News You Can Eat
New mac & cheese restaurant and Buddy the Elf's bagel top Austin's 8 bites of tastiest food news
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 and closings
If there's one menu item it's hard to wrong with, it's macaroni and cheese — especially in Texas, where it's a star side on many barbecue trays. But of course Wisconsin could give this state a run for its money. One mac and cheese-devoted restaurant out of Wisconsin Dells is opening at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Round Rock; This will be the chain's ninth location, and the first outside of its home state. MAC Mac and Cheese Shop serves 18 different twists on the dish, including the over-the-top "Hangover Mac" with pepper jack, mozzarella, hash browns, bacon, hot dog, Western veggies, and sriracha. The new restaurant at 3001 Kalahari Blvd. opens "the week of December 17."
In early November we shared that two prolific local restaurateurs were working on a New York-inspired watering hole with a 50-foot bar, situated in the former site of Gourmands Neighborhood Pub in East Austin. Murray’s Tavern has set its opening date for December 8. Folks who miss the old restaurant may be pleased to see that the space is going for similarly cozy vibes.
ICYMI: This week NADC Burger, a passion project for local chef Phillip Frankland Lee and professional skateboarder Neen Williams, brought its ultra-simple menu to a new flagship on East 6th Street. Fans of Austin's Commodore Perry Estate and Lutie's Garden Restaurant may want to stop by a new hotel by the same collection in Fort Worth, with a fancy chophouse. Finally, after 23 years, Austin institution Opal Divine’s is closing.
Other news and notes
If you're not putting marshmallows on your bagel, we won't say Buddy the Elf would be disappointed in you, but ... it's best to just give it a try. (And if you've had Nutella on a bagel, you have no excuse not to.) Nervous Charlie's Bagels, known to make some of Austin's best, is teaming up with the Fancy Marshmallow Co. to toast up a tribute to the contemporary Christmas classic, Elf, called "Buddy's Breakfast": the customer's choice of bagel (I recommend egg, as pictured) with hot chocolate mix cream cheese, topped with vanilla-flavored marshmallow fluff and fun sprinkles. This treat benefitting Toys for Tots is available now through December 31 at both Austin-area Nervous Charlie's.
When it comes to pugs and Christmas sweaters, we know that some things are just so ugly they're cute. Pug lovers can support the breed on December 9 via Camp Out and Yard Bar's 2023 Pugly Sweater Party, which benefits Pug Rescue of Austin. Wear your worst-best threads, enjoy some seasonal drinks like hot toddies and ciders, and consider taking home a 2024 calendar or even a new best friend — adoptable pugs will be on-site. This is also a good chance to check out Camp Out, the new outdoor eatery. The party runs from 1-3 pm.
Birdie's, one of Austin's most popular new restaurants of the last two years, is getting even more creative than usual with the return of a special pop-up. Bistro Remy will operate December 12-16 and 19-23, offering a prix fixe menu of "French favorites" and emphasizing seasonal comfort foods: gougères, boeuf bourguignon, duck confit, and more. The pop-up is named after Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel and Arjav Ezekiel's son, who surely eats better than all of us on a daily basis.