News You Can Eat
Oprah's faves and the return of a vegan staple among 9 bites of Austin's 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.
Vegans and otherwise conscientious eaters are thrilled to hear that Counter Culture, one of Austin's oldest and most widely loved vegan restaurants, is returning to brick-and-mortar service. It was a harrowing roller coaster when the eatery announced its closure in December of 2022, just to return half a year later with a food truck. There's never a guarantee a new location will make it, but it seems like the restaurant is back on track, selling the food truck and committing to a new location in the 78723 area — mostly Mueller and Windsor Park. "Counter Culture version 4.0," as it was announced on Instagram, will take at least a year to build, so fans will have content themselves with their food truck fix until it closes on December 19.
Verdad True Modern Mexican, another concept by Perry’s Restaurants, is finally ready to make its debut — slightly delayed from the target of late summer, but not bad for something that's been in the works for more than a year. The new opening date is December 11. One of the more interesting menu items is the "Fiesta Board," featuring an array of prime and free-range meats, lots of seafood including lobster quesadilla wedges, and some corn and veggie vehicles for tamarind, amarillo, and cherry moles. Verdad will be housed at the up-and-coming mixed-use community The Grove, near West 45th Street and the MoPac Expressway.
ICYMI: It was a big week for well-established chefs and businesses opening new restaurants. Antonelli's, locally hailed as the place for cheese in Austin, announced another tasting room location and a scavenger hunt to find it. Another niche favorite, Loro, is adding its second Austin location in a surprising location; an open-air mall. Finally, a nationally regarded chef couple announced that their highly anticipated new Chinese-Texas fusion concept, Zoé Tong, will open on November 8.
Other news and notes
If your taste tends to align with Oprah's you may have a new obsession: the icon put an Austin-based olive oil on her famous "Oprah's Favorite Things" gift list for 2023. Exau seems to be her favorite olive oil. She writes: "I use it for everything, and these cooking and finishing versions from Calabria make a wonderful gift for the chef in your life.” See the full list at oprahdaily.com, and shop the items, including Exau, on Amazon.
Cocktail pairings don't always have to include alcohol. One tasting dinner at Sans Bar on November 3 will pair six "Southern-inspired dishes" with zero-proof cocktails like a mule or a "French 35." This "standing room soiree" sounds like it'll just serve up small tastes, but at $30, it's a more accessible bite of the Food & Wine Festival featuring one of its chefs: Corey McEntyre of Milo. Get tickets via Eventbrite.
We're not really hiding from the sun anymore, but a night market is magic during any time of year. One at Bar Toti (at Este) on November 5 will bring together more than 15 artists and creators, including Armonia Home Wellness, Electric Lady Design, Good and Ready, Two Hives, and Maridad Studio. Cecilia + the Broken Hearts and a mariachi band will handle the music, and the Este team will run food pop-ups with tamales, churros, and champurrado, plus an outdoor michelada bar. No RSVP needed.
For those who like a little immediate satisfaction fueling their political actions, Home Slice is continuing its Election Day tradition by giving out a free slice to anyone with an “I Voted” sticker. That's happening on November 2. Early voting ends on Friday, November 3, so beating the crowds and saving your sticker is an option, too. Free slices are only available at More Home Slice (1421 S. Congress Ave.) and Home Slice — North Loop (501 E. 53rd St.).