May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and we do mean month. Not just a day to eat dumplings, this is a 31-day opportunity to think about and support our AAPI neighbors, and one organization is extending that with a year-round initiative. We may need an official document to keep track of all that. Thankfully, this "passport" doesn't take much to obtain.

In addition to providing a great resource for figuring out where to eat (off Google Maps, for once), the Family Style: Austin Asian Restaurant Passport also organizes coupons from 30 local restaurants for more than $300 in deals. The $45 book encourages local foodie support at AAPI-owned businesses while also supporting the Austin Asian Community Health Initiative (AACHI), which uses proceeds from the sales to improve healthcare access to its community in Central Texas.

This is the inaugural year for the annual initiative, and it will stretch all the way to April 30, 2024, when this passport expires. Since deals start on May 1, there are never any gaps — this passport just became the new normal for local diners who love a deal.

It's also a good bit of padding to make sure diners have time to get all their stamps for a prize, but it is still a race. The first person to finish their book will win a 10-person, three-course meal at Qi Austin, an upscale farm-to-table Chinese restaurant. (Chef Ling Qi Wu started Ling Kitchen, a current Tastemaker Awards semi-finalist in the fan-voted Best New Restaurant category, on a similar 10-person dining idea.)

Just this month, a few of the participants have opted in for an additional challenge: specialty cocktails made with Tito's Handmade Vodka. The Peached Tortilla, Sazan Ramen, and Oseyo are mixing up their contributions, and Tito’s is pledging $1 from every cocktail to AACHI, up to $2,500.

"When we think about public health and healthy lives for everyone, community comes to mind," said AACHI executive director Hailey Easley in a press release. "One of the biggest ways that communities come together is through food and culture. While the passport holder tastes what some of Austin's Asian businesses have to offer, proceeds from the sales of the passport go toward keeping AACHI's life-saving programs alive and growing so we can continue our work and help more clients receive equitable healthcare in all the ways that impact their well-being.”

The diversity that makes the passport and this food scene interesting also sometimes complicates the community support AAPI organizations need to offer, with different languages, immigration histories, and social structures to uphold. That's even before issues with transportation access and income. AACHI has a broad job that includes logistical problem solving within its Community Health Navigation (CHN) Program, as well as a therapist directory and a reporting system for racism related to COVID-19, among other initiatives.

Passports ($45), which will be delivered by mail, are available at familystyleatx.com.

Participating Restaurants:

  • Asahi Imports
  • Bisous
  • Carabao Express
  • Chinatown Restaurant
  • Cho Sushi Japanese Fusion
  • Dosa Shack
  • East Side King
  • Epic Poke
  • Fierce Whiskers Distillery
  • Fil N’ Viet
  • Hotpot Alley
  • House of Three Gorges
  • Komé Sushi Kitchen
  • NG Cafe
  • Oseyo Restaurant
  • Pokeatery
  • Pho Craft
  • Pho Thaison
  • Pho Yes
  • Sa-Tén Coffee and Eats
  • Sazan Ramen
  • Sharetea Austin
  • Steamies Dumplings
  • SXSE Food Co
  • Texas Sushiko
  • Thai Fresh
  • The Peached Tortilla
  • Tso Chinese Takeout & Delivery
  • Yeni's Fusion
Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin/Instagram

Iconic Austin barbecue joint hosts grill session with women and nonbinary chefs

The competition heats up

Regardless of who Texans expect behind a grill, it's a creative hotspot for anyone who enjoys some cross-hatched summer foods. Famed Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin is opening up his spot over the flames on April 27 to spotlight women and nonbinary chefs, and raise funds for the Austin Chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier.

This is the third iteration of “You Grill Girl!,” which has aided the foundation in awarding more than $217,000 in scholarships to Austin recipients. A pandemic hiatus followed the first year, but after a successful revival in 2022, this event is looking like a strong annual tradition.

It’ll all go down in the Franklin BBQ parking lot, where well-known chefs and grillmasters will prepare bites ranging from traditional dishes to boundary-pushing combos. Franklin BBQ’s own Amie Brown, Theo Nesland, and Sarah Petmecky team up to create one spread that toes that line with Buffalo smoked ribs, pickled vegetables, and a blue cheese sauce.

Some chefs bring influence from cultures outside of mainstream Texas barbecue, like Annie Thomas of Emmer & Rye offering a Jägerschnitzel skewer with sauerkraut and lemon, and Laura Sawicki of Oseyo obscuring the grilled element in banana milk, strawberry milk, and Gochugaru fudgesicles.

There will certainly be a lot of meat, but Allie McMillan of ATX Cocina brings quail and Janie Ramirez of Dai Due brings crawfish, among other smart planning to lighten things up. Some bakers, like Susana Querejazu of Lutie’s and Abby Love of Abby Jane Bakeshop, are making sure the carbs are well-covered with bread and pizzas, respectively.

“You Grill Girl! is easily one of the best food and drink events in Austin every year, not just because of the participants, but because of the mission,” said Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin president Anna Tauzin in a press release. “The people who work to make this event possible understand the positive impact of lifting up the women in our food and beverage community. In Austin especially, we have a great group of members, volunteers, and sponsors who believe in what we are doing, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.”

There will also be raffles and a silent auction for further fundraising after ticket sales. Les Dames D’Escoffier is a large culinary organization with chapters around the world, but this event specifically benefits the scholarship program and the Austin community.

The following chefs will participate in “You Grill Girl!” 2023:

  • Amie Brown, Theo Nesland, and Sarah Petmecky, Franklin Barbecue
  • Susana Querejazu, Lutie’s
  • Abby Love, Abby Jane Bakeshop
  • Allie McMillan, ATX Cocina
  • Jules Stoddart, Hardware Pastries/Little Ola’s Biscuits
  • Annie Thomas, Emmer & Rye
  • Kristine Kittrell, The Diner Bar
  • Jen Rodi, 3 Small Plates Catering
  • Sarah McIntosh and Chloe Kennedy, Epicerie
  • Janie Ramirez, Dai Due
  • Laura Sawicki, Oseyo
  • Meredith Shaffer, Camp Lucy
  • Adrian Lipscombe, 40 Acres Project
  • Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Arabia Sabree, Quality Seafood

Tickets ($85 for general admission, $110 for VIP with early entry and gift bag) for the April 27 event from 7-10 pm are available on Eventbrite.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Here are the top 7 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

We see festivals, art events, and live music in the near future, and this list is proof. Raise a stein in honor of Oktoberfest at Banger’s, or catch a can’t-miss show by Depeche Mode. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a complete list of events, please visit our calendar.

Thursday, September 28

Fantastic Fest
Fantastic Fest presents its final day of fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and action. Attendees will have the opportunity to screen movies from a variety of genres as well as the closing night film, Totally Killer, and more. Badges are available at fantasticfest.com.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden presents Oktoberfest Celebration
Celebrate the autumn season in all German-inspired fashion at Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden. Guests can enjoy German food, games, and beer, and several live music performances for three days straight. For more Oktoberfest details visit bangersaustin.com. Admission is free and open to those who are 21 and older. Read CultureMap's Oktoberfest guide for more event recommendations.

ProyectoTeatro presents "Cabarex: Orígenes ¡A Latinx Cabaret!"
The Vortex hosts an original Spanish-language cabaret production by ProyectoTeatro in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The show blends comedy, risqué theatrics, improv, drag, and live singing for a rich retelling of major moments in Latino history. "Cabarex" will be performed in both Spanglish and Spanish and also with English subtitles. Performances are scheduled through October 8. Go to vortexrep.org for more details.

Friday, September 29

Viata Hotel presents an Art Installation Launch Party
Be among the first to experience new installations by artists Ryan Runcie and Matthew Phelan at the contemporary and hip Hotel Viata. This intimate opening event will feature highlights including an exclusive gallery viewing, live music, curated food and drinks, and the opportunity to meet the artists. Admission is free with RSVP at hotelviata.com.

St. Elias Orthodox Church presents the 89th annual St. Elias Mediterranean Festival
The richness and traditions of Mediterranean culture are on full display for members of the public to enjoy at St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church. Festival attendees can expect dance performances, a variety of Mediterranean foods, a bazaar, henna drawing, kid-friendly activities, and more. Get more event information at austinmedfest.com.

Moody Center presents Depeche Mode in concert
Electronic group Depeche Mode will play a live show at Moody Center. The artists behind songs such as “Enjoy the Silence” and “Just Can’t Get Enough” come to Austin in support of their new album, Memento Mori. The nostalgic show may remind viewers that the group was ahead of its time in the 80s. Get more details on Ticketmaster.

Banger\u2019s Oktoberfest 2023 Celebration
Photo courtesy of Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden presents an Oktoberfest Celebration on September 28.

Saturday, September 30

Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service in concert
Co-headliners Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service (linked by singer Ben Gibbard) bring their tour to Germania Insurance Amphitheater. Both bands are in Austin in support of new albums. Death Cab for Cutie will perform tracks from their 2022 project, Asphalt Meadows, and The Postal Service will perform their 2003 album, Give Up. Fellow alternative rock band The Beths will join for a special guest performance. Go to Ticketmaster for more details.

Top medical cannabis dispensary buds in Lakeline with new pickup store


Folks north of Austin can now find more relief closer to them with the opening of a new facility for cannabis prescription pickup.

Texas Original is now open in the Lakeline area at 10222 Pecan Park Blvd., continuing to expand the brand's services throughout Central Texas. While Austinites may be used to more recreational cannabis stores, Texas Original's main clientele are patients managing things like cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even dementia.

In Texas, patients can obtain medical cannabis prescriptions through online clinics or local physicians registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas; In Texas Original's case, the dispensary connects candidates for medical cannabis with partnering clinics via an online form to close the loop between prescription and pickup.

Texas Original (formerly Compassionate Cultivation) opened the first public medical dispensary in the state (out of Manchaca) and started serving patients in 2018 with the motto “Grown for Texans by Texans.” The entire operation — from the cultivation of plants to the formulation of products — is based in the state. In 2023, Texas Original was named the best medical marijuana dispensary in the Austin American-Statesman's Community Choice Awards.

This is now Texas Original’s fourth location in Central Texas along with its headquarters and dispensary in South Austin, two other stores in Waco and San Antonio, and many others throughout the state.

“Opening a full-time pickup location that serves our growing community in North Austin and its surrounding suburbs is another step toward creating comprehensive medical cannabis access for all patients throughout Texas,” said CEO Nico Richardson in a release.

To celebrate the opening, Texas Original is partnering with a telehealth medicine clinic to offer free one-year prescriptions to 50 customers at the North Austin location on a first-come first-serve basis. Patients can visit the store this week to book an appointment with the telemedicine clinic’s registered physicians to receive a prescription for medical cannabis.

For more product information and hours of operation for all of Texas Original locations, visit texasoriginal.com. Hours of operation at Lakeline are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 am to 6 pm, with plans to expand to six days a week in the upcoming months.

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.