Quantcast
Texas French Bread

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

Texas French Bread can’t stop making news, returning triumphantly from a large fire — with support from lots of very loyal customers — frequenting farmers markets, and finally setting up a new food trailer. The Airstream is open in the beautiful garden that the bakery previously rented at 2900 Rio Grande St., every day except Monday from 8 am to 2 pm. The kitchen opens at 10 am. All items are first-come, first-serve until the trailer runs out. Customers can get coffee, sack lunches, and the great bakes they’ve been missing. The company commented on Instagram that plans to rebuild are “still up in the air.”

Mini golf and snacks are a match made in nostalgia heaven, but Dirdie Birdie is really kicking that combo up a notch. The restaurant, full bar, and indoor mini golf course is opening on November 18, thanks especially to work by Chef Nic Yanes of very chic, relatively affordable restaurants Juniper and Uncle Nicky's. The adult-focused 12-hole course contains lots of references to Austin, and is “almost like an interactive art gallery,” according to a note from a publicist. Check it out at 10910 Domain Drive. Check the website for hours over Thanksgiving, and expect regular opening hours to resume the following week.

The Toasted Yolk Café arrived in the Austin area for the first time on November 14, at 14105 Ronald Reagan Blvd. in Cedar Park. This giant breakfast and lunch spot (at 5,178 square feet) serves all the classics and, of course, a lot of eggs, but it also offers a full bar, nine TVs, online check-in, and a to-go area. The restaurant donated 10 percent of its opening day sales to The Dog Alliance. Although it’s new in Austin, the chain already has 28 restaurants, mostly in Texas, and lists 16 more coming soon including one in Lakeway. Visit at 14105 Ronald Reagan Boulevard from 7 am to 3 pm every day. Medical professionals in uniform or with ID receive half off drinks from Monday to Thursday until 10 am.

Other news and notes

Geraldine’s, the bar and restaurant at Hotel Van Zandt, is turning seven and celebrating on November 17. To celebrate, it’s relaunching Birds, Bubbles + Blues, a Thursday-night event featuring the restaurant’s spicy fried chicken, sparkling wine specials, and Austin-based blues musicians. The Geraldine’s menu is all about upscale southern foods — often with an interesting twist — so this fried chicken shouldn’t be missed, ambience aside.

On November 20, Aviary Wine & Kitchen will spin out into a series of special Sunday services: Aviary will be manning an all-day happy hour (3-9 pm), and a rotating list of guest chefs will be stepping in to take over the kitchen for pop-ups. That means $2 off glasses of wine, $10 off bottles, and $2 off beer, while chefs from around Austin regale diners with special 4-6 menu items. First Elementary ATX visits, then Che Cazzo, Chef’s Kiss, Penang Shack, and Elementary ATX once more, finishing out the series on December 18. Walk-up service only.

As if we needed any more reasons to fall in love with Camp Lucy, the Hill Country event venue is hosting its 2nd annual Christmas Chili Cook-Off on December 4. The Sacred Oaks venue is an unreasonably beautiful place to be tasting professional and amateur chilis, with whiskey, an open bar with holiday cocktails, a holiday market, a s’mores table, live music, donations for Helping Hands Pantry, and more. All this happens from 3-6 pm. Tickets ($70 over age 21, $45 under) available on Eventbrite.

Courtesy of Wurstfest

Beat the crowds for a weekday jaunt through Wurstfest in New Braunfels

Wurst Week

New Braunfels is a bit of a drive for Austinites, but fans of German beer and food have a great incentive this week, especially if they value shorter lines.

Wurstfest is in full swing again, coming out of its first weekend of 2022 festivities. This year’s fest runs from November 4-13, spreading that massive population influx across two weekends, and shorter days in between. Sweetening the pot, admission is free from Monday to Thursday.

Realistically, although the German food is at least half the draw, Wurstfest could be called Bierfest with the sheer volume of beers it serves. And they’re not expecting too many visitors drinking before business hours end in the rather quaint New Braunfels. So, Wurstfest starts at 5 pm on weekdays, but the five hours it’s open (ending at 10 pm) offer plenty of ways to pass the time.

All weekdays start with live music at 5:30 pm on all five stages across the old German grounds. (For those who haven’t visited, this is basically a theme park: visitors wander through timber framed beer halls, past many, many concession stands, down the Comal River to a fairground, all without stepping out of Germany, it seems.) From those opening sets, there’s near-constant music on three of the stages.

Most of the entertainment comes from live music and the novelty of wandering around amongst the lederhosen and dirndls. (Those drinking less than friends should strongly consider bringing a book — this is from experience.) But there is some light programming every day to break up the drinking and dancing, especially for visitors with kids.

Monday promises a science show and masskrugstemmen (beer holding) contest. On Tuesday, more beers are held and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider make an appearance. Wednesday brings, you guessed it, more beer holding, and a magic show. On Thursday, kids can hear some storytelling, and Friday, Veteran’s Day, honors veterans with a salute. Following crowds will also bring visitors to shopping, sausage-making demonstrations, and children’s fair rides.

Perhaps needless to say, the food is legitimately excellent; this is, at its heart, a culinary event, and serves more than standard fried fair foods. Obviously, sausage is a great choice, but there are potatoes, gravy, pickles, and sauerkraut to go around. Returning revelers are thrilled to share their best recommendations for the food and imported beers. Pacing yourself, three to five hours is a very reasonable stretch for trying as much as possible and returning to old favorites.

Wurstfest tickets (free Monday to Thursday, $18 online for the weekend) are available now at wurstfest.com, along with more information and entertainment schedules.

Photo courtesy of Main Event

Entertainment chain Main Event serves up new restaurant at Austin location

Bonus Event

Main Event, the entertainment chain known for its arcade games, sports, and prizes, can’t resist adding even more to its roster. At its Austin location on North US Hwy 183, the games are still the main event, but now dinner is taken care of too — not just a few items at a concession window, but a full restaurant called Family Kitchen that boasts “nearly 50 new and unique menu items.”

These items start with the standard arcade food staples — burgers, sandwiches, pizza — but Family Kitchen applies its own spins for a more creative menu. Whereas before, the entertainment venue served many more generic items, Family Kitchen revamped every item to make sure it was unique to the restaurant, in addition to adding new ones.

A Triple Lava Burger comes with cheese and cheese sauce; a PBB&J Burger combines the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a less-expected blueberry jam and a totally left-field burger, bacon, and cheese; and chicken wings come in eight different sauces and rubs, including a Nashville hot blend and a lemon pepper rub.

“Family Kitchen was developed with extra care, attention to detail and a focus on premium quality ingredients,” said Chef Wiley Bates III, director of culinary innovation at Main Event Entertainment, in a press release. “We’re excited for our guests to experience our new menu offerings, which have been seasoned with salt, pepper and love, and added playfulness that customers experience throughout the rest of the Main Event center.”

As expected at the arcade, the first priority across much of this menu is shareables, including loaded fries, nachos, and pizzas. The shareability does start with volume, with “Family Feasts” bundling commonly ordered items for four to six people, but it also means more inclusive options like vegan Beyond Meat substitutes and salads. Mocktails are also available, although the presence of a “Cotton Candy Shirley” makes it clear these selections are more about being fun for kids than catering to sober adults. (Alcoholic drinks are available at the bar or the restaurant, but are not included on the online menu.)

“The Family Kitchen was largely inspired by Main Event’s brand promise to be a place for families to bond,” said Main Event Chief Marketing Officer Ashley Zickefoose. “From shareable favorites with our Family Feasts to offering something tasty and memorable for everyone in the family….”

Main Event may remind visitors of Dave & Buster’s, for good reason: the two entertainment and food venues are owned and operated by the same parent company. Dave & Buster’s, initially from Dallas, is the significantly larger brand with 148 stores, but Main Event is catching up. The latter is founded and headquartered in Coppell, Texas, and now has 52 locations. Main Event centers are also more kid-focused, and typically larger than those in the Dave & Buster’s, since they offer games like laser tag and escape rooms.

Family Kitchen is accessible to any visitors, whether or not they play any games, but there are food and game bundles to streamline the experience. More information about Main Event and the new restaurant are available at mainevent.com.

Photo courtesy of Bakery Lorraine

7 spooky things to know in Austin food right now: Restaurants and bars bite into Halloween

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: There are so many Halloween weekend events offering delicious snacks to sink your fangs into, and cocktails to drive you to madness, we were spellbound. We have you covered with a special Halloween roundup of fun-scary food news.

Hotel Van Zandt's rooftop bar and restaurant, Geraldine's, has fun things going on every night through Halloween itself. On October 28 and 29 there are regularly scheduled nighttime live music sets, followed by the weekly jazz brunch on October 30. Then on Halloween one of Austin’s truly weirdest bands (fronted by puppets), Fragile Rock, puts on an emo show to remember. Reserve on OpenTable or hope for room at the bar.

We’ve heard of spending Christmas at Chinese restaurants, but how about Halloween? Old Thousand, always ready with holiday spirit, is hosting Goth Night on October 29 at its 11th Street location. The special menu is darkly creative, with black vinegar “Damned Dumplings,” “Sacrificial Lamb Bao,” a restorative-potion themed hot pot; black sesame Crème brûlée, and special on-theme cocktails. Call (737) 222-6637 to reserve.

Wes Anderson fans do not need Halloween as an excuse to dress in costume, but here’s one for inspiration. The Carpenter Hotel is dressing up in the style of the Grand Budapest Hotel — at least, culinarily — on October 29 for a six-course dinner (starting at $160 for two guests). These include unexpected but very friendly flavor combinations like savory apple and cheddar cookies and sausage with white beans, onion, and toast. Reserve on Eventbrite.

Few Halloween frights are as intimidating as trying to find a cool booze-free event, but fear not. Yacht Drops is a new sober cruise line on Lady Bird Lake, debuting October 29 with dancing, bites by Siete, non-alcoholic beers by Athletic Drinks, and zero proof whiskey and tequila by Spiritless. A portion of ticket sales benefits Keep Texas Waterways Clean. A costume contest and pro photographer ensure that your Halloween efforts are appreciated. Tickets ($75) on Eventbrite.

Now that Second Bar + Kitchen has taken over the rooftop bar at East Austin Hotel, the Halloween tradition is theirs to uphold. On October 29 from 4 pm to 12 am, the bar welcomes disguised and casual Austinites for a costume contest, dancing, and scary-delicious drinks: vampire's bite shots, mad eye mules, witch’s brews (“prosecco punch with worms”), and poisoned apples (with spiced rum, caramel, bourbon cream, and sour apple liqueur).

Fareground, the sunken downtown food hall, is hosting an all-ages event on October 30 for low-key vibes and maximum commitment to the theme. A screen outside will show Hocus Pocus for free, with seasonal concessions, popcorn, cotton candy, and $4 happy hour drinks. Vendors inside make this movie much yummier than most theaters, with a lot more variety, and will hand out candy for trick-or-treaters. The movie starts at 7 pm. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Whether you’re looking for luxe treats to wow party guests or delicious sweets to hoard at home, Bakery Lorraine at Domain Northside is ready. Until October 31, the bakery is sending out black cat tarts (chocolate mousse and vanilla filling), mummy tarts (lemon curd topped and meringue), phantom of the opera cake slices (pumpkin spice sponge cake and buttercream with dark chocolate glaze), and other cute, spooky pastries.

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

5 things to know right now in Austin food: Anticipated rooftop restaurant opens at Lady Bird Lake

News You Can Eat

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

Nido, the much-anticipated rooftop restaurant on top of The Loren at Lady Bird Lake, is finally open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, starting Thursday, October 20. A press release makes an old-fashioned claim in a city obsessed with being different: Nido will “focus on classic technique, offering a sense of familiarity to diners.” This hotel restaurant is high class, high above the city, and looks the part. Dinner menu highlights include kabocha squash beignets, wild mushrooms with sourdough fusilli, and Texas pork belly. The cocktail menu offers up more classics with interesting twists, like “Mule Variations” with Desert Door sotol. Reserve on Opentable.

Other news and notes

Biscuit shop Little Ola's is turning one year old. To celebrate, it’s giving away one ticket for free biscuit sandwiches every day for a year. (It lists this as a $3,700 value, if you can actually make it there daily.) Check out the Instagram post and follow the directions to sign up to win. No purchase is necessary. The restaurant is also transitioning to 7-day-a-week service, so customers can enjoy chicken sandwiches, breakfast, and sweet treats all week.

A virtual pie auction with a cause — getting Austin-area students the funds they need for culinary programs — is going on now through October 27. The Piehole Project comprises 20 pies by widely recognized local chefs like Aaron Franklin (Brisket Cottage Pie), Abby Love (Buttermilk Grits Pie), and Amanda Turner (Spiced Heirloom Tomato Pie). This is Austin’s first year running the Dallas-born fundraiser. More pies (starting at $95) and bidding at auctria.com.

The Sustainable Food Center (SFC), a nonprofit that supports farmers and families for healthy food access, shares in a press release that “14.4% of people in Travis County experience food insecurity.” On October 21, SFC is sending a team to Meanwhile Brewing to meet the community. Stopping by is free, but supporters who make a recurring donation of at least $5 will get two drink tickets, a pumpkin to decorate on-site, and a raffle entry for a Patagonia vest. RSVP at sustainablefoodcenter.org.

If you missed the state fair or just couldn’t get enough, Independence Brewing Co. is throwing a state fair-themed party on October 22, to celebrate 18 years in business. From 3-10 pm that means 18 beer tappings along with carnival foods and games. It would be easy to phone this one in with beer and corn dogs, but this free event is pulling out all the fried food stops from oreos to kimchi pancakes. There’s also live music, screen printing, and CBD drinks. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Photo courtesy of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions

Round Rock resort makes a splash with food and wine festival featuring 7 eateries

The Food Chain

A resort dinner sounds nice, but sampling multiple menus at a resort sounds even better. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is giving Round Rock a chance to do just that at its inaugural Food & Wine Festival on November 20. Along with signature dishes, there will be locally sourced wine, beer, and spirits, plus live music while visitors take their self-guided tours through the event.

Fittingly, the samples are managed through a “tasting passport” that records progress through Kalahari’s seven dining options, plus more than 40 beverages. Of the four restaurants, one is a steakhouse, one is a bar and grill focusing on burgers and shakes, one serves Italian comfort foods, and one serves modern Mexican food with a long list of tequilas. The event also features two cocktail bars and a sweet shop.

In addition to the four restaurants, one special tasting comes from Michelin-starred Dallas chef John Tesar. Tesar’s Michelin recognition comes from his experience in another resort, the Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes in Orlando, and he’s best known for his two appearances as a contestant on Top Chef.

“Everyone will enjoy this festival, from those with the most discerning palate to folks simply looking for a fun day out,” said event organizer and Kalahari assistant general manager Brandon Wise in a press release. “Guests will enjoy everything from handmade burgers at B-Lux to premium steaks at Double Cut and pastries at Last Bite.”

When not hosting food events, the resort entertains visitors in a gigantic 223,000-square-foot water park, an 80,000-square-foot adventure park, bowling lanes, and more. Escape rooms tease the mind, and a spa brings the energy back down.

“The owners and founders of Kalahari Resorts, the Nelson Family, have a true love, passion and commitment to culinary excellence in all four of their resorts,” said Wise. “The Food & Wine Festival further demonstrates that we take food seriously, and opens up the opportunity to taste all we have to offer to the people in the Austin metro [area].”

Tickets ($75, including a wine glass to take home) to the Kalahari Food & Wine Festival on November 20, from noon to 4 pm, are available at kalahariresorts.com. Attendees must be at least 21 years old.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

2 trailblazing Texans to be honored with history-making award at Austin museum

local history ripples

There are many conceptions of Texas around the world, but most can agree that Texans do have a knack for making history. An annual acknowledgement by the Texas State History Museum Foundation (TSHMF) will celebrate the contributions of two very different Texans who used their leadership skills to coordinate huge wins for their respective teams.

Retired Navy Admiral and former University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven and former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach will be honored with the History-Making Texan Award at the 19th Annual Texas Independence Day Dinner, taking place March 2, 2023, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Photo courtesy of Bullock Museum

The History-Making Texan Award winners will be celebrated at the Bullock on March 2.

McRaven’s contributions and Staubach’s are similar by nature of leading teams — one commanded troops and the other played an integral part in the Dallas Cowboys into a wave of undeniable success — but the similarities mostly stop there.

McRaven led troops to rescue the ransomed Captain Richard Phillips, search for Osama Bin Laden, and ultimately capture Iraqi politician Saddam Hussein. The Four-Star admiral has advised U.S. presidents in his retirement and written several books, mostly imparting wisdom around changing one’s own life, and hopefully the world around them.

Staubach took a more entertainment-based path to greatness, rising to fame as a star player while lifting the rest of the Cowboys with him. The team had nine consecutive winning seasons with Staubach, of 20 total. Aside from giving Texans yet another point of state pride, Staubach spent his retirement and influence on real estate and philanthropy.

“Our recipients reached the pinnacle of accomplishments and eminence in their fields. Importantly, they were selected as honorees based on their personal character and commitment to improving the lives of others,” said dinner chair and TSHMF trustee Lisa Cooley in a press release. “They stand as role models to emulate, and we look forward to sharing their dramatic and inspiring stories with our guests.”

The dinner supports the Bullock Texas State History Museum with ticket sales and underwriting from nearly 500 attendees annually. Austin’s Jan Felts Bullock, wife of Bob Bullock and museum trustee, joins Dallas’ Cooley as honorary chair. In 2022, the award went to pianist James Dick and philanthropist Lyda Hill.

More information about the foundation and the History-Making Texan Award is available at tshmf.org.

SXSW rolls out next round of music showcases for 2023, including 29 Austin artists

300 more

Obviously, 190 music showcases is not enough for South by Southwest. That’s 19 a day? Make it another 301. On December 7, SXSW announced the second round of 2023 showcasing artists, bringing the current total to almost 500 acts performing March 13-18, 2023, in Austin.

Of those newly announced artists, 29 are from Austin, and eight more are from Texas, keeping the local numbers relatively high compared to the whole world. This round contains almost 10 percent Austin bands, while the first round contained nearly 7 percent.

Some of the more widely recognizable Austin acts announced in the second round include:

  • Good Looks: Vocalist and guitarist Tyler Jordan cites an increasingly venerated Austin band, Spoon, as an influence. Good Looks is guitar riff-driven, wistful, and a little Southern in sound.
  • Graham Reynolds (solo), Graham Reynolds & The Golden Arm Trio: A prolific composer and bandleader, Reynolds’ name pops up all over Austin films and awards ceremonies. He appears solo and with an eclectic jazz trio.
  • Kalu & The Electric Joint: Frontman Kalu James arrived in Austin from Nigeria at 18 and has made a strong name for himself (and guitarist Jonathan “JT” Holt) through psychedelic, vaguely jazzy, and decidedly funky jams.
  • Pleasure Venom: One of the rawest acts in town, Pleasure Venom is well-known for punk hits (and honest takes) that don’t hold back. The band is consistently making news between lots of live shows and festival appearances.
  • Primo the Alien: Solo artist and producer Primo the Alien is bringing the 80s back with synthy electro-pop. She attaches it all to a double persona that’s both candid on social media and a delivery system for sensory overload onstage.
  • The Tiarras: A triple-threat band of sisters, The Tiarras are always thinking about family and stepping into their power. They’ve tackled topics like lesbian and Latina representation, and although they’re young, they’re seasoned pros.

The remaining Austin bands in the second round are: Andrea Magee, Big Wy's Brass Band, Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad, Caleb De Casper, Daiistar, Del Castillo, El Combo Oscuro, Font, JM Stevens, Johnny Chops, Marshall Hood, Otis Wilkins, Pink Nasty Meets El Cento, Rett Smith, Rod Gatort, Schatzi, Shooks, S.L. Houser, The Tender Things, Thor & Friends, Trouble in The Streets, and West Texas Exiles.

Showcases are the base unit of the SXSW music experience, so to speak. They may be solo or part of a multi-day affair, especially when sponsored by large entities like Rolling Stone. Attendees with music wristbands get priority, but all wristbands get access if space remains.

Even as the lineup seems to bulge at the seams, a press release states that there are more to come. A full schedule of showcasing artists, where users can select events for their customized schedule, is available at schedule.sxsw.com.

Austin's Central Library announces open call for artists for future gallery exhibits

Beyond Books

People can learn a lot at the library. Besides all the books, magazines, online resources, and in-person programming, Austinites enjoy a buffet of rotating art exhibits that populate the gallery at the Central Library downtown, publicizing local artists and teaching visitors about the culture around them.

Now the ever-changing Austin Public Library is looking for another new exhibit sometime in 2024 between January and September, and inviting artists to apply through February 28.

Good news for artists who crave freedom, and frustrating news for artists who love something to bounce off of: This engagement offers few to no parameters. There is no explicit theme, but the library does claim a mission in a press release about the call for artists.

“The mission of the Central Library Gallery is to support local artists and art communities, raise awareness of contemporary and diverse forms of art, and to provide exhibitions in which a wide variety of identities and interests are represented,” said the release.

The Central Library website lists four current exhibitions: Hannah Hannah lends some expressionist portraits, Release the Puppets tells stories in a classic and playful medium, the Austin American-Statesman explores Austin communities of color through photographs, and a traveling exhibition documents Pride parades of the past.

The call is addressed to “artists, collectives, curators and beyond,” further widening the possibilities, but still restricting them to applicants residing in Texas. Applicants should consider the size of the gallery (2,700 square feet) and a few logistical stipulations, including that pieces may not be hung from the ceiling, and that walls may be painted.

When the jury — made up of local artists and others in the industry — announces a winning proposal in March 2023, the artist will be offered a stipend to complete the work. All project costs are the exhibitor’s responsibility, so this stipend is not unlike an advance, except that the project will not continue to generate revenue at the library.

Applications are open now through 11:59 pm on February 28, 2023. Applicants may make their proposals via submittable.com.