2022 in Stories
Austin's 10 hottest restaurant stories of 2022 sizzle with exciting expansions and national acclaim
Editor’s note: As 2022 comes to a close, we're looking back at the stories that defined Austin this year, now turning our attention to Austin’s unstoppable food scene. This year, we saw major acquisitions, intrepid expansions, and recognition from trusted publications (including CultureMap’s own Tastemakers!). Here are the 10 hottest restaurant and bar headlines of 2022.
1. Austin-based Hopdoddy beefs up with acquisition of popular Texas burger brand. In early 2022, Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar acquired Bryan-based Grub Burger Bar to form a new company that unites two of Texas’ most prominent better-burger joints. Now known as HiBar Hospitality Group, the new company is led by Hopdoddy CEO Jeff Chandler, with Grub founder and CEO Jimmy Loup taking a seat on the board of directors.
2. Austin-born barbecue chain fires up big plans for growth with new owners. In January, Smokey Mo’s Texas BBQ, the neighborhood barbecue brand launched in 2000 in Cedar Park by pitmaster Morris Melchor and his wife, Lisa, has just been purchased by Austin-based private equity firm Switchback Capital. It planned to expand Smokey Mo’s from its then 16 locations to more corporate and franchised locations across Texas communities.
3. Austin bakery rises onto Food & Wine’s list of the best bread in Texas. One of the biggest pandemic foodie trends was the surge in the popularity of bread, and national food magazine Food & Wine exploited that trend with a new best-of list. Called “The Best Bread in Every State,” the article is a list of bread makers in each of the 50 states, including Texas. With Texas being so large, the blurb highlights bakeries in three cities: Austin's ThoroughBread, Dallas' Kuluntu Bakery, and Houston's Magnol French Baking.
ThoroughBread's baked goods — from sourdough to gigantic stuffed cookies — are heavenly. Thoroughbread/Instagram
4. Iconic Austin burger joint cruises into buzzy suburb's hottest development. Negotiations continue as 2023 draws near, but Hutto should be alright, alright, alright, thanks to a new outpost of Top Notch Burgers. This will be its second-ever location, spanning 3,500 square feet, with both interior and exterior seating. It will be located at the new Hutto Co-Op District on Highway 79.
5. Guatemalan couple’s Austin bakery becomes overnight success with 5 million cookies sold. A retweet by actress Busy Philipps in California brought Wunderkeks attention as a heartwarming small business in need, and catapulted online sales from roughly three online orders a month to 800 — in two hours.
6. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville, the birthplace of H-E-B, was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary. The merch will roll out to other Texas stores in 2023.
Super fans snag T-shirts at the new H-E-B Brand Shop. Photo courtesy of H-E-B
7. Famous fried chicken and biscuit chain hatches 5 Austin-area locations. Bojangles, the North Carolina-based fried-chicken-and-biscuits chain with a die-hard following, plans to enter the Austin market over the next several years with five locations. Bojangles is targeting Cedar Park, Georgetown, Leander, Pflugerville, and Round Rock for its first restaurants in the Austin metro area.
8. Acclaimed Hill Country winery pours onto list of the world's 100 best for 2022. The World’s Best Vineyards organization revealed this year’s top wine destinations for 2022. Texas' own William Chris Vineyards came in at No. 56, the only Texas vineyard on the list and one of only seven wineries from the U.S.
9. Popular South Austin neighborhood wine bar suddenly closes for good. According to a Facebook post on Tuesday, January 11, Winebelly, located at 519 W. Oltorf St., closed permanently. “Winebelly is closed,” the post reads. “We are so very grateful for all of the love and support we have been shown by this community, and yet our hearts ache that we didn’t get to tell you in person how much you meant. Thank you for so many good times. Stay tuned for wine sale info.”
10. These 10 beloved Austin neighborhood restaurants are as unique as the city itself. With admiration for their perseverance and a hearty appreciation for their evolving accomplishments, we celebrated these go-to neighborhood eateries at our annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.