Suerte Facebook

Austin changes fast. During South by Southwest (SXSW), even seasoned Austinites end up in parts of town they never visit; we try to impress friends who are visiting, follow the music, and avoid the crowds.

The first thing to do, if "new" and "evolving" are your favorite keywords in finding a restaurant, is check CultureMap's weekly food news column for inspiration. Next, if prestige makes your mouth water, consider getting to know some of the culinary favorites and change-bringers nominated for our 2023 Tastemaker Awards.

Thankfully, Austin's food scene is dense enough that if planning ahead is not your thing, all you have to do is scroll down. Here are CultureMap's recommended restaurants near popular SXSW venues and neighborhoods.

3TEN Austin City Limits Live/Violet Crown Cinema (Downtown, 2nd Street)
Austin is at your fingertips from this very central downtown location, but things are going to be very busy. But if you're visiting Austin and want as many Mexican meals as possible, stop by ATX Cocina, only about two blocks away. This upscale "modern Mexican" restaurant offers a unique take on traditional, yet adventurous Mexican food — harder to find in other U.S. cities.
Also consider: Quick to-go bites from Royal Blue Grocery (0.1 miles); Neapolitan pizza and bistro fare at Numero28 (0.1 miles); rustic Italian food at Red Ash (0.2 miles); some of the city's best, finest Southern dining at Hestia (0.3 miles); high-quality tacos at Veracruz All Natural (0.3 miles); several options in one food hall at Fareground Austin (0.3 miles).

Coconut Club/Neon Grotto (Downtown, 4th Street)
This is Austin's gay district, with closer access to the party side of town and its often-expensive foodie offerings. There are plenty of bars to pop into for snacks, but a memorable meal can be found at French restaurant and absinthe barPéché on the same block. This is a traditional offering in a very nontraditional city. Visitors love the happy hour, which offers half-off some food items.
Also consider: a classy-casual hotel stop at Perfect Strangers (0.1 miles), Southwestern game at Lonesome Dove (0.2 miles).

Paramount Theater (Downtown, Congress Ave)
As visitors start getting closer to the Capitol, they'll start to see older cultural institutions and tourist-minded dining. The stately Driskill hotel right around the block is a must-see for travelers, and a revitalized dining room offers a new experience for longtime Austinites. The café and bakery next to the lobby will likely be packed for its posh brunch, but also offers to-go pastries and drinks.
Also consider: Eclectic, gorgeous cocktail bar Higher Ground (right across the street), underground theater vibes at Hideout Coffee House (0.1 miles).

Augustine/The Stay Put (Rainey Street)
This being one of the busiest areas not just at the festival, but daily in Austin, flexibility is key. In a perfect world, Geraldine's at the Hotel Van Zandt is the place to be, and the rooftop restaurant does accept reservations. The Southern menu is creative but low-key, and the calendar is always full of local talent. The bar inside is better than the pool bar, but you can easily carry drinks out.
Also consider: upscale dive bar entertainment at Electric Shuffle (0.2 miles or less), leader in fine dining Emmer & Rye (0.1 miles or less).

Cheer Up Charlie's/Empire Garage and Control Room/Mohawk/Stubb’s (Red River Cultural District)
This is one of the best areas in the city for venue hopping, and there are plenty of food trucks around. But if a sit-down, less divey meal is the goal, Moonshine Grill makes excellent Southern comfort food, including some of the city's best chicken and waffles. Not more than half a mile from most Red River venues, this restaurant will likely have a wait, but it's in a decent location to explore.
Also consider: A very close and simple solution at Stubb's BBQ (0.1 miles), great burgers at Casino El Camino (0.3 miles).

Alamo Lamar (South Lamar Area)
This one is easy — Alamo Drafthouse is known for a fantastically well-rounded experience, including meals and drinks. You could just stay put. But if dinner and a show need to happen at separate venues, Odd Duck is right across the street. This understated, upscale new American eatery is well-respected and relatively casual — it feels like a treat without dominating the day's plans.
Also consider:Great ramen at Ramen Tatsu-ya (0.2 miles), vibrant Asian barbecue at Loro (0.9 miles).

Hotel Vegas (East Austin)
More modern Mexican food? Yes, get used to it. Suerte is one of Austin's most respected restaurants among industry players, and it is a James Beard semi-finalist for its wine and beverage program. About a quarter of a mile down East 6th Street, this path brings foot traffic past several bars and one of the most exciting stretches of businesses outside of the usual downtown drags.
Also consider: cult-favorite crispiness at Spicy Boys Fried Chicken (0.2 miles), top-of-the-line sushi at Fukumoto (0.3 miles).

Continental Club/Hotel San José (South Congress)
The South Congress area is another that was literally built for wandering. It's just not a good place to save money. Might as well lean into the upscale vibes a third of a mile away at Vespaio, one of the area's oldest restaurants, and the one that taught it how to do Italian food. If you're in a more Mexican mood, its new sister restaurant, Chapulín Cantina, is a fabulous place to sip tequila.
Also consider: New Yorker-approved pizza at Home Slice (0.1 miles), the supremely-Austin Torchy's Tacos (0.5 miles).

Zach Theater (Zilker)
This area is busy at all times of day thanks to the surrounding recreational areas. Everything is a bit of a hike in this area, but El Alma, half a mile away, offers a great mix of quality and accessibility. There will probably be a wait, but the frozen margaritas are perfection, and the food is delicious. The deck feels very Austin and is usually available sooner than the air conditioned interior.
Also consider: expensive, but gorgeous views nearby at Nido (0.1 miles), very fun Tex-Mex digs at Chuy's (0.5 miles).

Photo courtesy of Steinberg Hart

New Riverside complex plots massive mixed-use development for East Austin


A 22-and-a-half-acre section of East Austin is getting a modern transformation. In a bid to bring office, retail, and residential space to tech workers and families, architecture firm Steinberg Hart has announced plans for a new seven-building, urban mixed-use complex at the corner of East Riverside Drive and Highway 71, called East Riverside Gateway.

The site, a former mobile home park, currently hosts a storage facility, but once construction is complete it will be home to over two million square feet of space for housing, offices, a plaza, and shopping amenities. Four multi-family buildings totaling more than 1,100 residential units will be created to provide Austinintes with deluxe condos, family-oriented residences, and compact affordable housing. The three remaining buildings will be dedicated to office spaces and create a walkable connection to the anticipated Blue Line light rail from Project Connect.

Steinberg Hart president and Austin native David Hart expressed his excitement in a press release for the project, and hopes it brings a valuable transformation to the city.

“Building on over three decades of experience in the State of Texas, we are thrilled to be making our mark on the City of Austin with this iconic project, and we look forward to continuing to be a part of this city’s continued evolution,” he said.

To prioritize pedestrians, Steinberg Hart has planned walkable neighborhoods that “celebrate [their] connection to nature” and have committed to retaining the area’s heritage trees. A 3-and-a-half-acre park is also expected to restore the site’s native Blackland Prairie habitat while providing many outdoor activities such as a bike path, playground, outdoor pavilion, and more.

With the connection to the Blue Line, residents and non-residents alike will be able to travel easily to and from the complex. Those using personal vehicles to travel from farther away will have their choice from an estimated 4,000 parking spaces.

Asheshh Saheba, Mixed-Use Studio Leader at Steinberg Hart, believes the East Riverside Gateway complex will be a “central hub of activity” that brings a variety of Austinites together from any and all areas of town.

“Being involved from the earliest stages of master planning made for a truly holistic design process,” said Saheba. “We’ve thought about every aspect of the user experience at every scale: the size of the city blocks and their organization, the unit mix and the size of the office floor plates, and the Austinite taking public transit and walking home from this new rail station. East Riverside Gateway is a truly transformative vision of the future of Austin.”

The East Riverside Gateway project is currently in the entitlement phase and Steinberg Hart has submitted requests for a site development permit. Another, even larger development of 545 acres, much farther north and less price diverse, was also recently approved for development in Austin, highlighting the range of new construction planning early in 2023.

East Riverside Gateway project rendering

Photo courtesy of Steinberg Hart

Once construction is complete, the East Riverside Gateway complex will be home to over 2 million square feet of office, residential and shopping spaces.

Photo by Vincent Vallejo

Famous LGBTQIA+ barbershop from San Francisco starts shaving in Austin

Who's your daddy?

Daddy’s home! The barbershop from San Francisco opened a satellite out in Austin on February 3, marking the first time the LGBTQIA+ gathering place has moved out of California, from one queer haven to another, and closer to its founder's roots.

Few community spaces — queer or otherwise — have reached the heights of a barbershop, a site of physical and social betterment without any vices beyond a really good lather. But one of the things that makes the barbershop such a safe space is its niche clientele — men in the neighborhood. At Daddy’s Barbershop, doors are open to “Texans of all genders.”

Like many other queer staples, the first Daddy’s became popular in San Francisco. Dallas-born founder Arlen Lasater, who was already deeply entrenched in advocating for LGBTQ safety as a security director for the Folsom Street Fair, turned to barbering but kept his protective attitude, and people flocked to the diverse space. Now the barbershop is located in Palm Springs and Austin.

“I think it became a haven for LGBTQ+ locals,” said Lasater in a press release and on the Daddy’s website. “Most of the time, it feels more like a community hangout than a business.”

Terri and Timmy Lasater, Arlen’s niblings (that’s the gender-neutral term for your sibling’s kids), have also joined the business as co-owners and operators. They’re close to family in Houston and Austin (having worked in the latter for three decades) as well as good eats; The new barbershop tops Cisco's Restaurant Bakery & Bar on East 6th Street, known for Tex-Mex comfort foods and a retro diner atmosphere.

The building was constructed in 1914, and Daddy’s is using some historical materials to enhance the shop, including reclaimed wood from two fires: the Capitol fire of 1983, and the Texas French Bread fire in early 2022. Local artist and trans rights activist Xavier Schipani took care of exterior decor with a mural, while the interior remains sleek and semi-industrial.

“I’ve always considered Austin a sister city to San Francisco,” said Lasater. “Both have a prominent LGBTQ+ presence and a culture of radical acceptance — that’s a culture Daddy’s thrives in.”

Daddy’s is making sure to share that thriving spirit through community donations that have totaled at least $250,000 since its founding, for supporting LGBTQ+, homeless, and more local nonprofits.

“Arlen’s always been a part of keeping people safe,” said Terri Lasater. “Whether it’s through his work or donations, it's important that he does what he can to protect his community.”

Guests can expect the following services: “high-and-tight haircuts, beard/goatee trims, beard sculpting, hot towel shaves, bald/skin fades, buzzcuts, scissor cuts, gray-blending, line-ups, chest trims, back trims, clean-ups, and more.”

Daddy’s is open at 1511 E 6th Street, Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm. More information, including links for booking and job applications, is available at daddysbarbershop.com.

Courtesy photo

East Austin craft brewer and kolache spot announces new food trailer and beer program

New Batch

There's a new batch of food and drink options brewing at Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches. Owners Noah and Josh Lit announced the expansion of the East Austin neighborhood spot's new food trailer, LOTE, plus a new beer program led by Ryan Monahan.

Located in the open-air beer garden, LOTE offers a selection of Tortas made with Batch's kolache dough, burritos, tacos, nachos and bulitas. Everything is made in-house with locally sourced ingredients, and highlights of the menu include a grilled fish taco; tortas on kolache bun; an achiote pork taco; and a beef suadero taco.

Batch Craft Beer & Kolache

Courtesy photo

The torta on koache bun features guacamole, sour cream, jack cheese, cabbage, tomato and salsa verde.

Chef Javier Montesinos helms the new project: A native Austinite, he brings years of experience from local restaurants ranging from high-end fine dining to Texas BBQ. He served most recently as the co-owner of Taco Bronco, the smoked meat taco branch of Micklethwait Craft Meats, which originally opened in the backyard of Batch pre-Covid.

“LOTE brings the best of Batch together. We wanted to create a food element that was extremely different from kolaches but that still made sense for the space,” said Montesinos in a release. “Tacos, kolaches and beer, what more could you want in Texas?”

In addition to the new food trailer, Batch will debut a new beer program from brewer Ryan Monahan. Also an Austin local, Monahan spent a decade at Live Oak Brewing and came to Batch to take the beer program to the next level. Monahan's new beers will complement Batch’s gourmet kolaches and the new menu at LOTE.

“Leading this program at Batch gives me the creative freedom I’ve wanted to brew and highlight even more traditional and non-traditional beer styles that I haven’t been able to brew yet in my career," Monahan said in a release. "My main focus is to make sure the beers at Batch are always highly drinkable, balanced, beer-flavored beers. We can’t wait to share our beers with guests who want to enjoy them in the beer garden or at home; they’re great just about anywhere.”

New Batch beers will be available for purchase on tap and to-go in cans at Batch, which is located at 3220 Manor Road. Batch is open Monday through Wednesday from 8 am to 10 pm; Thursday through Friday 8 am to 11 pm; Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm; and Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm. LOTE is open Thursday through Saturday from 3-9 pm and Sunday from 2-8 pm.

Photo courtesy of Rick's Near Beer

Non-alcoholic beer company brews up rustic bar in East Austin

no-buzz bar

Many sober Austinites are lucky to have friends with different going-out habits, but it never hurts to find a new neighborhood hang that keeps others on the wagon. And who says a "beer run" actually has to include alcohol?

Rick’s Near Beer, an Austin brand, is answering that very question with the launch of Rick’s Place, a pick-up and to-go hub in East Austin where non-alcoholic options will never be hard to find, on February 17.

The Rick’s product line was launched in December of 2022, with two types of low-strength beer (less than half a percent): a Pilsner called Rick’s Original, and a brew with a stronger hops and fruit flavor called Rick’s Hazy. Both are brewed with malted barley and Rocky Mountain water, but use hops from different parts of the country, and Rick’s Hazy adds flaked wheat.

Already available online, those beers will now also be served in a cool industrial space befitting East Austin with corrugated metal siding, rustic decor, and presumably thrifted furniture. It’s a far cry from most bars around town serving stylish mocktails — which, to some Austinites, is a big relief.

The brand was started by Josh Hare, whose past projects include Hops & Grain Brewing and Pint & Plow Brewing, two craft breweries in Austin and the Hill Country, respectively. “Rick,” the brand and bar’s namesake, mostly remains a mystery, although the website introduces visitors to Rick as an archetype and perhaps a mission statement — an unpretentious friend who is accommodating and adventurous.

Rick’s Place will be located at 501 Pedernales, Unit 1-B, and will be open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 2-6 pm. Customers may visit to pick up online orders, while single cans and six-packs can stay at the bar. More information is available at drinkricks.com.

Courtesy of Industry

Hospitality industry vets bring 'low-key healthy' restaurant to East Austin

East Austin Industry

Mid-October will see the opening of a new East Austin restaurant with what the founders describe as "low-key healthy" Texas fare. Harlan Scott and Cody Taylor, the names behind concepts like Cafe Josie, Valentino's in San Marcos, and Industry in San Marcos, are set to open a second location of Industry at 1211 E. Fifth St., Ste. 150 in just a few weeks.

According to a release, the name Industry comes from what Scott calls "the idea of celebrating the raw, authentic, and diverse lifestyle of servers and cooks and everyone in between." After thriving in the Austin industry for decades, Scott and Taylor opened Industry in San Marcos in hopes of enjoying a slightly slower pace. The restaurant is a "safe space" to break down the server/customer dynamic in an environment where people are being served by people who love their jobs, which is an ethos the pair will bring to the East Austin outpost.

“Great employee benefits including mental healthcare, fair wages, tip-share for the kitchen, and 40-hour work weeks are a priority for us,” Scott explains. “We don’t believe in the romantic notion of doubles and 70 hour work weeks; but we also hire people willing to make sacrifices from time to time to help out coworkers and the restaurant. The staff we have now, they “get it.” We think they will with Industry Eastside as well.”

Serving an all-day menu of tacos, burgers, hearty salads, and house-smoked meats in a casual atmosphere, Industry will have an all-scratch menu and counter service format. Menu highlights will include starters like blistered shishito peppers and green chile queso; heartier offerings like smoked chicken tacos and a smoked beet Reuben; and healthy alternatives like the Industry bowl, which will feature field greens, rice, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, pepitas, chevre, and a cashew honey vinaigrette.

And since you can't forget the drinks on an Austin menu, the new spot will offer weekday drink specials such as half-off margs, $4 whiskey Wednesdays, and happy hour pricing for ladies all night on Thursdays. A reverse happy hour from 10:30 pm to close will also be a draw on weekdays, as well as $2.50 mimosas on Sundays, which will pair with an "over-the-top brunch." Highlights of the latter will include a smoked cheeseburger Benedict; buttermilk biscuits and gravy; and Porky’s Pancakes with pork pastor, bacon, buttermilk pancakes, blackberry compote, and bourbon maple syrup.

Head to industrytx.com to learn more about Scott and Taylor’s philosophy behind the concept, and follow them on Instagram at @industryeastside for updates on the opening.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Austin has the 3rd most active real estate market in the U.S. within the last decade

red-hot ATX

A new report has discovered Texas cities hold the top five most active real estate markets in the country, with Austin landing in third place. The study by storage marketplace StorageCafe reflects the city's resiliency over the last decade after a recent reported plummet in Austin's quality of life.

Austin had the third highest number of single-family home permits between 2013 and 2022, totaling 37,000 units. At the same time, the city also permitted over 98,700 new multi-family/apartment units. The massive influx of housing ultimately adds up to an impressive national surge.

On the industrial end, the Texas Capital also took the No. 3 spot in the country for the most square feet of new industrial space construction. Nearly 25 million square feet of new office space was erected in the last decade, further solidifying the city's standing as a top destination for business.

Outshining Austin in the list of real estate growth is Houston(No. 1), with 55,600 single-family homes permitted between 2013 and 2022, and nearly 90,000 multi-family units. San Antonio (No. 2) also outranked Austin with 34,000 single-family units and 8,500 new multi-family units.

The real estate markets in Fort Worth and Dallas respectively round out the top five.

The cities that complete the top 10 include:

  • No. 6 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 7 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 8 – Las Vegas, Nevada
  • No. 9 – Denver, Colorado
  • No. 10 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The full report can be found on storagecafe.com.

Austinites can now rent pickleball and tennis courts around the city


Pickleball and tennis lovers are getting more access to underutilized courts in Austin. Swimply, an online provider that lets homeowners rent out their private pools by the hour, has now expanded their services to include sport courts.

"After disrupting the $15B private pool industry, other backyard spaces for rent was a logical next step," Swimply said in a press release. "Pickleball is a phenomenon and there aren't enough courts to meet demand ...Tennis, likewise, has historically been an exclusive leisure activity where people pay upwards of $100 an hour at private clubs for court time."

In addition to tennis and pickleball, basketball courts will also be listed for rent on the site, beginning at $25 an hour. There are nearly 200 total spaces listed in Austin, and over 300 courts available across their other popular markets in Houston, New York, and Los Angeles. Expansion is currently underway for their remaining markets around the nation by the end of the summer season.

Swimply founder and CEO Bunim Laskin said this new launch is a "game changer" for communities whose members want greater accessibility to recreational spaces.

"We're excited to offer this new opportunity for families and friends to have fun, exercise, and connect with each other in a safe, affordable, and convenient way," Laskin said. "Our mission has always been about democratizing access to exclusive spaces and creating positive social impact, and we believe that court rentals are a natural extension of that vision."

The service expansion also serves to improve access for those in low-income or marginalized communities, after a recent Trust for Public Land study said 100 million Americans can't access a park within a 10-minute walk from their homes.

Swimply is currently looking into expanding their recreational offerings to include backyards for events, music studios, and more.

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Pizza newcomer spreads wings for brunch, lunch, and happy hour

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.

Although Dovetail Pizza has been capturing Austinites' hearts since opening in November of 2022, it's still getting on its feet. Things are looking quite established now that the pizzeria is also offering lunch with sandwich specials, and even a weekend brunch with pizza sauce Bloody Marys and beignoli. (Presumably that's something between a beignet and a cannoli.) Both lunch and brunch will be served from 11 am to 3 pm on weekdays and weekends, respectively. A happy hour from Sunday to Thursday, 3-5 pm, will offer discounts and a new meatball sandwich.

Speaking of service extensions, both the Ramen Tatsu-ya on East 6th Street and Domo Alley-Gato are serving ramen later at night — when you really need it, if you ask us. The full menu at each will now be available until 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, serving ramen later than any other Tatsu-ya location. The hospitality group has been focused on new locations for a while, so it's nice to see smaller changes coming to neighborhoods that have supported the restaurant for years.

Despite the low-brow beauty of some beer culture, it's still nice to enjoy some in a real fancy venue — say, The Driskill. The hotel's Beer Dinner Series is back on, introducing Austinites to new local beers alongside a five-course menu of pairings by Chef Alondra Martinez and Pastry Chef Kristen Groth. The first dinner of the returning series will be held on June 20, and will pair Thirsty Planet Brewery beers with grilled oysters, andouille sausage, quail, and more. The timing makes for a great Father's Day gift, if you're looking. Reserve ($80) on Tock.

Italian sandwich by Dovetail Pizza in Austin

Photo by Kati Luedecke

Dovetail pizza now offers brunch, lunch, a happy hour, and new menu items to tie it all together.

There will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate Pride Month in Austin throughout June, but a couple of coffee shop deals will make sure you have the energy to keep dancing. Abby Jane Bakeshop is using a brew by Sightseer Coffee, "Season of the Witch," to make espresso whoopie pies. Proceeds go to Out Youth for the organization's Transgender Wellness program. Another effort by Jo's Coffee has repackaged the house blend in limited-edition Pride Boxes that each drive a $2 donation to Equality Texas.

L'Oca d'Oro, the seasonal Italian restaurant in the Meuller neighborhood known for its progressive ideals as well as its delicious food, is wrapping up its recurring fundraising event, Pasta Paisanos, for the season. The monthly collabs have brought in great chefs from around Austin to drive donations to Lilith Fund, which provides funds and emotional supports to Texans seeking abortions. At the wrap-up event, in collaboration with alumni chefs Fermín Nunez and Angelo Emiliana, the restuarnat will also be celebrating its seventh anniversary and hopes to reach its $50,000 donation goal. Book at locadoroaustin.com.

Locals can always count on the Peached Tortilla for a menu with a theme. The restaurant, which is known for its extensive whiskey menu and "Asian comfort food with a Southern twist," actually already celebrates "Fried Chicken and Whiskey Wednesdays," which falls right on National Bourbon Day this year — the whiskey gods decreed it. Celebrate with umami fried chicken, mixed grilled corn with kimchi miso butter, kimchi mac and cheese, and "proper biscuits." The restaurant has 10 bourbons to choose from, and plenty more if the chicken sounds great but you're...not an observer of National Bourbon Day.