News You Can Eat
Nashville hot chicken and fancy bentos box up 12 bites of Austin restaurant news
During this season of renewal, the Austin restaurant scene is paying attention. From new service styles to new events, Austin eateries are shaking things up. Plus, good news: Most of this week's listings are available long-term.
Openings and closings
A beautiful new upscale bistro called Gina's on South Congress is continuing the European vibes of the former La Traviata space at 314 Congress Ave. Neither fully Italian nor French (a press release calls it "Paris meets Rome"), this new restaurant already offers dinner, lunch, and brunch, and it all sounds luxurious. Menu items include steak tartare, a few different pasta dishes, duck confit, and some sophisticated salads.
ICYMI: A vibrant new hotel, CitizenM, has opened with luxury hostel vibes and a 24/7 dining serving grab-and-go options. Las Bisand Luminaire, two Austin Hyatt ventures by famous San Antonio chef Steve McHugh closed unexpectedly after less than a year in business. Texas Roadhouse is the latest tenant in a New Braunfels shopping center. Nine Texas chefs and restaurants are up for the 2024 James Beard Awards as semifinalists.
Other news and notes
As mentioned, there's a lot going on at restaurants downtown; We'll do it quickly. TenTen, a modern sushi restaurant on West 6th Street, is now offering bento boxes at lunch. Diners can choose an appetizer, maki, nigiri/sashimi, and protein, plus a miso soup. The noncommittal and curious can let the chef decide with a daily box. Across the street, Devil May Care is mostly known for extravagant parties, but is now venturing into takeout for its "Mediterranean-inspired dishes."
Continuing on to Congress Avenue, the cool upstairs loungeSwift's Attic is bringing back its "Big-Ass Burger" special starting January 29. The restaurant will offer a new creative burger (like lamb ribs with a beet-falafel patty and mint chutney) every Monday after 9 pm through March 11. Just up the road, Best Martini-winnerSmall Victory has repealed its mandatory reservation policy that started during the pandemic and is now accepting walk-ins. Some reservations will still be available each night for larger parties.
Finally, in East Austin, the extremely popular coastal Mexican restaurantEste — whose chef is one of the aforementioned James Beard nominees — just got a little more accessible with a daily happy hour. Deals will be available from 5-6 pm Mondays through Thursdays, and from 3-5 pm Fridays through Sundays on seafood towers, small plates, oysters wine, cocktails, beer, and more.
Austinites craving an elevated, but genuine bar experience can find it at Equipment Room, the "hi-fi listening bar" at Hotel Magdalena. It's kicking off a trendy series — but likely one worth the hype — that works on an "vinyl omakase" metaphor, offering an album played from start to finish for guided listening. The inaugural monthly event on January 28 will feature jazz icon Herbie Hancock's Inventions & Dimensions, and will include cocktails, a preface, and a post-album discussion. Tickets ($50) are available via Resy.
Austin restaurant Loro's regional chef Mike Perez hasvisited Nashville to cook up a collaborative menu with cult classic Hattie B's, famous for spicy fried chicken. The following will be available in all Loro locations from February 1-4: a hot chicken rice bowl; a hot chicken sandwich with Loro slaw and other toppings; oak-smoked collard greens; sesame noodles with hot pop rocks; wonton chips with cheese dip and burnt ends; a frozen painkiller $9; and even a new golden ale. The sandwich and rice bowl are available for delivery exclusively via Uber Eats. Merch will also be for sale.