Photo courtesy of Cassandra Klepac

February in Austin can be a fickle month to plan a date – we’re just in the midst of winter and feeling the effects of fake spring (with the allergies to match). Is it cold enough to wear a sweater? Is your connection with bae warm enough for a fancy dinner?

No matter the weather, there’s no better way to spend your Valentine’s Day than with your significant other in the heart of Texas. We’ve got your picks for extravagant date nights, laid back at-home dinners, and anti-V-Day fun.

Snap Kitchen takeout
For an easy Valentine’s Day dinner for two, look no further than any of the nine local Snap Kitchen locations in Austin. Their V-Day Bundle includes starter salads, lemon-roasted salmon, parmesan roasted broccoli, and brownie batter chia seed pudding. The meal deal will be available from February 9-14 and can be ordered online ($19.99) at snapkitchen.com or picked up in-person at any location.

Blue Starlite Drive-in’s Valentine’s at the Drive-In
A classic date night with an Austin twist: Blue Starlite’s 13th annual Valentine's at the Drive-in Nights are back from January 20 through February 14. This year’s romantic line-up includes The Princess Bride and The Notebook, while new additions include Twilight, The Bodyguard, The Wedding Singer, and more. Blue Starlite’s Ultimate Valentine's Day package for two comes with two popcorns, two movie theater candles, Valentines candy and a rose, and the Mueller location has drive-in donuts from its own food truck. The theater chain is navigating a recent theft at the downtown location, so check bluestarlitedrivein.com closer to the date to verify showtimes as they may change.

Truluck’s TRU love Valentine’s Day specials
If you’re interested in celebrating the holiday early, Truluck offers guests the “ocean’s finest sustainably sourced seafood” at two unique locations in Austin. Both will have a seasonal chocolate strawberry cake dessert and TRU love cocktail for all of February, with a special king crab ravioli from February 10-14. Reservations are not required but are highly recommended; reserve on OpenTable.

The Melting Pot's Valentine's and Galentine's events
Austin’s destination restaurant for love, romance, and friendship has a variety of options for the week of February 14. Every Wednesday, it offers a Best Fondue Friends Forever (BFFF) menu, complete with cheese and chocolate fondue ($32 per person). On Thursday, it offers four-course Thursdate dinners for two featuring a rose petal and candle-covered table for couples ($52 per person). On Valentine’s Day from 2-11 pm, they will provide lovebirds a five-course fondue experience that includes charcuterie, a decadent chocolate fondue, and more for $79 per person. Reservations encouraged at meltingpot.com.

Devil May Care’s “My Bloody Valentine!”
Austin’s favorite underground lounge is providing guests with an anti-Valentine’s day atmosphere this year, if you prefer to reject the overly sickly sweet sentiments of the holiday. Galentines can spend the night dancing and enjoying their choice of Mediterranean cuisine with specially prepared dishes such as cured beet salmon, and build-your-own gyro-style grilled lamb legs. Devil May Care is also whipping up a specialty cocktail, “Real Short Skirt,” topped with a house-made heart-shaped bitter lollipop. Reserve starting January 27 at devilmaycareatx.com.

Honey Moon Spirit Lounge
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge’s Valentine’s Day menu is just the right choice for couples looking for a luxe date night. Featuring caviar service, a grand seafood tower, East Coast oysters and more, these high-end offerings are certain to enchant guests and provide a sumptuous evening experience. Reserve on OpenTable.

L’Oca d’Oro's "Valentine's Mash Up Vol. VI"
1970's hits from corporate-backed pop and indie rock backgrounds will play head-to-head at L’Oca d’Oro’s sixth annual Love v. Hate dinner, this time focusing on ABBA and Big Star. Guests are encouraged to dress in their best 70s attire to enjoy a self-described “Italian-ish” menu of multi-course shareable dishes based on lyrics by both groups. The two groups’ music will be heard throughout the restaurant with their music videos played in the dining room. Tickets ($100 per person) and an optional beverage pairing ($60) available at locadoroaustin.com.

Uchi & Uchiko’s 10+ course omakase tasting menus
Austin’s non-traditional, elevated Japanese restaurant duo are offering in-person and to-go options for their 10+ course omakase dining menus from 4-11 pm. Both restaurants will have optional beverage pairings. Menu highlights from Uchi’s menu include its lobster chawanmushi (steamed custard, trout roe and radish) and pavlova (smoked white chocolate, pomegranate and chili crisp). Uchi will provide its Valentine's Day dinner in person ($300) or to-go ($225). Highlights from Uchiko’s menu include grilled oyster (vadouvan curry and caramelized apples) and duck (smoked beef jus and fennel), and can also be provided in person or to-go ($350 for either).

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Netflix series Waco: American Apocalypse debuts with newly unearthed footage

Documentary News

Netflix has a new series on the tragedy that took place in Waco three decades ago: Called Waco: American Apocalypse, it's a three-part series documenting the standoff between cult leader David Koresh and the federal government that ended in a fiery inferno, televised live, with 76 people dead.

The series debuted on March 22, coinciding with the 30-year anniversary of the event which took place from February 28 to April 19, 1993. There's a trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scZ2x7R_XXc.

It's an oft-told tale and not the only new release to try and exploit the 30-year anniversary: Jeff Guinn, former books editor at the Fort Worth Star Telegram, just came out with a book in January, also described as definitive, called Waco: David Korsh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage.

Waco: American Apocalypse is directed by another "local": Dallas native Tiller Russell (Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer), who obtained never-before-seen videotapes of FBI negotiations, as well as raw news footage and interviews with insiders.

Those insiders include one of David Koresh’s spiritual wives; the last child released from the compound alive; a sniper from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team; the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit Chief; journalists; and members of the ATF tactical team who watched colleagues die in the shootout against the heavily armed members of the religious sect.

The FBI videotaped inside the hostage negation room, thinking they'd be there maybe 24 hours, not 51 days.

"These are video cassettes that were sitting in somebody’s closet for 30 years, that show the mechanics of hostage negotiations in an intimate setting - not the hostage negotiation scenarios you see in films, but a team of people grinding, day in and day out, for 51 days," Russell says.

He also procured footage from Waco TV station KWTX, who had a reporter embedded in the initial gunfight.

While the standoff was broadcast live on TV at the time, much of it was out of camera range. The film uses 3D graphics to recreate the details of the compound.

Russell acknowledges that the tale of the cult leader who was also a pedophile, the debate over the right to bear arms, the constitutional limits of religious freedom, dredge up painful conversations that continue today.

"It cast a long shadow, pre-saging the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma, the shooting at Colombine, and a growing distrust of government, but I think it's important to reckon with our past so we don't repeat mistakes," he says.

"So much of what’s roiling in culture today can be traced to Waco, a story about God and guns in America with all these children at the center whose lives were determined by the adults around them," he says. "There was no playbook for what happened, everyone was out on a limb, and people made mistakes. But almost everybody was trying to do their very best."

"I think this is a story that's often recalled in politicized terms, with finger-pointing on who screwed up and how did we get here, but there's a profound humanity to it all," he says.

Austin Top Chef winner debuts new National Geographic series, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Austin Top Chef winner debuts new National Geographic series during SXSW. Available on Disney+, Restaurants at the End of the World is a docuseries following Kish on adventures to off-the-beaten-path pockets of the planet.

2. Boutique Austin hotel amplifies the vinyl bar scene with a moody new listening room. Hotel Magdalena opened a chic listening room on South Congress with speakeasy vibes, called Equipment Room.

3. 11 reasons to escape the Austin bustle with a day trip to Dripping Springs. Despite rapid recent growth in the Austin area, Dripping Springs still has many of the small-town features that its local residents — and transplants — all love.

4. Gothic Austin home sells after catching the eyes of onlookers during the Modern Home Tour. This all-black Victorian house sold shortly after an architecture tour brought Austinites through homes across Austin and the Hill Country.

5. Austin home buyers have more power when it comes to inventory, report says. Buyers are gaining more leverage through inventory increases across the Austin-Round Rock metro area, according to recent data from the Austin Board of Realtors.

Blossom into a new Easter or Passover tradition with these spring treats and feasts around Austin


Easter and Passover (April 9 and April 5-13) are right around the corner; you might want to consider solidifying any plans before it gets any nicer outside and the crowds come out. Whether you’re enjoying the holiday with your friends or family, or taking yourself out to brunch, we’ve gathered a basketful of egg-cellent happenings for you to hop to in Austin.

Check back here for more recommendations as businesses finalize their plans.

Easter brunches and egg hunts

Fairmont Austin's Easter brunch and egg hunt
Come for the brunch, stay for the egg hunt. The first brunch we’re eyeing is at Fairmont Austin downtown on Red River Street. They’ll host two different brunch buffets at 10 am and 1:30 pm on Easter Sunday. Guests can take their pick of an egg-stravagant spread of seafood, oak-smoked prime rib, and other delicacies. After you’ve had your fill, head to the rooftop for the hotel’s brunch attendee-exclusive Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 am or 3:00 pm. Word on the street says the Easter Bunny might make a special appearance. The Tiny Tails petting zoo will also be at the hotel to show off the cutest animals for friends of all ages. Brunch bookings can be made via OpenTable.

Fareground's Easter brunch specials and egg hunts
For an afternoon of fun for children of all ages, consider bringing the family to downtown Austin’s first food hall, Fareground, for their Easter Egg-Stravaganza. From 12-3 pm, there will be plenty of brunch specials at the food hall's many eateries while children can enjoy sweets like cotton candy and get their face painted. There will be three egg hunts throughout the afternoon for three different age groups. Free general admission reservations can be made via Eventbrite.

Aba's Easter weekend brunches
Mediterranean cuisine lovers can spend their Easter brunch on the patio at Aba, Austin’s premiere Mediterranean restaurant on South Congress. Their exclusive Easter special on April 8 and 9 includes a spring frittata with lump crab, English peas, shaved asparagus, avocado, pickled fresnos, and parmesan. Guests can also pick a weekend favorite like the short rib shakshuka or khachapuri. Reserve on Tock.

Kalahari Resorts' Easter brunch buffet
If you live farther north, Kalahari Resorts in Round Rock will host their own Easter brunch buffet from 11 am to 3 pm with a delightful assortment of local charcuterie, fresh crudité, soups, and more. Children aged three and under eat free. The resort will also have two Easter egg hunts for two age ranges at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. Brunch tickets can be made on Tock.

TRACE's April drag brunch
Though this brunch isn’t Easter themed, Trace (stylized TRACE) inside the W Hotel is going all out for its April Fool’s Comedy Drag Brunch from 11 am to 4 pm on April 9 with some of Austin’s favorite queens, The Beckies. The iconic duo are the restaurant’s regular brunch hosts every second Sunday of the month. Their performances begin at 11 am and 2 pm. Reserve ($10 per person) on OpenTable.

Passover meals

Aba's passover dine-in and take-out
In addition to its Easter specials, Aba will also offer guests a special Passover dine-in or take-home meal by Chef CJ Jacobson. The to-go package includes hummus, matzo crackers and crudité, potato and Brussels sprout latkes, slow-braised short rib, and much more. The dine-in Passover specials will be available April 5 and 6, but to-go specials must be pre-ordered by 3 pm on April 4. Pickup is available between 11 am and 5 pm on April 5 and 6. Reservations for both offers ($58.95 per person) can be made on Tock.

L’Oca D’Oro's Passover Seder
Neighborhood Italian restaurant L’Oca D’Oro is bringing back their omni-denominational Passover Seder. Chef Fiore Tedesco will delight guests with his version of a traditional Seder meal on April 10 and 11. The first celebration will be led by Cantor Sarah Avner (Beth Israel), and the next by Rabbi Neil Blumofe (Aguadas Achim). Reserve ($100 per person) on OpenTable.

Sweet Treats

What’s Easter without a couple extra desserts to take home? SusieCakes is baking up its SusieChick lemon cake, Easter carrot cupcakes, peeps sugar cookies, dessert decorating kits, and more for the occasion. Their festive Easter treats will be available through April 9.

Bakery Lorraine
Bakery Lorraine at the Domain is accepting pre-orders for its classic seven-inch Easter carrot cake. The luscious dessert serves 10-12 people and contains pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Fill out a form to preorder ($80) by April 4 to pick up on April 8, just in time for your Easter feast.