News you can eat

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Cult salad restaurant takes root

7 things to know in Austin food now: Cult salad restaurant takes root

Sweetgreen south congress
Sweetgreen is opening this week on South Congress. 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

Seasonal restaurant chain Sweetgreen debuts its first Austin location on Wednesday, August 12. The colorfully designed, 2,300-square-foot eatery at 1007 S. Congress Ave. will feature seating for up to 44 guests, both indoors and on an all-season patio with a pergola, fans, and heaters. In addition to Sweetgreen’s core menu of salads, warm bowls, and plates, the South Congress location will open with the restaurant’s late summer menu, which includes the popular summer corn bowl and a pesto ratatouille plate. To celebrate its opening week, the Los Angeles-based chain will hold daily giveaways highlighting local Austin brands and artists, including custom totes by artist Will Bryant and copper water bottles from Austin Motel (items are limited to the first 100 app and online orders). Additionally, for every meal sold on opening day, Sweetgreen will donate a meal to local nonprofit Caritas of Austin.

Este, the upcoming Mexican seafood restaurant from the team behind Suerte, will share its space at 2113 Manor Rd. with three local purveyors in advance of its 2021 opening. Debuting Monday, August 10, is Le Cowboy, a modern-day, Spaghetti Western-inspired restaurant concept from chef Grae Nonas of Carpenters Hall and Olamaie fame. Its menu will feature such Italian classics as ricotta tortellini, braised Romano beans, and chicory salad. Le Cowboy will serve dinner Monday through Friday, 5-11 pm.

Taking the space’s weekend spot is Heritage Seafood Market, a brick-and-mortar extension of owner Ben McBride’s seafood delivery service. The market, which is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am–3 pm, will showcase fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, including red snapper, yellowfin tuna, blue crab, and shrimp.

Meanhile, in Este’s future parking lot, Rogue Radish — the new vegan grain bowl food trailer from Pitchfork Pretty’s former executive chef Max Snyder — will set up shop Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 am–7 pm. The three concepts will be on the site through the remainder of 2020; Este opens in late 2021.

Jew Boy Burgers, the Burnet food truck operation known for fusing the El Pasoan and Jewish backgrounds of owner/operator Mo Pittle, is moving to a permanent brick-and-mortar location. The new counter-service restaurant, located in the former Cluck-N-Burger at 5111 Airport Blvd., will allow Pittle to further explore his unique cuisine, which includes items like pastrami-topped burgers and housemade queso. According to Eater Austin, planned menu additions include Pittle’s matzo ball soup, El Paso-style burritos, and a spin on fideo. Pittle’s originating food truck will cease operations on August 22 ahead of the restaurant’s September 1 grand opening.

Other news and notes

Austin’s original Taco Journalists are returning to primetime. United Tacos of America, the Austin-based food and travel program, kicked off its second season last week on filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network. (Editor's note: CultureMap contributor Trey Gutierrez serves as the show’s story producer.) Hosted by SXSW senior film programmer Jarod Neece and cultural engagement strategist Mando Rayo, the series, which is an extension of the duo’s long-running food blog, Taco Journalism. During production, the show had to pivot from its usual travel show format as a result of COVID-19, forcing its team to adopt a revamped talk-show style. “It was definitely surreal,” Rayo says of filming under Texas Film Commission's COVID-19 safety protocols. “The great thing is we were able to deliver our content via things like Zoom interviews and guest [cooking demonstrations] in the parking lot right outside our studio.” New episodes from United Tacos of America's second season air Tuesdays at 7 pm and will feature appearances from local restaurants like Cuantos Tacos, Nixta Taqueria, and Vaquero Taquero.

Austin Beer Guide 2019 best new brewery Nomadic Beerworks has finally settled on a permanent food program to enjoy alongside its popular hazy and West Coast IPAs. The operation’s new line of five housemade panini sandwiches include both classic deli meat and vegetarian options, and are all prepared with Easy Tiger sourdough (except for the Reuben, which is made with Moonlight Bakery rye). A source tells CultureMap that Nomadic is planning on adding up to four new sandwich options in the near future. Prior to establishing their panini operation, Nomadic hosted Korean food trailer Kimchi Jon’s, which owner and operator Zach Miller shuttered in late 2019 to focus on distributing the business’s namesake kimchi. Nomadic is currently open seven days a week, noon– 8 pm for to-go food and beer service only (panini service ends one hour prior to close). Orders can be placed in person, online, and over the phone at 512-587-9669.