Photo courtesy of Estelle's

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.

New service

We were among the droves of Austinites who experienced love at first sight when Estelle's, the Warehouse District cocktail bar and social club, released its first photos. This stylish lounge looks equally fitting for an aimless cocktail night and an excuse to wear your brunch best, and now it's doing both. The new brunch service starts on Saturdays and Sundays at noon (that's the 4th Street equivalent of 8 am), and includes luxe dishes like spinach and tomato quiche or biscuits and pork belly gravy. Other everyday elevations include "everything" naan with avocado and radish or seasonal fruits with wildflower honey ($14). Even though Estelle's is a "social club," everyone is invited. Book on OpenTable.

Other news and notes

Hey Austin servers and bartenders — hope you're off on Mondays. Wax Myrtle's is hosting a weekly summer industry night from now until August 28, inviting hospitality workers to hang in the pool from 3-11 pm. Admission is free and does not require an RSVP. Enjoy fresh guacamole, queso, and sandwiches at a discount, along with discounted shots and $5 draft beers. And since this is a social event, there will be games, things to float on, and an "activated satellite bar."

Upscale New American restaurantLenoir has been on a roll with its Third Thursday dinner series, raising funds for local nonprofits. But these dinners aren't the only ones it's hosting to give back. A "beefsteak banquet," modeled after a Northeastern tradition, is benefitting the Austin Parks Foundation on July 2. Apron-wearing guests will enjoy unlimited grilled beef with seasonal sides, house-made bread, and desserts in Lenoir's wine garden. There even be a prize for the guest with the best apron, if they choose to bring their own instead of wearing one of Lenoir's. Book on Resy.

There's only a few tickets left to sit inside for Launderette's fifth annual Lobster & Friends seafood boil on July 3. The converted laundromat is keeping up the community hub vibes with a family-style buffet including a whole lot of classics: lobster, shrimp, crab, clams, mussels, and sausage, plus sides and desserts. If you miss the dining room tickets, there's plenty of room on the patio, and the restaurant is even offering to-go options. Book a time ($75) or a takeout order on Resy.

It's all Olamaie, all the time in Austin right now. More news coming about that next. Up first is a collaboration between two of its offshoots: steakhouseMaie Day and chicken-and-biscuits shopLittle Ola's Biscuits. The steakhouse is hosting Chef Jules Stoddart of the biscuit realm for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres before the South Congress Hotel's monthly First Thursday party with local businesses, live DJ sets, and more. Guests will receive early entry to the party and access to a private bar all night. Tickets to the cocktail event ($45) benefit Every Body Texas, a nonprofit for bettering sexual and reproductive care. Reserve on Tock.

Chef Amanda Turner is a driving force in the Austin food scene, no matter what category she's part of. In this case, it's "women in the culinary world," as celebrated by the bi-annual feminist industry mag Cherry Bombe. The magazine is spotlighting restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, as well as Austin, with a dinner series benefitting local charities. The July 13 dinner at Turner's Olamaie will only use ingredients by women-owned brands and benefit Jeremiah Program Austin, which serves single mothers facing poverty. Reserve ($135) on OpenTable.

Photo courtesy of Double Trouble

8 things to know in Austin food right now: Venerated vegan tacos and cult coffee shop have a "love child"

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.


One of Austin's favorite vegan restaurants, the Vegan Nom, is bringing even more noms to the North Loop neighborhood with Double Trouble, a "love child" with Barrett’s Coffee. The vegan taco joint and bar (103 E. North Loop Blvd.) is in its soft launch stage, officially opening on June 30. But until then, there will be Friday parties. From 3 pm to midnight, these weekly welcome wagons will include $5 tacos, drink specials all night, frozen palomas, and free IPAs by The Brewtorium while they last. Visitors can also enjoy music and hula hooping on the patio — good vibes, only. Right now, it's open every day from 7 am to midnight.

Seafood restaurant Truluck's, now at a swanky new space at 300 Colorado St, is just about ready for its first visitors. On June 16, the new location welcomes guests old and new to witness the upgrades: a two-level dining space with skyline views, a more technologically advanced kitchen, and a more modern atmosphere overall. Even the light and sound system is technologically elevated, according to a release. Reserve on OpenTable.

Other news and notes

I had as little an inkling as you did that this column would one day include a victory over raw milk, but here we are with the Texas Farmers' Market (TFM). After much lobbying, TFM convinced lawmakers to allow preorders for raw milk at markets, and now it's actually available from Ash Acres Dairy Farm. Some other vendors are also joining the fray at the Mueller and Lakeline markets with unrelated but exciting additions: "'New York-ish' bagels from David Doughies, chai from Open Eye Beverage Co., and artisanal ice cream from Lotus Creamery," "vegan cheese from Peace Cheese, [vegetables from] Southern Star Farms & Events Center," a release lists.

La Condesa is not the kind of place where you'd expect to see $3 tacos, but thank goodness for happy hour. The new weekday special from 5-6 pm also offers cocktails half off, and the restaurant claims "one of the largest mezcal and tequila offerings in town." The four discounted tacos to choose from are cachete (beef cheek) with avocado and cucumber; carnitas with avocado and tomatillo salsa; pollo with salsa verde, onion, and cilantro; and hongos (mushrooms) with black beans and chimichurri. They're available exclusively at the bar, and on a walk-up basis.

Going out for African food could mean any number of cuisines and styles, but this Juneteenth weekend, a big handful of them are all going to be in one place. On June 18, Armadillo Den is hosting the Diaspora Food Festival, highlighting dishes with African American, Afro-Latin, Afro-Colombian, Jamaican, and Haitian influence, among others. Fans of the Latin Food Festival are likely to enjoy this event by the same organizers. RSVP for the free event at ourlatincity.com.

Move over, beer flights; vegan affogato flights are spreading their wings at Gati, the vegan ice cream and coffee shop. The "sister bakery" to Thai Fresh, this ice cream shop offers some of the city's most unique flavors, but with subtlety and seriousness — only when the situation calls for it. (Try the refreshing pandan with the coconut ash.) A summer solstice party on June 21 celebrates the launch of these matches made in vegan heaven with a pop-up market, live music, and savory snacks like spicy fried chicken sandwiches and pad Thai. Check Instagram for more details.

We already briefly mentioned a new menu for Geraldine's, the rooftop restaurant at Hotel Van Zandt, but there are more exciting goings-on up there as the summer progresses. A new four-part guest chef series invites lauded chefs from around the world to collaborate with the Geraldine's team on eight-course meals, kicking off on June 21. First up is Chef Atzin Santos formerly of El Bulli in Spain, who now specializes in Mexican haute cuisine. Reserve ($125) on OpenTable.

If an upscale THC-dosed dinner sounds like it'll get you through the week, look no further than Store House Market + Eatery, about half an hour from Austin in Bastrop. Chef Sonya Cote, also known for her work at Hillside Farmacy and Eden East is teaming up with Calibrate Wellness (created in part by Nic Yanes of Juniper and Uncle Nicky’s) for a multi-course delta-8-infused meal including blue crab claws and Gulf Coast redfish. The whole meal will deliver 20 grams of delta-8 — that's a lot, if you don't take it regularly, so pace yourself. Reserve ($135) on Tock.

Double Trouble vegan tacos

Photo courtesy of Double Trouble

The Vegan Nom and Barrett’s Coffee teamed up to create Double Trouble, now in a soft-open stage.

Photo courtesy of Estelle's

Egalitarian social club and flower shop brings old-fashioned elegance to Austin's Warehouse District

From Warehouse to Clubhouse

In April, seafood restaurant Truluck's announced a major upgrade downtown along with a minor relocation, only a block away. This left the building with the briefest of vacancies, now already claimed by a social club that is sure to keep the upscale vibes going — or significantly amplify them.

Estelle's brings more than a hangout space to 400 Colorado Street, across from the LGBTQ+ block (Oilcan Harry's, Neon Grotto). With multiple bars, a restaurant, and "flower bodega," the club expands the area's nightlife options while carving out a slightly different niche than its neighbors. It provides two social rooms: one "intimate" bar and lounge, and another "lively" club room.

“The most rewarding design projects are those that offer a challenge, and our challenge with this project was to transform the expansive footprint of this building into smaller, more intimate gathering spaces," said Chelsea Kloss, director of interiors and curation at LV Collective, the real estate developer that headed the project. “My team worked closely with Variant Collaborative to develop a unique concept for the space leveraging mixed materiality, vintage furniture and rugs, rich jewel tones, and an abundance of plants to breathe new life into the space.”

The club room certainly looks the part. Tufted leather and velvet seating galore, it's arranged partially like a steakhouse and partially like a living room. All these conversation nooks face out for a second-floor downtown view. It would look like a place to smoke cigars were it not so committed to brightness, with light wood everywhere.

The full bar will serve high-quality wines and beers, and of course, "botanical" themed cocktails like a matcha martini and a Granny Smith Gimlet. At Estelle's, visitors an enjoy easy-to-share plates of seafood, canapes, and other hors d'oeuvres. The luxury continues with caviar ("with an everything seeded-English muffin and whipped red onion crème fraiche") and desserts by Cookie Rich.

Austin has its fair share of exclusive social clubs, but Estelle's doesn't mention any membership. Any illusion of exclusivity will come from the interior design, upscale menu, and private seating areas with bottle service — but both are available to anyone footing the bill. Other bars managed by the same group, NoCo Hospitality, display a similar commitment to the bit, even though the aesthetics are completely different: Superstition, Higher Ground, and Skinny’s Off Track Bar.

“Our goal will always be to guide our city’s nightlife for Austinites[,] with immersive hospitality concepts," said the group's director of operations, Nick Sanchez. "The upscale, swanky environment is open to the public, but it feels like an exclusive experience."

The flower shop is the purview of Native Bloom Floral, an Austin business. Although it seems like Austin is littered with succulent shops (affectionately), this florist offers traditional arrangements befitting semi-old fashioned environment.

The space is now open for various hours every day except Monday, usually ending at midnight or 2 am. The kitchen has its own hours. A happy hour at Estelle's runs from 5-6 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with "complimentary passed canapes and light bites."

Visit estellesatx.com for more information, and follow @EstellesATX on Instagram and TikTok for updates.

Estelle's Austin interior

Photo courtesy of Estelle's

Estelle's brings a new nightlife option to the block known for high-energy dance clubs.

Rendering courtesy of Truluck's

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Downtown seafood staple gets a major upgrade

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.


Whether it's luck or just a natural result of serving great, reliable seafood in Texas since 1992, the downtown Truluck's is getting an upgrade at 300 Colorado St. The relocation occurs only a block from its current space, but it comes with big updates like a two-level dining space with skyline views, a more technologically advanced kitchen, and a more modern atmosphere overall. A rendering shows a new corner exterior that's hard to miss, with a flat roof with a big gap to let in more light, an outdoor patio on the second floor, large windows, high ceilings, and a bar. The new restaurant plans to open in May 2023.

Circle Brewing, a North Austin beer spot near Q2 Stadium known for its friendly atmosphere, is bringing that attitude east to Elgin. The charming Texas town will house the brewery's second location at 816 Lexington Rd., about a 40 minute drive from the original. Photos of the location on Instagram show a long beer hall in its own clearing with outdoor seating and plenty of shade. It will be ready to visit on April 28, and an opening ceremony on May 6 will include live music, family activities, and of course, freshly brewed beer. Operating hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 4-10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 10 pm; and Sunday, 11 am to 8 pm.

Chef Stephan Pyles, often credited with single-handedly establishing a Southwestern culinary style, has broken another culinary boundary by turning his sought-after attention toward senior living. His new restaurant, Alma, is opening with the brand-new Hacienda at Georgetown on April 15 with a ticketed tasting experience ($35). The 12-time James Beard nominee is donating $25 from each ticket purchase to No Kid Hungry, a profit addressing food insecurity for youth in the United States. Even though it's in an unusual venue, Alma is just a regular restaurant that anyone can — and will likely want to — visit. Reserve on OpenTable.

Other news and notes

Devil May Care, one of 6th Street's more glamorous and jazzy destinations, is adding non-alcoholic and low-alcohol menu options for visitors who just want to enjoy the vibes without the buzz. Some new cocktails include the "Red Light District," like a Shirley Temple with a rosemary twist, and a "Blue Devil" with pineapple, Coco Lopez, blue spirulina powder, and more flavors. It's also hosting a new event every Thursday called "The Groove," with R&B DJ sets half-price espresso martinis. Reserve on OpenTable.

Those who celebrate the Thai New Year or friends who want to start have some great foodie options this year. Thai restaurant Sway hosts a long Songkran celebration from April 13-20, with some special menu items including pork belly khao soi (noodles), a prawn stir fry, and a mango sorbet, plus creative cocktails. Fierce Whiskers Distillery offers a night market on April 15 with authentic food vendors, Thai dancing, Laotian musical performances, and a water balloon fight (an actual Songkran tradition).

The much-anticipated Umlauf Garden Party is just around the corner on April 20. The annual event is in its 24th iteration, using that long-established influence to bring together some of Austin's top restaurants for eats in the unique setting. Participants include Uchi, Uchiba, Intero, Barley Swine, Juliet, True Foods, and others not often seen at similar events. There will also be wines to taste and live performances by local artists. Proceeds benefit the sculpture garden's community outreach initiatives. Tickets available at umlaufsculpture.org.

Photo by Diana Lott

Austin Oyster Festival celebrates 10 years of shucking good shellfish

Austin Oyster Cult

The world is your oyster, or at least Republic Square is, at the 10th Annual Austin Oyster Festival coming February 25th. Although Austin may be a little far inland to make oysters a large part of its everyday diet, this festival will gather the best in grilled and fried oysters, seafood dishes, cocktail pairings, and more, all benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank and Hope Campaign, a nonprofit creative network.

The outdoor festival includes four bars for different experiences and levels of knowledge. Foodies and supportive friends who don’t think much about the provenance of oysters will enjoy the grill and fry bars, which will cook up dishes that highlight shellfish, with lots of additional flavors including gumbo with rock shrimp and andouille sausage at the former.

More shrimp is in store at the Grill Bar, with Creole barbecue butter and grilled garlic bread, served to complement the smoked bacon Oysters Rockefeller. The Fry Bar is more sandwich focussed with po’boys and banh mis, plus fries on the side and banana pudding for dessert, in collaboration with Amy’s Ice Creams.

All visitors will have to stop by the Bloody Mary Bar, which enables lovers and skeptics of the cocktail alike to create a custom cocktail with toppings and add-ins that work for them. Sponsored by Bloody Revolution, an Austin-based bottled mix, the bar also offers Tito’s Handmade Vodka, wine by Brÿt, beers by Fredericksburg’s Altstadt Brewery, plus a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic seltzers.

Finally, advanced oyster lovers should explore the Raw Bar, with fresh oysters from the East, West, and northern coasts. (If you didn’t know there’s a northern coast, same, and the festival will be a great time to brush up on your coastal geography.)
That bar’s not all for hardcore fans, who can also sign up to access a VIP lounge with private tastings, sponsored cocktails, and snacks by Austin’s own Chef Shane Stark of Mongers Market + Kitchen, with help from 1417 French Bistro, Keepers Coastal Kitchen, and more local eateries.

Two bands — Blue Mist and The Lost Pines, and Chansons Et Soulards — will keep the Southern party going while guests enjoy the four bars and a raffle for local goodies. Volunteers will also swim around picking up oyster shells to reintroduce to local ecosystems thanks to the Texas Surf Conservancy and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

The Austin Oyster Festival will take place at Republic Square on February 25 from noon to 6 pm. Tickets ($70 general admission, $125 VIP, free for kids under 8) include varying amounts of vouchers to use at the bars, and are available at austinoysterfestival.com. Tickets may also be sold at the event, but usually sell out in advance.

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Tasteful Austin ice cream shop starts crowdfunding to scoop up new cities

Tastes Like Profit

We're not sure how many licks it takes to get to a popular Austin ice cream shop into new markets, but a crowdfunding campaign gives fans a chance to find out.

Lick Honest Ice Creams, known for interesting, mature flavors (without getting too serious), has launched a campaign via MicroVentures that will allow onlookers a chance to support the business with small investments of $100 or more. Ice cream never goes out of style, and the company is hoping to appeal not just to repeat customers, but anyone who thinks the sweet treat has growth potential.

Although this could be a long-term holding, the root idea is to eventually trade back the stake for a financial gain once the company has grown. In less than two days (since the campaign launched on September 28), Lick has already sold stakes worth more than $66,000 from 90 investors.

“This isn’t just an investment in terms of capital," said CEO Anthony Sobotik in a news release. "It’s an opportunity to own a piece of your favorite ice cream shop, shared memories, and a piece of Lick’s future. By investing, you’re supporting our dream and commitment to spread the Lick experience further, enabling Lick to support family-owned farms in a more significant way, and ensuring more people can truly know what they’re licking."

The ice cream shop has been in Austin since its inception in 2012, and now operates three stores in the area, plus stores in San Antonio, Houston, and College Station. The total store count is currently at eight, with a ninth coming to Houston's Autry Park "soon," according to the website. The release states intentions to use the crowdfunding to "build more scoop shops and expand into new markets," but does not specify which cities the brand is eyeing, or even if they are in Texas or farther away.

Some of the flavors pay homage to their Texas roots, like "Caramel Salt Lick," "Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean," and "Texas Sheet Cake." It is easy to see where ingredients come from, as suppliers are listed on the menu. Seasonal flavors right now include creative twists like "Back Porch Iced Tea" and "Fig & Fromage," sticking to Lick's script of interesting and local ingredients. The menu also includes a small number of dairy-free flavors.

“From our first scoop shop opening in 2011 to where Lick is now, it’s been an extraordinary journey. We’ve now served over a million scoops, and with each one, we’ve shared our commitment to and love for thoughtfully crafted, ethically, and sustainably-sourced and produced ice cream,” said Sobotik.

“But beyond just charming your taste buds, our flavors tell stories," he continued. "Those are the stories of favorite dishes, the family and friends we shared them with, and the farmers we work with. It’s a special connection that ice cream grants us, and it’s what really makes this our story, not just Lick’s story.”

More information and links to contribute to the campaign are available at microventures.com.

Hopdoddy mooves toward regenerative meats, nixing plant-based substitutes

86 the Beyond Patties

Hearty Austin-based chain Hopdoddy Burger Bar has unveiled a new lineup of regenerative burgers that are supposed to be better for the planet and the consumer.

The term ‘regenerative burger’ could cause a few head-scratches: Some may think of lab-grown or 3D-printed meat, while others think of plant-based alternatives but it’s neither. It is grass-fed meat, sourced a bit differently. "Regenerative farming" is a term used to describe farming and grazing practices that claim to restore and rebuild degraded soil, resulting in better-quality air and water.

Hopdoddy’s vice president of culinary Matt Schweitzer explained that it all began with with a sense of obligation to do better as a brand for the consumers and the ecosystem.

“We felt like we could really take a stand and look to move our entire supply chain in a regenerative fashion, so we could really be proud of the work we’ve done and we could hopefully leave the animals, the farmers, the ranchers, the native grasslands, and our planet a better place than before we started,” says Schweitzer.

The new menu items include the "Roosevelt Burger" with grass-fed regenerative bison; the "Nashville Hot Sandwich" with regenerative raised chicken; the "Regenerative Royale," which is a play on a classic double quarter-pounder with cheese; the "Mother Nature" with grass-fed regenerative beef; and the "Buffalo Bill" also uses regenerative bison, but appears not to be grass-fed.

The five burgers are available at all Hopdoddy locations nationwide. The beef and bison are sourced from Texas-based regenerative company Force of Nature, while the chicken is from Cooks Venture.

With this launch, Hopdoddy removes all plant-based meat substitutes from its menu, significantly reducing the options for vegans and vegetarians. The company felt the ingredients and ethos of the alternative meats — describing some such as Beyond Meats as "falsely advertised" regarding nutrition in a press release — no longer aligned with its values and mission. However, the house-made veggie patty remains on the signature "El Bandito" burger.

Schweitzer says the regenerative burgers have received positive feedback, as people are excited to know where their food comes from, how it gets to their table, and what type of impact it causes. Regarding the future of regenerative meat, he says there is no doubt it could become mainstream soon.

“I think the flavor profile, the eating experience, the story, the mission, the purpose, really speaks for itself," says Schweitzer. "So, I really think it’s a matter of time until 'regenerative' is talked about in the same way that 'organic,' or 'sustainable,' or those type of buzzwords are talked about."

To further show its commitment to regenerative agriculture, Hopdoddy is also one of the sponsors of Common Ground, a documentary about the pioneers of the regenerative movement, premiering October 4 in Austin. The "uplifting" film, according to a release, features well-known actors Laura Dern, Rosario Dawson, Jason Momoa, Woody Harrelson, Ian Somerhalder, and Donald Glover, emphasizing that this motley crew does share one thing in common: a strong belief in regenerative agriculture.

For more information about the new regenerative burgers, visit hopdoddy.com.

Rock star Bono's daughter makes her own sweet music in Flora and Son

Movie Review

The new Apple TV+ film Flora and Son centers on a single mother and her teenage son, a situation that typically calls for an uplifting story about the mother’s struggles trying to support the two of them, and the bond that develops between them as go through the troubles together. While that element exists somewhat here, it goes down a much different path that’s both saltier and equally as rewarding.

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son.

Set in Dublin, Ireland, the film follows Flora (Eve Hewson), a single mom to Max (Oren Kinlan), who gets in a fair bit of trouble. She shares custody with her ex, Ian (Jack Reynor), and their antagonistic relationship, along with Max being a teenager, likely has an effect on how Flora and Max get along. A typical interchange between mother and son has them calling each other all sorts of bad names, although there rarely seems to be any true animosity behind their arguments.

When a guitar Flora refurbishes for Max goes unappreciated, she instead starts taking online lessons herself with an American named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). She’s no less brash with him, but her sincere interest in learning how to play and in finding out more about Jeff’s music opens a new door for Flora. Soon, a discovery that Max is making music of his own on his laptop helps them communicate better than they have in a long time.

Flora & Son is the latest music-focused film from writer/director John Carney (Once, Sing Street), and he once again finds the sweet spot in telling a personal story enhanced by song. Flora has more than a few rough edges, making her a less-than-ideal protagonist, but the heart of the character shines through precisely because she has no filter. Once music is added to the equation, it become that much easier to see the type of person she is and why you should root for her.

Both Hewson and Gordon-Levitt are charming actors, so they establish a connection through a screen well. Fortunately, though, Carney chooses not to leave it at that, adding a slight fantasy element to some of their scenes by having Flora imagine Jeff in the room with her. A romantic element naturally arises, but it’s the unexpected way in which two lonely souls find each other from across the world that makes them the most interesting.

There are a couple of decent songs that come out of the process of all of the music-making, but nothing that you could truly call an earworm. Instead, it’s the feeling you get seeing the characters interact when they’re sharing music with each other that makes the film sing. Only one character could be classified as a professional musician, with the rest of them making music for the pure joy of it, an emotion Carney translates well in his storytelling.

Hewson (the daughter of U2’s Bono, in case you were unaware) is having a moment after 15 years in the business. She has a boldness that serves her as well in this role as it did in the recent Apple TV+ limited series, Bad Sisters. This is Kinlan’s first major part, and he acquits himself well. Both Gordon-Levitt and Reynor are seasoned actors who know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

The depiction of a mother/child relationship in Flora and Son is atypical, but it still winds up in a great spot thanks to the power of music and some fine performances. Carney’s love for both songs and filmmaking has yielded some memorable movies over the years, this one included.


Flora and Son opens in select theaters and on Apple TV+ on September 29.