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6 things to know in food right now: San Antonio Mexican chain unwraps Austin expansion plans

6 things to know in local food: SA Mexican chain unwraps Austin plans

Las Palapas
The favorite San Antonio Mexican chain is spicing things up with its Austin entry. Las Palapas

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

A longtime San Antonio-based Mexican food chain is moving into Austin to spice things up. According to a recent report from the San Antonio Business Journal, Las Palapas, which was founded in 1981 and now boasts more than 20 locations throughout Texas, is targeting the Austin area as part of a major expansion driven by new ownership. The SABJ says Las Palapas’ new managing general partner, Wayne Ditmar, has eyes on Austin, Cedar Park, and Hutto. Ditmar says at least one area Las Palapas is likely to open next year. One local property has already been leased for the chain, and the company is currently looking at other properties in the Austin area, he adds. Las Palapas features all those cheesy, meaty Mexican food favorites Austinites can’t get enough of, including a dazzling selection of tacos — from breakfast and puffy to fish, crispy, and al carbon varieties — as well as enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, plates, nachos, and more. Follow Las Palapas on Instagram for updates about impending Austin locations.         

In anticipation of opening its upcoming Austin brick-and-mortar shop, to be located at 11101 Burnet Rd., super tasty New York-style Rosen’s Bagel Co. is schmearing the love around this holiday weekend, co-hosting a pop-up and eating contest with one of Austin’s favorite brewskies. On Saturday, September 4 at 1 pm, check out the Rosen’s x Austin Beerworks Labor Day Bagel Dog Eating Contest. Contestants will eat as many bagel dogs (essentially hot dog kolaches) as they can in five minutes for the chance to win some “doughp” prizes, including free bagels for a year and a $50 gift card from Austin Beerworks. Contestants can sign up here and are encouraged to come hungry. From 11 am-2 pm, Rosen’s will also share its bagels and schmears and bagel sandwiches — paired with Austin Beerworks beers, of course — in the Austin Beerworks taproom. Anyone who makes a purchase from the Rosen’s pop-up will be entered for a chance to win a bagel brunch with a dozen friends. Austin Beerworks Taproom is located 3001 Industrial Ter.

If you’re the athletic type who likes to hit the gym and then hit the bar, this pop-up is definitely for you — and it won’t even leave you with a hangover. Athletic Brewing Co., which makes non-alcoholic craft beers, will open its first pop-up and fitness facility — aptly dubbed Athletic Bar — downtown at 115 San Jacinto Blvd. From September 1-26, Athletic Bar will host five free fitness classes per day, including HIIT cardio, yoga, and other mat-based and body-weight workouts. And best of all, after each workout, sweaty participants can sip a free non-alcoholic beer of their choice. Reservations are recommended to secure your spot and can be made here. However, walk-ins will be allowed for classes that are not at capacity. Athletic Bar is open to the public and all fitness levels. The Austin pop-up will run Wednesdays through Sundays. To view the class schedule and get more info, visit www.athleticbrewing.com.

Other news and notes

Life has been pretty chaotic lately. And Austin’s premier bake shop and beer garden wants you to slow down and stay awhile — on island time. Tiki Tuesdays at Easy Tiger East, which feature tropical drink and food specials, sway onto the patio from 4 pm-close on Tuesday, August 31, as well as Tuesday, September 14 and Tuesday, September 28. Drink specials include $12 Tiger Typhoons (Plantation Rum, Goslings Rum, lime, orange, Liber & Co. Passionfruit Syrup, grenadine) and $13 Tiger Sharks (Appleton Rum, Plantation Rum, apricot liqueur, coconut cream, lemon). Food specials include $12 pulled-pork sliders and $14 Hawaiian burgers. Check out more info about Tiki Tuesdays on Facebook.

It’s nearly September, and that means it’s time to celebrate the first birthday of adored The Soup Peddler’s east side shop — with reduced-price grub. All day on Wednesday, September 1, The Soup Peddler’s location at 1401 Rosewood Ave. will offer fans half-off prices for its entire smoothie menu. The Soup Peddler — which got its start with founder David Ansel handcrafting soups from scratch in his home and then delivering them to customers by bicycle — opened the East Austin location amid the pandemic last fall. But, now operating six locations, The Soup Peddler has been the city’s top “liquids emporium” for more than a decade, serving fresh soups, smoothies, and sandwiches. The East Austin location is open for takeout and outdoor dining daily 9 am-8 pm.  

Imbibers of that delicious juniper berry elixir might be surprised to learn that the best gin in the Austin area is from Georgetown. A.W. Craft Distillery’s Georgetown Gin has earned silver medals in three of the most prestigious spirits competitions in the world: Denver International Spirits Competition, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of Craft Spirits. Georgetown Gin has consistently outperformed Austin-area gin producers, with A.W. Craft Distillery — believed to be the smallest licensed distillery in the U.S. — operating out of a small warehouse in Georgetown almost exclusively by one person, founder and head distiller Andrew McClellan. He released Georgetown Gin in March 2020, about two weeks before COVID-19 lockdowns began, when McClellan says it was “the perfectly wrong time to launch a product.” Alas, sometimes being a super small business is a good thing. McClellan soldiered on, and recently even hired his first employee, an Austin-area sales rep. Georgetown Gin, a dry Texas gin, is available at Austin-area Spec’s and Total Wine locations, as well as a few non-chain shops. Watch for A.W. Craft Distillery to move into the world of bourbon and other spirits, and to open a tasting room sometime soon.