Photo courtesy of Jonas Brothers

Summer may be burning up, but our agenda is heating up even more for the holiday fun ahead. See Staind and Godsmack in concert, or party in honor of Freddy Mercury at Zanzibar Austin. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this Labor Day weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, August 31

Godsmack and Staind in concert
Rock bands Godsmack and Staind bring their co-headlining tour to Germania Insurance Amphitheater. Godsmack comes to Austin in support of their new album, Lighting Up the Sky. Staind fans can expect a set list packed with top songs from the band’s seven albums such as It’s Been Awhile and Something to Remind You. Get more concert details on Ticketmaster.

Friday, September 1

GalaxyCon Austin
Convention season continues with the return of GalaxyCon Austin. The three-day event hosted at Austin Convention Center features panels, special appearances, fan groups, comic books, celebrities, artists, gamers, and more within the expansive “galaxy” of sci-fi, fantasy, pop culture, and beyond. Attendees may run into major figures like William Shatner, Richard Dreyfuss, Mike Tyson, Lana Parrilla, Levar Burton, and others. Visit galaxycon.com for more details.

Bill Maher in concert
Legendary comedian and political commentator Bill Maher showcases his stand-up chops in Austin at ACL Live & 3TEN at ACL Live for one night only. Maher’s decades-long career is highlighted by notable achievements like his role on HBO’s Real Time and his breakout syndicated show, Politically Incorrect. Go to axs.com for ticketing information.

Zanzibar Austin presents "Queen of Zanzibar Weekend" (including Labor Day)Party in honor of the iconic singer Freddie Mercury’s birthday, in a bar named after his birthplace of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Queen fans old and new are welcome to join in on a long weekend of nonstop music, exclusive drink specials, and tribute entertainment. Get more details on how to reserve a spot on OpenTable. This special Queen activation is open through September 5.

Saturday, September 2

Shoal Creek Conservancy presents Shoal Creek Social - Creekside Hangout
Be part of Shoal Creek Conservancy’s largest event and fundraiser of the year at this al fresco party. Hangout attendees can enjoy a make-your-own native seed packet activity; family-friendly games; dog treats and swag; and food and drinks throughout the day’s programming. Guests can also embark on the Shoal Creek Audio Walking Tour during the event for a hyper-immersive experience. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional details, check out shoalcreekconservancy.org.

Sunday, September 3

The Gallery presents Art in ATX: Fall Market
The Art in ATX: Fall Market is back for its second year of outdoor marketplace finds and celebrating local artists and makers. Attendees can browse and shop from over 25 vendors specializing in art, handcrafted wares, food, and more. Live music performances by Maddy Hatchet, Emily Lacey, and DJ Provenance are scheduled throughout the day. Batch Craft Beer & Kolaches hosts this free market, which is open to the public.

Jonas Brothers in concert
The Jonas Brothers bring their world-famous family affair to Austin’s Moody Center. While their tour makes a stop in the city in support of their new album, The Album, fans will enjoy music from five albums of the trio’s expansive discography during the show. Get ticketing information at moodycenteratx.com.

Jonas Brothers
Photo courtesy of Jonas Brothers

Jonas Brothers perform live in concert at Moody Center on September 3.

Photos by Matt Baker & Olivier Brajon

Cirque du Soleil skates into Cedar Park on tour for its first-ever ice show

Crystal Clear

Cirque du Soleil, the famous international circus troupe, already has many audiences' hearts with 42 original shows, but a new show this winter makes a dramatic change in the entire experience. This will be the company's first-ever venture on ice.

Cirque du Soleil brings Crystal (formatted CRYSTAL), its acrobatic ice show, on tour through the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park in February of 2024, with a promise that it will be the most dazzling and magical production yet.

Real snowballs and world-class skating will be some of the chillest new additions, but the Cirque's signature acrobatics and surprisingly deep storytelling will remain a main theme.

“It’s Cirque du Soleil’s very first foray into this world,” Crystal senior publicist Christine Achampong tells CultureMap. “Our entire ‘stage’ is an ice rink, so everything and everyone slides and glides across the surface, which creates another layer of speed and spectacle in the show.”

Audiences will join the main character, Crystal, on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance as she moves through an exhilarating adventure colored by whimsical encounters, movement, and plenty of playful imagination. While the show’s message offers a universal appeal, it’s the intricate and intentional details of the production that are sure to make the most lasting impact on audiences.

It's not just ice that sets this show apart. Crystal is the only currently touring Cirque du Soleil production to use top pop songs within its soundtrack, a distinctive departure from the musical scores of creations past. Additional new changes for Crystal include large-scale interactive projections and an integrated spotlight tracking system to provide audiences with a hyper-immersive experience.

To help execute the gravity-defying stunts and high-speed precision choreography planned for the show, more than 5,000 pieces of custom-made costuming were created to withstand the cold and rigorous conditions of the stage.

Achampong says that the show features a team of professional acrobats and world-class skating performers all outfitted with adaptive garments. Some of these costume elements include Kevlar gloves to combat cold surfaces, shoes with ice-resistant traction, and water-resistant, insulated costuming material to provide safe, dry, and warm conditions.

“Our skaters are former World Champions, Olympians, and competitive skaters across multiple disciplines including solo and pairs skating, freestyle skating, and extreme skating,” Achampong says. “Combined with the tumbling, acro, aerial numbers, cinematic-style music, and comic characters, this show is incredible to watch from beginning to end.”

All signs point to Crystal being a truly unique production marked with several moments never before attempted by the Cirque team. Crystal performances are scheduled for February 21-25, 2024, at various showtimes. General ticket sales start on Monday, August 28, at cirqueudusoleil.com. This show is suitable for viewers of all ages.

\u200bCirque du Soliel Crystal

Photos by Matt Baker & Olivier Brajon

Cirque du Soliel's first-ever ice show, CRYSTAL, flurries to the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park in February 2024.

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

Weekend Event Guide

Looking for respite from these unforgivingly hot temperatures? We’ve curated a list of the chillest events that offer equal parts relief from the heat and quintessential summertime entertainment. Shop it like it’s hot at the return of Le Garage Sale or help keep yourself and your four-legged friends cool at Dogs Day of Summer. For those who prefer to venture outdoors after sundown, Bat Fest is the place to be. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, August 24

aGLIFF presents Prism 36
Austin’s premiere LGBTQ+ film festival and oldest film festival in city history returns to a number of silver screens over five days of cinematic programming. Highlights of the ongoing event feature more than 50 films, exclusive screenings, afterparties, a dinner fundraiser, and more. A virtual component of the festival will be available once in-person events have concluded. For a full schedule of events and to purchase badges, go to agliff.org.

Friday, August 25

Deep Eddy Vodka presents the V.O.D.K.A. Conference
Local vodka distillery Deep Eddy makes a sound and super-cool case for getting the weekend started a little early at this high-energy “conference.” This work-free experience includes activations, fake conference merch, live entertainment, and complimentary food and drinks for professionals who are looking to blow off some steam off (or on) the clock. Admission is free and open to the public. Get more information on Eventbrite.

Tiff’s Treats Tiffwich Block Party
Treat yourself to something sweet at Tiff's Treats' Nueces Street location. Block party guests can sink their teeth into a free Tiffwich ice cream sandwich and enjoy a refreshingly cold snack that’s perfect for the summertime. Party admission is free and open to the public.

Saturday, August 26

Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy presents "Dog Days of Summer"
The International Dog Day fun is in full tail-wagging swing at this seasonal Zilker Botanical Garden shindig. Canine guests can enjoy a variety of pup pools spread throughout the event to stave off the hot temperatures, and enjoy goodies (T-R-E-A-T-S) from participating vendors. Additional highlights include live demonstrations, pet adoptions, giveaways, and more. For tickets and more information, visit zilkergarden.org.

Le Garage Sale
The city’s chicest sale of the year reopens for another healthy dose of end-of-season retail therapy. Attendees can expect rows upon rows and racks upon racks of sale-marked items from 100+ boutiques, brands, and designers over the course of two days at Palmer Events Center. Available items for purchase include luxe leisurewear, children’s apparel, menswear, home decor pieces, art, and more. Check out legaragsale.net for more event details.

Bat Fest 2023
Celebrate the unofficial and nocturnal mascot of Austin at the return of Bat Fest. This year’s highlights include a bat costume contest, kid’s zone activities, vendors, and a great view of the bats during their nightly flight. Attendees can also enjoy live music from special guests Mike Ryan Flo Rida, Lil Flip, George Birge, Mike Jones, Alien Ant Farm, and others. For more festival information and ticket options, check out roadwayevents.com.

Austin downtown skyline bats Congress Bridge
Imagine Austin Facebook

Paddleboarders can enjoy a view from Lady Bird Lake as Austin's famous bats emerge from under Congress Ave on August 26.

Rowing Dock presents Bat Fest: A Limited-Edition Guided Bat Paddle
Experience the breathtaking natural phenomenon of more than 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from under the Congress Avenue Bridge from the waters of Lake Austin during this special guided bat tour by Rowing Dock. This four-mile tour offers a unique view of the bats as they embark on their nightly feeding, while also offering up a background of live music from Bat Fest happening simultaneously. For tour details, visit rowingdock.com.

Photo by F. Carter Smith

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

Weekend Event Guide

All the world’s a stage in the Live Music Capital of the World, and this roundup of can’t-miss concerts and shows serves as proof. See artists like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Pantera, and Lamb of God live at some of the city’s hottest venues. Music-minded meet-ups and performance theatre offer alternative ways to get your local-approved music fix. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, August 17

KMFA Classical 89.5 presents an Austin Arts Mixer
Mingle and party with some of the city’s most regarded arts organizations at KMFA Classical 89.5. Highlights include exclusive networking opportunities, passed bites from Alfred’s Catering, wine by BOXT, cocktails by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and more. Mixer admission is free and open to the public. For a full list of participating partners, go to kmfa.org.

Cap City Comedy Club presents David Koechner
Comedian and actor David Koechner is the latest resident at Capitol City Comedy Club. Koechner is best known for his longtime stand-up career and his scene-stealing roles in films like Anchorman and The Office. In addition to his stand-up performances, Koechner will host an Office trivia show for diehard fans of the groundbreaking comedy series. See showtimes and ticket details at capcitycomedy.com.

Friday, August 18

High School Reunion Tour with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa
Legendary Californian Hip-Hop artists Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa bring their co-headlining High School Reunion Tour to Austin’s Germania Insurance Amphitheater. The show will also feature performances by other rap heavy hitters including Too $hort, Warren G, Berner, and special guest DJ Drama. Go to Ticketmaster for more information.

Jurassic World Live Tour
Journey into the prehistoric world of dinosaurs and other ancient beasts at this immersive experience inspired by the cult classic cinematic universe, Jurassic World. Guests will enter a space at Moody Center wholly transformed into the environment depicted in the franchise, which features 24 film-accurate and life-sized dinosaurs operated by animatronics and performers. Pre-show activations are also available for guests who want to embark on the adventure early. Get more details on Ticketmaster.

Saturday, August 19

ZACH Theatre presents Head Over Heels
The love stories of a fictional royal family come to life through an in-verse production with a modern twist at ZACH Theatre. Kathy Valentine, bassist for 80s girl group The Go-Go's, presides as music director over this kingdom until September 10. Audiences can experience the chaotic, queer tale as told through Go-Go's music and a set completely made of pool inflatables. Familiar songs like “We Got the Beat” and “Vacation” offer the perfect soundtrack to this age-old story. Learn more about the creative Broadway play adaption in CultureMap's review and interviews.

Sunday, August 20

John Oliver in concert
Acclaimed comedian John Oliver performs live at Bass Concert Hall. The host and producer of the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver will perform two back-to-back shows. Throughout his career, Oliver’s style of comedy and writing skills have awarded accolades such as 23 Primetime Emmys, five Writer’s Guild Awards, and two Critics’ Choice Television Awards. For tickets, go to texasperformingarts.org.

Pantera in concert
Heavy metal band Pantera makes their highly anticipated return to the stage as part of their national tour. Fans can expect original band members Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown joined by Zakk Wylde, and Charlie Benante on the stage at Germania Insurance Amphitheater. Lamb of God joins the concert as special guest. Get more information on Ticketmaster.

Snoop Dogg
Photo by F. Carter Smith

Snoop Dogg comes to Austin with Wiz Khalifa, Too $hort, and others on August 18.

Photo courtesy of Giant Noise

A punchy event at one of the world's best vineyards lets travelers make Hill Country wine

Punch Drunk

Why take your date out for a glass of wine when you can make the wine together instead? Guests can try their hand at winemaking with a significant other or bestie at one of the Hill Country's most famous vineyards on August 26.

At Grape Punch Day ($25), William Chris Vineyards will guide guests on a wine-making journey that includes the fine art of grape punching, they say. This Hye-based vineyard was recently voted 60th in the world (yes, you read that right) by the World's Best Vineyards.

You've probably seen people do it in the movies: They roll up their pant legs and stomp on grapes. There's some truth to that Hollywood trope, because grape punching actually helps separate the solid grape matter (like the skins and pulp of the grapes) from the liquid that ultimately becomes wine.

However, at Grape Punch Day, organizers say, guests will use their arms and hands instead of their feet. In addition to learning grape punching, guests will earn themselves a glass of wine and a Grape Punch T-shirt. The sessions will be led by the expert winemakers of William Chris Vineyards, who will be on hand all day to answer questions and offer guidance for every grape puncher.

The Grape Punch will take place on one day only this year, but guests have three separate times to choose from: 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. This gives Central Texans a little more flexibility in driving out to the small town near Fredericksburg.

If wine punchers are hungry after trying a glass of wine or two, there's a grab-and-go food shop onsite called W.C. Provisions. For something more formal, guests may want to book a Vineyard Table Experience ($75) to extend the the day even more; get one last punch in, if you will. (It's highly recommended to book the experience in advance to ensure your spot.) This extra experience offers tastings of four carefully curated wines paired with heavy hors d'oeuvres.

For people who prefer a larger meal over appetizers, William Chris Vineyards also offers picnic lunches ($20) that include a gourmet sandwich, seasonal salad, fresh fruit, a Rambler sparkling water, and a dessert.

Every experience and tasting at William Chris Vineyards requires a reservation in advance. For more info about each experience, visit williamchriswines.com.

Photo courtesy of Lil Baby

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

Weekend Event Guide

We're making space on our agenda for countless concerts, a summery supper, and a birthday bash in the days ahead. Catch the Steve Miller Band, Eric Church, and Lil Baby in concert, or feast on fresh flavors at the Midsummer Night’s Dream Supper. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a complete list of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, July 27

Counter Culture turns 14
Local food trailer-turned-restaurant Counter Culture celebrates 14 years of business and the birthday of its owner, Sue, on the back patio of Tweedy’s Bar. This year has been a roller coaster for the business, so there's even more perseverance to celebrate. Highlights include special menu items, good vibes, and a live DJ set of ‘60s and ‘70s vinyl records by the birthday star herself. Admission to this event is free.

Steve Miller Band in concert
The Steve Miller Band celebrates the 50th anniversary of their iconic album, The Joker, at this special show. Fans can flood the Germania Insurance Amphitheater and expect another can't-miss and very rare show, like the band's two fantastic ACL tapings in September. Cheap Trick will join the band as a special guest. Go to Ticketmaster for more details.

Friday, July 28

"Dig Deep ATX" showcase
ATX TV and Deep Cut Music join forces for the first-ever "Dig Deep ATX" showcase. The event features a curated lineup by Deep Cut Music’s Maggie Phillips: all emerging Austin musicians who are poised for TV and film success. Beverages from Still Austin and food will be available for purchase during the shows. Admission is free with RSVP via Mailchimp.

Supper Friends presents a "Midsummer Night’s Dream Supper"
Ready your tastebuds for the flavors of the season at this indulgent culinary experience. Supper Friends at the SWOOP House hosts a cell phone-free supper party featuring a summer menu curated by De Nada Cantina's Chef Nick Barrera. Guests will dine on imaginative dishes while fostering community through conversation, reminiscent of dinner parties of yore. Splurge on seating for the "Midsummer Night's Dream Supper" at exploretock.com.

Moody Center presents Lil Baby in concert
Rapper Lil Baby comes to Moody Center to support his 2022 album, It’s Only Me. The Atlanta-based artist is best known for his chart-topping hits including “Woah” and “Drip Too Hard.” He’s joined by fellow emcees GloRilla, The Kid LAROI, GLOSS UP, Rylo Rodriguez, and Hunxho. Get seating information on Ticketmaster.

Saturday, July 29

Eric Church in concert
Country music star Eric Church performs live in concert in support of his 2021 album, Heart & Soul. One of the genre's contemporary leaders, Church is known for gentle hits like "Springsteen" as well as rowdier ones like "Drink In My Hand." Midland and Ray Wylie Hubbard will join Church for this concert at Germania Insurance Amphitheater. For ticket details, visit Ticketmaster.

Ballet Folklorico de Austin presents Guelaguetza Oaxaqueña
Oaxacan performing arts are brought to life through a variety of dance and entertainment at The Long Center for the Performing Arts. Festival attendees can expect a program featuring "Guelaguetza” — a Zapoteca word meaning “active cooperation” — accompanied by a fusion of music, authentic costumes, and movement. Get tickets and more information at thelongcenter.org.

Lil Baby

Photo courtesy of Lil Baby

Lil Baby visits Moody Center on July 28.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Google soars to No. 3 in prestigious list of Forbes' best employers in Texas, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From employers to non-hierarchical art, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Google soars to No. 3 in prestigious list of Forbes' best employers in Texas. Austin continues to hosts the best of the best employers in Texas, as Google and Apple move into coveted spots on Forbes' list.

2. Country icon Willie Nelson returns to traditional 'hillbilly' inspiration in new album. Nelson's new LP, Bluegrass, is his first album-length tribute to the traditional country genre.

3. Austin art collectives bring work made by 1,000 local hands to Burning Man. 500 Austinites helped dye and tie scraps of fabric in a flowing mosaic that became an unmissable part of the Playa.

4. More closed home sales in Austin show growing homebuyer confidence. The latest data showed the first increase in closed home sales year-over-year since February 2022.

5. Famous Austin furniture store Louis Shanks shutters last remaining locations. The furniture retailer first opened in 1945, and had been operated by the Shanks family for four generations.

Here are all 22 Austin acts to add to your 2023 ACL Fest playlist

homegrown sounds

We're almost there. Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest) is poised to take over Zilker Park across two weekends – October 6-8 and October 13-15 – and while Austinites surely have a running list of all the bigger touring acts that they want to see, they may not be aware of the many great locals on the lineup.

So, here’s a rundown of the 22 Austin-based artists that will be playing during either weekend. Take a look, make some notes, and go show some support! Don't forget to hydrate and get a snack between sets, too!

Asleep At The Wheel (W1)
Kick off weekend one of ACL with a fest tradition: a set from country legends Asleep At TheWheel, who have performed at just about every ACL since the festival’s inception in 2002. They’ll play on Friday, October 6, at 12:55 pm on the Honda Stage.

Die Spitz (W1)
With a raucous live show and their well-received 2023 EP, Teeth, Die Spitz have been one of the most buzzed-about bands out of Austin this year. You can catch the upstart rockers on Saturday, October 7, at 11:45 am on the Tito’s Stage.

Arya (W1)
Pop and R&B fans will find a lot to like when it comes to Arya, an up-and-coming songstress who now calls Austin home after having grown up in Serbia. Her set will take place on Saturday, October 7, at 11:45 am on the T-Mobile Stage.

Shooks (W1)
Fronted by Marlon Sexton (the son of guitarist Charlie Sexton), Shooks will be taking the stage at ACL for the second time since 2021. The band’s versatile indie rock sound can be experienced on Saturday, October 7, at 12:45 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Calder Allen (W1&2)
Since last year’s release of his debut album, The Game, singer-songwriter Calder Allen has been on a steady ascent through the ranks of local acts. You can see him at both weekends of the fest – for each one he’ll play on Saturday (October 7 & 14) at 2:45 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Ben Kweller (W1&2)
Celebrated indie rocker Ben Kweller has spent a good bit of the summer on the road with Ed Sheeran, and that will roll into appearances at both weekends of ACL. Look for him on each Saturday (October 7 & 14) at 3 pm on the Miller Lite Stage.

Ellis Bullard (W1)
Get a “true-blue honky tonk” experience via Ellis Bullard, who will be making his ACL debut justas he’s gearing up to release a new album, Honky Tonk Ain’t Noise Pollution!. You can see himon Sunday, October 8, at noon on the Barton Springs Stage.

Wesley Bray And The Disciples of Christ (W1)
Take a break from the noise of ACL and enjoy a spiritual moment with Stubb’s Gospel Brunch regulars Wesley Bray And The Disciples of Christ. They can be experienced on – of course – Sunday, October 8, at noon on the Tito’s stage.

Jane Leo (W1)
Centered around Jane Ellen Bryant and Daniel Leopold (of Leopold And His Fiction), Jane Leo are responsible for some of the catchiest alt-pop tunes you’ll find in Austin these days. Their ACL set is on Sunday, October 8, at 1 pm, on the Tito’s Stage.

Grace Sorensen (W1)
R&B/neo-soul artist Grace Sorenson has previously been a part of ACL as support for other acts, but she’ll make her full debut at the festival during Weekend One. Her performance will happen on Sunday, October 8, at 1:30 pm on the BMI Stage.

Jimmie Vaughan (W2)
Weekend two of ACL will get underway with a performance from guitar afficionado Jimmie Vaughn. Don’t miss his blues-filled performance on Friday, October 13, at 12:55 pm on the Honda Stage.

Font (W2)
Just after wrapping a supporting run with the popular Japanese band CHAI, Font will play their first ever ACL Fest. The post-punk act puts on a dynamic show and shouldn’t be missed on Friday, October 13, at 12:55 pm on the American Express Stage.

Huston-Tillotson University Jazz Collective (W2)
If the Huston-Tillotson University Jazz Collective isn’t on your radar, they should be, as they will be putting out some of the smoothest sounds you’ll find at the fest this year. Catch the urban contemporary jazz ensemble’s set on Friday, October 13, at 1:15 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

We Don’t Ride Llamas (W2)
From a love of the game Rock Band as kids to playing ACL, it’s been a heck of a ride so far for the four siblings behind We Don’t Ride Llamas. If you like bands that offer a little bit of everything sound-wise, then don’t miss their set on Friday, October 13, at 1:40 pm on the Miller Lite Stage.

Nemegata (W2)
Nemegata will be heading into ACL hot on the heels of their sophomore album, Voces, which the band describes as a “transcendent Afro-Indigenous Colombian odyssey.” You can see them on Saturday, October 14, at noon on the Barton Springs Stage.

Rattlesnake Milk (W2)
Country, punk, rock — Rattlesnake Milk is every bit of that and very much worthy of a slot on your “bands to see” list. Their set will go down on Saturday, October 14, at 1:15 pm on the BMI Stage.

Blakchyl (W2)
Just a week before she takes the stage at ACL, hip hop vet Blakchyl will release an anticipated album titled Better Than I Imagined. Hear tracks from it and more on Saturday, October 14, at11:45 am on the Tito’s Stage.

The Moriah Sisters (W2)
If you miss out on Wesley Bray And The Disciples of Christ during weekend one of ACL, you can still get your gospel fix in the next go-round with The Moriah Sisters. Their performance will take place on Sunday, October 15, at noon on the Tito’s Stage.

Kathryn Legendre (W2)
With “Cigarettes,” her brand new single in tow, “singer-songwriter, honky-tonker, and Hill Country gem” Kathryn Legendre will make her ACL debut. You can see her sure-to-be-charming set on Sunday, October 15, at noon on the Baron Springs Stage.

After years in Torino Black, Sisi has begun rolling out solo tunes, including a recent one titled “Lyin’ Cheat.” You can check out the singer-songwriter on Sunday, October 15, at 1 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Quin NFN(W2)
The oft-buzzed-about rapper Quin NFN will swing into ACL Fest more than ready to show why he’s racked up of millions of streams and a dedicated following. Be sure to catch the spectacle on Sunday, October 15, at 2 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Caramelo Haze (W2)
Beto Martínez & John Speice (Grupo Fantasma), Alex Chavez (Dos Santos), and Victor "El Guámbito" Cruz (Nemegata) are the minds behind the “electro neo-sōl odyssey” known as Carmelo Haze. They’ll be playing on Sunday, October 15, at 2 pm on the Tito’s Stage.

Austin 'Top Chef' winner emerges after controversy to open upscale Mexican restaurant

New Restaurants

Austin and the village of Bacalar in Southeastern Mexico share a similar ethos — that life revolves around the lake. Overlooking Town Lake, the new upscale Mexican restaurant Bacalar brings the tastes of one famous lake to another, with chef Gabe Erales at the helm.

The restaurant has opened at 44 East Ave. #100, after years of preparation and following controversy surrounding the chef's departure from his last role, at Comedor. A walk-up taco window called Tómalo Taquería is planned for the fall.

Food & Drink
Bacalar is all about duality, from the two lakes that inspired and accompany the food to an especially close collaboration between the chef and real estate and design firm Urbanspace on the interiors.

The menu features globally influenced dishes from the Yucatan region, including Castacan Tacos with pork belly; Squash & Chaya Tamal; and a chef's daily steak cut.

The menu balances on the concept of "comida milpera," or food system interdependence between farmers, suppliers, and chefs, according to the restaurant.

Erales explains, "'La milpa' is a twofold, parallel concept — the 'milpa' being essentially a pre-Hispanic farming system, where you planted complementary vegetables and fruit next to each other, and the byproduct of one is the input of another. [It] allowed people throughout Mexico to have a very flourished farming system with not a lot of water or rich soil. But in parallel to that, it was also thought of as a socio-cultural relationship system."

The restaurant hopes to embody that spirit on the menu, which places special emphasis on food and drink pairings. (Surely executive pastry chef Natalie Gazaui also has something up her sleeve, although the desserts were not explained in detail.)

Bar manager Dragan Milivojevic says he designed the cocktail menu to "follow the kitchen," and Erales points out that some hard-to-find flavors from the Yucatán Peninsula go great in drinks — for instance, cooking pastes called "recados." One of Milivojevic's special flavors comes in the form of a house-made Orgeat syrup derived from mamey sapote, a tropical fruit that many say tastes like sweet potato or pumpkin.

One specific restaurant-bar pairing complements fried octopus aguachile with a corn-infused agave spirit martini. In this pairing, the martini stands in for the more common choice of a corn chip. This also creates another outlet for corn use, as Bacalar purchases surplus grains not grown commercially, in order to support the communities keeping those heirloom varieties alive.

Bacalar also plans to offer weekly pairings of different mezcals with dishes from the kitchen. Milivojevic hopes that the bar will one day have the biggest mezcal program in Texas, and will introduce new people to the spirit.

Bacalar's interior design also aims for a careful balance that is neither too rustic nor too modern.

The team at Urbansapce — which manages famous buildings like The Independent, Seaholm Residences, and Brazos Lofts — points out the importance of the ground-floor location for the restaurant, and aligns itself with a longterm push to make downtown a residential destination as well as a business hub.

Urbanspace principal and interior designer for Bacalar, Merrill Alley, who introduced CEO Kevin Burns to Erales for the collaboration, says the team hopes the restaurant will be an amenity for people living in the residential spaces above at 44 East Ave (both the building's name and address).

Bacalar has been a long time coming for the chef-owner. Erales, who won Top Chef in July 2021, saw his celebration cut short by a very public break with Comedor. His official statement from July of 2021 summarized the situation as follows:

"I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Top Chef; however, I must continue to acknowledge my mistakes including the termination from my former job. To clarify, unbeknownst to my wife, I had a consensual relationship with a co-worker and later reduced her work hours, which in combination was a poor judgment call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef. ... My personal growth will be a perpetual apology in seeking forgiveness."

A statement by chef Philip Speer, who still helms Comdedor, echoes the story with the addition that the termination came from “repeated violations of our policies and for behavior in conflict with our values.”

Erales had announced his plans for Bacalar after departing Comedor, but before his Top Chef win, which brought major attention to past events.

He declined to comment further for CultureMap.

Bacalar is now open 5-10 pm Sunday-Wednesday, 5-11 pm Thursday-Saturday, and weekend brunch is coming soon, according to the website.