Photo courtesy of Casey Woods Photography.

Call your DD – National Margarita Day is right around the corner. Texas’ signature drink gets its own holiday ‘round these parts, and it would be remiss not to share some of the best places to celebrate it. Here are eight places to spend your February 22 with a margarita in your hand in Austin.

TRACE Austin at the W Hotel
From 4-8 pm the W Hotel will be providing several drink specials on their Trace patio and tequila bar. Margarita flavors include spicy mango, blueberry, piña colada, and more. They are also offering two different Patrón tequila flights – Los Famosos ($35) and Los Especial ($85). Reservations can be made via OpenTable or by calling the restaurant.

El Naranjo
This traditional Mexican restaurant led by James Beard award winning-chef Iliana de la Vega will have all margaritas 20 percent off all day. Pair your margarita with any of their platos fuertes like their chuletas de cordero or almendrado de pollo for an authentic Oaxacan culinary experience. Reserve on OpenTable.

Taquero Mucho
Both of Austin’s Latina-owned bright pink taqueria locations will be serving margaritas and tequila shots at discounted prices all day. Take your pick between their pink house margarita ($6) or Espolon Tequila margarita ($8) while enjoying their signature pink tacos.

The Roosevelt Room
Enjoy the evening sipping on extravagant cocktails at this previous CultureMap Tastemaker winner. The Roosevelt Room will be serving their RR margaritas for $8 and their Mezcal margaritas for $9. They also provide a food menu of epicurean offerings and desserts. Reservations can be made on OpenTable.

De Nada Cantina
In partnership with Tromba Tequila, De Nada will be serving three new margaritas crafted by beverage program creator Chris Bostick. The El Chingon ($15), Tromba Spicy Marg ($11), and Tromba Sandia Marg ($13.50) will be available all day. Don’t forget to add any of their eight delicious taco options complete with their housemade blue corn tortillas. Reserve on OpenTable.

Drink at Fareground
For anyone looking for more than one deal in one space – Austin’s downtown food hall Fareground is the place to try. There are eight different eateries and bars within the Congress Avenue location. Coffee and cocktail bar Drink offers a build-your-own margarita special for the occasion. Add some tacos from Chef Richard Sandoval’s Taco Pegaso or a fried chicken sandwich from Henbit, and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.

Southwestern eatery Z’Tejas will be serving margaritas at both of their Austin locations for $5 all day on Wednesday, with a special $1 flash sale from 5 to 6 pm and 9 to 10 pm.

The frostiest margs in town are served at 45th and Lamar, according to Reddit. Chili’s will be serving three fan-favorite margaritas in novelty keepsake cups for $5. February’s margarita of the month is the Grand Romance ‘Rita – made with Grand Marnier, Lunazul Blanco Tequila, Monin blackberry syrup, and Chili’s fresh sour.

Photo by Annie Ray Photography

Austin industry veterans turn to regional Mexican cuisine at new South Lamar taqueria

Even Más

In 2023, we’re not accepting anything but handmade tacos, from the tortilla up. One anticipated opening blazing into the new year is Masa y Más, a taqueria in the Zilker neighborhood that combines personal experience with the business acumen of industry pros. Service starts on January 6.

Those pros, Larry Perdido and Chuck Smith, founded two Austin staples — Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill and Hopdoddy Burger Bar — and watched them grow over 20 and 13 years, respectively. Both focus on Southern American traditions, but Masa y Más pushes it south still to Central Mexico. Chef and operating partner Roberto Campos, executive chef at Moonshine for the past 19 years, leads the culinary journey.

“At a young age I started supporting my family’s carros ambulantes (food carts) in Guanajuato, Mexico, kneading masa for my grandmother’s gorditas and chopping vegetables for my mom’s pico de gallo,” said Campos in a press release. “The recipes and ingredients you’ll find at Masa y Más represent not only my culture and roots but also my family’s deep traditions. My goal is for everyone who steps foot in my restaurant to experience a piece of my home.”

Austinites will have to decide for themselves which tastes the most like home; the tacos, tortas, papas rellenas, bowls, margaritas, and more all come from different regions throughout the country. The restaurant previews some meaty dishes along with their respective regions, like barbacoa from Guerrero, suadero as it would be in Mexico City, and birria that embraces its Jalisco origin. The humble hero and namesake, tortillas made of yellow and blue corn (and even flour), are made as Campos’ grandmother taught her family. His mother keeps an eye on the business through a mural by Austin-based Peruvian artist Niz.

Dishes by Masa y M\u00e1s

Photo by Annie Ray Photography

The taqueria serves dishes from regions throughout Mexico, including plenty of non-taco treats.

The bright and modern restaurant at 1817 South Lamar Boulevard updates a lot formerly occupied by Austin’s Pizza, on a crowded portion of road near residences and businesses like Bouldin Acres and Snooze. The counter service setup will likely be necessary to move waves of visitors through on busy days, who can also enjoy the food and cocktails on the porch, highlighting mezcal, tequila, rum, and beers imported from Mexico.

Masa y Más opens January 6 for service Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to10 pm; Friday and Saturday until midnight; and Sunday from 8 am to 1 pm. More information including a link to apply is available at masaustin.com.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Rodney Terry named Longhorn basketball head coach after successful March Madness run

Interim no more

Rodney Terry’s wait has finally ended. And on his birthday, no less.

The erstwhile “interim” head coach of the Texas Longhorns’ men’s basketball team has officially been tabbed to run the program just one day after his club was eliminated from the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. He’s set to sign a five-year contract worth $3 million per season and will be formally introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, March 28.

Terry began the season as an assistant under then head coach Chris Beard before the latter was suspended by the university after being arrested for assault of his fiancée back in December 2022. Once the Angleton native ascended to the helm, he provided a steadying presence in guiding a talented team to a 16-7 record over the remainder of the regular season en route to a second-place finish in the Big 12, with all but two of the losses coming against top-25 opponents.

During that stretch, many began to wonder when he would be officially promoted to head coach, and the outcry only grew as The Sporting News named Terry its “Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year” on March 8 before the Longhorns proceeded to run the table in the conference tournament. The Horns’ deepest March Madness run in 15 years only solidified the Terry’s hold on the job. While Texas’ athletic director Chris Del Conte has a policy of not negotiating coaching contracts during the season, he wasted no time in removing the “interim” tag from Terry’s title once the season concluded.

The 55-year-old has spent much of his life in Austin. He played his college ball at St. Edward’s University before beginning his coaching career as an assistant there in 1990. He would serve as the head coach at James Bowie High School for the following three years. The coaching carousel would land him at several other stops before bringing him back to UT Austin as an assistant to Rick Barnes from 2002 to 2011. Terry departed to head up the Fresno State and UTEP programs over the next decade before returning to UT Austin as an assistant in 2021.

This time, he’s looking to stay a while.

4 new library branches could be in the books after Austin City Council adopts new plan


This is a dream come true for Austin bookworms. The Austin Public Library system could be seeing a huge expansion with the recent adoption of a plan by Austin City Council.

The Austin Public Library Comprehensive Library Strategic and Facilities Plan creates new goals for the library system that includes expanding current branches and constructing new ones. With the ever-growing population in the city, the “library square foot per capita” has fallen behind neighboring cities. The facilities plan addresses this growth disparity by proposing four new library branches in addition to expanding, replacing, or relocating over half of the pre-existing branches.

Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks said in a press release that this new plan will allow the library system to continue providing necessary creative and learning resources to all community members.

“Five and a half years ago, Austin opened a new world-class Central Library in downtown, and that building remains the crown jewel of the city,” he said. “However, our neighborhoods deserve world-class library facilities too. The plan adopted by the City Council today lays out a vision for growing and updating our entire library system to meet the needs of the rapidly changing, dynamic city we serve.”

The Strategic and Facilities Plan was a year in the making, thanks to plenty of community outreach tactics. Successful methods included a survey that received over 5,400 responses, several pop-up events throughout Austin, and “listening sessions” with library staff and stakeholders.

The plan also introduces new mission and vision statements for the library, as well as five community-based strategic goals. The new library mission statement is: “Inspiring all to discover, learn, and create” and the new vision is to be “a model of equity, inclusion, access, and diversity.”

The five strategic goals include:

  • Provide community-centric programs and services
  • Design and develop spaces for community connections
  • Foster stakeholder relationships
  • Expand library access
  • Engage staff

“On behalf of everyone at the Austin Public Library, I am excited that the Council has adopted this vision for the future of our community’s libraries,” said Weeks.

More information about the Strategic and Facilities Plan can be found on the Austin Public Library’s website.

Texas rises through the ranks of most innovative states, says new report


The Lone Star State has again taken a step up on an annual report that ranks the most and least innovative states in the country — this time cracking the top 15.

Texas ranked No. 15 in personal finance site WalletHub's 2023’s Most and Least Innovative States ranking. It's a steady improvement for the state, which ranked No. 16 in 2022 and No. 17 in 2021.

The report analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia and how each performed across 22 key metrics, including population of STEM professionals, venture capital investment activity, number of technology companies, patents per capita, and more. The data was pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and other records.

Here's how Texas performed at a glance:

  • No. 18 – for share of STEM professionals
  • No. 16 – for projected STEM job demand by 2030
  • No. 25 – for eighth grade math and science performance
  • No. 21 – for share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 or older
  • No. 13 – for share of technology companies
  • No. 31 – for R&D spending per capita
  • No. 18 – venture capital funding per capita

For the 11th year, Texas won Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup, the governor's office announced earlier this year. The award, which Texas has won 19 times since its inception in 1978, recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for job-creating business relocations and expansions.

"Texas truly is America’s economic engine, and we stand apart as a model for the nation. When choosing where to relocate or expand their businesses, more and more innovative industry leaders find themselves at home in our state," Governor Greg Abbott says in a news release about the award.

"I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional, and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state," he continues.

The most innovative states included the District of Columbia, which ranked at No. 1, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and California, respectively. The least innovative state was identified as Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Arkansas, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

Access to quality education is a significant contributor to each state's innovation economy, the experts say in the report.

"Investing in education, particularly K-12 but also at the University level, it is no accident that innovative ecosystems develop in states with strong education systems and research universities," says David L. Deeds, professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. "These institutions build strong capable modern workforces that attract capital, and jobs and create innovations. The benefits do not happen overnight, in fact, they take years if not decades, but consider what The UC’s or the University of Texas at Austin have meant for the development of premier innovative ecosystems."