Photo courtesy of the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society

Whether you were a pandemic collector or a pandemic neglecter, odds are there’s room for a few new additions, and your knowledge is always evolving. There will be plenty of adoptable plants, both rare and super accessible, at the Austin Cactus & Succulent Society (ACSS) Fall Show and Sale on September 3 and 4, plus an opportunity to meet and join Austin’s spikiest social club.

The sale invites 10 Texas and New Mexico vendors to the Garden Center at the Zilker Botanical Garden. The little building on top of the hill is tucked away from the highway and Barton Springs Road in the trees, with access to the rest of the grounds for a stroll after scoring some new photosynthesizing friends.

East Austin Succulents always has a big presence at the sale, completely taking over one end of the showroom with showpieces (priced accordingly) as well as tiny, cup-of-coffee priced finds. Rick Van Dyke brings his glazed pottery in earthy tones and organic forms — some look like fossil beds, and others even have eyes and feet. Cactus Data Plants visits from New Mexico with exotic offerings, and A Bugs Home nursery joins from San Antonio.

Many of the stores have little to no online presence apart from ACSS shows, so this annual chance to see their goods is irreplaceable. A $1 raffle every hour will hook visitors up with plants offered by each vendor day-of (so no one knows what’s coming until they get there), and a silent auction, which in the past has included historical books, socks, and a Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei).

ACSS president Sara Sturtevant had no plants when she joined the club, which was founded before she was born, in 1975. She started collecting through the monthly plant raffle to close each meeting, and more seasoned members would give her advice on how to care for her prizes. One of the most valuable pieces of advice she received — advice we all receive over and over, but may never accept — was that even the best growers kill plants sometimes.

“I have a nice little greenhouse now, and I'm very much involved in the community and in plant collecting, but I didn't start that way,” says Sturtevant. “And that's okay. If you have an interest, you should come out.”

Although the club includes nationally-known educators and traders, it also contains part-time hobbyists and, through family memberships, people too young to tell you what a plant is. Sturtevant estimates that the age demographics are evenly split above and below 50, and include active members from high school, college, and deep into retirement. Plants may never have been cooler in the United States than they are now (although the 70s won’t go down without a fight), so membership is booming, and members themselves are what Sturtevant calls a “hip crowd.”

Before the pandemic, roughly 60 people would attend in-person meetings. Those numbers have been slashed in half, but overall membership actually grew to 165. Now some events are available virtually. Regular programming from the past four months has included a workshop focusing on the Haworthia genus (those pointy, fleshy crowns that are sometimes translucent); a presentation on better plant photography; a talk by former Colorado Cactus & Succulent Society president Jackson Burkholder on Sulcorebutia in its native Bolivia; and an exploration of plant and animal life in South Texas by ​​paleontologist and ACSS member Kenneth Bader, who also manages of the Osteological Preparation Lab at UT Austin.

The society’s biggest members-only event is its annual holiday party, which before the pandemic was at a restaurant and has since transitioned to a member’s home. A potluck event in more ways than one, the party turns organically into its own mini market. “People back up their cars and have their own little plant sale, or a trade, or giveaway,” says Sturtevant.

For hands-on, site-specific activities, the group has volunteered to clean up the cactus garden at Zilker, and takes “field trips” to hike and photograph native species (never removing them). They’ve visited Big Bend on past trips, and next up is a smaller private ranch trip. As any social club could hope for, members do connect and hang out independently outside of the group.

Sturtevant considers the plant show a must-see for nostalgic Austinites and visitors. “It's been happening forever at Zilker Botanical Gardens, and it’s kind of a staple in Austin culture. If you want a piece of old Austin, this is it.”

The Austin Cactus & Succulent Society Fall Show and Sale will take place at the Garden Center at Zilker Botanical Gardens on September 3 and 4, from 10 am to 5 pm. It is open to the public. Members ($15 annually, $20 for families including housemates) are invited to free events once a month and receive a newsletter detailing events, society business, and plant thoughts. Sign up at austincactusandsucculentsociety.wildapricot.org.

Photo by Johanesen Photography

South Austin neighborhood bistro boasts all-new look, name, chef, and menu

Bistro my heart

One of South Austin’s newest neighborhood staples has refreshed, rebranded, and revealed both new leadership and new menus. Goodbye, 1417 Bistro; hello, 1417 French Bistro — because who doesn’t love a bit of added French flare?

Opened by Allison Welsh in July 2021, the Bouldin Creek bistro is an exploration of French-inspired cuisine. Launching the rebranded concept and new menu items on August 1, Welsh welcomes new executive chef Kyle Mulligan (formerly of Salty Sow, Trio at Four Seasons Hotel, Cipollina, and Kemuri Tatsu hya) to the team.

While refocusing to reflect traditional French bistro fare, Mulligan’s new menu will still feature 1417 favorites like the duck confit crepes, with added items such as a hearty jambon sandwich, escargot, French onion soup, and many more starting on August 1. He is particularly excited about the chilled scallop salad, where preserved lemon vinaigrette pairs with the sweetness of the scallops and carrot while bright and slightly bitter greens add a delightful crunch.

The restaurant works with local urban farms Hausbar and Joe’s Organics for microgreens and edible flowers.

Also refreshed on the menu are the pastries, with new items by Amy Moore and a bread program led by Maggie Fleuger. Classic French cocktails also join the already well-curated beverage menu, which will now include a French 75, Sidecar, and Vieux Carre.

But the bistro’s glow-up is not confined to the kitchen: Welsh also updated the interior décor, curating an equal parts elevated and inviting feel for diners with modern artwork, midcentury furniture, and plenty of greenery.

Open weekdays from 4 pm to 10 pm, happy hour is available Monday through Thursday from 4 pm to 6:30 pm. On weekends, the bistro serves brunch between 10 am and 3 pm and reopens for dinner from 5 pm to 11 pm (Saturdays) or 10 pm (Sundays).

1417 French Bistro features both refreshed interiors and menus.

1417 French Bistro
Photo by Johanesen Photography
1417 French Bistro features both refreshed interiors and menus.
Courtesy of Field Guide Festival

Austin's first farm-focused food festival returns to the field this fall

Field of Dreams

Austin's first farmer-focused food festival is back for its second year with an even bigger lineup than its sold-out launch event in 2021. With a mission to educate, elevate, and celebrate the local food, farmers, and chefs that make Austin one of the most incredible food cities in the country, Field Guide Festival brings Austin together to explore the pathway of food from seed in the soil to plates on the table through food, beverage, farming and wellness experiences.

This 2022 iteration features new immersive events for 2022, including Ploughman’s Picnic at Peeler Farm on September 10, At The Pass on October 1, and Field Guide Festival at Fiesta Gardens on November 12.

Led by industry powerhouses Lindsey Sokol of Blue Norther Live and Trisha Bates of Urban American Farmer, the festival is female-founded. Working alongside Philip Speer of Comedor as the chef curator and Robert Björn Taylor as the NA beverage curator, the thoughtfully designed festival celebrates our Central Texas food system, showcasing collaborations between Austin's beloved farmers and chefs.

“In year two of Field Guide, we’re giving guests a fresh food experience focusing on where their food comes from through the close collaboration of local chefs and farmers,” said co-founder Lindsey Sokol. “We want guests to leave with an understanding of where and how our food is made to help appreciate and value our local food system and culinary community.”

Field Guide Festival partners with the Central Texas Food Bank as a long-term nonprofit community partner, dedicating a portion of proceeds to support their incredible work in increasing food security for our community.

In addition to the return of the eponymous Field Guide event on November 10, the two additional fall events will feature fresh new ways to engage with local chefs, farmers, and makers across Central Texas. Taking place at Peeler Farm in Floresville, Texas, on September 10, Ploughman's Picnic will include both well-known and lesser-known Texas culinary stars such as Cured, Confituras, HiFi Mycology, Abby Jane Bakeshop, and many more.

Peeler Farm cowboys will welcome guests with a hayride to the pasture, where they will spend the evening surrounded by the farm's large herds of humanely raised cattle, sheep, and baby water buffalo as they graze on green and golden pastures. Featuring local charcuterie and Peeler Farm meat, the dinner will highlight the culinary talents of chef Jorge Hernandez from San Antonio’s Hotel Emma as well as the musical musings of Scott Ballew for a sunset performance.

Just a few short weeks later, At The Pass will move from the farm to the city, taking place in downtown Austin for a lively evening where local chefs will flex their culinary mastery, demonstrating kitchen shortcuts and pro tips that will change the way you prep food in your own kitchen. A full chef lineup, location, and more details of this must-attend new event will be released soon.

In the meantime, head to fieldguidefest.com for more information on this one-of-a-kind festival focused on the future of the local food system. Last year's tickets sold out in record time, so be sure to sign up sooner than later for an opportunity to meet and celebrate the people behind your local food while eating and drinking the vibrant flavors that are so unique to Austin.

Courtesy of Wine & Food Foundation

World-renowned winemaker joins lineup of rare Austin event

Going Once

There’s no faster way to infuse luxury into a dinner or at-home hang than uncorking a bottle of rare wine. Even being able to name one is a major power move. Austinites who wish to pursue either of these goals might make time for the Wine & Food Foundation’s biggest and best-known fundraiser of the year, The Rare & Fine Wine Auction and Gala, this November 5.

Guests are invited to the JW Marriott Austin for a three-course meal, wine pairings, and a keynote speech by winemaker Paul Hobbs, of the eponymous winery. Hobbs combined his experience growing up on a family farm in upstate New York with degrees in chemistry and vermiculture (farming with worms) to refine winemaking down to science and intuition, his bio says.

Hobbs launched his career with Robert Mondavi Winery, and after just one year was invited to join the first team launching the now world-famous Opus One Winery. After working in Argentina and helping to popularize Malbec, he has maintained an international career as owner and winemaker with several wineries, most recently Hillick & Hobbs.

“I am honored to be the Featured Winemaker for this legendary Austin event,” said Hobbs in a press release. “It’s a privilege to be included among the elite winemakers of the world who have been in this position in years past, and I look forward to meeting many of Wine & Food Foundation’s long-time supporters and wine-lovers.”

With a wide range of ticketing tiers, this gala is a three-day affair including a barbecue on November 3 and a luncheon with Hobbs on November 4. All tiers (tables from $3,500 and individual tickets for $375) support the foundation’s goal to foster general interest in wine, while providing industry “grants, scholarships, education and industry support.”

Tickets will be released on a rolling basis, starting with “epicurean” members June 15, and opening to the public at a reduced rate June 29. More information and registry at winefoodfoundation.org.

Photo courtesy of BRCB

6 things to know in food right now: Portland coffee shop opens in buzzy Austin 'burb

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.


It does make sense that Portland, Oregon, businesses would do well in Austin, and proving that for the third time over is Black Rock Coffee Bar. A new location opening in Hutto on June 3 is the third in the Austin area — all outside of Austin proper— and the 12th in Texas. Reviewers note a welcoming atmosphere and a diverse, creative menu, including prickly pear and hibiscus teas, and several takes on mocha. Customers on opening day can pick up free 16-ounce drinks, and more specials will be announced throughout the week.

Noble Sandwich Co. flew under back onto the Austin radar with a new location quietly opening at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. According to ABIA (often recognized for its great food), the outpost opened April 1. It joins Kome’s Sushi A-Go-Go, which opened on the same day. The two are included in the Austin City Market concept, which comprises Zocalo Café, Beerdrop by Austin Beerworks, and the newest live music stage at AUS.

News and Other Notes

A ramen lover knows fighting for the last few spoonfuls — no matter what — is part of the sport, but this may start looking like a harder task as the 100-degree days creep in. Thankfully, the ever-popular Ramen Tatsu-ya is bringing the heat and cooling things down with a new Spicy Chilled Ramen. The summer special, based on a typical hiyashi chuka (a dipped noodle dish), features citrus soy dressing, cucumber and tomatoes, pirikara ground pork, karashi mustard, and chili oil, with a few other more standard additions. It’s available now in all Austin locations.

To kick off Pride month, the gay and joyful cookie delivery companyWunderkeks took a step in a straighter direction. The husband-and-husband team partnered with actress Tori Spelling of 90210 fame, to discuss the importance of allyship and an accepting family. With help from Spelling’s kids, the team created their take on an, uh, “promiscuous” brownie, with a layer of chocolate chip cookie on top and an Oreo in the middle. The Safe Space Brownie, as it’s dubbed, makes no attempt at modesty, also incorporating coconut, caramel, pecan, and sprinkles. Boxes ($36 for nine) are available for nationwide delivery at wunderkeks.com.

Two of Austin’s hottest restaurants, Suerte and Uchi, are teaming up for a one-night-only fundraiser on June 7. Suerte will host chef Lance Gillum, serving braised lamb tacos made just for the occasion, with pickled summer squash, pepita salsa macha, and black crema. Proceeds from this Taquero Takeover will go to Urban Roots, a three-and-a-half-acre farm in East Austin that gives local youths paid jobs to teach about leadership through food and farming. This collaboration is part of a monthly series on the first Tuesday of every month. Reservations on Resy are gone, but the restaurant leaves a portion of seating during these events for walk-ins.

Another somewhat unlikely pair of restaurants are trading dishes through the entire month of June: Tso Chinese Delivery and Jewboy Burgers. Both center crab rangoon (fried crab and cream cheese dumplings). The Oy Vay Guey Rangoons available at Tso Delivery are stuffed with Jewboy’s picadillo, with ground beef (hold the crab), hatch green chile, and grilled onions. Jewboy’s Tso Rangoon Burger is topped, instead of stuffed, with Tso’s crab rangoon mix, fried wonton strips, and sweet chili sauce. Both are available in their respective stores, and online.

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Picturesque resort restaurant reopens

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.

Openings and new offerings

On the easternmost edge of Austin, the picturesque Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa is reopening its previous restaurant, Stories, with a new story and menu. Now called Stories Ranch Kitchen, it focuses on farm-to-table food, including wild game — like antelope from South Texas — supplied by Texas ranchers. The new menu will also include hydroponic greens, house-made cheese, and more ideas from Executive Chef Chris Cummer, who joined the team in 2021. Stories Ranch Kitchen is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 5 pm to 9 pm. Reservations are available on OpenTable.

Another delightful teal and white shard of a burger stand popped up in South Austin, making this P. Terry’s 26th location in Central Texas. This location opened on May 2 at 8600 IH 35 Service Rd SB, and is open from 7 am to midnight or 1 am. The franchise also announced a partnership Keurig Dr Pepper, with a retro fountain design to further match the eatery’s vintage theme, and new beverages in the lineup. That new lineup across all Texas locations serves Big Red, IBC Root Beer, Hawaiian Punch, 7UP, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper, Coke and Diet Coke.

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, and one of Austin’s most popular brunch spots will unveil a new spring and summer menu featuring “Snooze-approved ingredients” (which, it turns out, has a rubric). Snooze’s extensive existing menu is built around diner classics, especially lots of pancakes. That tradition continues with new strawberry shortcake pancakes, made with buttermilk, strawberry mascarpone, almond streusel and more luxe toppings. It also adds parmesan-panko crab cake benedict, a “Snoozeberry Cereal Milk Cocktail,” and many more to come. Snooze doesn’t take reservations, but it does allow diners to join an immediate waitlist on snoozeeatery.com.

The makers of Central Texas’ unofficial flagship beer, ShinerBock, announced a new Mexican-style beer, ¡Órale! This cerveza is brewed with agave, meaning (according to Shiner Beers), it’s earthy and a little sweet, and pairs well with “spicy, flavorful foods.” In a press release, Carlos Alvarez, CEO of The Gambrinus Company that owns the brewery, expressed his excitement at producing something that represents his Mexican heritage. This brew is 4.5% ABV, and will be available in 6- and 12-packs in both cans and bottles nationally this May.

Other news and notes

Three beloved Asian-owned restaurants in Austin are teaming up this month to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, donating a portion of sales to the Austin Asian Community Health Initiative. This organization provides income, language, transportation and other support that may help overcome health care barriers. Tso Chinese Delivery, The Peached Tortilla, and Chi'Lantro have offered up three dishes to the cause, pledging $1 per order: General Min’s shrimp and chicken, #60 fried rice, and kimchi fries ssäm, respectively. The promotion ends May 22.

Austin’s own Meanwhile Brewing has been raking in awards this spring, from CultureMap’s Brewery of the Year at the Tastemaker Awards, to gold winner in the Munich-Style Helles category at the World Beer Cup. The Texans triumphed alongside California’s Humble Sea Brewing Co. (silver) and a 400-year-old German brewer, Schlappe-seppel (bronze). Meanwhile is celebrating the win all day on May 20 with limited edition 4-pack cans of the Meanwhile Lager, tunes at 7 pm by DJ Chorizo Funk, and fun merch. Check out the brewery’s social media for updates on events.

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CEO of nonprofit that heads Amplify Austin steps down for more family time

She lives here, she gives here

If Austinites love anything, it's local businesses, and one nonprofit does more than any other on getting customers and their favorite businesses together to give back. I Live Here I Give Here (ILHIGH), the organization that heads Amplify Austin and supports fundraising efforts for Austin nonprofits, has announced that its CEO, Courtney Manuel, will be stepping down from her position effective June 30, 2023.

Manuel has been the CEO for five years and has been instrumental in driving the expansion of the nonprofit's other programs, like Giving Tuesday and the Big Give She is staying involved in some capacity, but stepping down to spend more time with her family.

The nonprofit amplifies giving in Central Texas by connecting individual donors and volunteers with local causes they support. The community-wide programs make giving possible for everyone, often by driving donations through purchases at favorite local businesses.

During her tenure, Manuel led I Live Here I Give Here in raising $118.9 million cumulatively since 2007. The strategic partnerships she built in corporate giving led to more transparency in the process with the creation of Growing Good — a corporate giving tracker — and a partnership with the City of Austin's Corporate Engagement Council. She also set a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging strategy and grew BIPoC representation within the organization.

Manuel shared a sense of achievement in the non-profit’s accomplishments during her tenure in a press release, saying, "I am incredibly proud … especially [of] surpassing $118 million raised for the Central Texas nonprofit community."

She also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to lead I Live Here I Give Here through a pandemic. “I love this organization and foresee a bright future ahead for it and the next leader lucky enough to serve at the helm.”

The ILHIGH board has initiated a thorough search process to identify a new leader who will continue to advance the nonprofit's mission. Manuel will serve as a consultant to assist with this transitional period. The board of directors, staff, and volunteers expressed their deepest gratitude to Courtney Manuel for her remarkable service.

"We are in a stronger place today due to Courtney’s time as CEO, and we are grateful for her fearless leadership over the last five years," said board chair Jackie Sekiguchi. “Courtney’s commitment to a smooth transition will ensure the continued success of this organization and the communities who rely on our programs.”

This departure shouldn’t change much about the organization itself. The board of directors, staff, and volunteers of I Live Here I Give Here remain committed to advancing the organization's mission and building on the foundation that Manuel has established over the past five years.

More information about I Live Here I Give Here is available at ilivehereigivehere.org.

Breathtaking Hill Country hideaway is one of Vrbo's top 10 vacation homes in the country


A magnificently hidden home located just an hour away from Austin has been chosen as one of Vrbo's "Vacation Homes of the Year" for 2023. It was the only Texas home chosen out hundreds of thousands of private residences on the vacation rental site.

The Vacation Homes of the Year showcases several popular homes throughout the country (with the occasional international spot) that range from "idyllic lakeside escapes to cozy mountain retreats and desert paradises." In all, two homes are based in California, and one each in Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, New York, Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, Colorado, and Mexico.

Texas' Hill Country Riverfront Hideaway is tucked away on five acres of land bordering the Pedernales River in Dripping Springs. The home spans 2,150 square feet with an open-concept living area, three spacious bedrooms, two lavish bathrooms, a modern chef's kitchen, fireplace, and a breathtaking wrap-around terrace.

Floor-to-ceiling windows complete the space, allowing guests to take in all of the tranquility the Hill Country has to offer. With the home's 430 feet of river access, visitors can enjoy escaping the city and relax into the views of the vast canyon below.

Dripping Springs Riverfront HideawayImagine a getaway to this Hill Country paradise. Photo courtesy of Vrbo

The property is within a half hour drive to many of the finest wineries, breweries, and must-see outdoor recreation spots in nearby Dripping Springs. Fredericksburg is only an hour's drive west for those wanting to put a greater distance between them and downtown Austin.

The average nightly cost for the riverfront oasis is $475, making it an ideal destination for small groups, a family trip, or a couple's getaway.

Dripping Springs Riverfront Hideaway

Photo courtesy of Vrbo

The Hill Country Riverfront Hideaway was the only Texas home chosen on Vrbo's list.

Expedia Brands president Jon Gieselman shared in a press release that there were plenty of eye-catching homes to wade through for the report.

"This year’s Vacation Homes of the Year range from an urban oasis and a cozy ranch home under $400 a night to a beachfront estate that can sleep the whole family and more," said Gieselman. "Every single Vacation Home of the Year has a beautiful view, and combined boast seven private pools and fire pits, eight hot tubs and even five putting greens."

The full list of Vrbo's 2023 Vacation Homes of the Year are:

  • No. 1 – The Oasis Estate in Palm Springs, California
  • No. 2 – The Happy Roadrunner in Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 3 – The Chasestone in Lake Norman, North Carolina
  • No. 4 – The Contemporary Gem in Manzanita, Oregon
  • No. 5 – Ocean View Oasis in Montauk, New York
  • No. 6 – The Riverfront Hideaway in Dripping Springs, Texas
  • No. 7 – 30A My Way in Rosemary Beach, Florida
  • No. 8 – Port of Call in Isle of Palms, South Carolina
  • No. 9 – Salmonfly Lodge in Victor, Idaho
  • No. 10 – Trestle House in Winter Park, Colorado
  • No. 11 – Villa Luna Nueva in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
More information about Vrbo's 2023 Vacation Homes of the Year can be found on their website.

Whataburger weighs in as healthiest cheeseburger in the nation


With its love of greasy enchiladas, gluttonous fried steaks, and fat-speckled brisket, Texas isn’t always known as a healthy eating mecca. But it turns out that one locally beloved dish isn’t as unhealthy as one might think.

Inspired by February’s American Heart Month (albeit belatedly), Gambling.com decided to dig deep into which fast-food burger was best for the ticker and the body overall. What that has to do with online slots is anyone’s guess, but perhaps open-heart surgeries are not conducive to risk-taking.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Local favorite/ food cult Whataburger took the top slot, earning honors with its standby cheeseburger. Assumably, the gambling site considered the mustard-slathered original, eschewing calorie bombs like bacon slices and creamy pepper sauce. Where’s the fun of Whataburger if you can’t get it just like you like it?

To arrive at the rankings, Gambling.com analyzed each burger for sugar, fat, salt, and calorie content per ounce. Each metric was given a one to ten score that factored into the final report card shared with content-hungry food journalists everywhere.

Coming in a close second was In-N-Out’s cheeseburger, a comforting fact for Texans who enjoy complaining about Californians. Rounding out the top five were Checker’s Checkerburger with Cheese, Culver’s ButterBurger Cheese, and Del Taco’s del Cheese Burger.

For those trying to make better eating choices, that list should give some pause. Yes, Whataburger beats out other fast-food faves, but it was competing against a chain that literally toasts all their buns in churned cream. Health is a relative concept.

Elsewhere on the list was another Texas darling, the No. 6 ranked Dairy Queen. Apparently, all that “hungr” is being busted by a hefty dose of sodium. Yes, we will take fries with that.