Greater Austin YMCA

Townlake YMCA is partnering with Austin Community College for their next Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Circle, where guests can engage in conversation, sharing and healing in a safe space.

During the Healing Circle, trained facilitators guide participants through introductory exercises which lead to a deeper sharing in a safe space. Participants are invited to share their truths and in doing so, to develop a deeper understanding of others’ lived experiences. This opportunity leads to rich discussion and dialogue.

Photo courtesy of Via 313

5 things to know in Austin food right now: Deep dish pizza fave takes a slice of Bee Cave

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.


One of Austin's favorite pizza places, Via 313, is opening a new location in Bee Cave (3944 S. FM 620 Rd.) on May 15. The Detroit-style deep-dish makers now have 14 locations, 10 of which are in Texas. The opening day celebration includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a partnership with Cerebral Palsy Awareness Transition Hope (CPATH), which will receive a quarter of the day's sales. The restaurant has several active job listings, including an hourly wage for servers in addition to tips. Hours only appear in the business' Google sidebar.

Wu Chow, a downtown Chinese restaurant known for its soup dumplings, is expanding from its high-traffic location on West 5th Street to something more accessible to the northern masses: the former site of Rosedale Kitchen and Bar (3800 N Lamar Boulevard). This is the first full expansion from the original location, although Little Wu serves up dumplings to-go at Fareground. The location opens on May 19, with a lunch service starting on June 19, and dim sum on July 8. The dinner service this month will be open Monday through Saturday, from 4:30-10 pm.

Austin drive-through heroP. Terry’s has now hit a milestone number of locations: 30. The newest is in Cedar Park (851 W. Whitestone Blvd.), across from Stiles Switch BBQ. Like the other locations, this one will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night eats, from 7 am to 11 pm, Monday through Thursday, until midnight on Fridays; 8 am to midnight on Saturdays, and until 11 pm on Sundays. The classic menu offers burgers, veggie burgers, fries, chicken patties, cage free eggs, and scratch-made sweet bakes.

Other news and notes

Austin sees its fair share of food festivals and competitions, but the American Lamb Jam is kicking it up a notch with a multi-city contest. The American Lamb Board hosts this event series to promote family-owned lamb producers in the U.S., calling on chefs from Austin, Boston, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., to create a signature sharable lamb plate or appetizer to be served at their home restaurants. Austin participants hail from El Naranjo, Interstellar BBQ, KG BBQ, Lenoir and more. Diners can vote for the best dish at americanlamb.com.

Forget the spelling bee — Bee School at Waterloo Greenway will teach one group of kids everything they need to know. French perfume maker Guerlain is launching a "Guerlain Bee School" at the park in partnership with its bee conservation program. (Remember the photos of Angelina Jolie with bees?) A group of pre-selected local second-graders will attend a beekeeping class on May 12, tour the pollinator garden, taste honey, and more. Then the program will be integrated into a current photography exhibition at the Greenway, "Seeing Bees". Adults with FOMO can look into classes at Round Rock Honey, which is helping to host the private event.

Sushi|Bar ATX, one of Austin's most upscale omakase experiences, always books up fast. This series will be no different, but might light a fire under some sushi lovers who have been meaning to splurge on a visit. The new chef series, "The Second Room" (a play on the restaurant's single-room dining), has its inaugural dinner on June 8 and 9. Two Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt, previously chef-partner of NYC restaurants Corton and The Elm, will join Sushi|Bar ATX executive chef Ambrely Ouimette for a 20-item menu ($495 per person), contributing 10 dishes each. Find out more and reserve on Tock.

Photo courtesy of Abeer Albarayseh

Council on American Islamic Relations presents Eid Celebration

The Council on American Islamic Relation (CAIR-TX) Austin chapter presents the 2nd Annual Eid Celebration at the Capitol. The aim of the program is to gather all Austinites, regardless of their beliefs or cultural background, to share the joy of Eid.

The program will include different booths where guests can enjoy free authentic food, ask questions about Islam, see displayed Islamic Art, do free Henna design, have their name written in Arabic Calligraphy, and try on Muslim clothing. The program will also include speeches from community leaders and officials.

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.

Photo courtesy of Sprouts Farmers Market

Natural grocery chain seeks nominations to sprout 24 school gardens in 24 hours

Learn and Grow

Sprouts Farmers Market, an Arizona-based grocery chain with 52 locations in Texas, is growing its influence in more ways than one. The chain is taking on a self-imposed challenge to build 24 school gardens — one each in 24 cities — within 24 hours. And community members will help choose the schools.

The mission is to celebrate Earth Month and to get kids involved in healthy food from the earliest stages to the last touches, growing vegetables at school and then learning how to prepare them in cooking classes.

It all comes down to the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, which has been pursuing this goal at schools and via community grants since 2015, awarding $15 million to more than 300 nonprofit partners. The resulting programs have taught more than 1.5 million kids about gardening, and 900,000 in schools about nutrition.

Community members can nominate neighborhood schools in the 23 states with Sprouts stores to be considered for their own new “learning garden.” The application is available to parents, teachers, faculty, and any other adult with a personal connection to their nominee, whether that’s a personal relationship or just status as a neighbor.

It will help to be familiar with the school’s current practices. The application also considers “merit” (including both achievements and barriers), the school’s existing commitment to outdoor learning, and who plans to oversee and maintain the garden.

The very outdoorsy city of Austin sees its fair share of community garden initiatives, from local brands' goodwill projects to semi-annual volunteer opportunities. Even if a child's school does not have a garden, they may participate in programs at the YMCA, or help a family member in a city-run community garden.

Nominations are open from now until April 26 at sprouts.com.

Photo courtesy of Pease Park Conservancy

Pease Park Conservancy presents Squirrel Fest

Squirrel Fest is Pease Park Conservancy's family-friendly celebration of spring, a day full of activities and fun in the areas of art, learning, conservation, and wellness, followed by a screening of WALL-E on the Great Lawn.

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6 things to know in Austin food right now: Whiskey distillery launches floating bar at "secret" lake locale

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.


Getting to the bar just got harder — but way more fun. Fierce Whiskers Distillery is literally launching a new pop-up called the Stubborn Bar, floating off the shores of Town Lake. The location is a secret, but not one too closely kept; Join the mailing list to receive updates and sign up to snag a spot. The bar operates June 3-4, June 17-18, and June 24-25. Visitors' hard work will be rewarded with a chance to taste the new two-year Texas Straight Rye, which the distillery says was very hard to make, and "the first pour should go to those who are just as determined." They're also celebrating the new release on land with a performance by Neil Frances and Thebrosfresh on June 10. Tickets ($30-120) available on Eventbrite.

Carve American Grille (stylized CARVE) has been working on its second location for more than a year, and the date has been moved one last time — hopefully. Instead of opening on June 8, it'll be June 12. It's taking up residence at The Grove (2613 Perseverance Dr.), a mixed-use community covering 75 acres. Carve, sister restaurant to Perry's Steakhouse, is well-known for its creative twists on a classic steakhouse menu, which can often border on austere. So, postpone your visit, but keep Carve on your list.

Other news and notes

Even after Memorial Day, we're all ready for a Fri-yay celebration, and thankfully this week brings another day of observance: National Donut Day. The Salty is ready with a limited-edition mini French toast donut, available only on June 2. This creative donut is made with a 24-hour brioche base, filled with a "homemade French toast filling," and topped with maple treats and mascarpone whipped cream. The shop is also celebrating with a 25 percent merch discount and free delivery to Salty Rewards Members using the app or website.

For those who just can't get enough rosé at brunch, there's the Rosé Dinner at Lost Draw Cellars. On June 3, the winery will open up its new space for a rosé tasting featuring its four new releases, all from 2022. These sips will be paired with a live fire dinner of beef and chicken from Hill Country Beef and Cielito Lindo Farm, respectively, and fresh vegetables from Hat & Heart Farm. Tickets ($85) are available at williamchriswines.com.

Austin wouldn't be Austin without the endless markets, and two more are popping up on June 4. One at Bar Toti gives an excuse to visit the chic space behind one of the city's most talked-about restaurants, Este. This Mercado del Girasol celebrates the Este Garden's third anniversary, with goods by local artisans and creatives, drinks, DJ sets, and more. Three raffles benefit Casa Marianella, which supports displaced immigrants in Austin, and visitors can pick sunflowers and try signature cocktails by Bar Toti. The other establishes a new weekly event at the Hill Country Galleria: the Bee Cave Farmers Market. In addition to the usual farmers' fare (from 40 vendors), these markets will offer live music performances, starting aptly with The Hens.

Starting this week — "as soon as I buy the buttermilk," according to the chef — Radio Coffee & Beer's food truck, Shortwave Diner, will be offering monthly specials centered on fried chicken and burgers. The pending special is a sweet and very crispy tarragon chicken with maple syrup, and the rest is a mystery. The breakfast truck stands at the ready at the popular work site for freelancers and remote workers, serving daily chicken and waffles, smash burgers, and more. Follow Shortwave on Instagram to see when the new series launches.

5 tips to build stunning sand sculptures from 2023 Texas SandFest winners

Fun at the beach

As summer fast approaches, sandy vacations to coastal destinations are on the horizon for many travelers. For those with kids in tow, sandcastle-making might top the list of beach trip must-dos.

But “playing” in the sand isn’t just an activity for children, as proven by the 22 professional sand sculptors from around the world who recently competed in the 26th annual Texas SandFest, held in Port Aransas in April. The internationally recognized event, started by Port A locals in 1997, is the largest native-sand sculptor competition in the nation; nearly 70,000 people attended this year.

Competition entries featured everything from mermaids to the Grim Reaper, all intricately carved, brushed, and chiseled from sand, ocean water, and perhaps a little diluted spray glue that sculptors say helps maintain detail. The competitors work on their masterpieces during the event, allowing spectators to witness their progress from start to finish.

“I do around five international sand sculpting competitions per year. It’s always a great challenge to compete a high level,” says Benoit Dutherage, a competitive sculptor from France who also creates snow sculptures in the French Alps during the winter.

Dutherage took first place in the Duo Masters category, along with his sand sculpting partner Sue McGrew, for their work called “Wish You Were Here.” Comprised of two loving faces (one mystically cut in half), the sculpture was a tribute to Pink Floyd.

“We like to reflect human emotions in our sculptures,” he says. “It is never easy to pick an idea among the thousands of ideas we have.”

Florida resident Thomas Koet, whose sculpture called “The Prospector” won first place in the People’s Choice category, intended to create something with horses and a cowboy as an homage to Mustang Island, where the competition took place. High tides just before the event thwarted his plans.

“The high tide washed away so much of the sand, I had only enough left for a mule or a foal,” he says. “So I decided to make an old prospector with a mule.”

Thinking out of the box when it comes to carving sand is just one of several suggestions Koet has for recreational sand sculptors. (“Who says it has to be a castle?” he says.) He and other winners from the 2023 Texas SandFest say they are always happy to see novices get creative.

Here are five of the pros' top tips for producing a beachfront masterpiece.

1. Think beyond the standard sandcastle
“Design and sculpt outside of your comfort zone,” says Abe Waterman, a sculptor from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who took first place in the Solo Masters division with his sculpture, “Sleeps with Angels.” The mega sculpture featured four angels at four corners holding a blanket carrying a sleeping woman. “While this may not lead to the best sculpture results, one will improve faster by doing this.”

Waterman noted that there are different types of sand depending on location. Some are better suited for detailed work while others work well for verticality. “But something can always be sculpted regardless of the sand quality, the design just may need to be altered,” he says.

Koet recommends picking something that will fit your attention span. “You can make anything you want,” he says. “You can make a cat, a shark, a monster truck, your high school mascot, a sneaker, or a shark eating an ice cream cone.”

2. Use the right tools
Forgo the cheap tourist shop plastic bucket and shovel set. “You definitely need proper tools to get a good result: A solid shovel, a few trowels – not too big – and a wall painting brush to clean your sculpture,” says Dutherage. “You’ll also need buckets.”

Think big painter’s buckets, he says, used to make what’s essentially “sand mud” consisting of lots of water and sand. Which leads to the next tip ...

3. Create a form mold
Consider this the secret to head-turning sand sculptures. Whether it’s a 10-foot-tall wooden box with sides that come off, or a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out, a “form mold” is an open-top vessel used to hold packed sand and water to create a carve-able structure.

“It’s a very useful thing to have in order to get a solid block, and to go high,” says Dutherage. “If you are a handyman, you can build your own forms. But a quick solution is to take a bucket, no matter what size, and cut out the bottom. Then put that bucket upside down on the sand. Add a few inches of sand, some water, mix with your trowel and compact that layer. Repeat until the bucket is full. Then gently pull the bucket up and surprise! You will get a nice block of sand ready for a sandcastle full of windows, arches, and gates.”

The compacted layers of sand and water almost act as cement, creating a sturdy base for carving. Dutherage says folks can easily repeat the form mold process to create multiple bases, either side by side or stacked.

4. Use plenty of water, for the sculpture and yourself
Benoit recommends adding even more water during the sculpting process.

“Bring a plant sprayer,” he says. “Sand needs to be wet to be sculptable.”

Even rain during sand sculpture building isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that rain will destroy a sand sculpture,” says Waterman. “While this is possible, most often it just textures the surface.”

Water is also essential for the sculptor, as staying hydrated is key during the process, Waterman adds.

Texas SandFest

Texas SandFest

"The Prospector" took first place in the 2023 Texas SandFest People's Choice category

5. Practice, Practice, Practice
“The biggest misconception is that I do anything different than anybody who does it only for the first time,” says Koet, who’s been sculpting sand for 25 years. “Sure, I bring more and bigger tools and I spend much more time shoveling the sand high and mixing it with water. But there is no magic other than years of practice.”

Waterman, who admits sand sculpting has taken over his life, competes in up to 10 contests a year and also creates sculptures for exhibits and corporate commissions.

“Tricks and tips will only get a person so far,” he says. “But ultimately practice and putting the time in will get them a whole lot further.”

Benoit agrees. “Making a sand sculpture requires a lot of work and the more you practice, the better you will get,” he says. “But first of all, you have to enjoy the fun of it.”

New Hill Country farmers market debuts in Bee Cave this month


Over 40 local farmers and makers will bring their goods to the Hill Country Galleria on Sunday, June 4 for the launch of the new Bee Cave Farmers Market. Visitors can shop at the Central Plaza Lawn from 10 am to 2 pm.

Locally-grown, fresh produce will be sold by Farmer Dave's, Citizen Mushroom, Pedernales River Farm, Persnickety Gardens, and Smyrna Farms. Gift and creative vendors include Auntie Gigi's Dog Treats, Austin Fine Jewelry, B&G Artisan Gifts, Herbal Root Collective, Luminosa Vida, Plant Lady ATX, and many more.

The farmers market doesn't just provide opportunities to shop local: Nonprofits that would like to spread the word about their cause can also find a place at the market with their free booth application.

Organizers have also dedicated an entire row of booths to young entrepreneurs looking to start their own small business, and provide any planning or decorating assistance as necessary, free of charge.

The market will also feature plenty of live music and family-friendly activities. Local bands will perform from 11 am to 2 pm every week in June. The Hens are scheduled to perform during the market's debut on June 4, and Rent Party will perform on June 11. Honeybee Jazz will bring their sultry vocals to the stage on June 18, and The Boss Jaguars will close out the month on June 25.

More information about the Bee Cave Farmer's Market can be found on their website.