Photo courtesy of Rick's Near Beer

Many sober Austinites are lucky to have friends with different going-out habits, but it never hurts to find a new neighborhood hang that keeps others on the wagon. And who says a "beer run" actually has to include alcohol?

Rick’s Near Beer, an Austin brand, is answering that very question with the launch of Rick’s Place, a pick-up and to-go hub in East Austin where non-alcoholic options will never be hard to find, on February 17.

The Rick’s product line was launched in December of 2022, with two types of low-strength beer (less than half a percent): a Pilsner called Rick’s Original, and a brew with a stronger hops and fruit flavor called Rick’s Hazy. Both are brewed with malted barley and Rocky Mountain water, but use hops from different parts of the country, and Rick’s Hazy adds flaked wheat.

Already available online, those beers will now also be served in a cool industrial space befitting East Austin with corrugated metal siding, rustic decor, and presumably thrifted furniture. It’s a far cry from most bars around town serving stylish mocktails — which, to some Austinites, is a big relief.

The brand was started by Josh Hare, whose past projects include Hops & Grain Brewing and Pint & Plow Brewing, two craft breweries in Austin and the Hill Country, respectively. “Rick,” the brand and bar’s namesake, mostly remains a mystery, although the website introduces visitors to Rick as an archetype and perhaps a mission statement — an unpretentious friend who is accommodating and adventurous.

Rick’s Place will be located at 501 Pedernales, Unit 1-B, and will be open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 2-6 pm. Customers may visit to pick up online orders, while single cans and six-packs can stay at the bar. More information is available at drinkricks.com.

Photo courtesy of Juliet's Italian Kitchen

5 delectable Austin food and drink events to kick off the new year

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: In this special edition of our weekly food news roundup, we're focusing on some delicious events you can attend the first week of 2023 — and can keep coming back to throughout the year. Consider these your first resolutions, smashed as soon as you hit that RSVP.

Trivia Night at Butterfly Bar — January 3
The last thing most of us want when cutting back alcohol is to hang back from social events. Attached to The Vortex, which hosts some of the best fringe shows in Austin, Butterfly Bar serves creative cocktails with and without alcohol. (Plus, the Patrizi’s truck is onsite every day serving pasta.) The first weekly trivia night of the year is on January 3, sandwiched between jazz, indie, and other musical shows for the rest of the week. Check the calendar at butterflybaraustin.com.

Sharpen Your Knife Skills at Central Market — JJanuary 4
Getting into a committed foodie lifestyle can be daunting and expensive, but Central Market is saving the day once again, with lots of accessible classes coming up. On January 4, Sharpen Your Knife Skills at Central Market covers one of the most important facets of home cooking, whether you’re making sushi or chopping up veggies for pizza (both available among other classes this month). It’s still an investment, but less expensive than most similar classes. Tickets ($65) available on Eventbrite.

Mezcal Tasting at Bar 508 Mezcalerita with Pelon's Tex-Mex — January 4
Some of us need to burn 2022 out of ourselves (no judgment), and mezcal can get that job done. Head over to Red River Cultural District neighbors Bar 508 Mezcalerita and Pelon’s Tex-Mex on January 4 to try six mezcals while learning about production, taste, and cultural context. That’s the only event slated right now for those two businesses, but finding Mezcal tastings in Austin is like finding a blues guitarist on South Congress. Tickets ($55) available on Eventbrite.

Social Series: An Evening Out at Antonelli's Cheese — January 5
It’s always a good time to learn about cheese, especially thanks to Antonelli’s packing its calendar with opportunities — outings, cheese-centric tastings that aren’t just boards, and a fun way to brush up on cheese knowledge. One upcoming event on January 5, Social Series: An Evening Out at Antonelli's Cheese, shares information about the “seven styles of cheese” and fun pairings including chocolate and pickles, with time to chat and make friends. Tickets ($45) and information on other events available at antonellischeese.com. Book early; many fill up fast.

Open Mic Night at Kick Butt Coffee — January 8
Getting together for drinks and snacks is a great starter plan, but 2023 calls for really putting yourself out there. Kick Butt Coffee hosts one of the city’s most popular open mic nights every Sunday at 7 pm, including January 8, and comedy open mics on Wednesdays. The long-running venue is also known for having lots of vegetarian options alongside its coffee and cocktails. This spot is atmosphere all the way, day or night. Check the calendar at kickbuttcoffee.com.

Photo courtesy of Slab BBQ & Beer

8 things to know in Austin food right now: New barbecue and beer joint fires up in Sunset Valley

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.


Slab BBQ & Beer, known for its piled-high sandwiches, is expanding southward, but not alone. The restaurant and Nomadic Beerworks are teaming up to launch a new location in Sunset Valley, just under the intersection of U.S. 290 and Mopac. A press release describes the new space as “ranch-like,” aiming for the feel of “old school Austin.” The brewing company is starting a cocktail program and periodically switching up what’s on tap from other local brewers. Doors open on October 19 at 6218 Brodie Ln. It will be open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm, and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.

A new Texas-Vietnamese food truck fusion is coming from Chef Bianca Frasier, former sous chef at Foreign & Domestic. Opening on September 30 at Gibson Street Bar (1109 South Lamar Blvd.), Bisous serves Southern classics like corn fritters alongside thit kho, braised pork belly, and eggs. The menu is long by truck standards (five appetizers, four entrees, two desserts), and entrees come on rice or Bao buns. The mission promises to balance "the academics of the culinary arts and the reality of everyday life." Bisous is open Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday, from 4-11 pm; Friday and Saturday from 4 pm to midnight.

Drive-thru P. Terry’s Burger Stand continues to conquer the Austin area with a new location in Kyle, filling the gap between Austin and San Antonio with a fourth pit stop on I-35. Although P. Terry’s is, when it comes down to it, a fast-food chain, it has thoroughly won Austin over with its local business charm, low prices, and high-quality ingredients (including a house-made vegan burger that blows away any similar efforts). It’s open for business now at 18940 I-35 Frontage Road, from 7 am to 11 pm, extending to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Other news and notes

Houston-born Local Foods made a splash when it opened a permanent Austin eatery in June, and has come around three months later to launch a brunch service. The restaurant is known for its sandwiches, and they’re not veering far for brunch with a peach and ricotta brioche toast, or a smoked salmon sandwich on rye with house pickles and cream cheese. The brunch menu, along with cocktails, will be served Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 3 pm.

Well, it’s time for neighborhood favorite The Well, a very chic nutrition-focused eatery, to kick things up a notch. A new happy hour offers nine dishes in diverse styles including vegan queso, smoked deviled eggs, and peach bruschetta. Weekdays from 4-6 pm, diners can try these discounted plates while enjoying half-off cocktails — made with natural sugars and house-made juices, bitters, and more — and select wines.

If it's hard to tear yourself from your fall-scented front porch now that temperatures have dropped, Favor will bring even more autumnal spirit to you with no delivery fees from October 1-18. Add up to four pumpkins by H-E-B Blooms to your cart to waive the fee and enjoy a variety of seasonal gourds, including carving pumpkins. Soak the seeds and toss them on a baking tray with olive oil and other seasonings for a crunchy snack while you carve.

Fever-Tree, the carbonated mixer maker known for its tonic water, is operating a mobile bartending truck from September 30 to October 2, handing out free mocktails to anyone who wants to try. Well-known bartenders from each neighborhood the truck stops in will make creative, high quality drinks, while handing out free four-packs and totes. Check Instagram to see the truck’s schedule through South Congress, Barton Springs, and East 7th Street.

Field Guide Festival, described as a “local food system festival” is creeping closer this November. An earlier event called At The Pass on October 1 introduces some of the ideas and players at St. John Studios. Chefs Philip Speer, Laura Sawicki, Jo Chan, Fiore Tedesco, Nayan Desai, and Giovanni Pujol are giving demonstrations, home cooking tips, and tastes using local ingredients in a one-night mini-festival from 6-9 pm. Tickets ($100) available on Eventbrite.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Who is Tux, and why did Austinites get push notifications from Lyft about him?

Cat-astrophe Averted

An Austin man has been reunited with his cat after a stressful search following a Lyft ride.

Palash Pandey's Lyft ride turned into a nightmare after he said his driver took off with his pet cat, Tux, as he was dropped off at an animal hospital for an appointment.

The incident happened Saturday, September 30, just before 3:30 p.m., according to Pandey. He said he had Tux inside of a cat carrier bag in the backseat. Once he was dropped off at Banfield Pet Hospital off Research Boulevard in northwest Austin, he got out and went around to open the door. But by the time he started to open it, he claims the driver sped off.

"I ran behind him. I was banging on his door, was banging on his window," Pandey said.

Pandey said he messaged the driver through the Lyft app. The messages provided to KVUE by Pandey show only a few messages from the driver hours later that read, "I don't have anything of yours" and "She isn't there sorry."

In the conversation, the driver also noted he had picked up others after his ride with Pandey and there was nothing in the backseat area.

"He said that if he knew that I had a cat with me, he would have canceled the ride. He said that he picked up multiple people after me and none of them mentioned the cat, which is, how's that, again, possible?" Pandey said.

Pandey said he reported the incident to the Austin Police Department, reached out to Lyft and posted on social media to spread the word. That led to an immense response.

Pandey noted Tux has a microchip and said he had also been in contact with the microchip company.

KVUE posted about the effort to find Tux, which led to a response from Lyft CEO David Risher.

KVUE reached out to Lyft on Sunday. A spokesperson released the following statement below:

"We were in touch with Palesh within minutes of his initial outreach to @lyft - via social media as well as multiple emails and phone calls. In addition to communicating with Palesh, we have been directly in touch with the driver and other passengers that rode with him following the ride with Palesh. We realize we could have done better in communicating regular updates to Palesh and the community. We all want the same outcome - for Tux to get home safely - and will keep the community posted."

After the statement was sent out, Vice President of Customer Service at Lyft Jody Kelman spoke with KVUE about the company's response.

"We certainly want to be part of helping him find his cat, Tux. Tux is clearly a wonderful member of his family," Kelman said.

Kelman said the company would notify Lyft employees in the Austin area and have employees on the ground in the area where the drop-off occurred.

"We also are are sending out a notification to all of our riders and drivers in Austin to see if if there is anything we can can do to just find find more information about what's happening with Tux," Kelman said.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Austin artists play AC Hell Fest at Hoel Vegas, plus more non-ACL music picks for early October

Music Notes

Whether you’re planning to dive into ACL or not attend at all, you should take note of the great local, non-fest gigs that are on the calendar during the same timeframe. See below for recommendations.

Balmorhea at the Paramount Theatre – Thursday, October 5
Get yourself to the Paramount Theatre this Thursday, October 5, to experience the acclaimed neoclassical and instrumental act Balmorhea. Joseph Shabason will open the show. Tickets range from $30-$40. By the way, if you haven’t already done it, you should listen to Balmorhea’s 2023 album, Pendant World.

Breast Cancer Resource Center Benefit at Hotel Vegas – Saturday, October 7
Hotel Vegas will be hosting a benefit for the Breast Cancer Resource Center this Saturday, October 7, and the lineup for it features a trio of quality indie rock acts, including Black Books, March And Beauty, and Fragile Rock. Cover will be just $10 via a suggested donation at the door.

Half Dream at Swan Dive – Saturday, October 7
Half Dream will release their anticipated debut album, Will I Still Bloom?, this Friday and then follow it up with a release party at Swan Dive the next night (Saturday, October 7). The dreamy rock act will be joined by Buffalo Hunt and Batty Jr. Tickets for the show are $10.

Booher at the Mohawk – Thursday, October 12
Indie rock vet Booher has been hard at work on new music, and you can check out the first batch of tracks at his 7” release party at Mohawk on Thursday, October 12. Trumpeter Swan and Saint Loretto will serve as support. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of.

AC Hell Fest at Hotel Vegas – Saturday, October 14
In need of some direct ACL counterprogramming? Then look no further than the nicely titled AC Hell Fest, which will happen at Hotel Vegas on Saturday, October 14. Riverboat Gamblers are set to headline, and you’ll also be able to see Starving Wolves, The Oxys, Tiny, Del-Vipers, The Get-Lows, User Unauthorized, and No Association across two stages. Tickets are $25.

Peelander-Z 25th Anniversary Show – Sunday, October 15
Peelander-Z just put out a new album, P-Party! Z-Party!, and they’re also celebrating their 25th year as a band. Get in on all of the fun at their show at The Far Out Lounge on Sunday, October 15. Dog Party will open for the colorful punk rockers. Tickets are $15.

Iconic Mexican restaurant hatches new West Austin spot for more grilled goodies

A Fresh New Fresa's

Beloved Austin restaurant Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon, known for its fresh Mexican fare and poultry-forward, wood-grilled menu, is expanding its coop with a new location in West Austin. The latest location is at 3600 N. Capital of Texas Hwy. and is open to the public as of October 3.

Patrons can expect Fresca’s signature al fresco ambiance, interior design, and expansive menu of grilled dishes and more at this Loop 360 eatery. Familiar design, like the vibrant aesthetics crafted by Austin architect and designer LEVY DYKEMA, are paired with new features like its new 6,000-square-foot space and breathtaking views of the West Lake Hills. The restaurant includes indoor dining space for 160 guests, seating for 38 guests on the patio, and some additional bar seating.

“Having served fellow Austinites for over a decade, we’re grateful to bring our concept not only to a new neighborhood but to my neighborhood,” said Fresa’s co-owner Margaret Vera in a press release. “We can’t wait to share the new space with the community. We really tried to create a space that captures the spirit of Westlake and the Hill Country.”

As a resident of the West Lake Hills herself, Vera is excited to bring the Fresa’s experience and its well-known patio vibes to the neighborhood, which is full of loyal customers, who often had to venture to other locations.

“The Hill Country backdrop is an added bonus,” Vera tells CultureMap. “We actually built a new patio into the previous space to make eating wood-grilled meals and sipping margaritas over the sunset possible.”

Guests can enjoy regular live entertainment, drink specials, events, and music on the Fresa’s 360 patio, much like the programming at the South First Street location. Seasonal menu items such as wood-grilled wings and a ceviche tostada are available to order through October. Fresa’s 360 will also offer other typical items from the concept’s rotating holiday menu, like Thanksgiving dinners and tamales, throughout the year.

Since opening its first and most famous location on North Lamar Boulevard in 2012, Fresa’s has continued to elevate the dining experience for guests, solidifying itself among a list of must-eat places in Austin. Plans for more locations, including a fourth sit-down spot in Mueller, are on the horizon for 2024.

Fresa’s 360 is open seven days a week. Dine-in hours are 11 am to 10 pm Monday through Friday, and 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday and Sunday. To-go window hours are 8 am to 10 pm daily. The happy hour menu is available from 3 to 6 pm Monday through Friday.

Fresa's 360 interior

Photo by Jane Yun

Fresa's 360 location is open now at 3600 N. Capital of Texas Highway.