Austinites have been eagerly waiting for over a year for the opening of Aba, the Chicago-based Mediterranean concept from Top Chef alum CJ Jacobson and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, and all that patience has paid off.
"Aba," which is Hebrew for "father," pays homage to Jacobson's culinary roots in California while drawing inspiration for its cuisine from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece.
With its first Texas location — and only second one in the country — Aba brings a selection of meat and seafood kebabs, house-made hummus and spreads, and hot and cold mezze to Austin.
Signature dishes include crispy short rib hummus, muhammara (a roasted red pepper dip), tamarind-braised short rib, shawarma spiced skirt steak, and orange blossom creme brulee pie.
Weekend brunch, which is served 10 am-3 pm Saturday and Sunday, includes such highlights as the Jerusalem bagel with smoked salmon spread and labneh, khachapuri with cremini mushroom, and bougatsa with blueberry compote.
"I've always loved Austin, and I am so excited to open Aba here," says Jacobson, who is a chef partner at the restaurant. "I especially am looking forward to working with local farmers, meeting chefs, and finding the best expression for our food."
The bar program is crafted by lead mixologist Liz Pearce and will showcase cocktails with Mediterranean-inspired spirits and Middle Eastern ingredients. Cocktail favorites include the Frozen Pina Express; Aloe, It's Me; and a Green Harissa Bloody Mary. There will also be a zero-proof beverage program including the Gazoz With a Kick and the Fruit Coupe.
The wine list, curated by sommelier Alex Augustine, features rare finds from Morocco, Israel, Greece, and The Canary Islands, with traditional Old and New World selections from California, Italy, and Spain.
Two Hands, meanwhile, is also a Texas first, with four locations already open in New York City. The community-focused cafe serves nutritious, simple, and delicious food paired with exceptional coffee in a coastal-inspired interior.
The two new eateries join SunLife Organics, Sweetgreen, and Prim & Proper (located within Neighborhood Goods) at Music Lane, which also boasts retailers selling bespoke apparel, luxe home goods, curated gifts, and more.
The six-acre development spans three buildings along South Congress at Academy Drive, and is named for the iconic lane that serves as its Eastern border. The development boasts a 496-vehicle underground parking garage, contributing accessibility not only to the lively South Congress Avenue but also the downtown business district and neighboring developments.