Photo courtesy of Ember Kitchen and Subterra Agave Bar

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 closings

Ember Kitchen and Subterra Agave Bar are now open at the historic Seaholm Power Plant. The stylish multi-floor concept is headed by Chef Nayely Castillo, who gleans inspiration from a childhood in El Paso, her grandmother's cooking, and her own experience with live fire cooking. The latter style is the main idea at Ember, which modernizes the classic steakhouse concept and adds Latin flavor wherever possible. Even though the space is huge (8,000 square feet) and seats 80, reservations are filling up fast for both the restaurant and bar. Thankfully, they also accept walk-ins. Reserve at emberatx.com.

Bento Picnic and its attached wine shop, Saba San’s, announced that they will close for a “sabbatical,” with a last day of business on February 18. Although this implies a return, it is not clear in what capacity owner Leanne Valenti plans to continue on with the restaurant, and she has put noticeable effort into getting her staff hired elsewhere until that is decided. Until then, Saba San’s is hosting a sale until closing day with discounts on all wine and sake, in-person and online. Those deals include 10 percent off a $35 spend, 15 percent off a $150 spend, and 20 percent off a $300 spend. Merch, housewares, and medicinal mushroom extracts are also on sale. More information on Bento Picnic’s faithfully updated Instagram.

There are already three Pokeworks locations in Austin, but we’ll always take more opportunities to build our own refreshing, protein-filled bowls. The Pokeworks chain, which allows visitors to build bowls step-by-step at the service counter, has a total of 16 new locations planned nationwide “over the next few years,” 10 of which will open in 2023. One will become Austin’s fourth location, although an address has not been announced yet. The existing Pokeworks in Austin are in Riverside, North-Central Austin off I-35, and Northwest Austin on Anderson Lane. More information about the chain is available at pokeworks.com.

Other news and notes

If you had to work on Valentine's Day or otherwise need a redo, Chef Bar, the profit-sharing concept by Bar Peached, is hosting "A Service Industry Valentine’s Day" pop-up on February 20 at 6 pm. There will be R&B tunes by DJ Eli Arbor, Japanese-fusion bites, and an extensive drink menu including creative cocktails like the Frozen Ube-Bae (Cruzans rum, pineapple, ube-coconut cream, and lime) and more straightforward offerings like "the best wine on the menu," the Romeo + Juliet Prosecco Rosé. The event is free and open to everyone, in the service industry or not. The event benefits the DAWA Fund.

We can't all be as helpful as girl scouts, but those of us with less time on our hands can give blood instead. We Are Blood is in special need after the winter storm, so donations are even more helpful than usual. There are calories in blood (surprise!) so it's important to replace those right away; We Are Blood is giving one box of Girl Scout Cookies to all donors throughout the month of February. A list of donation locations is available on the scheduling page at weareblood.org.

The Wine & Food Foundation is looking forward to its biggest gala, the Rare & Fine Wine Auction, with new announcements about the schedule. The event will be held on October 12, and welcomes Laurent Drouhin of Maison Joseph Drouhin (Burgundy) and Domaine Drouhin (Oregon) as its keynote speaker and featured winemaker, respectively. The latter's winemaking history reaches back to 1880, making this a great example of rare finds. More information at winefoodfoundation.org.

The Texas Craft Brewers Guild held its second annual Texas Craft Brewers Cup, rating beers from across the state in 27 medal categories, for more than 150 styles. Austin, of course, swept the competition, with 25 wins out of the 81 total medals. Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co., Zilker Brewing Company, Central District Brewing, Lazarus Brewing Company, Meanwhile Brewing Company, and Blue Owl Brewing all took home gold medals. See the full results at texascraftbrewersguild.org.

Courtesy of Ember Kitchen

Downtown Austin's Seaholm District welcomes dazzling new restaurant

Remember ember

A new restaurant is coming to Austin's historic Seaholm Power Plant. Opening in January 2023, Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar will be a multi-level concept combining a restaurant and speakeasy at 800 W. Cesar Chavez, Ste. PP110.

According to a release, the restaurant's executive chef will be María Mercedes Grubb, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the first Puerto Rican woman to earn a James Beard nomination in 2019. Grubb attended the French Culinary Institute in New York; honed her craft in the Michelin-starred kitchen of The Modern; and helped open Bar Basque and Danny Meyer’s Italian eatery, Maialino. Most recently, she returned to Puerto Rico to open and run Gallo Negro, where her work as executive chef earned her a Food & Wine mention as one of the leading chefs on the island.

Ember Kitchen will be on the concept's main floor, offering a live-fire experience with Latin flare — courtesy of the Spanish Josper oven and grill, which burns a signature blend of charcoal and wood. Downstairs, Subterra Agave Bar will have a speakeasy aesthetic and showcase a curated section of agave cocktails and Latin spirits from mixologist San Andres.

The dual concept's operating partner is an Austin-based startup, inKind, which currently partners with over 600 restaurants across the U.S. — including 13 in Austin. Founded by fellow restaurant operators, the group's mission is to support restaurants through the ever-increasing hurdles facing the hospitality industry. InKind provides "non-dilutive financing" by purchasing credits from partner restaurants, selling said credits to guests, and rewarding them with a spending bonus for pre-purchasing ahead of their next dining experience through the inKind app.

According to the release, Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar is a unique opportunity for inKind to have operational stake in its own restaurant, testing new partnership integrations, marketing initiatives, and exclusive guest experiences. The company plans to use Ember as a model to demonstrate its operational services for future restaurant partners.

“We started inKind with the goal of creating a new restaurant financing system that actually helps restaurants grow and thrive,” inKind founder and CEO Johann Moonesinghe shared in the release. “Now we’re taking everything we’ve learned and using it to create this unique space that combines technical innovation with an outstanding hospitality experience.”

Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar are both slated to open in January, while a third, as-yet-unnamed rooftop bar is due to open later in 2023. Ember Kitchen will be open 5 pm to 11 pm, and Subterra will be open until 2 am.

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

Weekend Event Guide

Nonstop cinema, critically acclaimed comedy, and tons of festival fun are in our sights for the next several days. Enjoy riveting conversation and expert journalism up close at the Texas Tribune Festival, or enjoy nonstop cinema with the return of Fantastic Fest. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a complete list of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, September 21

Fantastic Fest
The country’s largest genre film festival returns to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar for another year of all things fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and action. Attendees will have the opportunity to screen a curated selection of daring and thought-provoking cinema by filmmakers from around the world. Notable festival events include screenings of the opening night film The Toxic Avenger, the first two episodes of Netflix's The Fall of the House of Usher, the mystery thriller Eileen, the closing night film Totally Killer, and more. Screenings and events are scheduled through September 28. Badges are available at fantasticfest.com.

Texas Tribune Festival
Lone Star journalism takes center stage at the return of the Texas Tribune Festival. The three-day event is curated by the journalists of the Texas Tribune itself and features interviews, surprise talent mashups, panel discussions, and several guest speakers all in one jam-packed weekend. Confirmed speakers for this year’s festival include Jake Tapper, Katie Couric, Coln Allred, and many more. For a full schedule of events and to attend the festival, go to texastribune.org.

ACL Live presents "Jim Gaffigan: Barely Alive Tour"
ACL Live hosts multihyphenate entertainer Jim Gaffigan for two nights back-to-back. He’s widely known for his keenly hilarious observations on life and is also a New York Times best-selling author and three-time Emmy-winning recording artist. Ticket information can be found on acllive.com.

Cap City Comedy Club presents Kevin Nealon
Comedic great Kevin Nealon is the newest featured artist to take up a residency at Capitol City Comedy Club. He’s best known for his decade-long stint on Saturday Night Live and other popular television series including Weeds and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Shows are scheduled through September 23. Get more details at capcitycomedy.com.

Public Power Block Party
Photo by Leah Muse Photography

Bust out your best moves at the Public Power Block Party on September 24.

Friday, September 22

Beerthoven Inc. presents "From the Top: A Duet for the Beginning of Time"
Duo da Capo, a local harp and oboe ensemble, explores the story of creation with a special live concert at Saengerrunde Hall. Guests can expect a program of contemporary music accompanied by creation artwork, for a dynamic showing for multiple senses. Pastries, beer and wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will be served. For tickets, go to Eventbrite.

Saturday, September 23

Dripping Springs Pumpkin Festival
Take a short trip to the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead in Dripping Springs to welcome the fall season with a cornucopia of autumn-inspired activities for all ages. Pumpkin Festival highlights include live musical performances, seasonal food offerings, photo opportunities, games, attractions, a marketplace, and more. Following opening weekend, festival programming continues through October 29. For tickets and additional event information, visit geoji.com.

Sunday, September 24

Sierra Club Texas presents Public Power Block Party
Moontower Cider Company partners with the Texas Sierra Club to open its doors and grounds for a block party to raise awareness about clean energy plans and sustainability efforts. Visitors can enjoy food, drinks, live music, and other family-friendly activities all while learning about Austin Energy’s upcoming resource plan and other new initiatives. Block party admission is free and open to the public. Go to sierraclub.org for more details.

Austin wakes up and smells the brews at 2nd annual coffee festival

cool beans

Making a cup of coffee is one of the most ritualistic morning activities for millions of people every day. It's a truly customizable experience: You can use pre-ground coffee or grind whole beans yourself, and there are many different brewing methods, such as a traditional drip coffeemaker, a moka pot, or an AeroPress.

The local coffee community in Austin is in a world of its own, and coffee aficionados can enjoy a special weekend all to themselves to meet their favorite local roasters at the second annual Austin Coffee Festival on September 30 and October 1 at Fair Market.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups to enjoy endless coffee tastings from about two dozen well-known Austin roasters like Merit Coffee Co., Medici Roasting, Barrett's Coffee Roasters, and Greater Goods Coffee Co. Master roasters can help newcomers learn more about coffee, and local musicians will provide the soundtrack for the weekend.

If you're not a coffee drinker but would still like to tag along, there will be non-coffee options available, like tea tastings from Kilogram Tea and Kinship Milk Tea. Snacks will be available for purchase from Gelu Italian Ice and casual Mexican mini-chain Pueblo Viejo.

Additional roasters that will be at the festival include:

  • Creature Coffee
  • Red Horn Brew
  • Malone Specialty Coffee
  • Fara Coffee
  • Intelligenista
  • Kimbala
  • Sightseer Coffee Roasters
  • Vision
  • Springtown Roasters
  • Casa Brasil
  • Hard Charger Coffee
  • Haciendo Coffee Roasters
  • Carta Coffee Merchants
  • Dog Day Coffee
  • Tianon Coffee
  • Little City Coffee Roasters
  • Wild Gift Coffee
  • Luna Espresso

ATX Theatre, Topo Chico, Oatly, Mill-King, Minor Figures, and Loveramics will also be in attendance.

More information about the festival and tickets (beginning at $25) can be found on austincoffeefestival.com.

Country star Kane Brown set to land in Austin as part of new 'In the Air' tour

big daddy kane

Country singer Kane Brown will return to the road in 2024 with the 29-city In the Air tour, which will culminate with a stop at Toyota Center on April 28.

Starting on March 28 in Charlottesville, Virginia, the tour will play 2-3 shows a week through the beginning of June at arenas, including in Houston on April 28 and Austin on April 29. He'll end his tour in Arlington, Texas on September 14.

For the final five shows on the tour, Brown will switch to stadiums, including the last show at Globe Life Field. Brown will be joined by Tyler Hubbard and Parmalee in both Austin and Houston.

Just like his previous Drunk or Dreaming Tour, which he just finished in early September, Brown will be touring in support of his 2022 album, Different Man. Although it was the first of his three albums not to go to No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts (it charted at No. 2), it still notched four top 10 songs.

The new tour's title, In the Air, is a reference to Brown's new single, “I Can Feel It,” which samples Phil Collins’ legendary drum solo and single from “In the Air Tonight.”

Fans can register now at kanebrownmusic.com for the artist pre-sale starting on Tuesday, October 3, at 10 am ET time. Tickets forthe tourwill go on-sale to the general public on Thursday, October 5, at 10 am local time.


  • Thursday, March 28, 2024: Charlottesville, VA, John Paul Jones Arena
  • Friday, March 29, 2024: Pittsburgh, PA, PPG Paints Arena
  • Saturday, March 30, 2024: Newark, NJ, Prudential Center
  • Thursday, April 4, 2024, Detroit, MI, Little Caesars Arena
  • Friday, April 5, 2024: Toronto, ON, Scotiabank Arena
  • Saturday, April 6, 2024: Buffalo, NY, KeyBank Center
  • Thursday, April 11, 2024: Kansas City, MO, T-Mobile Center
  • Friday, April 12, 2024: Rosemont, IL, Allstate Arena
  • Thursday, April 18, 2024: Des Moines, IA, Wells Fargo Arena
  • Friday, April 19, 2024: Minneapolis, MN, Target Center
  • Saturday, April 20, 2024: Grand Forks, ND, Alerus Center
  • Friday, April 26, 2024: Lubbock, TX, United Supermarkets Arena
  • Saturday, April 27, 2024: Houston, Toyota Center
  • Sunday, April 28, 2024: Austin, TX, Moody Center
  • Thursday, May 9, 2024: Eugene, OR, Matthew Knight Arena
  • Friday, May 10, 2024: Sacramento, CA, Golden 1 Center
  • Saturday, May 11, 2024: Sacramento, CA, Golden 1 Center
  • Friday, May 17, 2024: Salt Lake City, UT, Delta Center
  • Saturday, May 18, 2024: Las Vegas, NV, T-Mobile Arena
  • Sunday, May 19, 2024: Tempe, AZ, Boots In The Park
  • Thursday, May 30, 2024: Orlando, FL, Amway Center
  • Friday, May 31, 2024: Tampa, FL, Amalie Arena
  • Saturday, June 1, 2024: Tampa, FL, Amalie Arena
  • Friday, June 7, 2024: Raleigh, NC, PNC Arena
  • Saturday, June 8, 2024: Atlanta, GA, State Farm Arena
  • Thursday, June 20, 2024: Milwaukee, WI, Summerfest
  • Saturday, July 20, 2024: Boston, MA, Fenway Park
  • Friday, August 16, 2024: Seattle, WA, T-Mobile Park
  • Saturday, August 24, 2024: Los Angeles, CA, BMO Stadium
  • Friday, September 6, 2024: Denver, CO, Coors Field
  • Saturday, September 14, 2024: Arlington, TX, Globe LIfe Field