Granny’s is located at 10910 Domain Dr. and helmed by New Jersey native Sianni Dean, who recently moved to Austin to open her nomadic operation’s very first brick-and-mortar setup. Cranky Granny’s serves a variety of indulgent treats, including classic sweet cinnamon rolls, a cookies-and-cream roll, and a strawberry shortcake crunch roll. The bakery will also offer rotating seasonal flavors, as well as ice cream options. The new shop is currently open 11 am-8 pm Wednesday through Thursday, 10 am-9 pm Friday and Saturday, and noon-6 pm Sunday.

After months of operating as a takeout-only operation, titans of South Austin Tex-Mex, Habanero Mexican Cafe, has officially reopened for dine-in service. Though it began as Dos Hermanos Mexican restaurant, Habanero has remained in the founding Ibarra family for more than 23 years, over time earning many accolades and even a feature in local taco journalists Mando Rayo’s and Jarod Neece’s book, The Tacos of Texas. Habanero remains open for takeout service, with a slightly adjusted menu that includes the continuation of the restaurant’s famous “social distance special” — a pound of barbacoa or carnitas, rice, beans, and guacamole, plus tortillas and salsa for $29. The restaurant is located at 501 W. Oltorf St. and is currently open 7 am-3 pm daily.

Other news and notes

In other neighborhood Tex-Mex news, big things are happening behind the scenes for the Trudy’s group of restaurants. As part of the new management team’s planned system-wide schedule of closings to “protect and enhance the iconic brand’s legacy for generations to come,” Trudy’s South Star location at 901-C Little Texas Ln. is currently closed and will reopen in late June. Following the South Star location’s reopening, Trudy’s North Star, located at 8820 Burnet Rd., will also close for minor renovations and reopen in late July, according to company reps. The Trudy’s team is currently restoring its Texas Star location on West 30th Street and plans to reopen that space later this summer. During the downtimes, customers looking for their Trudy’s fix can count on the group’s South Congress Café, located at 1600 S. Congress Ave., to remain open. Also open is a new taco trailer located outside the South Star location. The trailer will serve steak, al pastor, and chicken tacos, along with chips and salsa, queso, and guacamole while the brick-and-mortar operation is temporarily closed. Trudy’s South Star food truck is open daily from 11 am-7 pm.

An east side brewery known for its fantastic sour brews has announced a sweet new project to aid those experiencing homelessness. As part of Blue Owl Brewing’s new Seltzers for Shelters program, which launched this month alongside the release of the company’s first hard seltzer beverage, the operation will donate 10 percent of sales from the first two batches of its mango and peach daiquiri and mojito hard seltzers to Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a social outreach ministry that’s been serving Austin’s homeless neighbors for more than two decades. “As seltzers grow in popularity locally,” says Blue Owl co-owner Jeff Young via a press release, “we thought they’d be a perfect way to raise a significant amount of money to address a serious issue facing Austin.” Beginning Wednesday, June 16, six-packs of Blue Owl’s seltzers will be available for purchase at the brewery’s tasting room, located at 2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. It hits stores in Austin starting June 25.

An iconic favorite is returning to one local sandwich shop’s summer menu — but for a limited time only. To help celebrate the shop’s 25th anniversary, Snarf’s Sandwiches is bringing back its popular seasonal Cubano sandwich through Labor Day, September 6. Both of Snarf’s Austin locations (1404 S. First St. and 2901 Medical Arts St.) will offer the Cubano, which is prepared on Snarf’s signature white, wheat, or gluten-free bread. For an extra kick, customers can add Snarf’s own blend of hot giardiniera peppers. Snarf’s limited-time Cubano offer runs $11.40 for a 7-inch sandwich and $14.55 for a 12-inch sandwich.