Photo courtesy of Pro Pickleball Association

Austin is having a music moment quite unlike any other time of year, and these happenings are topping the charts. Catch the can’t-miss shows scheduled during the final days of SXSW Music Festival or keep to another Austin music scene tradition on South Congress. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, March 16

Pro Pickleball Association Tour: Austin Showdown
The world’s fastest-growing sport takes center court at Elevation Athletic Club, part of the Hills Country Club. Spectators will get the chance to experience some of the top-ranked professionals in pickleball battle for a coveted prize purse totaling $238,000. Highlights of the four-day tournament include men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed matches. For a full schedule of events and to buy tickets, visit ppatour.com.

SXSW Music Festival
The SXSW Music Festival beat continues with jam-packed final days at multiple venues around Austin. In addition to various surprises and private show access, attendees can expect performances by this year’s showcasing artists including Philadelphia rapper Armani White, K-pop group Balming Tiger, Brooklyn rapper Lola Brooke, and British psych rock band The Zombies. For more information on what to expect and how to participate (including free shows), check out our SXSW editorial series.

2023 South x San José
The parking lot of iconic South Congress hideaway Hotel San José transforms annually into a live music hotspot beyond the downtown SXSW stomping grounds for four consecutive days. Highlights of 2023’s installment of this local tradition include a vendor's market, a daily set list of nonstop musical acts, and fun for attendees of all ages. Dogs are welcome. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit bunkhousehotels.com.

Saturday, March 18

Hotel Vegas Presents the 2nd Annual Honky Tonk Hangover Brunch
Refuel from all of the festival fun with the help of a Texas-sized brunch spread and ice-cold Lone Star micheladas at Hotel Vegas. Guests can enjoy menu items including a brunch burger and Doritos migas, while sipping Lone Star brews and cocktails to kickstart recovery. In true Austin fashion, the brunch will also feature live music performances from Chasen Wayne and Gus Clark & The Least of His Problems. Admission is free and open to guests 21 and up.

Sunday, March 19

Pro Pickleball Association
Photo courtesy of Pro Pickleball Association

The Pro Pickleball Association Tour is hosting an Austin Showdown on March 16.

The Butterfly Bar @ The VORTEX presents the 13th Annual Garden Party
Spring fun is aflutter at the return of this special celebration hosted by The Butterfly Bar @ The Vortex. Party activities will include a petting zoo, art activities, planting opportunities, garden-inspired cocktails, and live music. Join in on the replenishment of this nationally certified butterfly sanctuary in anticipation of its new insect residents. Admission is free and open to the public.

Photo courtesy of Taste on Main

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Driftwood hospitality couple drift to Buda to launch steakhouse

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.


Class is the main goal at Taste on Main, opening in Buda on February 15. The space is modeled after "classy downtown steak and seafood concepts," according to co-owner Travis Tindol. Tamra and Travis Tindol are known for their previous effort, Hays City Store & Ice House, a casual Southern staple in Driftwood, but now they're turning up the refinement. The menu follows most steakhouse standards, but emphasizes comfort food even if it's not the most common order: That means rib-eyes and pork chops next to mac and cheese, poutine, and crab legs with butter and charred lemon. Taste on Main will be located in a 100-year-old building at 116 Main Street. Reserve on Tock.

Other news and notes

The Texas Farmers' Market isn't just a random gathering of makers; there's programming that makes the event more of a community. There's a brand-new Fresh at the Market Fan Club, which enters shoppers in a drawing once they complete a 10-haul punch card, plus the return of cooking demos and market samples meant to inspire new home cooking. The market also hosts special seasonal events, including ones scheduled for Black History Month and Valentine's Day.

Free cheese! That's the Tweet. It somehow gets even better, considering that the cheese is from Antonelli's, one of Austin's favorite cheese makers. On Friday, February 10, the first 50 people in the shop will receive a free wedge of cheese — even if they don't purchase anything. This deal celebrates the shop's anniversary week, marking 13 years of service. There are also a few tickets left to the last anniversary event: a cheese and donuts structured tasting.

A huge king cake is a fun treat for Fat Tuesday, but sometimes you just need a taste. (Regular Tuesday, anyone?) Abby Jane Bakeshop, run by the celebrated Louisiana-born baker Abby Love, offers a smaller-scale version perfect for one or two people. There's also a savory version with andouille sausage, cheese, veggies, and a cream cheese filling. Order for a Dripping Springs pickup at abbyjanebakes.com. (Select the king cake option if prompted for location.)

Sotol is already like a milder mezcal, so what happens when you mix it with the characteristics of a light red wine? Desert Door has done the science for us, aging a new limited edition sotol aged in old Beaujolais barrels for a unique blend with "the buoyancy and breeziness of Beaujolais wine," according to a release. The resulting SotolJolais will be available at the distillery through Sunday, February 12, for tasting in cocktails or picking up a full bottle.

The only thing better than brunch is Mexican brunch, and El Chile is taking care of that in East Austin, bringing back its old brunch program that surely was sorely missed by many. Regional chef Giovanny Gonzalez-Diaz, new to the team as of 2022, helped bring back the tradition, which includes its "puffy huevos rancheros" as well as new, broader menu items like eggs benedict, crab omelets, and banana foster pan frances (french toast). Brunch is served weekends from 10 am to 3 pm.

Austin donut shop reportedly recovers stolen food truck amid holiday rollercoaster

Donut Worry, Darling

Lots of Austinites had things stolen over the holidays, so they’re certainly not alone. At Gourdough’s Donuts, the thieves were after more than just the dough; over Christmas, the entire Airstream trailer was removed from its paved home. The company took to social media to ask Austinites to keep their eyes peeled for the glistening donut factory, and it actually worked.

Some commenters on the post reported seeing the trailer off of Highway 21 and thinking the location was odd. (Now that the trailer is recovered, donuts in a field sounds like a great way to celebrate.) The post offered a cash reward for information via direct message.

News of the recovery was delivered by KVUE’s Ford Sanders, who tweeted that the owner had contacted him directly. The donut shop has been quiet since the initial post, wishing people a happy new year on January 1, before Sanders’ announcement.

Gourdough’s is likely eager to leave 2022 behind. The restaurant celebrated a decade simultaneously with its own closure in November, permanently ending brick-and-mortar service at the South Lamar location. Brunch, lunch, and dinner all sold out according to an update on the Instagram announcement.

During its tenure, Gourdough’s became known for its brazen willingness to put anything on a donut: fried chicken, steak, gravy, eggs, avocado, and, believe it or not, strawberries. Although the dessert donuts are exciting in their own right — often piled high with several toppings outside the sprinkles and glaze mainstream — there is often little need to indulge after the main course.

Thankfully for the fried-meats-on-donuts niche, which in Austin is essentially only occupied by this whimsical business, the plan was to keep donuts coming through the original trailer and more mobile locations coming soon.


11 festive Austin restaurants for dining out on Christmas Day

Christmas Cheer

The pressure starts building months before the big day. Culinary magazines roll out spreads of towering croquembouches, TikTok explodes with easy Christmas dinner hacks, and grocery stores roll out recipes for their costliest cuts of meat. There's no place like home for the holidays, after all. What's a little drudgery in making the day picture-perfect?

While we don't begrudge seasonal selfies, there's no need to break a sweat. Plenty of Austin restaurants will be offering Christmas Day feasts every bit as good as homemade — and even more photogenic. Make reservations now for the pick of the crop.

Carpenters Hall
This South Austin restaurant excels in comfort and joy, and its $60 Christmas feast is no different. Familiar favorites like New York strip, butternut squash bisque, and oysters Rockefeller will evoke fond memories with bonus warm tinglies from a holiday punch.7 am-7 pm.

If there was ever a time for a genuinely lavish brunch, it would be Christmas Day. This Four Seasons' experience might set you back $140 for adults ($50 for kids). Still, the buffet table will be lavished with snow crab legs, beef tenderloin, made-to-order omelets, and fistfuls of jumbo shrimp. 10 am-6 pm.

Diner Bar
Though the spoons at the Thompson Hotel's signature eatery are more likely to be polished than greasy, its understated booths have a casual charm. Wiggle into a pair of velvet pants (no one will know if it's from a pajama set), then comfortably sup on foie and grits. 5-10 pm.

There are few local dishes as casually celebratory as this spot's signature caviar and chips — an ounce of Siberian sturgeon roe with scallions and crème fraîche. Order a batch with a bottle of William Chris Pet Nat. Visions of sugar plums can't be far behind. 5-9 pm.

Group Therapy
Instead of engaging in a holiday kerfuffle, book an appointment at Hotel ZaZa'z poolside lounge. With foraged mushroom bruschetta and lobster bisque, the menu is suitably fancy. But truth be known, most therapy will be courtesy of a chamomile old fashioned. Reservations are currently available 4:45 – 8:15 pm.

This newcomer at the Loren on Lady Bird Lake has spectacular views of the city, which makes it perfect for a yuletide tête-à-tête. An assortment of holiday cocktails should drive a more animated conversation. 5-10 pm.

The Peacock
Have a proper Austin —ahem — breakfast at this chic downtown property. Open gifts, then order the holiday special with honey-glazed ham and two eggs. Of course, the Christmas table wouldn't be complete without an assortment of baked goods. 7 am- 4 pm.

Make the tradition of having Chinese food on Christmas Day a little extra at this West Sixth hot spot. The Cantonese fried whole fish or Peking will feel appropriately festive, and the Shanghai soup dumplings are a must. 4:30-10 pm.

Summer House on Music Lane
Why go to a summer house during the winter? For brunch, of course. The $55 ticket includes coffee or a cocktail, a pastry plate, and morning mains like eggs in purgatory or pozole verde. Dinner is offered for $75 and includes delectable options like an eggnog affogato.

The W Hotel's standard bearer is celebrating Christmas with an $80 prix fixe. Entrée choices include herb-crusted prime rib, maple-glazed salmon, or vegan mushroom bourguignon. Follow it up with a yule log made in gingerbread for nostalgic warmth.

Wu Chow
It may be American tradition to go big with the holiday bird, but duck brings much greater rewards. Wu Chow's is brined, roasted, and flash-fried for achingly crisp skin then served with hoisin sauce for an extra umami kick. Call 72 hours in advance to reserve for Christmas Day. 5-10 pm.

Courtesy of R19 Taqueria

5 things to know in Austin food right now: Lake Travis taqueria closes up shop

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.


Lakeway street taco restaurant R19 Taqueria is closing at the end of the month. The restaurant announced the impending closure on Instagram, statng that it did not get enough business to keep up with costs. The restaurant opened just over a year ago as a revival of Reunion 19 — the East Austin taqueria that was opened by four Los Angeles chefs just prior to the pandemic (it shuttered in 2022). R19 is located at 2422 Ranch Road 620 S A-120 in Lakeway, and fans are encouraged to stop by to connect over tacos and burritos until the official closure. The taqueria has reduced hours to accommodate fewer staff: 9 am to 7 pm.

Other news and notes

Believe it or not, panettone has range. There's a special place in our hearts for all boxed cakes with ribbon handles, but Houston chef Roy Shvartzapel has elevated the Italian fruitcake game. Now he's taking his famous creation to Austin in a collaboration with the unstoppable pastry chef Susana Querejazu of the Commodore Perry Estate. The next-level panettone includes caramel, banana, and Texas pecan — and it costs $125. Great press and lots of word-of-mouth says it's worth a try. Email cpe.panettone@aubergeresorts.com to order.

There's nothing like a labor-intensive hotel desert, and Watertrade just committed to the bit with its Baked Hokkaido, made in collaboration with extravagant ice cream maker Bésame. Like a baked Alaska, it's blanketed in a toasted meringue, this time containing blueberry mochi cake, tea-infused coconut ice cream, yuzu curd, and an earthy buckwheat and white miso crumble. The cherry on top is actually a small glass of private label sake, crisp and light. Served now until December 17.

The only thing that isn't awesome about brunch is that you're usually expected to get dressed for it. This is not the case at "Santa's Pajama Party," a Saturday, December 17 brunch at the Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta. Adults and children are invited to show up in their pajamas for hot chocolate, bottomless mimosas, and holiday cookie decorating. The hotel will also be collecting donations for Toys for Tots Austin. Brunch is from 11 am to 1 pm. Tickets ($71 for adults, $40 for kids over 3) available on Eventbrite.

'Tis the season of dairy in your cocktail, and Z'Tejas is serving up a Southwestern twist on a classic eggnog. Called the "mi abuelita eggnog," these creamy drinks feature rum and spices based on a recipe passed down by the chef's grandmother, and will be available for a short, very Christmas-centric window from December 20-31. The $14 drinks will be served at both Austin locations.

Photo by Wynn Myers

Charming French bistro bids final farewell to Austin after long pandemic closure

au revoir enfin

As they do for any politician, circumstances have changed for Le Politique. The downtown Austin French bistro, which had been temporarily closed for two-and-a-half years, is officially closed for good.

CultureMap confirmed the permanent closure, first reported by Eater, with a representative of the New Waterloo hospitality group, who declined to provide more details.

The restaurant's initial 2020 announcement, brought about by the pandemic and thought to be temporary, was much wordier.

“It’s been a hard & unpredictable year,” Le Politique posted on Instagram in May of 2020. “Even prior to COVID-19, we faced obstacles as the Northshore building underwent repairs and our block was covered in scaffolding — leaving our storefront looking shuttered & patio unusable.”

Over the years, the bistro's messaging remained hopeful overall, several times delaying a definitive end. But the closure is now official, and moving in is celebrity chef Michael Mina, whose restaurant group will take over the 2nd Street District space, Eater reports.

Le Politique never shied away from rich flavors, with luxe menu items such as baked whole lobster, bone marrow, and escargot, plus deluxe everyday items like a cheese-smothered burger. Its bakery put out a range of traditional French pastries, plus creatively flavored macarons.

“The Politician,” in English, referred not to any modern affiliation, but to the general air of the Capital City itself. While the restaurant’s politics were not a real talking point, it did have the charisma of a well-liked, local politician: devoted to the classics, but taking them on with a rogue spirit. The restaurant frequently participated in local festivals and social fundraising initiatives.

Executive pastry chef Melissa Carrol was nominated for CultureMap’s Tastemaker Awards in 2018 and 2019, and has been active in community events, representing the restaurant despite its latency.

The restaurant will clearly be missed; even despite the radio silence, commenters on the farewell post have been returning regularly to offer encouragement and even pleas for Le Politique to return.

“Thank you for your understanding & support of Le Politique over the last few years,” concluded the restaurant’s final Instagram post. “We opened our doors in hopes of becoming a bright neighborhood spot for our downtown neighbors to gather & make their own, and we hope to do so again someday.⁠”

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PBS series takes locals and visitors on a tour of Austin murals

murals or mirrors?

Austin wears its love of art on its walls. Some of the city’s best-known sites are murals, but it’s hard to get all the context just by walking around. A three-part PBS docuseries breaks down some of the city’s “most inspiring murals,” giving viewers a deeper understanding of Austin’s history and providing a handy itinerary for an art-led tour.

Although locals will certainly recognize some of the murals — the Wonder Woman piece on Cesar Chavez is one of the hardest to miss in the whole city — many will illuminate pockets of the city with less traffic. Some of the works are private, so the only chance to see them may be through film.

Muraling Austin, which premieres on March 24, goes beyond artistic inspiration to include information about the organizations that commissioned them, as well as the social causes the art supports.

“We are excited to launch a series that celebrates the phenomenal public art in Austin,” said the show’s executive producer and founder of Nelda Studios Nelda Buckman in a press release. Before creating Muraling Austin, the studio has worked with site-specific material from a Broadway tour (The Prom) to Austin’s Boggy Creek Greenbelt (“Ghost Line X”).

“As supporters of Austin’s creative community, we were drawn to the incredible and moving stories behind these murals and the artists who created them,” she continued. “There’s no better partner for this project than Austin PBS, a highly respected community voice that has reflected the pulse of Austin for over 60 years.”

Along with Wonder Woman, some of the featured murals honor real women like Frida Kahlo andAngela Davis, and mark important historical developments such as the 19th Amendment and the triumphs of the Austin Black Senators baseball team, a minor league, all-Black team playing as early as 1908.

The 30-minute episodes adhere to their own themes: “Pride of Place,” on March 24, is about “community change makers” here and across the country, a theme that is central to the series but especially built out in this episode. “Women Rising,” on March 31st, marks notable women in several fields — the arts, activism, spirituality, and the intersection of all three — plus the artists who relate to them. “Big, Bright & Bold,” on April 7, takes a more aesthetic focus, which highlights not just the painted images, but the architecture they enhance.

"Through feedback and listening, we know our viewers are very interested in Austin’s art and culture, which is why Austin PBS is so excited to bring Muraling Austin to broadcast and streaming audiences,” said Chief Content Officer Sara Robertson. “Our community is full of stories that deserve to be told, and we rely on storytellers like Nelda Studios to help us achieve that mission.”

Featured works and artists are as follows:

  • The Beauty of Liberty and Equality (SandraChevrier, Shepard Fairey)
  • Protectors of Red Bluff (Ruben Esquivel)
  • The Pillars Project: Our History Our Trail (Samara Barks, Amado Castillo III, Chroma Collective, Will Hatch Crosby, Ruben Esquivel, Anabel Gómez, Sadé Channell Lawson, Armando Martinez, Raymond “Rage” Mendoza, J. Muzacz, Carmen Rangel, Kendrick Rudolph, Reji Thomas, Serena Tijerina,Lakeem Wilson)
  • Reconnect Yourself (NIZ)
  • Viva la Vida (ULOANG)
  • It’s Okay Not to Be Okay (Sadé Channell Lawson)
  • Paradise Found (Zuzu)
  • Virtual Hike (SoledadFernandez-Whitechurch)
  • Where The Wildflowers Grow (DAAS)

More information about Muraling Austin is available at muralingaustin.com. The show will air on Austin PBS at 7:30 pm on March 24 and 31, and April 7.

Here are the Hollywood celebrities we spotted in Austin for SXSW, 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. Here are all the Hollywood celebrities we've spotted in Austin so far for SXSW. From Elizabeth Olsen and Eric Andre, here are some of the celebs we spotted out and about during the fest — and this was just weekend one.

2. Texas coastal town tops Austin's favorite spring break destination. Several cities in Colorado ranked highly, but this report says one Texas beach town is still the No. 1 spring break getaway for Austinites.

3. Austin rent prices increased nearly 10 percent from 2022, report finds. Zumper ranked Austin the No. 25 most expensive rental market in the United States.

4. Escape the crowds at SXSW: 8 Austin-area hangs, parties, and activities. Escaping the crowds during SXSW can be a challenge, but there are plenty of other things to do in Austin in mid-March.

5. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will make surprise SXSW appearance with closing night film. Affleck's Air will make its surprise SXSW debut tonight at the Paramount Theatre as the closing night film for SXSW.

Austin Top Chef winner debuts new National Geographic series during SXSW

Top Chef

Austin is proud to claim chef Kristen Kish as our own, but the Top Chef winner has always had a global mindset. She first earned her chops in French and Italian cuisine at Boston's acclaimed Menton restaurant, infusing those influences into the menu at Arlo Grey with a pioneering curiosity and adventurous spirit. Now, she's bringing that explorer's mindset to a new National Geographic series, debuting Tuesday, March 21.

Available on Disney+, Restaurants at the End of the World is a docuseries in which Kish travels to off-the-beaten-path pockets of the planet. The four-part series follows Kish as she searches for the secret ingredients – people, places, culture and traditions – within the world’s most remote restaurants in Boquete, Panama; Svalbard, Norway; North Haven Island, Maine; and Paraty, Brazil.

A lucky selection of South by Southwest (SXSW) attendees got a sneak peek of the series at a special dinner on Tuesday, March 14. The event took place inside Arlo Grey at the Line Hotel, where Kish mingled with guests and introduced clips from the upcoming series. A family-style dinner featured dishes inspired by different episodes of the series, from Maine-inspired Parker House rolls to Arctic char and strawberry semifreddo.

"This series is all about shared experiences and trading stories," Kish said, introducing the evening's menu. "So, when putting this menu together, I realized there are a lot of similarities. When I think back to all the places I went and new things I learned, there are so many familiar flavors to every bite that can bring you right back home into your own story."

The menu celebrated each location in the upcoming series, often in the same course: Parker House Rolls (with delicious whipped brown butter) were a nod to her New England episode ("Maine Island Barn Supper,"), paired with a scallop crudo commemoration of her time in Brazil ("Brazil’s Floating Feast,"). Meanwhile, the main course gave guests a glimpse of the great lengths Norwegian fishermen go to when harvesting Arctic char, accompanied by a clip of Kish's adventures with local purveyors in Svalbard, Norway.

The aim of both the dinner and the upcoming series is to showcase the tenacity it takes to run restaurants in such remote places. Each episode follows Kish behind the scenes with local purveyors, farmers, herders, kitchen crew, managers, and head chefs to hear their stories. She invites viewers along with her in the hunt for the best and freshest ingredients, unearthing the culture and heart behind global cuisine and showcasing the balancing act required to bring unique food to the table around the world.

“Food has an unparalleled power to bring us together and teach us about one another and the world around us, and we see that firsthand by going to restaurants in the world’s most remote areas,” says Chef Kish via release. “Filming this series with National Geographic was an adventure of a lifetime that taught me so much about an industry I’ve been steeped in my whole life. I can’t wait for viewers to come along on the journey with us and experience these dishes at restaurants most never even knew existed.”

The first episode of Restaurants around the World will be available on March 21 at 9 pm CST.

Kristen Kish

Courtesy National Geographic

Top Chef winner Kristen Kish has a new National Geographic show debuting on March 21.