Film still from Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones)

Austinites are used to festivals, to say the least. But even during a festival it’s rare to find so many cultures in one place — not just worldwide talent in one genre as one might see at an EDM festival, but a mind numbing smörgåsbord (that’s Swedish) of different cultural takes in infinite forms.

During South by Southwest (SXSW), there are plenty of opportunities to check out local acts, but if you want to get worldly, check out these chic (French) visitors and learn a little about what’s going on away from home.

Even if you prefer to kvetch (Yiddish) about the crowds and wristband prices, this list prioritizes things to stream from home or visit after the festival is over...so you can hunker down (Scots) at home in your pajamas (Urdu) for now.

North America

Canada: Begonia
March 16 @ Swan Dive
Our neighbors to the north may not seem exotic, but singer-songwriter Begonia’s vocals are out of this world. Fans of Adele will love this soulful alto’s songsmithing, smoothly covering a wide vocal and intense emotional range, although her instrumental arrangements are less retro.

Haiti: Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones) "sensorial film""sensorial film"
March 11, 14, 16 @ Violet Crown
This stunning art film combines images of "dancers, musicians, fishermen, daredevil rollerbladers, and Vodou priests" with poetry and music to capture the spirit of Haiti. The film's composer, Joseph Ray, makes trancy house music and played a free set after the international premier.

South America

South America: Southamericano Day Showcase
March 18 @ Sahara Lounge
Austin's top year-round Afro-Latino spot is (unoffically) gathering some South American fun including some Austin performers: Alex Cósmico of Colombia kicks it off with some coffeehouse vibes, and the Brazilian-led Frederico7 y Los Primes follow with psychedelic jams.


Italy: Ciao SXSW! The Italian showcase
March 16 @ The Stay Put
Italian music isn’t exactly big outside of the concert hall, but Eurovision winners Måneskin put the country in a new spotlight. This diverse lineup features Italian exports from Venezeula (Arya) and California (Baseball Gregg), plus “psychsexrock” (Big Mountain County) and more.

Holland: The Water Arch installation
March 12-15 @ Austin Convention Center, Booth 1527
This gigantic installation is likely the largest musical instrument at SXSW: it takes (abstract) inspiration from a Dutch barrel organ — imagine a portable circus organ — and collects water while playing: 36 gallons to represent what a Dutch person uses in a day, and 82 for Americans.


South Asia: South Asian House
March 11-12 @ Fourth & Co
Houses are important in the structure of SXSW, allowing programming to go beyond one label or PR company, and giving visitors an idea of what to expect. The first-ever South Asian house introduced Ausitnites to Sway With Pray, a Bollywood dance studio in Austin that offers classes.


South Africa and Romania: Who I Am Not documentary film
March 11, 12, and 16 @ Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar
A Romanian director follows the journeys of two intersex South Africans blazing a path through a cisnormative world. Born with both male and female sex characteristics, they explore the issues of gender, dating without the biological ability to have kids, and more.

Mali: Orchestra Gold
March 16-18 @ Güero's Taco Bar, Waterloo Records, Shiner's Saloon, Hotel Vegas
Psych rock is basically the name of the game this SXSW (hey, they know what Austin likes). One visiting group takes a different approach than most locals are used to hearing, in an Afrobeat style that produces more upbeat jams to accompany the Bambara language lyrics.


Australia: Floodlights
March 15, 16, 18 @ Lucille and Valhalla
One band visiting calls its genre “Australiana,” mostly for the lead vocalist’s distinguishable accent. This semi-deadpan group embodies some of the frankness of Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and the darker, bass-driven tones of 80s new wave bands.

Jo's Coffee Facebook

6 things to know right now in Austin food news: Iconic coffee shop expands even farther south

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 coffee shops, Jo’s, is expanding south for the first time rather than north, beyond its iconic South Congress location. The cafe already has additional locations downtown, on campus, on Red River Street, and at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, but this new location will service the corner of Menchaca Road and Stassney Lane (5532 Menchaca Road). The brand announced the expansion on social media, but has not offered any further information about the building or menu. The South Congress location is also hosting its 16th Annual Chili Cook-Off on February 5 at Hotel San José, with both professional and amateur chefs, live music, a raffle, and more. Tickets ($25) available day-of.

Other news and notes

Warm cookies are a mindset as much as a perfect snack, and Tiff’s Treats is celebrating its 24th birthday with a discreet way to keep that feeling close to the chest. An exclusive collection withKendra Scott — who recently passed her own 20-year milestone — represents the blue-ribboned box in necklace form. With only 1,000 pieces, the limited edition collection features a bow-shaped charm embellished with blue crystals and is available through Tiff’s online delivery. Customers can also sign up for the “Birthday Guest List” for daily prize drawings and a virtual gift bag.

Peoples Rx, a more than 40-year-old pharmacy chain that sells gourmet treats, is celebrating National Gluten-free Day on January 13 with gluten-free chocolate croissants by Austin's Dream Bakery. This is a permanent addition to the menu, which includes other gluten-free snacks like cold-pressed juices, chia seed pudding, and several salads. Dream Bakery closed its doors in August, but is still selling treats through resellers, farmers markets, and pop-ups.

Austinites tired of their go-to meats can find something more niche at Perry’s Restaurants, with off-menu features until spring. The turtle gumbo at Perry's Steakhouse is the obvious choice for something a little more adventurous, mixing Louisiana turtle and Perry’s homemade Polish sausage in a gluten-free stew. Diners at Perry's can also order Lobster Thermidor, while guests at Carve American Grille enjoy salmon cakes and a hearty chicken soup.

In the midst of Austin's temperate winter, things are going to get a little Nordic. Sister restauants Kalimotxo and Hestia are hosting chefs Atli Mar Ynngvason of Katla and Halaigh Whelan McManus of Bar Amour, both from Oslo, for a dinner series on January 15 and 16. The former dinner at Kalimotxo will be more casual, with à la carte dishes fusing Basque and Norwegian styles. The latter at Hestia will welcome 45 guests for a tasting menu ($225 per person before wine pairings) featuring ingredients sourced from Texas and Norway. Reserve on OpenTable.

New year, new cupcakes, new way to be a great guest at a Lunar New Year celebration. Sprinkles, a national cupcake chain with vending machines at The Domain (plus a full bake shop) and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, is offering a limited-edition cupcake to celebrate from January 16-29. In partnership with Gold House, an advocacy organization for Asian and Pacific Islanders, the "Gold Bunny Almond Red Velvet Cupcake" delivers all those flavors in a red box with envelopes to give traditional cash gifts. Find a location at sprinkles.com.

Austin theater company puts on South African play that mirrors current banned literature debates

Banned, unbanned

They say Shakespeare sounds best in an American accent — how about a South African one? Austin Shakespeare, a professional theater company that goes beyond The Bard, will stage a three-day production of “Master Harold” … and the Boys, a play by South African playwright Athol Fugard, set in early apartheid. The readings take place January 13-15 at KMFA’s Draylen Mason Studio.

Aside from the timeless value of sharing stories from other countries, “Master Harold” … and the Boys offers something oddly current to Texas audiences, considering its 1982 publication (while the apartheid government was still in power). The play shares a similar history to what many cultural documents suffer now in Texas politics, at least in schools; it was banned by South Africa’s Publications Appeal Board for being ''indecent, obscene, immoral and offensive to public morals,” as quoted days later in the New York Times.

Although the ban was lifted, the show premiered at Yale, becoming the first of Fugard’s plays to premiere abroad and embodying still-relevant ideas about the rerouting of blocked societal discourse in academia.

The story follows one white boy in 1950 (thought to represent the playwright, who was born Harold Athol Lannigan Fugard) and two Black servers who raised him more attentively than his blood family. When the boy gets caught in between his actual, feuding parents, he takes it out on his emotional surrogates, explicitly emphasizing the power differential between them by becoming “Master Harold.”

Fugard has been lauded many times over as the greatest, on several scales: in English, in South Africa, in general. “Fugard is one of our greatest living playwrights, and this script is funny and touching as well as powerfully dramatic,” said director Ann Ciccolella in a press release.

Marc Pouhé (lead in Austin Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Othello, among others) plays the lead alongside Corey Allen, assistant professor of acting at the University of Texas at Austin. Justin Duggan makes his Austin Shakespeare debut as the younger teen.

He is still in school at Chicago College of Performing Arts, pursuing a BFA in Acting. Austin Shakespeare calls itself the “only professional classical theater company in Central Texas,” and runs Shakespearian programming such as “Shakespeare 20/20” in schools, and the “Shakespeare Aloud” reading group, which goes over about an act a week in a group setting, allowing time for discussion and analysis as the reading progresses. The organization also emphasizes creative development through group activities such as sessions based on Julia Cameron’s landmark self-help book, The Artist's Way.

“Master Harold” … and the Boys will be shown January 13-15 at KMFA’s Draylen Mason Studio, at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm on Sunday. Tickets ($25, or $14 for students night-of) are available at austinshakespeare.org.

Photo courtesy of Tamalitoz

How this Austin-based Mexican candy brand became an international success story

A Sweeter Deal

For inhabitants of a country with a dizzying variety of candy, Americans are not very familiar with handmade confectionery. Enter the candy pullers of Instagram, who make mesmerizing, widely viewed content folding, rolling out, and chopping little pieces of hard candy most of us have never tasted. Enter the Mexican-American brand Tamalitoz.

These little “pillows,” as candy maker and founder Jack Bessudo calls them, are made in a similar way to candy canes. Hard candy is placed on a puller (like the saltwater taffy machines of the Northeast), which incorporates some air into the sugar mixture. It’s rolled out into logs, and stretched into thinner canes, which then go through a roller pinching them into little pillow shapes, like ravioli.

“I learned how to make candy from a guy that worked in this candy shop in Australia,” says Bessudo. “So I had actually seen that candy shop on a business trip, like, 20 years ago, and I fell in love with the concept of that store.”

The European technique produces what many think of as old-fashioned candies, but Tamalitoz are kicked up a notch with traditional Mexican flavors for an exciting fusion: no matter the flavor of the candy itself — things like watermelon, mango, tamarind, and cucumber — each pillow is filled with chili, lime, and sea salt. The hard candy forms a shell around the outside, and the aerated inside dissolves, similar to malt powder.

In August, Tamalitoz added a softer, low-sugar candy to the lineup — like a vegan Starburst sweetened with monk fruit — called ChewLows. This October, the brand also expects to release a new collaboration with Nadia Elhaj of Cornucopia, a popcorn maker in Tamalitoz's new home, Austin. Both expansions stay on-brand with fruity flavors and a spicy kick.

Tamalitoz were best-sellers at Bessudo’s several shops in Mexico, Sugarox, where visitors loved watching the process. His English boyfriend, Dec — who would become his husband — helped around the shop in its early stages, handling the more serious business while Jack experimented with sugar.

Thankfully, Tamalitoz were also easy to make, so they were the flagship product when the couple decided it was time to expand. The Sugarox owners both loved Mexico, but the language barrier was hard for Dec, who suggested moving the business to the United States, where Jack had grown up, in Houston.

Rather than suffer through the minutia of international candy exporting alone, Bessudo made some friends. Serving as a board member for the American Society of Mexico, he met City of San Antonio representative Jill Metcalfe, who in turn connected him with the Free Trade Alliance. Things moved fast.

“They helped us with looking at the business plan and the opportunities, and they were a really great bunch of people,” says Bessudo. “After we did all of that … they offer to set up meetings with potential buyers. The first people that ever saw the finished product was two days after we had done [the packaging]. And one of the meetings that we had was with the procurement person at H-E-B.”

Still a small team hand-making candy at every step, Sugarox stretched itself thin to make 9,000 bags per month, falling far short of H-E-B’s goal of 60,000. The Texas retailer said it’d wait. Meanwhile, a Walmart buyer at a convention put Tamalitoz on shelves as Sugarox worked to up its production, learning the hard way that making thousands of bags of candy is not the same quaint experience as running some stores on charm and taste.

“One of my concerns was, how are people going to react to a high-end Mexican style candy?” says Bessudo. “Living in San Antonio, Mexican candy is not considered premium. It's delicious, but it's not premium. Especially with the pricing strategy … to our surprise, people were extremely accepting of it.”

At the same convention, they met another shop owner who explained her candy making process at a facility in Tijuana, Mexico. The new allies created a new supply chain from Tijuana to San Diego to Austin, where the couple moved, and started delivering small shipments to local H-E-Bs. They passed the 20-store milestone, shifted to UPS shipments, and started the expansions that led to chews and popcorn.

Like many pandemic businesses going through growing pains, Sugarox had to cut back somewhere, and the pair decided to close all their Mexican stores. Thus far, though, Tamalitoz have crossed every invisible line, from Mexico to San Antonio; as a gay couple looking for support in corporate retail; and as artisans hoping to show Americans how high their candy standards can be. Mexico has not tasted its last Tamalitoz.

Tamalitoz can be found at H-E-B, Walmart, and independent retailers mapped at tamalitoz.com. A new popcorn product is coming soon.

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Blossom into a new Easter or Passover tradition with these spring treats and feasts around Austin


Easter and Passover (April 9 and April 5-13) are right around the corner; you might want to consider solidifying any plans before it gets any nicer outside and the crowds come out. Whether you’re enjoying the holiday with your friends or family, or taking yourself out to brunch, we’ve gathered a basketful of egg-cellent happenings for you to hop to in Austin.

Check back here for more recommendations as businesses finalize their plans.

Easter brunches and egg hunts

Fairmont Austin's Easter brunch and egg hunt
Come for the brunch, stay for the egg hunt. The first brunch we’re eyeing is at Fairmont Austin downtown on Red River Street. They’ll host two different brunch buffets at 10 am and 1:30 pm on Easter Sunday. Guests can take their pick of an egg-stravagant spread of seafood, oak-smoked prime rib, and other delicacies. After you’ve had your fill, head to the rooftop for the hotel’s brunch attendee-exclusive Easter Egg Hunt at 11:30 am or 3:00 pm. Word on the street says the Easter Bunny might make a special appearance. The Tiny Tails petting zoo will also be at the hotel to show off the cutest animals for friends of all ages. Brunch bookings can be made via OpenTable.

Fareground's Easter brunch specials and egg hunts
For an afternoon of fun for children of all ages, consider bringing the family to downtown Austin’s first food hall, Fareground, for their Easter Egg-Stravaganza. From 12-3 pm, there will be plenty of brunch specials at the food hall's many eateries while children can enjoy sweets like cotton candy and get their face painted. There will be three egg hunts throughout the afternoon for three different age groups. Free general admission reservations can be made via Eventbrite.

Aba's Easter weekend brunches
Mediterranean cuisine lovers can spend their Easter brunch on the patio at Aba, Austin’s premiere Mediterranean restaurant on South Congress. Their exclusive Easter special on April 8 and 9 includes a spring frittata with lump crab, English peas, shaved asparagus, avocado, pickled fresnos, and parmesan. Guests can also pick a weekend favorite like the short rib shakshuka or khachapuri. Reserve on Tock.

Kalahari Resorts' Easter brunch buffet
If you live farther north, Kalahari Resorts in Round Rock will host their own Easter brunch buffet from 11 am to 3 pm with a delightful assortment of local charcuterie, fresh crudité, soups, and more. Children aged three and under eat free. The resort will also have two Easter egg hunts for two age ranges at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. Brunch tickets can be made on Tock.

TRACE's April drag brunch
Though this brunch isn’t Easter themed, Trace (stylized TRACE) inside the W Hotel is going all out for its April Fool’s Comedy Drag Brunch from 11 am to 4 pm on April 9 with some of Austin’s favorite queens, The Beckies. The iconic duo are the restaurant’s regular brunch hosts every second Sunday of the month. Their performances begin at 11 am and 2 pm. Reserve ($10 per person) on OpenTable.

Passover meals

Aba's passover dine-in and take-out
In addition to its Easter specials, Aba will also offer guests a special Passover dine-in or take-home meal by Chef CJ Jacobson. The to-go package includes hummus, matzo crackers and crudité, potato and Brussels sprout latkes, slow-braised short rib, and much more. The dine-in Passover specials will be available April 5 and 6, but to-go specials must be pre-ordered by 3 pm on April 4. Pickup is available between 11 am and 5 pm on April 5 and 6. Reservations for both offers ($58.95 per person) can be made on Tock.

L’Oca D’Oro's Passover Seder
Neighborhood Italian restaurant L’Oca D’Oro is bringing back their omni-denominational Passover Seder. Chef Fiore Tedesco will delight guests with his version of a traditional Seder meal on April 10 and 11. The first celebration will be led by Cantor Sarah Avner (Beth Israel), and the next by Rabbi Neil Blumofe (Aguadas Achim). Reserve ($100 per person) on OpenTable.

Sweet Treats

What’s Easter without a couple extra desserts to take home? SusieCakes is baking up its SusieChick lemon cake, Easter carrot cupcakes, peeps sugar cookies, dessert decorating kits, and more for the occasion. Their festive Easter treats will be available through April 9.

Bakery Lorraine
Bakery Lorraine at the Domain is accepting pre-orders for its classic seven-inch Easter carrot cake. The luscious dessert serves 10-12 people and contains pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Fill out a form to preorder ($80) by April 4 to pick up on April 8, just in time for your Easter feast.

Popular restaurant in Austin suburb brings spinoff bar and live music to Leander

Down the Rabbit Hole

A new bar is hopping into a growing Austin suburb: After the success of opening the Lucky Rabbit in the Lake Travis area last year, Matt Morcher, Sandra Cleveland, and Matt and Shelly Delahoussaye are set to open a new spinoff neighborhood bar in Leander next week.

Located located in the San Gabriel Ridge shopping center at 2080 N. US-183 unit 145, The Rabbit Hole will open on Friday, March 31, starting at 2 pm. The team will celebrate with a grand opening party, featuring live music by Luke Daniel from 6-9 pm and Carter Whitaker from 9 pm - midnight. A special time-related happy hour will offer new specials for guests to enjoy at the top of every hour.

The name is, of course, a small nod to The Lucky Rabbit, but also an invitation to "go down the rabbit hole” — whether with friends and family or passing time solo. The bar will serve high quality cocktails in a swanky space, bringing in live music acts most weekend nights for locals to enjoy.

The 68-seat interior play on the theme of time and the trippy experience of going down the rabbit hole, featuring exposed brick walls with murals of clock-like rabbits and gears painted by local artist Sarah Blankenship, along with a variety of light fixtures featuring Edison-style bulbs and gears that light the space.

The drink menu carries that theme through its featured cocktails, with rabbit names like Bug’s Old Fashioned (rye, demerara, bitters, orange, luxardo cherry); the 24 Carrot Gold (vodka, triple sec, blood orange, lime, bitters); and the Bubbly Bunny (gin, lavender, lemon, prosecco). Perfect as we head into hotter temperatures, frozen drink option include traditional and flavored margaritas, the Hot Hare (Spicy Mango, Chamoy, Tajin rim), or the Perky Bunny (Red Bull floater, Pop Rocks rim). Local beer and wine is also available, as well as bar snacks. Heartier food options will also be available to order from neighboring restaurants, Sabino’s Pizza Pub and Ah Thinh Asian Cuisine.

Morcher and Cleveland are veterans in the industry with a big heart for the local community:

“Sandra and I live in the area, and we often found ourselves looking for a nearby neighborhood bar to hang out in," said Morcher via release. "We saw this space, and felt that there was great potential to make it into a fun local spot — so we just decided to create one ourselves! We’re excited to be bringing this to an underserved area here in Leander, Liberty Hill and beyond. It was tough to find a place out here with affordable craft cocktails, great service, and live music on the weekends. We’re thrilled to be able to bring that to our community.”

Zilker Botanical Garden seeks budding fey architects for 2023 Woodland Faerie Trail

enchanting summer homes

Love thy neighbor, but don’t give them your name, eat their food, or trespass. You can’t be too careful when the fey — in this case, your design clients — move in. Zilker Botanical Garden has opened applications to “become a faerie home architect” on the 2023 Woodland Faerie Trail.

Skilled architects and well-meaning amateurs alike can purchase a four-by-four-inch plot for $25, as applications are accepted in the order they’re received rather than based on skill. These woodland creatures can appreciate houses of all shapes and sensibilities, but photos the garden chose for inspiration are mostly stick, moss, and pebble-based.

The houses are exposed to the elements, so architects should consider durability. However, landscaping is the exclusive purview of Zilker Botanical Garden and the woodland creatures, so plants are not accepted. Neither are glass, plastic, non-solar lighting, and a few other materials listed in the builders’ guidelines.

Faeries have been living in the pop-up neighborhood since 2013, when the garden started the tradition, and 2022 saw a record number of new builds on 75 plots.

Walking the path is free for anyone who buys a ticket to the garden ($8 or less depending on age), and sometimes there are surprises like a story time for children, harp and flute music, or wearable wings for sale. Before the fairie houses are installed, Zilker Botanical Garden has another, more adult-oriented walking trail called the Surreal Garden (April 6-8, and13-15) — essentially a garden rave amid neon art installations.

More information, including guidelines and dates of installation and removal, is available at zilkergarden.org.