Photo courtesy of Clean Juice

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.


Juice companies always claim to be about wellness, but one father-son team's resume is really ripe for a culinary application. Franchisees Jeff and Ty Mobley just opened Austin's first Clean Juice location following their success owning iCRYO Cryotherapy. They had been wanting to own a smoothie store for a while, but decided that the juice would only be worth the squeeze if it were USDA-certified organic. Clean Juice fits the bill. Along with its cold-pressed juices and smoothies, it offers wraps, sandwiches, açaí bowls, toasts, salads, and more. The fast-casual store is open now at 6611 S MoPac Expw., Ste. 600.

Other news and notes

As we as a culture tack on more and more streaming services, it gets even more confusing to figure out how to watch anything. Still, the FIFA Women's World Cup is a can't-miss event, and Meanwhile Brewing Co. is sorting out the logistics. Visitors can enjoy the games with a cold beer and bites from five food trucks as the game streams on a giant screen outside. In celebration, guests get a dollar off pints of the brewery's soccer-themed IPA, "Hat Trick" ("flavors of strawberry, orange, creamsicle, and melon").

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day isn't exactly raising awareness for an important cause, but it's a chance to get free cookies from Tiff's Treats, and we stand by that kind of thing. On August 4, in-store customers will each receive one free chocolate chip cookie, served warm. No purchase is necessary but...you know how that goes. The cookie delivery service is celebrating all kinds of things on social media recently, so check Instagram and other platforms for more discounts and giveaways.

Splitting the bill takes too many brain cells for brunch. North Italia is making it simple with a three-course prix fixe brunch every weekend this month, with both sweet and savory options. Choose between starters like banana coffee cake or a charcuterie plate; mains like as cannoli french toast, a farmers market scramble, or pizza; and desserts like salted caramel custard (budino) and Italian donuts (zeppole). The three courses cost $35, tacking on $10 per optional brunch cocktail. Reserve at northitalia.com.

Diner Bar and The Grey Market, both inside the Thompson Austin, are launching the new Austin Family Kitchen Series with support from some of the city's best chefs on a rotating basis. This event series is all about collaboration, led by Mashama Bailey and chef de cuisine Kristine Kittrell, who have recieved several accolades and awards for their work. They'll invite chefs like Philip Speer of Comedor, Todd Duplechan of Lenoir and Vixen’s Wedding, Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel of Birdie’s, and more for collaborations. So far, dinners are scheduled between August 7 and September 9. Browse the calendar and purchase tickets ($125) via Resy.

Arik Davis of Biggie's Yard Bird recently sustained some severe injuries in a motorcycle accident — luckily he was wearing a helmet, but he won't be able to move around for a total of at least 12 weeks. Armadillo Den is hosting a fundraiser for Davis, which will go toward medical expenses, rent, and even buying him a car if they surpass their goals. On August 7th from 5-11 pm, all proceeds go to the fund, and a silent auction will contribute prizes from beer and liquor brands, gift cards to local businesses, and more. People can also support via the GoFundMe.

Photo courtesy of JewBoy Sliders

Local burger favorite slides into downtown Austin food hall, plus new salad concept

New Two

Fareground, the convenient and delicious sunken food hall at Congress and Cesar Chavez, is always changing things up. This time, that means two new restaurants — and they couldn’t be more different. If deciding between burgers and salads is an issue for the lunch company you keep, Fareground offers peace in JewBoy Sliders and Freshii, two new additions.

Whether you like your burgers medium or well-done, JewBoy Burgers is on fire. A 2023 nominee for CultureMap’s Tastemaker Awards, this burger baron impressed guests at our Tailgate event, represented Austin Jews to Israelis in a food-focused TV series, and maintains one of the best Google Maps ratings in the city.

JewBoy Sliders sandwich with fries

Photo courtesy of JewBoy Sliders

The local JewBoy empire expands a little further with the addition of JewBoy Sliders at Fareground.

Starting April 24, it will be slinging sliders, paring down as a common twist for Fareground tenants who need to adapt to a quicker service atmosphere. This venture joins JewBoy Burgers and JewBoy Sub Shop in offering unctuous American sandwiches with Jewish twists, like latkes as toppings.

A preview promises slider-scale renditions of the burger joint’s classics, plus “reuben, french dip and falafel sliders.” Cold sliders will also make an appearance, with more deli-style meats like chicken salad and tuna, plus fried sides, and even a salad.

“We are thrilled to bring JewBoy Sliders to Fareground,” said owner and executive chef Mo Pittle. “Fareground gives tastemakers like myself a brick & mortar to grow and share our creations with customers in the heart of downtown Austin, who may not otherwise have had the chance to meet us or taste what we have to offer.”

Freshii also brings an international perspective that blends in after centuries of assimilation, but on a much less local basis. The Canadian fast-casual franchise operates hundreds of restaurants in Canada alone, plus a few more each in several U.S. states.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area houses the densest pocket of stores outside of a border state, and the Austin area has been enjoying one location in Cedar Park since 2018. The new Fareground location is open now.

The health food store offers all of the usual suspects — salads, wraps, bowls, soups, cold drinks, and more — in an affordable, made-to-order format. Considering the health of the community as well as its food, Freshii will donate $1 from every Fareground location order to the Central Texas Food Bank.

The two new restaurants join Austin Rôtisserie, Little Wu, and Taco Pegaso to provide a wide range of small and customizable foods at the self-identified restaurant “incubator.” Ellis by Fareground and Drink (stylized DRINK) both focus more on cocktails, and Austin Snack Co. provides a self-service option.

Visit Fareground and its vendors for indoor and outdoor dining at 111 Congress Avenue. More information is available at faregroundaustin.com.

The Soup Peddler/Facebook

Favorite Austin soup spot simmers into shuttered juice joint near Jewish cultural hubs

Ladle and dreidel

It may seem odd for a soup-focused restaurant to be so popular in such a warm locale, but Austin loves the Soup Peddler for its versatility and humility. Soup is always accessible, and now it’s even more so with a seventh location opening soon on Far West Boulevard.

The space (near Biderman’s Deli and the Shalom Austin campus) was previously occupied by Daily Juice, which, after 20 years in business, closed the last of its locations on January 22. Juice lovers who frequented the spot will be pleased to find that the Soup Peddler has plenty on its menu. In addition to fresh-pressed juices, it offers smoothies with unique add-ins like local bee pollen and raw hemp protein.

True to the Soup Peddler’s flexible origins — David Ansel was delivering soups by bike to an eclectic fan base of Austin archetypes — its menu is fluid. The family-owned chain offers different menus at each location, with some constant staples like beef bone broth, and a long list of rotating soups waiting for their next chance to shine, including harder-to-find favorites like Hungarian goulash and watermelon gazpacho.

As any great Austin staple would, the Soup Peddler offers lots of vegetarian options as well as some to heat at home. To complement something like a tomato basil (another permanent menu item), a guest may also order grilled cheese or a salad. Everything, no matter how adventurous the ingredients, easily remains a comfort food.

Few Austin businesses can relate so closely to the woes of Daily Juice as the Soup Peddler can; for about a decade, the niche soup seller operated on a delivery-only basis, opening its first brick-and-mortar in 2010 and still faltering during the pandemic, when a 3rd Street location folded less than a year after opening.

Still, having relied on a neighborhood reputation throughout, the Soup Peddler has found resilience in being flexible while continuing to serve the community immediately around it. This time, according to a press release, the team is excited to cater to the Jewish community nearby.

So far, there is no opening date, but the new location should be at 3720 Far West Boulevard, #105, “soon.” More information about existing locations is available at souppeddler.com.

Photo courtesy of JuiceLand

Austin-born JuiceLand beefs up protein selection with new animal-free whey

Whey Better

JuiceLand, the popular Austin-based blended health drinks chain, is known for a mission in sustainability, veering away from non-vegan proteins four years ago. It turns out, there is another whey. Now in all 32 Texas locations, JuiceLand is offering vegan whey protein, made in partnership with food and biotech company Perfect Day.

This ingredient is a “nature-identical milk protein,” derived through precision fermentation. In short, Perfect Day downloaded a protein-making DNA sequence from an online database. It was obtained from a cow in 2009, just by drawing blood. The biotech company added it to some microflora (a wide range of microorganisms), which naturally processed whey like yeast makes beer or kombucha. The microflora do the work, and presumably, the cow hasn’t lifted a hoof since then.

Along with offering a cushier life to cows, Perfect Day is reducing the ecological footprint of making whey, because microflora are a lot cheaper, environmentally, to board and care for. A press release asserts that this protein-making process “reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 97 percent, water use up to 99 percent, and energy use up to 60 percent.”

“When we first met the JuiceLand team, we immediately recognized the values alignment between our two companies and our opportunity to help them answer their ongoing customer requests, without compromising their mission,” said Perfect Day chief marketing officer Allison Fowler in the release.

Why did customers create such a clamor for this protein? Because whey tastes great. It’s wonderful to have a vegan smoothie that tastes of sweet macadamia, but whey gives it that milkshake luxury. It also delivers tons of amino acids and is considered a super-effective way to build muscle.

The Chocolate Whey, containing 26-44 grams of protein depending on the size of the smoothie, is the first recipe using the new protein and JuiceLand’s most successful new product debut. With almond milk, banana, cacao, vanilla, and whey, it’s as close to a chocolate milkshake as you’ll get without a cow. It is introduced as a seasonal special, meaning half of net proceeds benefit the SIMS Foundation in Austin, The Katy Trail in Dallas, and The Bellaire Nature Discovery Center in Bellaire.

“JuiceLand has always encouraged our community to embrace a delicious diet that positively impacts humankind and the sustainability of our planet,” said JuiceLand CEO Matt Shook in the release. “Perfect Day’s incredible animal-free whey protein perfectly fits into that mission.”

The Chocolate Whey is available at any JuiceLand location, and can also be ordered online at juiceland.com.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Austin is the 9th best U.S. city for vegans and vegetarians, new study finds

eat your greens

Austin may be home to some of the best barbecue in the city (even if some disagree) — but the Texas capital also has a growing reputation in vegan and vegetarian fare.

More plant-based restaurants are opening their doors in 2023, expanding an already solid list of vegan eateries throughout the city. And with ACL right around the corner, it's important to know where the closest vegan eats are so you're not left scrambling to find a good meal in the heat.

With that said, Austin still has some room for improvement to keep vegans full and satisfied after ranking No. 9 in WalletHub's "Best Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians" report for 2023.

The study evaluated 100 cities based on grocery affordability; diversity of and accessibility to vegan and vegetarian restaurants, farmer's markets, and community gardens; and other lifestyle factors.

Austin specifically had a high affordability ranking with the fifth-lowest cost of groceries for vegetarians out of all 100 cities in the ranking. Laredo (No. 1), Corpus Christi (No. 2), San Antonio (No. 3), and Louisville, Kentucky (No. 4) were all ahead.

As for the highest percentage of restaurants serving vegetarian options, the two North Texas cities of Irving and Plano tied with three non-Texas cities: Henderson, Nevada, Gilbert, Arizona, and Mesa, Arizona. All these made No. 1.

However, that doesn't mean the shift to embrace vegan and vegetarian cuisine in Austin isn't notable enough. Earlier in 2023, a popular Brazilian steakhouse chain "beefed" up (or down) its menu with more plant-based options in an effort to expand its customer base. And in June, venerated vegan staple and former CultureMap Tastemakers winner Counter Culture reopened as a food trailer in the back patio of Tweedy’s Bar in Central Austin.

Austin was the only Texas city to make it into the top 10. The remaining nine contenders are mostly located in West Coast states typically expected to be seen in a report on plant-based eating: California, Oregon, and Washington. On the opposite coast are two additional cities that made the list: Orlando and Miami, Florida (No. 3 and No. 8, respectively). Phoenix, Arizona (No. 5), is the only non-coastal outlier.

The top 10 most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Portland, Oregon
  • No. 2 – Los Angeles, California
  • No. 3 – Orlando, Florida
  • No. 4 – San Diego, California
  • No. 5 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 6 – San Francisco, California
  • No. 7 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 8 – Miami, Florida
  • No. 9 – Austin, Texas
  • No. 10 – Oakland, California

Eight other Texas cities made it into the top 50: Irving (No. 18), Lubbock (No. 23), Houston (No. 24), Dallas (No. 25), Plano (No. 33), San Antonio (No. 38), Corpus Christi (No. 41), and Laredo (No. 48).

The full report can be found on wallethub.com.

Austin's Zilker Botanical Garden unveils rare succulent collection at upscale Parisian picnic

Succulent Surprises

Here's one of the beautiful experiences of living in this desert-adjacent city full of weirdos: Austinites deeply value being the first to see a prominent succulent collection. Move over, private pickleball clubs — the plant lovers are getting a taste of that sweet exclusivity.

Of course, as much as succulent gardeners covet rare plants, they love to share the excitement; so it is fitting that an inaugural benefit dinner will celebrate the first-ever public viewing of the Zilker Botanical Garden Succulent Collection on November 4. Funds raised will support the garden so more people can come in and look at all its many well-cared-for plants year-round.

The High Desert Dîner en Blanc ("Dinner in White") is set to be an annual event, adapting the Parisian idea of celebrating "good food and good friends" outside. The "elevated picnic" is all about "self-expression, playfulness, and community," according to the announcement. Along with dinner, attendees will enjoy an open bar, games, and tours of the collection.

The new collection arrives courtesy of the late Bob Barth, scientist and co-founder of the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society. The social group assembles volunteers to help maintain the Botanical Garden's greenhouse, and some members will surely be in attendance at the dinner. University of Texas students may also remember Barth as their professor of Zoology (Entomology and Ornithology), and he was also a longtime member of the Travis Audubon Society.

Maintaining a 28-acre garden is not cheap — even with the help of volunteers — and Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy has raised more than $300,000 in the past year. Those funds go toward preserving the Butler Window (a remnant of a historical Austin mansion that has become a popular photo spot), working on the succulent collection, and creating visitor programming.

It also maintains a roster of 26 member organizations including very specialized groups like the First Austin African Violet Society, and groups that are there to appreciate rather than grow the garden, like Plein Air Austin.

Barth's donation also included funds to hire a curator for the succulent collection, so it will continue thriving and evolving through 2025 and hopefully beyond.

The garden requests that dinner guests wear white to stay on-theme, and refrain from wearing heels to protect the ground. Tickets ($125 per person, $225 per couple) are available at zilkergarden.org. Guests must be 21 or older.

Country's largest hot springs pool complex plans for Dallas debut

Wellness wonderland

Austin has plenty of places to swim, but the spa culture is pretty niche. Those willing to take a drive for a luxurious weekend always have the Hill Country and Dallas as options, and soon there will be a new wellness spa-amusement park: WorldSprings, a nine-acre outdoor mineral springs experience, will debut in the latter city in spring 2024.

According to a release, it will be WorldSprings' first location in Texas and the largest experience of its kind in the country.

"With pools inspired by the most famous hot springs from around the world, guests can explore WorldSprings’ 45 outdoor soaking pools including cold-plunge pools, Finnish saunas, and a spa which will include wellness therapies as well as a cafe and bar," says the release.

Specific highlights of the experience will include:

  • The Family Pool, the Dead Sea Float Pool and South Pacific Region mineral pools for all ages
  • The Asiatic, European, and Americas region mineral pools for those 18 years old and up
  • More pools, with temperatures that range from warm to hot and from cool to ice cold
  • The Spa, with a menu of body treatments and massages
  • The Sanctuary, offering sound baths and yoga, breathwork, and guided meditation classes
  • Aqua classes, including Aqua Aerobics, Aqua Sculpt, Aqua Yoga and Aqua Float
  • Performance-enhancing treatments including cryotherapy, hyperbaric chambers, and compression therapy
  • WorldSprings Café, from which guests can order food and drinks poolside with their smartphones and pay with a wristband

WorldSprings Grandscape The ColonyThere'll be adults-only pools and family-friendly pools.Rendering courtesy of WorldSprings

The wellness offerings were created by WorldSprings' in-house functional medicine practitioner, Dr. Sara Gottfried, the release says.

Of course, there are not actual hot springs located beneath Grandscape. Each pool will be "meticulously crafted to mirror the mineral content of legendary springs from around the world," explains WorldSprings.

Memberships and three-hour passes will be available, "priced for all to enjoy as a weekly ritual for well-being," they say, although pricing has not yet been disclosed. A limited number of discounted Founding Memberships will be available starting early next year.

”Our ambition is that WorldSprings will democratize wellness by opening locations throughout the country,” says Rob Kramer, managing partner of WorldSprings' owner Off Road Capital, in the release.

The Dallas-area park follows locations in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and a similar concept in La Verkin, Utah, near Zion National Park.

Anticipated opening date is March 2024.

WorldSprings GrandscapeA spa will offer massages and body treatments.Rendering courtesy of WorldSprings

WorldSprings Grandscape will be at 3240 Plano Pkwy., The Colony, joining the booming 433-acre center that includes not only shopping and dining but an escape room, immersive entertainment venue, amphitheater, and more.

"Bringing WorldSprings to this ideal location is a remarkable milestone,” says Justin Foley, general manager of the upcoming Grandscape location, in the release. “As general manager, I'm honored and excited to be a part of such an amazing community and to unveil an exclusive outdoor mineral springs experience – a first of its kind destination in Texas."