The Year in Dining

Austin’s biggest restaurant stories of 2021 bid farewell to groundbreaking eateries

Top Austin dining stories of 2021: Goodbye to groundbreaking eateries

Sway Thai South Austin
The original Sway has shuttered, but a West Lake Hills outpost is going strong. Sway/Facebook

Editors note: As 2021 comes to a close, we look back at the biggest headlines of the year, now turning our attention to Austins ever-evolving food scene. In our top 10 restaurant and bar stories of 2021, we say hello to new concepts breaking into the Austin market and bid farewell to groundbreaking local eateries. 

1. H-E-B reverses mask decision for customers after backlash. In early March, Texas’ largest grocery chain reversed course and stated that it would require — rather than recommend — customers wear masks inside its stores.

2. Groundbreaking South Austin restaurant closes after sale of original location. In February, news broke that the original location of modern Thai restaurant Sway had closed for good. The West Lake Hills offshoot remains open.

3. Austin-based private equity firm gobbles up iconic Texas doughnut shop. In January, Austin-based Peak Rock Capital snapped up Texas’ famed Shipley’s Do-nuts brand.

4. H-E-B rolls out new restrictions on food and supplies for Austin shoppers. In the wake of historic Winter Storm Uri, H-E-B implemented shopping restrictions on certain goods.

5. Sale of mighty Austin burger chain shakes up local restaurant scene. The founders of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes sold the chain to the owners of Tony C’s Pizza and The League Kitchen & Tavern on December 31, 2020.

6. Austin restaurateur spills the beans on new nightclub and massive expansion plans. The prolific duo behind Gabriela’s entered spring 2021 with major growth in mind.

7. Famous lobster sandwich shop rolls into Austin with first Texas location. Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls rolled into the Capital City with a September grand opening.

8. Hawaiian food joint fires up first Texas location in hot Austin suburb. Fast-casual concept Hawaiian Bros. surfed into the area this summer and has since taken Texas by storm.

9. Wildly popular Japanese sandwich pop-up arrives in Austin next week. Dallas-born Sandoitchi brought its beautiful “sandos” to town for two weeks only, in January 2021.

10. Influential East Austin restaurant that defined local dining closes permanently. December 30, 2021, will mark the final day of service at beloved East Austin eatery Contigo.