Photo courtesy of MUTTS Canine Cantina® Austin

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.


Austin is a great place to live if you like to bring your dog to lunch, but our furry friends are sometimes still more tolerated than invited. Things are different at MUTTS Canine Cantina. The dog park, bar, and grill franchise expands into Austin at 9825 N. Lake Creek Pkwy. in mid-June. Anyone can sit down for a meal or a drink — common outdoor grill selections like burgers, chicken tenders, and margaritas — but only members have access to the 1.6-acre dog park. There dogs enjoy a splash pad and being off-leash, while humans benefit from fire pits, bottle service, and staff to clean up after the dogs and make sure they're playing nice.

Freebirds World Burrito has been working through a huge expansion since 2021 and hasn't showed any signs of stopping. The newest location, opening May 30, will be in Kyle's Dry River District at 19220 IH 35 Frontage Rd., Suite 100. Although it's a little far from Austin, this halfway point to San Antonio means road trips will be a breeze. The counter service restaurant aims to get food to customers quickly without sacrificing "natural" ingredients. As usual, the first 25 guests in line for the opening day party (starting at 10:30 am) will receive a free burrito every week for a year.

Other news and notes

In the past few weeks, Austin restaurants have been in a flurry of new menus and leaders. TenTen, a sushi restaurant on West 6th announced new plant-based options with star ingredients like beet, eggplant, and asparagus. Geraldine's, at Hotel Van Zandt, is debuting a new menu that sticks to its Texas roots with strong Latin and Asian influences. It also announced a new guest chef series. The Roosevelt Room, one of Austin's top cocktail bars, welcomes Kyle Mulligan as its new executive chef, and shows off a new menu with small and large plates, plus desserts. Punch Bowl Social celebrates a new menu, while Z'Tejas introduces a new chef and directors, and The Carillon sips on a new wine program.

There's a new tequila coming out of Austin that can be enjoyed in 39 states in-store and online. Although La Caza, the company, is based in Austin, the tequila — in the three expected varieties of blanco, reposado, and añejo — is made in Jalisco by fifth-generation farmers. This spirit can't get much fancier after it is played Mozart during the distillation process and poured into hand-blown glass bottles. Guess you'll have to see if you can taste the difference.

The downside, if there is one, of Antonelli's Cheese Shop being so wildly popular is that the tasting events are often sold out. One on May 25 at The Driskill hotel still has plenty of spots left — for now. The guided tasting will introduce 75 guests to seven cheeses from around the world, all "responsibly sourced" according to the shop. They will be paired with charcuterie, pickles, chocolate, and wine, for two hours of interesting, varied bites from 7-9 pm. Reserve ($100) on Tock.

Gin Bar, a downtown cocktail bar featuring one spirit in particular, wants to get Austinites more acquainted with that juniper-based drink. It is kicking off a free gin education and tasting series starting on June 1 at 7 pm. Sipsmith Gin will join in to help celebrate National Olive Day. The rooftop gin bar on 6th Street is quietly tucked away, but features weekly events with neighbor restaurants, like Industry Night and a "Next Door B.O.G.O.," plus a daily happy hour. RSVP via Eventbrite.


Chuy's, Hopdoddy, Honest Mary's, and more move into new spaces in Austin's Mueller neighborhood

new neighbors

That one street in the Mueller neighborhood that's always under construction? It's not stopping now, but it is ready to see some real action after all that work. Recognizable even though its portfolio keeps growing, this development just announced some big new additions to the shopping, health, and food destinations in the area.

A total of five new businesses were announced: restaurants Chuy’s, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Honest Mary’s; barber shop Boardroom Styling Lounge; and Modern Animal veterinary services.

The dining landscape has been changing fast in the Mueller community, with the recent opening of a local taco expansion, Veracruz Fonda & Bar, and national salad chain Sweetgreen, plus announcements about Aviator Pizza, Dish Society, and Nautical Bowls. The three new additions bring the total number of eateries in the neighborhood to 50, including some well-established citywide favorites like L'Oca d'Oro and B.D. Riley's Irish Pub.

Chuy's is the widest-known chain joining the fray, maintaining locations across the United States, but Austin is its hometown. The eclectic, maximalist interiors are half the fun, and if the rest of the six local restaurants are any indication, the retro interior design will be a surprise when it's unveiled. This menu is basically the definition of Tex-Mex, featuring lots of enchiladas, burritos, and combo plates. It is planned to open by early 2024.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar is a growing Austin institution as well, now in eight states, and will open around the same time. Similar to the exuberant Chuy's, Hopdoddy tones down the dining room but offers some very involved burgers with lots of creative embellishments like mushrooms and pesto, or mustard grilled onions and pickled mayo. The restaurant is very involved in sustainability through its culinary choices, and local issues through fundraising opportunities.

Smaller, but still local and expanding, the fast-casual Honest Mary’s is opening its fourth location on the same timeline. The restaurant's health conscious bowls keep things simple with six signature recipes and a build-your-own option. More than just a green salad, these bowls include poke, quinoa, and more, inspired by flavors around the world.

The two non-eateries bring some daily necessities to the area, bolstering its real neighborhood reputation, while surely drawing in customers from outside the Mueller area. Boardroom Styling Lounge keeps men looking sharp with standard barber experiences plus more scalp and hand treatments like massages and wax dips. This will be the second Austin location. Modern Animal brings a similarly comprehensive list of animal wellness services including preventative care, surgery, virtual care, and a "human-centric approach."

If Mueller is sounding like a great place to live, you're not alone. Another multifamily community by AMLI Residential has just been announced bordering Aldrich Street (where these five businesses are moving in), fitting 650 for-rent residences in six stories above an additional ground floor for retail. Of those units, 98 will be reserved for renters who earn 60 percent or less of Austin's median family income.

Veracruz All Natural/ Facebook

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Local street taco chain fries up sit-down Mueller concept

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.


Veracruz All Natural, one of Austin's favorite taco chains, is coming to Muelleras Veracruz Fonda & Bar, a sit-down concept. Although some hardcore taco fans might turn away from a chain, sisters and owners Reyna and Maritza Vazquez are bona fide taco pros, born and raised in the restaurant life in Mexico. They opened their food truck in Austin in 2008, becoming known for both straightforward and creative tacos loaded up with veggies. The new location will serve traditional meals, pastries, and coffee at 1905 Aldrich St., and opens on April 8. Mueller's Aldrich Street district announced that along with Veracruz, it would add locations for Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse, Dish Society, Nautical Bowls, and Sweetgreen.

Other news and notes

The old world of Texas barbecue and the new world of YouTubers collide on a channel called Mad Scientist BBQ, where Jeremy Yoder cooks and talks about the supremacy of the regional art. He's bringing that argument and a 1,000-gallon smoker on the road through Texas, signing on some guest chefs to cook for fans along the tour, and then giving the four-barrel monster away. Hopeful winners can buy a mug ($49) to enter. Yoder will announce his tour locations and dates on Instagram as he goes.

Brunch doesn't have to be a lazy Sunday activity. The Dirdie Birdie, a surreal carnival of an indoor mini golf course, just added a brunch service starting April 8, every Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. Befitting the imaginative golf course, the food is also above and beyond. Try a loco moco (Hawaiian hamburger) with crispy jasmine rice, ham, and runny egg; chicken and waffles with hot honey; avocado toast with mezcal pickled onions; bottomless mimosas, and more. Reserve at dirdiebirdieatx.com.

A free "Dog Party" at the Lucky Rabbit Live Music Bar & Kitchen on April 8 will connect interested adopters with dogs from Texas Humane Heroes and Texas Lifelong Friends. Mobile adoption units make it possible to complete everything onsite, but if visitors prefer just to get acquainted, there's plenty to do with their own pooches. The kitchen is whipping up some specialty hot dogs (for dogs); organizations are trimming nails, selling pet apparel and jewelry; and three bands are playing live. No RSVP required.

If you're not already super competitive about bar trivia, maybe having some Austin FC players in attendance will put a fire under your own team. Will Bruin, Leo Vaisanen, Jon Gallagher, and Nick Lima are heading over to Pluckers Wing Bar (9070 Research Blvd.) on April 12 to participate in a soccer and general sports round of the weekly live trivia game. Even if a visitor doesn't win trivia, they may win a raffle for a pair of Austin FC tickets and a signed jersey. Comment on Instagram for a chance to join the FC players' team.

Easter and Passover are finally here, and anyone suffering some last-minute planning angst should check CultureMap's best-of list for new additions. We've had our ears to the ground and shared our favorites. There are 11 recommendations from weekend brunches, to egg hunts, to beautiful desserts. Neighborhood Italian restaurant L’Oca D’Oro offers an all-faiths Passover Seder; Fareground removes the obstacle of families having to agree on what to eat; and Drag performers don their Sunday best.

Courtesy of Austin Pets Alive!

Austin Pets Alive! receives stamp of approval from USPS for 50th anniversary collection

Love, APA!

The United States Postal Service (USPS) unveiled its new Love 2023 Forever stamps at Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) on Thursday morning.

Every year, the USPS releases a new "Love Forever" stamp a month before Valentine's Day as part of the "First Day of Issue Ceremony." For the 2023 season, USPS opted to have the theme of the stamp honor the cats and dogs people love to shower with gifts and hugs year-round.

"Evoking feelings of warmth and playfulness, each stamp shows a cute and cuddly animal resting its front paws on a big red heart. Sure to add a bit of whimsy to your valentines, these adorable stamps are also suitable for use on letters and cards throughout the year," a press release from the USPS states.

Animal lovers can pick between either a puppy or a kitten leaning against a big red heart to send mail to their loved ones.

USPS held a dedication ceremony at 11 am on January 19 in an outside tented area of the APA! parking lot. The beloved Austin nonprofit was selected by the USPS for the reveal due to the theme of the stamps.

"At Austin Pets Alive! the majority of the dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens on campus were once on euthanasia lists in other shelters," USPS said on a webpage for the event. "They have approximately 350 adoptable animals on campus and approximately 1,100 animals in foster care today. They recently celebrated the 100,000th rescue since their nonprofit was founded – a demonstration of LOVE in action."


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

Photo courtesy of The Vets

Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Courtesy of KVUE

Prickle of baby porcupines arrives at Austin Nature and Science Center

Prickle me this

KVUE — There are new residents at the Austin Nature and Science Center: a prickle of baby porcupines.

The prickle — which is a group of three or more porcupines — has taken up residency in the newly renovated Small Worlds Exhibit at the center, located at 2389 Stratford Drive.

The real stars of the show are the two porcupettes, or baby porcupines, now living in the exhibit. Although these new additions are very young, porcupines have lifespans of upwards of 23 years, so they will be long-term residents.

The general public will be allowed to view the porcupettes in all their cute glory when they officially debut on September 18, which is also Austin Museum Day. Until then, allow them to quickly waddle — which is the fastest they can run — their way into your heart!


Read the full story and watch the cute video on KVUE.com.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Plan a summer play-cation in Frisco for golf, pools, music, and more

The City That Plays

Looking to take a play-cation this summer? Obviously Frisco, The City That Plays, is the perfect fit. It offers so many activities to fit every interest, from sporting events and unique golf activities to kid-friendly attractions and pools.

Summer sports
Watch a Frisco RoughRiders baseball game like never before from the in-stadium lazy river, or tour The Star, the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, to take in some NFL history and see where the pros call home.

While you are visiting The Star, you’ll find shopping and dining, with everything from sushi at Sushi Marquee to sweets at Cow Tipping Creamery.

Pro tip: if you love America’s team, plan your trip in August to get a pre-season glimpse of the Dallas Cowboys at training camp, open to the public at Ford Center.

PGA Frisco awaits with its two championship courses, a short course and putting green that’s lit at night, an entertainment district full of shops and dining options for the whole family, and the newly opened Omni PGA Frisco Resort, where it’s easy to cool off in one of the four pools.

Frisco offers golfers a range of play options, including The Fazio Course at The Westin Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa, Frisco Lakes Golf Club, Plantation Golf Club, The Trails of Frisco, and the unique indoor option of the Swing Suite Lounge by Topgolf.

Cool tunes
Now that Frisco is officially designated a Music Friendly Texas Community, there’s plenty of live music to enjoy over the summer.

Friday nights in June are for listening to live music at Frisco Square during the free outdoor Summer Concert Series on the lawn in front of City Hall.

Visitors can get into the groove anytime at one of Frisco’s many venues that host live music and entertainment throughout the summer.

Happy 4th
Frisco celebrates the Fourth of July big, too. Mark your calendar for two major events with food, music, games, and fireworks: Frisco Freedom Fest and The Independence Day Celebration at Omni PGA Frisco Resort.

Kiddo time
Escape the Texas heat with a visit to Frisco’s unbelievable new library. The bright, open design has spaces to inspire, create, innovate, and collaborate, plus you can say hi to Rexy, the 20-foot-tall T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

Check out the high-tech Makerspace and active learning spaces like Tiny Town, for kids up to age 5, and Kid’s Club, for kinder through 5th graders.

Take a dip
Cool down poolside in Frisco. With rooftop views, cabanas, adults-only, splash pools, and the Frisco Water Park, families, couples, and friends can all find the right place to cool down during your visit.

Whatever your summer style is, rest your head at one of Frisco’s 26 hotels while experiencing a weekend play-cation with things to do for visitors of all ages.

Soak up all Frisco has to offer this summer — visit the website for more vacation ideas.

Lazy River at Riders Field in Frisco

Photo courtesy of Visit Frisco

See a baseball game from the water at Riders Field.

Austin pedals into the 5th-best ranking for naked biking among U.S. cities

Skin in the game

Austinites just will not do things clothed, apparently. We slid in our ranking for naked gardening in 2023, but No. 2 ain't bad. Naked biking sounds a lot less appealing, but Austin is a great place to do it, coming in at No. 5 overall.

According to LawnStarter, who compiled the research out of the 200 largest cities in the U.S., Austin beat every other Texas locale, with Houston coming in at No. 13, San Antonio at No. 45, Dallas at 58, and everyone else doing pretty abysmally.

Austinites interested in trying this fringe sport can look into the World Naked Bike Ride, with the slogan, "Less Gas, More Ass." The next ride is scheduled this month, which is what inspired LawnStarter to do this important work. Austinites will have to travel to Houston to participate officially on September 9.

Not that having a black plastic bike seat between your cheeks in the blazing sun isn't a good idea in Texas — it just doesn't sound like a great one. Still, naked biking is surprisingly popular among Ausitnites, earning the city the 12th ranking in that category, tied with Madison, Wisconsin, and Boston, Massachusetts. If you're racking your brain for the last time you saw a naked biker cruising by in Austin, you're not alone. It may be more popular than it is in most other states, but it's certainly not the norm.

Austin's top category ranking was in friendliness to nudists (No. 2), which definitely fits our image as a city, and often comes back to our legally-protected toplessness, even in public places without nudist designations — a rarity in the United States. We were beat by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in that category and overall; The City of Brotherly Love also loves biking with their bits out.

Austin's worst ranking was in safety (No. 182), which was dragged down by our prevalence of sex offenders. Apparently, almost any U.S. city is better to live in if you don't want to live near a sex offender.

One would think Austin's climate would be anything but conducive to biking with nothing but sunscreen between your vulnerable human form and the punishing summer rays, but the city achieved No. 81 in the category, which is basically average.

The worst city for naked biking is one called Surprise, Arizona, which is a pretty sad surprise. Naked biking is decidedly unpopular, and the city's worst rank is in biker friendliness. If you're going to be out on the street like a modern-day Lady Godiva on gears, it does seem important that your city like bikers. The worst Texas city is Pasadena, for similar reasons.

Women and Gen Z are the most financially stressed — and how that fits with recent local findings in Austin

show them the money

Money may not buy happiness, but financial stress affects every generation — some groups more than others. Point, a home equity lender, did some research and found that personal finance was negatively impacting the mental health of 55 percent of respondents, especially Gen Z and women.

The study covered four broad sources of stress: personal finances, climate change, geopolitical issues, and social issues. Both Gen Z and women were most stressed in all categories except geopolitical issues, where men and Boomers took the lead. Actually, despite Boomers' financial stability, they worried about every other category the second-most after Gen Z, coming in almost even on the issue of climate change.

The report measured the frequency of responses that impacted "mental health 'a great deal' or 'quite a bit,'" indicating that the reported stress was significant. It does not include data about milder stress.

Adult Gen Z was most worried about their ability to save to buy a house, followed closely by not being able to find jobs that pay enough for general living expenses — two sides of the same coin, or credit card. Gen Z was least worried about losing their jobs, perhaps because they're not paying enough to begin with, and most of Gen Z hasn't had their jobs for more than a few years.

There was not a further breakdown of women's stressors, but Austin women are surely feeling the pressure of our pay gap. Women in the capital city are making nearly $11,000 less than men, even though Texas at large is supposedly a great place for women in business.

Thankfully for Austinites stressed about being able to save for a home, the housing market has been stabilizing, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. First-time homebuyers who can get their credit together and afford a down payment may find relief in refinancing, and have at least five excellent neighborhoods to look in, or perhaps they'll even leave the city proper in favor of nearby suburbs.

Georgetown, one Austin's closest neighbors, is the fastest-growing city in the country, and should have improved access around Austin after Project Connect's light rail fills in the gaps left by the 40-minute commuter rail. If renting in Austin is more appealing than moving, renters can expect to afford about 714 square feet for $1,500 — only slightly less than the 782-square-foot national average.

Like any city, Austin has its roses, buds, and thorns, but across the board, things in this city seem to be stabilizing for the first time in years. Maybe that's why, despite the stress, we're still one of the happiest cities in America.