Food news

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Lauded local chef debuts downtown restaurant

7 things to know in Austin food: Local chef debuts downtown restaurant

Verbena interior
Verbena is now open in downtown Austin. Courtesy photo

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

Back in May, CultureMap reported on a forthcoming upscale restaurant and bar concept from Juniper/Uncle Nicky's chef Nic Yanes. On July 10, Verbena, located adjacent to the Canopy by Hilton at 612 W. Sixth St., officially opened to the public. The swanky new operation offers a “old-world, farm-to-table” starter menu, including snapper crudo with a parsley salsa verde and garden crudité of local fresh vegetables over ice. Main plates feature such dishes as bone-in lamb steak with charred fennel and bouillabaisse with mussels. Verbena also offers a grab-and-go coffee counter featuring housemade pastries and handcrafted espresso beverages from Greater Goods Coffee Roasting Co. The dine-in restaurant is currently open for lunch and dinner from 11 am to 10 pm, with times subject to change. According to a press release, Verbena is “adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines and regulations from the CDC and the City of Austin” and is taking such safety precautions as sanitizing guest-facing surfaces between uses and ensuring employees will be trained to ensure safe food handling practices.

The Brewer’s Table has permanently closed due COVID-19. Although the operation has received high praise from critics and diners alike since opening in April 2018, Eater Austin reports the city’s current unfavorable economic climate was one it could not survive. “I wish I had some positive news," Brewers Table owner Jake Maddux told Eater, "but with everything accelerating with the pandemic, I don’t see any way to reopen ever.”

Kitchen United, a California-based company that helps restaurants expand their reach to the off-premise diner, welcomed two popular area Asian-inspired operations to its Austin location earlier this week. Moving into space at 8023 Burnet Rd. is a new outpost from popular Korean comfort food restaurant Seoulju, as well as the first permanent location of Japanese pop-up Ramen 512. Both operations are open for takeout and delivery exclusively. While Ramen 512 and Seoulju opened their new operations last week, the two eateries are celebrating their combined grand openings this Wednesday, July 15, with a special combo deal that includes both ramen and chicken thigh nuggets for $15. Details for the grand opening can be found on the event’s Facebook page. Until then, customers eager to try either operation can place orders for pickup or delivery on the restaurants’ respective websites, as well as via Kitchen United’s online ordering platform

Other news and notes

The Far Out Lounge is adding two new food trucks to its lineup: Wünder Pig BBQ Co. and SolarSno Shaved Ice. Fans of the South Austin space's current tenant, Fowl Mouth, will be pleased to know the truck is not only staying put, it's even adding brunch. The food truck is whipping up brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 am-3 pm where fans can feast on smoked duck hash, eggs Benedict, parfaits, and waffles.

The Tatsu-Ya empire is teaming up with wine importer Vine Connections to curate a virtual sake tasting experience on Saturday, July 18. The event will be led by Tatsu-Ya’s Bryan Masamitsu Parsons and Tony "Bonez" Perez and Vine Connections’ Sake specialist Jesse Brawner. For $50, guests will receive access to the online event, as well as a sake tasting kit, which comes complete with three four-ounce tasting bottles of premium imported Japanese sake, including a dry Tokubetsu Junmai, aromatic Junmai Ginjo, and bright Tokubetsu Junmai Nigori. Also included in the kit is an assortment of Otsumami (Japanese drinking snacks). Tasting kits are available for preorder online now through Thursday, July 16 at, under the Ramen Tatsu-Ya East Austin location. Kits will be available to pick up at the same location on Friday, July 17, between 11 am-10 pm. Access to the Zoom session will be emailed to confirmed guests ahead of time. 

Farmhouse Delivery, an online marketplace offering fresh produce, pasture-raised meats, chef-curated meal kits, and more, is currently available for contactless delivery in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Waco and surrounding areas. Farmhouse Delivery partners with a variety of farmers and ranchers, including Eden East, Urban Roots, Rain Lily Farm, and Johnson’s Backyard Garden, as well as local Austin restaurants including Thai Fresh, L’Oca d'Oro, and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. Per a press release, Farmhouse Delivery orders over $49.50 receive free delivery. Drivers also collect any delivery packaging from prior deliveries to return to the warehouse for cleaning and reuse. Interested parties can sign up for delivery and shop the service’s online marketplace via the Farmhouse Delivery website.

In other farmers market delivery app news, Vinder, an app connecting the Austin community to local farmers, bakers, purveyors, and restaurants, announced last week an exclusive partnership with area baker Kendall Melton to launch her new pastry program, Vivian’s Boulangerie. Melton, who named the operation for her late cat, has made a name for herself at such concepts as Contigo, Chicon, and Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop. The pastry program will include French-inspired items like blackberry cream cheese tiger claws and salted dark chocolate chip cookies as well as a line of homemade syrups, which includes such flavor as strawberry, vanilla bean, coffee, and bourbon spice. All pastries can be ordered via the Vinder app, which is available in IOS and Android app stores.