Courtesy of Ember Kitchen

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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Austin food truck chef licks the competition on Guy Fieri's chaotic cooking show

Vegan Victory

Austin keeps gaining bragging rights in the food category, and this one comes with a plant-based twist.

Chef and founder of plant-based Austin food truck Lick It Up was crowned winner in the latest episode of Guy’s Grocery Games. The episode titled “Meatless Marvels,” which aired Wednesday, September 20, challenged four talented chefs to make a meat-free steakhouse dinner and appetizer using only ingredients that fit into the "world's smallest produce case."

In this cooking competition — in its staggering 33rd season — chefs play mini-games in a set modeled after a grocery store, collecting what items they can with certain restraints based on the challenge, and preparing a meal that may include a twist mid-preparation. This time, contestants had to improvise and incorporate a mushroom jerky.

Ultimately, Chef Edgar Delfin won the hearts and taste buds of the judges with his fully plant-based dishes.

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to represent plant-based cuisine and showcase the incredible flavors inspired by the El Paso/Juarez border, and it's an honor to bring the tastes of the region to a national stage," said Chef Delfin in a release.

This is not Delfin’s first claim to fame on the Food Network. The Lick It Up food truck in El Paso was featured in Season 30 of Diners, Drive-in, and Dives, also hosted by Chef Guy Fieri for its truly delicious and healthy flavors that pleased vegans and non-vegans alike.

The first Lick It Up opened in 2017 and later turned into a brick-and-mortar in downtown El Paso. The vegan menu recreates traditional Mexican flavors with vegetable-forward alternatives like mushroom chorizo.

After the success in West Texas, Delfin decided to expand Lick It Up to Austin in 2020 to reach a wider audience of plant-based food lovers. The truck, located at East Austin’s Lost Well Bar, features street-food staples such as “carne” asada fries, tacos, flautas, and burritos.

Lick It Up hours of operation are Sunday to Thursday from 7 pm to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 7 pm to 1 am. Learn more about Guy's Grocery Games at foodnetwork.com.

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.