Hot Californian pizza chain eyes Austin for major expansion


Pizza Guys/ Facebook

It's not just you. Californians are so hot for Texas right now. The state's exploding population makes it a golden goose for any chain looking to carve its niche. No wonder Sacramento-based Pizza Guys is champing at the bit to enter the Lone Star market.

Via release, the company announced plans to open almost 200 locations in Texas' major metropolises — including 23 stores in the Austin area. Though Pizza Guys didn't divulge the targeted locations, it is rapidly recruiting potential local franchisees.
Operating at a similar price point to Papa John's and Pizza Hut, Pizza Guys promises pies made with whole milk mozzarella, daily-made dough, and sauce made from fresh-packed Californian tomatoes. However, the restaurant sets itself apart with an array of specialty pizzas.

Although pepperoni is on the menu, the chain digs deep into the pantry for varieties like Artichoke Fiesta — a garden vegetable pie by way of a taco salad. Other offerings include chipotle chicken, curry chicken, serrano chili, a couple of choices using Impossible vegan beef, and Texas Barbecue. (See? So Obsessed!) Customers can also customize their toppings on various crusts or, seasonally, on an amorous heart-shaped pie.

"Customizable restaurant options have become exponentially more popular since customers prefer the autonomy of creating what they're craving over ordering the same thing," CEO and co-founder Shahpour Nejad explains via a release.

In addition to the pizzas, the chain offers flatbreads and the usual mix of accompaniments like wings, cheesy bread, salads, and pasta. Stores will also have the opportunity to double as ghost kitchens under the company's Pizza Piatta and Calzone Life.

Piatta specializes in flatbread pies, including a saucy selection striped with the colors of the Italian flag. The marketing is a little more upscale, with its condiments presented as "sauce pesto, sauce marinara, and sauce ranch." Switching the usual order of descriptions is the most efficient route to fanciness. Just ask Parfums de Couer.

Calzone Life, which would look fetching as an Old English tattoo, serves up gorgeous latticework pies in flavors mostly named after Californian towns. Santa Monica inspires a chicken riff with taco seasoning and cilantro, while Monterey is fond of Franks RedHot Buffalo sauce.

It's still to be determined when locals can try Pizza Guys. The chain is aggressively recruiting early franchise adopters with generous sign-on discounts. Once the expansion plans are realized, it will give the company a bigger brand presence than many homegrown franchises such as Pizza Patrón and Mr. Gatti's.

Photo courtesy of Birdie's

Austin's top restaurant, chef, bar, and more revealed at 2023 Tastemaker Awards

Toast the Tastemakers

It’s that time of year again, when we take stock of our best hometown restaurants and industry players at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.

As always, we started with a group of editorial staff and past winners, our judges, and selected our favorite restaurants, chefs, beverage pros, and more. The resulting nominations all reflect the amazing accomplishments in the Austin culinary scene since our 2022 Tastemaker Awards. We looked to Austinites to choose their favorite new restaurant in a bracket-style competition, and selected the rest via a vote among the industry judges. Now, it’s time to let everyone in on the results.

On May 11, we gathered with foodies of all persuasions for the 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards at Fair Market. Guests got to try bites by nominees they’ve never visited before as well as old favorites, sipped cocktails, and watched a live burger competition before the ceremony. Then, Alamo Drafthouse founder and local restaurant supporter Tim League returned to reprise his role as emcee, revealing this year’s winners.

Join us in raising a toast to the 2023 CultureMap Austin Tastemaker Awards winners. Meet them below.

Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
After the cultural comeuppance of molecular gastronomy — its coffin nailed long before The Menu made it multiplex farce — nothing seems as current as a baguette smeared with washed-rind cheese. In post-pandemic Austin, the success of Birdie's casual model helped the entire culinary scene to reset. Why fuss with establishing restaurants as fiefdoms with chefs as their plundering lords? There's nothing more aspirational than serving orecchiette dressed in Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and dandelion greens.

Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
If there's a list of chefs — participants in a food festival or a fundraiser, honorees in an award ceremony — Amanda Turner's name is on it. In fact, before she made this list, she made the class of Rising Star Chefs in 2019 (with Juniper) and in 2022, winning both and proving some awesome foresight from those judges. As chef de cuisine at Restaurant of the Year nominee Olamaie, she somehow finds time while helping to define Southern cuisine — from the complicated position of a Black woman chef, she sometimes points out — to be one of the most public-facing chefs in Austin. About a year and a half into this new position, she's clearly hit her stride, and showing no signs of stopping.

Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
Joaquin Ceballos has always been international, and it's his "love for multicultural environments" that he says sets him apart. Born in Laredo, Texas, and raised across the border in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, he now represents the latter country at Este, the upscale seafood restaurant in East Austin. If he'd never left, however, he'd never had a chance to return to those roots, so thank Parisian bistro Racines NY for holding on to him in between.

Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
A first-generation American and daughter of Mexican immigrants, Mariela Camacho creates high-quality bread and pastries inspired by her experience growing up Xicana in America. Comadre Panadería started as a pop-up in Seattle in 2017 before moving back to Camacho’s home state of Texas, where she recently expanded into a space next to Nixta Taqueria.

Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
Owners Edgar Rico and Sara Mardanbigi bootstrapped this East Austin taqueria to James Beard acclaim, and one gets the sense that they take nothing for granted. Building on early triumphs like the sensuous duck carnitas taco, the joint keeps expanding its scope to antojitos like Yucatan Sikil P'aak and endearingly tasty goofs like the Space Glizzy crispy dog.

Bar of the Year: Nickel City
When this East Austin bar arrived, Capital City nightlife was under the thrall of mustachioed mixologists. The Nickel City team took the piss out with a frozen Irish coffee in a Styrofoam cup. It's not that the cocktails here require a less exacting palate (a current selection employs shiitake mushrooms and seaweed), it just turns out that barcraft with a sense of humor is a hell of a lot more fun.

Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
Erin Ashford spent seven years as bar manager, wine buyer, and assistant general manager at Restaurant of the Year nominee and former winner Olamaie. With all that practice, she's moved on to become the co-owner of brand-new cocktail bar Holiday with Rising Star nominee Peter Klein. It's a different venue but with Erin, it still feels like the same party — her favorite part of the job.

Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
This acclaimed pizza joint has always put as much work into its wine list as its Neapolitan pies. In the early days, it miraculously squeezed 400 bottles into its tiny former East Austin space. These days, it brings wine to the masses through its monthly wine club, whose members get special discounts, pizza pairings, and witty tasting notes from wine director Rania Zayyat.

Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
Owned by a Presbyterian pastor, the two locations of Lazarus wink to Christianity throughout with apocalyptic stained-glass installations and beer names like Walks on Water. Secular Austin still can't get enough of the boozy, most European brews — including rarer styles like Kellerbier and Belgian Dubbel.

Best New Restaurant:
Maie Day
Helmed by Olamaie founder and executive chef Michael Fojtasek, Maie Day took over for Central Standard at South Congress Hotel last May. With playful takes on a classic steakhouse menu, highlights include ribeye, a butcher’s steak, and a plethora of hearty sides.

Best Burger: Dai Due
Best to clear your afternoon before diving into the Dai Due burger, which is sure to induce a nice REM cycle with its double patty, ground with Dai Due bacon. Multiple James Beard Award winner chef Jesse Griffiths remains a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement, sourcing ingredients from Texas and primarily in the Austin region — and the burger is no exception. A sesame cemita bun sandwiches Stryk cheddar cheese, house-made dill pickles and onions, and the whole heavenly ensemble comes with a side of french fries and unbelievable beet ketchup.

Birdie's plate

Photo courtesy of Birdie's

Birdie's is 2023's Restaurant of the Year.


Hannah J. Frías, Brianna Caleri, and Brandon Watson contributed to this article.

Photo courtesy of Este

These 16 contenders are competing for the title of best new Austin restaurant

Meet the Tastemakers

It feels like every day that we read about a new restaurant concept in Austin — probably because it is. As the city changes, so does the culinary landscape, staying grounded at food trucks and fun places to meet up for a casual lunch, or breaking through the perceived limits of what this city has to offer, sometimes to the tune of James Beard Nominations.

As much as Austinites want to hold onto Old Austin, life changes, and supporting the best incoming restaurants may mean bolstering a new 40-odd-year institution that generations will look back on fondly. These 16 new restaurants tease a future of more East-West ethnic fusion (alongside some traditional favorites that will never die, like Mexican street food and pizza), local ingredients, and slow-cooked meats.

These nominees were picked by our Tastemakers judges — a few editorial staff and some winners from 2022 — for you, the readers. Your votes will determine which restaurants progress to an eventual win for Best New Restaurant at the 2023 Tastemaker Awards.

Our first brackets match up pairs of restaurants with a similar style, conceptual focus, or rules broken, to make sure we're comparing apples to apples — or more accurately, brisket to brisket. Visit the interactive page to make your selections; one vote per bracket.

To vote, click here. Don't delay: The first bracket ends at 11:59 pm on April 24.

Then, find out which restaurant wins on May 11 at the Tastemaker Awards party at Fair Market. Nominated restaurants and chefs will show off their best bites and the winners in each category will be revealed. Buy tickets now before they sell out.

Here are our nominees for Best New Restaurant:

The beauty of barbecue is it’s never just one thing, and these Tastemakers prove that the art will always keep expanding, multiculturally.
BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya
If ramen and Texas barbecue have one thing in common, it’s that you could cook either forever and it’ll just keep getting better. The Tatsu-ya franchise tightens its grip on ramen aficionados with a new venture combining the two deep flavors in BBQ Ramen Tatsuya.
KG BBQ is what happens when Southwestern smoking meets Middle Eastern flavors like pomegranate and tahini. Brisket is the restaurant’s pride and joy, but the sides really call attention to how variable classics like potato salad, rice, and mac and cheese can be.

Both a little nontraditional, these new restaurants take well-known, casual foods from non-American cultures and turn up the Texas flavor.
Side Eye Pie
Food truck Side Eye Pie isn’t doing anything wildly off-book, but it’s on a mission of “creating & defining Texas Pizza.” Eschewing imports for local products including flour and yeast, the spirit of rebellion also shows up in the “Sweet & Spicy Nutz” pie with Texas pecans.
Tiny Diner
Tiny Diner is all about Japanese breakfast. Eggs are the star of the show, especially in the breakfast sandwich, over easy on bacon, greens, spices and a toasted bun. The okonomiyaki, a savory pancake, may expand some diners’ horizons and is topped with a poached egg.

A food truck and a farmers market favorite, these two new restaurants are making big moves in small spaces.
Mum Foods
Known for its pastrami, sliced in front of shoppers and dripping with rendered fat, Mum Foods made a triumphant move to a small standalone smokehouse and deli counter. Now it serves huge spreads with sausages, matzah ball soup, and more.
Ensenada is doing what many other food trucks shy away from — an entirely fish- and shrimp-focused menu. The fried fish tacos are already a street food staple; Shrimp cocktail doesn’t sound like one until you see its colorful layers stacked in a smoothie cup.

Two of Austin’s newest Mexican restaurants show the range of the cuisine — from upscale to fast-casual — while focusing on the power of smaller regions.
Masa y Más
A stop at Masa y Más is like a tour through Mexico without leaving South Lamar, with each dish made in its specific regional style. Authenticity is a big focus here, and as the name suggests, there’s a lot more to try than just tacos, plus the big space is a great hangout spot.
Chapulín Cantina
The successor of longtime South Congress restaurant Enoteca, Chapulín Cantina shifted the Italian focus to Oaxaca, Mexico. The semi-upscale newcomer is named for a Oaxacan delicacy — fried grasshoppers — and they are on the menu. The tequila bar alone is worth a long visit.

Suerte’s little sister and this brand new dual concept at the Seaholm District prove that Austin is primed and ready for elevated Latin fare.
The award-winning team behind Suerte opened their long-awaited second concept last year on Manor Road. Celebrating coastal Mexican cuisine, the restaurant already looks set to become as cherished a spot as the space’s former tenant, East Side Cafe.
Ember Kitchen
The Seaholm District welcomed the arrival of dual concept Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar in January 2023. Ember offers a live-fire experience with Latin flare, while Subterra serves a curated selection of agave cocktails and Latin spirits in a speakeasy setting.

Two new steakhouses stampeded Congress in the past year, one north of the river — and right next to the Paramount Theatre — and one South, in the heart of trendy South Congress.
Maie Day
Helmed by Olamaie founder and executive chef Michael Fojtasek, Maie Day took over for Central Standard at South Congress Hotel last May. With playful takes on a classic steakhouse menu, highlights include ribeye, a butcher’s steak, and a plethora of hearty sides.
Luminaire took up residence at the brand new Hyatt Hotel Centric in February 2023. Devoted fans of Cured at the Pearl in San Antonio no longer have to trek down I-35 for Chef Steve McHugh’s signature cured meats, but the Angus beef Luminaire burger is also a major draw.

From cult favorite soup dumplings to incredible views, these two restaurants show the increasing range of cuisine we’re blessed to find in Austin these days.
Ling Kitchen
Chef Ling Qi Wu has been quietly changing the game for Chinese cuisine in Austin since opening Lin Asian Kitchen in 2018. She now has four total concepts to her growing empire, with Ling Kitchen as the latest outpost to find her famous soup dumplings.
Nestled in Austin’s newest luxury condo and hotel overlooking Lady Bird Lake, Nido claims some of the best views of downtown Austin. Murder Point oysters are a highlight, and the cocktails are equally fresh.

Austin is still finding its way as a potential pizza city, and these two freshmen born from older favorite restaurants embody two styles that have stood the test of time.
Bufalina (Due)
Proponents of a truly Italian pizza were enamored with Bufalina and now, Bufalina Due, the resurrection of the original restaurant in new digs. This Neapolitan style pizza is rimmed with charred dough, swimming in sauce, and serves as a generous vehicle for toppings.
Dovetail Pizza
A group of industry vets came together to create Dovetail Pizza for those who can’t choose between the New York and Neapolitan styles that dominate the category. The fermented dough stays light, but gets crispy enough to support its weight under the Italian toppings.

Este Austin
Photo courtesy of Este

These 16 restaurants represent the best of Austin's newcomers. You choose the winner! Este's Mexican seafood and garden vibes have swept Austin since opening.

Photo courtesy of Sarah McIntosh

The top 8 pastry chefs in Austin bake up a colorful community

Meet the Tastemakers

No one changes hats like a pastry chef, serving up the savory, the sweet, and everything in between. A great meal may start with bread, encase something herbaceous in a puff pastry, and end with a beautiful meringue. These fatty, carb-heavy foods are the core of both comfort and celebration, but it’s easy to miss the mark — it’s a high-stakes, high-reward field, and most pastry heroes don’t see their names on the front of a restaurant.

This year’s Tastemaker Award nominees in the Best Pastry category show that no matter how highbrow or homemade, the passion transcends the plate — or the pastry box.

Sarah McIntosh of \u00c9picerie

Photo courtesy of Sarah McIntosh

Sarah McIntosh's creations at Épicerie mean you don't have to visit New Orleans for the best beignets.

Consider your wildest dreams and your mellowest comfort cravings, and then get ready to see them challenged on May 11 at Fair Market for our annual Tastemaker Awards tasting event and awards ceremony. Early Bird tickets are on sale now.

Abby Love, Abby Jane Bakeshop
Local ingredients are always hot as far as meats and veggies are concerned, but is anyone asking where their flour is coming from? Abby Love is. Products from Abby Jane Bakeshop are made exclusively from stone-milled heritage flours processed feet away at the Barton Springs Mill facility. Surprisingly at this bakeshop, the pizzas steal the show.

Amanda Rockman, New Waterloo
This charismatic pastry chef had some experience in Michelin star dining, but decided it just wasn’t for her and dove instead into the more personable "polished casual" world. Now she has fun with sprinkles and oversees the sweet and flaky goings on at New Waterloo properties including fellow Tastemaker nominees Maie Day, Watertrade, and La Condesa.

Aurora Soleil, Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group
Despite flying under the radar in name alone, Aurora Soleil has made a big impact on the Austin pastry scene. Endorsed via her hiring at Hestia by one of Austin’s pastry giants, Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Soleil upheld the hospitality group's refined, but adventurous image with unexpected ingredients, unusual flavor combinations, and an insuppressible joie de vivre in plating.

Luis Gramajo and Hans Schrei, Wunderkeks
Anyone can make a good chocolate chip cookie, but married couple Luis Gramajo and Hans Schrei are baking up a stronger, more supportive community. The cookies are a cult classic — thick and toasty after a mandatory oven warm-up — and the award-winning business supports safe spaces for LGBTQ people, immigrants, and anyone who embraces their true self.

Courtney Mullin, Juniper
There are a few staples that have sweetened the Juniper menu since it opened in 2015, but Courtney Mullin gets the credit for keeping the pastry program innovative and delicious. Mullins started out as a pastry cook in South Carolina before moving to Atlanta, Chicago, and now Austin, where she also concocts the classic crullers and more for Uncle Nicky’s.

Jules Stoddart, Little Ola's Biscuits
After pivoting to a temporary biscuit shop during the pandemic, Olamaie chef and owner Michael Fojtasek announced plans to open a permanent biscuit shop in North Austin. Formerly Olamaie’s executive pastry chef and culinary director Jules Stoddart now leads Little Ola’s, serving the fresh, delicious and from-scratch biscuits to tempt Austinites daily.

Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
A first-generation American and daughter of Mexican immigrants, Mariela Camacho creates high-quality bread and pastries inspired by her experience growing up Xicana in America. Comadre Panadería started as a pop-up in Seattle in 2017 before moving back to Camacho’s home state of Texas, where she recently expanded into a space next to Nixta Taqueria.

Sarah McIntosh, Épicerie
Even Café Du Monde canonists can confess that Sarah McIntosh’s beignets are not just bigger, but better. Sure, there’s no street jazz band serenading every powdery bite, but McIntosh’s creations are fluffier, fresher, and more satisfying — and that’s not even touching on her kougin-amanns, flaky croissants, almond croix, and the best sprinkle cookies in town.

Photo by Devon Hutchins

7 things to know right now in Austin food: Cult favorite pizza finds a permanent home

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.


A cult classic in Austin pizza, Sammataro, is expanding. The restaurant is opening a brick-and-mortar location at 900 West 10th Street, to complement its food truck on East 12th and its pop-ups. The space used to belong to 40 North, another pizza joint that specialized in Neapolitan pies until its closing in fall of 2022. Sammataro makes closer to a New York slice, but still stays rustic around the (literal) edges, with a puffy, slightly singed crust. A "friends and family" celebration invited Instagram followers to a housewarming on January 19 from 5-9 pm. Tickets ($50) available on Eventbrite. The restaurant officially opens January 20.

The fine folks behind Utopiafest announced the sunsetting of the festival in August of 2022, but the spirit of the festival continues on at Meridian, a cafe and concert venue in Buda. The space at 200 North Main Street has been under development for months, and it shows — the space is both cozy and immaculately designed. It aims to be "a destination for wellness, community, music, and experience seekers," while bringing new life to the historic building. The grand opening on January 28 from 9 am to midnight features a gluten-free brunch buffet ($20) and a performance in the evening by Texas String Assembly ($10).

Austin drive-through hero P. Terry’s has added yet another building to its ranks of 29, this time at 12680 West US 290. The new location is across from the Belterra Village Shopping Center, which contains Pieous, Hat Creek Burger Company, and Torchy’s Tacos. Like the other locations, this one will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night eats, from 7 am to 11 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. The classic menu offers burgers, veggie burgers, fries, chicken patties, cage free eggs, and scratch-made sweet bakes.

Other news and notes

Digital dining sounds less than filling but don't worry; the food is all real. As part of this new immersive fad, projectors shine light down onto the table, animating the meal. At Ciclo, the Four Seasons' restaurant, these animations tell a story over four courses. According to a release, this took a team of artists 50,000 hours to achieve. Both the story and the menu are a little vague, but guests can expect tuna tartare, steak ravioli, and a story that brings guests "around the globe." The experience opens in February, and tables can be booked now. Reserve ($198) on OpenTable.

Sustainable Food Center, an Austin nonprofit that deals in healthy eating from policy to farmers to Central Texans' kitchens, is hosting its 14th Annual Farm to Plate celebration on April 13 from 6-9:30 pm. The seven-course meal at Springdale Station combines work from some of Austin's top chefs (recognized from Emmer & Rye, Olamaie, Nixta Taqueria, La Barbecue, The Peached Tortilla, El Naranjo, and Intero Restaurant), and changes the format from past years to a seated experience. A limited number of early bird tickets ($325) are $100 off, available via GiveSmart.

If giving is your thing but paying hundreds of dollars per plate is not, We Are Blood will take your platelets, instead. There are calories in blood (surprise!) so it's important to replace those right away, and ThunderCloud Subs is happy to help at no cost from now until January 31. All donors during that window will receive a voucher for a free small sub. A list of donation locations is available on the scheduling page at weareblood.org.

Movie theater popcorn feels like it should be free of the mortal trappings of currency, but that's almost never the case. Almost. On January 19, Alamo Drafthouse is offering a glimpse into that reality with a free small popcorn for anyone who buys a movie ticket and one other menu item, all day. For the uninitiated, this could be anything from beer to candy to full meals. Different menus are available for each location at drafthouse.com.

Photo by Jackie Klusmeyer

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Neighborhood Italian favorite plans new pizza joint

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.


Word is out that one of Austin’s favorite Italian restaurants, L’Oca d’Oro, is opening a pizza spot. Details are sparse so far, but the concept's name will be Bambino, led by L'Oca's team, chef Fiore Tedesco and Adam Orman, and inspired by pizza from their respective upbringing in the Northeast. Expected to open in summer 2023, the concept will include a full bar with specialty cocktails and a curated wine list. The neighborhood pizza joint will follow the same ethos as L'Oca — utilizing ingredients at their peak to create a refined pizza to be enjoyed by all.

Only an impossibly trendy bar could seriously pull off a name like the Wiggle Room, and this one certainly does. Now open between its sister bars Ranch 616, Beez Kneez, and Cat’s Pajamas, this West Texas-themed mirage includes lots of succulent, snake, and cowboy references amid its otherwise disco-safari aesthetic. It looks as chaotic as it sounds. Since its grand opening on November 25, the place has been a revolving door for DJs and dancers who love “stiff drinks.” Reserve at wiggleroomatx.com.

No one plans a party like an Austin brewery, but it can be hard to keep up with everyone’s favorites. City Brew Tours, a company that gives brewery tours in 18 cities around the United States, is new in Austin, with tours starting in February. Each tour visits three or four locations, and so far Austin breweries include Independence Brewing Co., Family Business Beer Company, Celis Brewery, Beerburg Brewing, among other unnamed partners. A knowledgeable guide brings visitors along with included transportation and a meal or snack, then encourages them to support the local business by taking products home. Reserve at citybrewtours.com.

Other news and notes

Cookie Rich and influencer A Taste of Koko, two Austin institutions with cult followings, are teaming up for a limited-edition holiday flavor. These gold-dusted, white chocolate chip sandwich cookies contain dark fudge and marshmallow fluff for an elevated wintertime combination called the Hot Koko. Her curated boxes come with the Hot Koko, birthday sprinkle, cookies and cream, and red velvet flavors in packs of four ($18) or 12 ($36). Order online at getcookierich.com, or at the Austin trailer.

Tiff’s Treats is making stocking-stuffers and gift swaps easy this year with holiday packages and same-day delivery. Santa Packs come with a blank card for writing a note to the big guy, and gift bundles include the founders’ book It’s Not Just Cookies and an earring collaboration with Kendra Scott. Customers can also add an ornament inspired by El Arroyo’s signs, reading “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” ($18). Order online at cookiedelivery.com.

Anyone with a ring in their pocket or on their finger this holiday season should consider stopping by Camp Lucy for its annual “Sip, See, Experience” this January 7. From 10 am to 4 pm, the Hill Country wedding venue is putting its best foot forward for tours, including specialty snacks and drinks from Chef Meredith Shaffer and the rest of the culinary team. It’s free to attend, so it’s worth a try even four couples with a different dream venue. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Everything to know about Austin's 4th annual Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival


A weeklong celebration of Black history is returning to Austin with a focus on local organizations and people that are making long-lasting impacts in the local community. The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center is hosting the fourth annual Stay Black and Live (SB&L) Juneteenth Festival June 12-19.

The festival began as a livestream in 2020, and has since captured the attention of community members citywide, making it the cornerstone event for Austin's Juneteenth celebrations. SB&L's theme for 2023 is "Austin Family Reunion," centered around community kickbacks, cookouts, live music, and more.

In a release, Carver Museum director Carre Adams said the museum continuously aims to "honor the significance of Juneteenth" with their festival programming and education.

“We are incredibly proud to continue Austin’s Juneteenth celebration and tradition at our historic museum,” said Adams. “We invite the Austin community to join us as we commemorate this momentous occasion and bring Black history past, present and future to the forefront.”

The festival will begin with a presentation on Monday, June 12 hosted by 2023 Grammy Music Educator Award winner and Desoto, Texas high school music teacher Pamela Dawson. The website states she will sing and use "negro spirituals" during her interactive session to inform guests about "African-American contributions to the sonic art form." Dawson's lecture will take place from 6-8 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Below is a full weekend schedule for the festival:

Thursday, June 15
James Beard award-winning food historian and author Michael W. Twitty will take the stage at the Boyd Vance Theater from 6-8 pm. He'll discuss the eating habits and culinary practices of African Americans, and open a conversation about modern-day abolitionist movements.

Friday, June 16
Austinites of every age are invited to the festival's community kickback and dance party from 6-9 pm at the Carver Museum's Freedom Lawn. The party will be accompanied by high-energy music by DJ Cysum and DJ Dontizl. The event is in partnership with Creative Action, who will also set up a "sensory station" for attendees to express themselves with glowsticks, kites, bubbles, and more. A special performance by BodyRockATX will close out the event.

Saturday, June 17
The day will begin at 10 am with the annual historic Juneteenth Parade through Austin's Rosewood neighborhood. The parade route starts on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and goes all the way to Rosewood Park.

Following the parade, visitors can gather for the Austin Family Reunion Cookout and Music Festival behind the Carver Museum from 3-6 pm. Veteran pitmasters will provide the delicious barbecue while Lady Joy and KAZI 88.7 DJs host the festivities. Attendees can also enjoy a vendor market, carnival games, workshops, and more.

Saul Paul will host the music festival from 6-9 pm on the Freedom Lawn, with performances by Distinguished Soundz, Stretch Muzik, and DJ Kay Kali. Headliners GAPX will perform at 8 pm.

Monday, June 19
Historian, Harvard law professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed will lead a Free Your Mind Conversation Series discussion about her book, On Juneteenth, from 1-3 pm at the Boyd Vance Theater.

Later that afternoon from 5-8 pm, the museum will host their final event for the week with their "Community Revival and Remembrance" ceremony in partnership with the Austin Justice Coalition. The closing celebration will pay respect to those who were victims of police violence in Texas.

More information about the Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival can be found on juneteenthatx.com.

Political satirist John Oliver heads to Austin on standup tour

Terrifying Times, Again

After the end of the regular legislative session, many Texans could use a dose of political satire, and John Oliver is on his way. The comedian and TV writer will perform live at Bass Concert Hall on Sunday, August 20 as part of the John Oliver Live tour.

Oliver is best known as the host and producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a political recap show that showcases the English comedian's biting sarcasm, which has won him several awards: 23 Primetime Emmys, five Writer’s Guild Awards, two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, four Television Critics Association Awards, and two Peabodys.

His work with similar shows spans nearly two decades, starting as a correspondent on The Daily Show in 2006, and including his time hosting podcastThe Bugle with Andy Zaltzman.

Oliver's standup career goes about as far back, starting with his 2008 special, John Oliver: Terrifying Times. Fans may also recognize the actor for his role in Community as a disgruntled, morally-ambiguous professor of psychology, or his voice work on cartoons including Big Mouth, Bob's Burgers, and Rick & Morty.

Tickets will be available to Texas Performing Arts' "Texas Inner Circle" members on Wednesday, June 7. General sales begin on Friday, June 9, at 10 AM. Check Ticketmaster for availability.

Controversial comedian Dave Chappelle plots out 4 Texas arena shows, including Austin

Chappelle's Show(s)

Comedian/actor Dave Chappelle will soon bring his "Dave Chappelle Live" stand-up comedy show to arenas in four cities in Texas, including the Moody Center in Austin on July 14.

Other dates include the American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 29, the Toyota Center in Houston on July 1, and the AT&T Center in San Antonio on July 12.

Chappelle is a complicated figure who's been celebrated for his trailblazing comedy and vilified for his controversial stances. Chappelle's Show, which ran from 2003 to 2006 on Comedy Central, was widely praised, and Chappelle remained extremely popular despite the abrupt end of the show and him choosing to recede from the spotlight in the following decade.

His re-emergence in the late 2010s brought success in the form of three straight Grammy wins for Best Comedy Album, but also continued jokes aimed at transgender people. He has been the subject of multiple protests over that material, and has even had a show canceled by a venue in Minneapolis after receiving criticism for hosting him.

As if to underscore the contentious nature of his comedy, no cellphones, cameras, or recording devices will be allowed at any of the four shows. All phones and smart watches will be secured in special pouches that can be unlocked at the end of the show. Anyone caught with a cellphone in the venue will be immediately ejected.

Tickets for the four shows will go on sale at 5 pm on June 5 at ticketmaster.com.