Photo by Annie Ray Photography

In 2023, we’re not accepting anything but handmade tacos, from the tortilla up. One anticipated opening blazing into the new year is Masa y Más, a taqueria in the Zilker neighborhood that combines personal experience with the business acumen of industry pros. Service starts on January 6.

Those pros, Larry Perdido and Chuck Smith, founded two Austin staples — Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill and Hopdoddy Burger Bar — and watched them grow over 20 and 13 years, respectively. Both focus on Southern American traditions, but Masa y Más pushes it south still to Central Mexico. Chef and operating partner Roberto Campos, executive chef at Moonshine for the past 19 years, leads the culinary journey.

“At a young age I started supporting my family’s carros ambulantes (food carts) in Guanajuato, Mexico, kneading masa for my grandmother’s gorditas and chopping vegetables for my mom’s pico de gallo,” said Campos in a press release. “The recipes and ingredients you’ll find at Masa y Más represent not only my culture and roots but also my family’s deep traditions. My goal is for everyone who steps foot in my restaurant to experience a piece of my home.”

Austinites will have to decide for themselves which tastes the most like home; the tacos, tortas, papas rellenas, bowls, margaritas, and more all come from different regions throughout the country. The restaurant previews some meaty dishes along with their respective regions, like barbacoa from Guerrero, suadero as it would be in Mexico City, and birria that embraces its Jalisco origin. The humble hero and namesake, tortillas made of yellow and blue corn (and even flour), are made as Campos’ grandmother taught her family. His mother keeps an eye on the business through a mural by Austin-based Peruvian artist Niz.

Dishes by Masa y M\u00e1s

Photo by Annie Ray Photography

The taqueria serves dishes from regions throughout Mexico, including plenty of non-taco treats.

The bright and modern restaurant at 1817 South Lamar Boulevard updates a lot formerly occupied by Austin’s Pizza, on a crowded portion of road near residences and businesses like Bouldin Acres and Snooze. The counter service setup will likely be necessary to move waves of visitors through on busy days, who can also enjoy the food and cocktails on the porch, highlighting mezcal, tequila, rum, and beers imported from Mexico.

Masa y Más opens January 6 for service Tuesday through Thursday from 11 am to10 pm; Friday and Saturday until midnight; and Sunday from 8 am to 1 pm. More information including a link to apply is available at masaustin.com.

Photo courtesy of Juliet's Italian Kitchen

5 delectable Austin food and drink events to kick off the new year

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: In this special edition of our weekly food news roundup, we're focusing on some delicious events you can attend the first week of 2023 — and can keep coming back to throughout the year. Consider these your first resolutions, smashed as soon as you hit that RSVP.

Trivia Night at Butterfly Bar — January 3
The last thing most of us want when cutting back alcohol is to hang back from social events. Attached to The Vortex, which hosts some of the best fringe shows in Austin, Butterfly Bar serves creative cocktails with and without alcohol. (Plus, the Patrizi’s truck is onsite every day serving pasta.) The first weekly trivia night of the year is on January 3, sandwiched between jazz, indie, and other musical shows for the rest of the week. Check the calendar at butterflybaraustin.com.

Sharpen Your Knife Skills at Central Market — JJanuary 4
Getting into a committed foodie lifestyle can be daunting and expensive, but Central Market is saving the day once again, with lots of accessible classes coming up. On January 4, Sharpen Your Knife Skills at Central Market covers one of the most important facets of home cooking, whether you’re making sushi or chopping up veggies for pizza (both available among other classes this month). It’s still an investment, but less expensive than most similar classes. Tickets ($65) available on Eventbrite.

Mezcal Tasting at Bar 508 Mezcalerita with Pelon's Tex-Mex — January 4
Some of us need to burn 2022 out of ourselves (no judgment), and mezcal can get that job done. Head over to Red River Cultural District neighbors Bar 508 Mezcalerita and Pelon’s Tex-Mex on January 4 to try six mezcals while learning about production, taste, and cultural context. That’s the only event slated right now for those two businesses, but finding Mezcal tastings in Austin is like finding a blues guitarist on South Congress. Tickets ($55) available on Eventbrite.

Social Series: An Evening Out at Antonelli's Cheese — January 5
It’s always a good time to learn about cheese, especially thanks to Antonelli’s packing its calendar with opportunities — outings, cheese-centric tastings that aren’t just boards, and a fun way to brush up on cheese knowledge. One upcoming event on January 5, Social Series: An Evening Out at Antonelli's Cheese, shares information about the “seven styles of cheese” and fun pairings including chocolate and pickles, with time to chat and make friends. Tickets ($45) and information on other events available at antonellischeese.com. Book early; many fill up fast.

Open Mic Night at Kick Butt Coffee — January 8
Getting together for drinks and snacks is a great starter plan, but 2023 calls for really putting yourself out there. Kick Butt Coffee hosts one of the city’s most popular open mic nights every Sunday at 7 pm, including January 8, and comedy open mics on Wednesdays. The long-running venue is also known for having lots of vegetarian options alongside its coffee and cocktails. This spot is atmosphere all the way, day or night. Check the calendar at kickbuttcoffee.com.

Photo courtesy of the Ruderman Family Foundation

Original TV series Jewish Foodie explores Austin in 2 episodes

Howdy & L'chaim

It’s not exactly Brooklyn down here, but Texas has a few claims to Jewish food fame. An original TV series, Jewish Foodie, explores some of those Southwestern-Semitic phenomena in a two-episode arc dedicated just to Texas.

The 10-episode series by the Ruderman Family Foundation — with dual missions to advocate for disabled Jews and connect all Jewish community members with their Isreali cultural heritage — was made to be viewed bidirectionally. While American Jews learn about their roots, Israelis are encouraged to learn about less-discussed Jewish communities in the United States. Hosted by Israeli actor and comedian Ori Laizerouvich, it promises “a colorful tour from shakshuka to breakfast tacos to burgers.”

Both episodes are dedicated to Jewish life in Austin, one of which dedicates all its screen time to “Jewish Cowboy” Jonathan Hochman, an ex-professional bull rider who teaches Laizerouvich to make shakshuka-style huevos rancheros. Hochman makes a subtle shift to vegetable oil from olive oil to mellow the Mediterranean taste and make it work in a Tex-Mex style.

The other episode does more exploring, led by Rabbi Neil Blumofe, senior rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin. He and Laizerouvich travel to Biderman’s Deli, known for its bagels and sandwiches, for breakfast tacos with pastrami served by owner Zach Biderman. Then they make perhaps the most obvious stop, JewBoy Burgers, for burgers topped with latkes, and a talk about stereotypes with owner Mo Pittle. He explains the somewhat controversial name as having more in line with the nickname “homeboy” than an anti-Semitic slur.

“‘This is my story. You don’t have to like it, but I ask that you respect my opinion and my story,’” Pittle says in the show. “‘Communication is everything. Food, culture — the more we talk, the better things will be.’”

The series makes a point — or several — to discuss the diversity of “American Jewry,” never more evident than in Austin, where its examples reflected not just Texas, but further cultural overlap with the East Coast and Mexico.

“I know that a lot of people, a lot of Israelis, don’t think about Austin other than maybe the music,” quotes the press release of Rabbi Blumofe. “But there’s a really thriving Jewish community here as well. … People ask me why I stay in Austin. It’s because it’s a really wonderful family and a great place to continue to grow and dream.”

The multilingual series, subtitled in English, also makes stops in Arkansas, New York, Tennessee, and Wyoming. It is available to watch for free on YouTube.

Photo courtesy of The Cathedral and Ventana Ballet

10 ways to make your community proud this Hispanic Heritage Month

Everybody y su madre

Unlike many months of celebration, National Hispanic American Heritage Month is not tied to one calendar month. It starts on September 15, a sort of super-Independence Day, encompassing celebrations for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, followed by Mexico on September 16, and Chile on September 18. It then runs through the second Monday in October for Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, and ends October 15.

Redubbed Latinx Heritage Month by some celebrators, in both cases it honors both personal and communal histories, and contributions to life in the United States year-round. Texans are accustomed to many Mexican traditions and cultural fusions, but this month also stretches to family ties in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, making for an endlessly diverse opportunity to get to know Austin businesses, artists, and community members.

These 10 recommended events cover traditional Mexican and Tejano music and dance; as many accordions as possible; contemporary theater; Austin community leaders and their work; tireless food trucks from across the cultural gamut; and more. Ride a bike to learn about history, or get moving with some social dancing. The best part is, most of these are happening on different days and times, so there should be plenty of time to explore what Hispanic Heritage Month means to you.

"Cultivating Community through Art: Sam Coronado's Series Project and its Continuing Legacy" opening reception
The late Sam Coronado, a former Austin Community College professor whose pioneering Chicano art movement works are celebrated by the Smithsonian, advocated for cultural diversity through screen printing. This retrospective display draws attention to other artists Coronado taught or inspired, both in Austin and farther removed. An opening reception on September 15 from 6 pm to 8 pm gives a free first look at the exhibit, which runs through December 8. No RSVP required.

Austin Latino Heritage Bike Ride
This September 17 bike tour is modeled after the Black History Bike Ride, making 15 stops over 7 miles of Latino community markers. The event description specifies “counter narratives,” suggesting that this tour may include familiar landmarks in a different context, taught in a series of history lessons as the group progresses. The group stops first at A.B. Cantu Pan American Recreation Center, and finishes up at ESB-MACC's 15th Annual Viva México: A Quinceañera! Celebration. The organizer is posting updates on Instagram and Facebook.

"Salsa for the Soul!" fundraiser for Latinitas, AVANCE, and Con Mi Madre
Three major Austin organizations for women, girls, and families — Latinitas, Avance, and Con Mi Madre — are teaming up on September 17 to throw a salsa-centric fundraiser at the Latinitas headquarters. Corazon Latino Dance Studio will teach a dance lesson to get visitors up to speed for a live set by DJ Kickit. Tito's Handmade Vodka and Maudie's Tex Mex have food and beverages handled. Also joining the party are local vendors, and some guests will win raffle prizes. Tickets ($35 or less) available on Eventbrite.

ESB-MACC's 15th Annual "Viva México: A Quinceañera! Celebration"
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center is 15 years old, so it’s quinceañera time. This will be the last onsite event before the MACC undergoes construction. The annual event is pulling out all the stops on September 17 with a range of live music from traditional performers to a DJ collective, panels about identity and community, an artisan market, and a lowrider car show. The free event runs from 5 pm to 10 pm, with food trucks on hand. Register on Eventbrite.

“Night Birds — An Intimate Celebration of Art + Dance”
Reprising a popular 2021 event, The Cathedral and Ventana Ballet are teaming up once again for Night Birds, a 360-degree dance performance. The scores are by Hispanic composers, representing (originally or retrospectively) nocturnal birds on September 22 and 23. The Cathedral is also completely re-curating its display for the first time since opening in 2019, featuring works from local Hispanic women and nonbinary visual artists, for the entire month. Tickets (starting at $45) available on Eventbrite.

Teatro Vivo and Austin Public Library's Victory
The Little Walnut Creek Library really is little, but it’s big on community. In the heavily Hispanic Rundberg neighborhood (head to this H-E-B for specialty items), it’s hosting bilingual theater company Teatro Vivo on September 24 from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. It’s a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, but it’s also a way to start a conversation about Victory, the after-school tutoring program in collaboration with AISD. Admission is free and snacks are provided. This event is for all ages.

Squeeze Box Market Day
A short drive from Austin into Kyle will be worth it for this event for squeeze box lovers — that’s the accordion, for traditionalists. On September 24, from 10 am to 6 pm, Mary Kyle Hartson City Square Park will be filled with accordionists playing Tejano music and anything else that might suit the instrument. This is a special Hispanic Heritage Month edition of Kyle Market Days, with all the same local vendors as usual. Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs and coolers. No RSVP required.

Makuyeika Colectivo Teatral: "Andares"
A conversation about heritage would not be complete without Indigenous voices. Makuyeika Colectivo Teatral, a theater collective that focuses on Mexico’s Indigenous stories, shares a multilingual piece on September 24. The stories told by one live musician and three actors will be in Spanish and Indigenous languages with English supertitles on the stage, representing everyday Mexico and scenes from its “remote corners.” Tickets available at texasperformingarts.org.

Mariachi Herencia de México
One mariachi performer is especially interesting during this month of heritage; famous ranchera singer Pedro Infante’s granddaughter, Lupita Infante. The younger singer and her huge band of 14 musicians from the United States and Mexico promise “a vibrant celebration of Mexican music and culture” at the Long Center on October 13 at 8 pm. The group is based in Chicago, but employs some Texans making a homecoming on this tour stop. Tickets ($29-64) available at thelongcenter.org.

Sazon Latin Food Festival
Restaurants all over Austin are offering specials for this month, but they’re hard to track down. The Sazon Latin Food Festival is eliminating the guesswork, bringing together a dozen food vendors together from Caribbean, Central and South American cuisines to close out Hispanic Heritage Month on October 15. This fiesta will take place at Ani's Day & Night, a relatively small venue for so many vendors, so visitors are encouraged to register now on Eventbrite and arrive early for the 5:30 pm to 9 pm food market.

Austin’s iconic Tex-Mex restaurant El Arroyo cooks up Texas expansion

Sign of success

El Arroyo — the iconic Tex-Mex restaurant in West Austin that’s famous for the witty, sassy, ever-changing messages on its black-and-white outdoor marquee sign — is branching out.

The restaurant plans to have five more restaurants in Texas open or under construction within the next three years. For now, El Arroyo’s sole location is at 1624 W. Fifth St.

El Arroyo’s first location outside Austin will be at the popular Gruene historic district in New Braunfels. Next year, a two-story building under the landmark Gruene water tower will be remodeled for El Arroyo. The building is on the site of tubing company Rockin’ R River Rides, co-owned by the head honchos at El Arroyo.

Ellis Winstanley, co-owner of El Arroyo with wife Paige, says Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and West Texas are among the places being considered for new locations. And he doesn’t rule out a second location in the Austin area. Each of the new restaurants will seat about 180 to 220 customers.

Winstanley says each restaurant will serve the same menu as the West Austin location. And the décor and vibe of the new spots will parallel that of the original restaurant, which opened in 1975.

“It’s not going to all of a sudden become a fancy place with a high price point or something like that,” Winstanley says.

So, what about the black-lettered sign that’s synonymous with El Arroyo?

Every new location will feature a version of the Austin sign, serving up the brand’s “same personality and voice,” Winstanley says. How the Austin sign will be replicated at other restaurants is still being worked out. Whatever all-caps message appears on the Austin board at the time will likely be repeated at the other locations, although the lettering and the sign itself won’t be identical, he says.

“It’s not going to look exactly the same, no matter what you do,” Winstanley says.

All of restaurants will be owned by the same group that controls the West Austin location, he says. El Arroyo might consider a franchise model in the future, though.

Expansion has been on the table at El Arroyo for seven or eight years, Winstanleysays. But a couple of things held back the Winstanleys, who bought the restaurant in 2012, and their investment partners.

“One, we didn’t feel like we had a clear handle on what we really wanted the brand to become at that point. It’s been an evolution,” Winstanley says. “And then secondly, the real estate market was nuts.”

You might say the growth of the El Arroyo brand has been nuts.

Aside from operating what’s transforming into a restaurant chain, El Arroyo sells an array of branded products — almost all of them starring clever messages from the restaurant’s sign. These include books, coffee mugs, party cups, coasters, cocktail napkins, candles, ballcaps, T-shirts, calendars, magnets, car fresheners, yard signs, and YETI coolers.

Also on tap are El Arroyo’s first two packaged foods — salsa (set to roll out later this year) and margarita mix (coming out sometime after the salsa).

The progression of the El Arroyo brand has been steady and methodical, according to Winstanley.

“The wheels start to come off as people take a big slug of equity, and their goal is to produce as high of a return as possible. So they just start going as fast as they can,” he says. “Sometimes it works out, and a lot of times the brand really loses its identity.”

“We have the opposite incentive,” Winstanley adds. “We have different lines of businesses that need to stay in sync to be successful. And the brand has a very clear voice. It’s not trying to figure out who it is.”

Courtesy of Z Tejas

Famed Southwestern restaurant sets closure date for iconic Sixth Street location

Last call for margaritas

Get ready for a bittersweet margarita toast. Austin-based Southwestern restaurant chain Z’Tejas now has a firm date for closing its original location on West Sixth Street.

Z’Tejas recently came to terms with its Sixth Street landlord on extending that lease until next March. The same month, Z’Tejas plans to debut a location at the 65-acre, mixed-use Dry River District in Kyle.

“We are excited to confirm that we’re able to stay in our historic location on Sixth Street for eight more months to be able to serve the community,” Robby Nethercut, chief operating officer at Z’Tejas, says in a statement.

Z’Tejas revealed in July that its original location at 1110 W. Sixth would shut down sometime between December 31 and March 31. The restaurant chain recently nailed down next March as the time when it’ll leave the iconic Sixth Street spot, which opened in 1989.

The owner of the Z’Tejas property, Larry McGuire of Austin’s McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality, plans to tear down the Z’Tejas structure. It’s unclear what will replace the restaurant.

Z’Tejas plans to relocate to a different site in downtown Austin, but details haven’t been finalized yet. The new Kyle and downtown Austin locations will join the chain’s Avery Ranch restaurant in Northwest Austin, as well as two eateries in the Phoenix area.

Z’Tejas shuttered its Arboretum restaurant last year.

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Popular Saturday night concert series returns to the Hill Country Galleria


A popular spring concert series has returned to the Hill Country this month. The Hill Country Galleria’s “Saturday Night Concert Series” is a seven-week music spectacle hosted by Austin City Limits Radio.

Visitors can sit on the Central Plaza Lawn from 7 to 9 pm on Saturday nights to listen to local musicians like Bob Schneider, Patrice Pike, Two Tons of Steel, and more. With plenty of dining options surrounding the plaza such as Buenos Aires Cafe or The League Kitchen & Tavern, it makes for a wonderful date-night spot or family night out.

The first concert to kick off the series on March 25 featured Rosie Flores, known for her country-rock vocals and her talent for singing across multiple genres. She has released 13 albums since her debut in 1987 – her latest album Simple Case of the Blues was released in 2019.

This week's featured act is Austin's favorite musician Bob Schneider. He is the winner of 55 Austin Music Awards, and has released over two dozen albums in his career as a solo artist and as the former lead singer of rock band Ugly Americans. His most recent album came out in 2021: In A Roomful of Blood With A Sleeping Tiger.

The concert series lineup is as follows:

More information about the concert series can be found at hillcountrygalleria.com.

2nd annual buzz-worthy book festival draws busy bees to the Hill Country


Bee Cave’s buzzing Books and Bees Festival is back at the Hill Country Galleria for an education-packed weekend of fun, with a new twist: their first-ever HoneyFest.

The Bee Cave Public Library launched their bookish festival in 2022 to promote their programming and bee conservation efforts. The city has a Bee City USA affiliate designation, meaning the local community is dedicated to sustaining bee pollination through the growth of native plants and reduction of pesticides.

The library's goals with the festival are to educate children and families about the importance of bees in nature, while also uplifting important literature.

Highlighted events on April 1 include a musical performance from “The Singing Zoologist” Lucas Miller, a children’s craft and storytime space, and bee education sessions. Guests can also expect to see book signings, Q&A sessions, and readings from several featured authors, including Fridge-Opolis author Melissa Coffey and Nicolas Solis, author of My Town, Mi Pueblo.

The inaugural HoneyFest the following day will allow visitors to engage with local honey makers, enthusiasts, and creators from the community. There will be a bee-themed farmer’s market with plenty of local honey tastings to go around. The Bee Cave Library also invited several self-published local authors for guests to discover. While you’re there, you can help decide on the Best Beekeeper in Bee Cave contest.

The Books and Bees Festival will take place on April 1 from 12:30-4:30 pm. HoneyFest will run from 10 am to 2 pm on April 2. The festival is free to the public, but registration is encouraged via Eventbrite. More information about the festival can be found on booksandbeesfestival.com.

Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Music awards, mile-high kites, and family-friendly picnicking top our agenda for the days ahead. Attend the CMT Music Awards or spend the day at Zilker for the return of ABC Kite Fest. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, March 30

Broadway in Austin: Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations
The story behind Detroit vocal group The Temptations’ rise to fame unfolds on the stage at Bass Concert Hall. Audiences can experience memorable moments like their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction and a massive discography including 42 top 10 hits. For more information, visit the austin.broadway.com. Shows are scheduled through April 2.

The Paramount Theatre presents Napoleon Dynamite Live!
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the indie classic film Napoleon Dynamite with a special screening at Paramount Theatre. Cast members Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Efren Ramirez (Pedro), and Jon Gries (Uncle Rico) will join the audience live for a moderated discussion following the film’s closing credits. A limited number of tickets are still available at austintheatre.org.

Saturday, April 1

ABC Kite Fest
A springtime tradition flies high again at Zilker Metropolitan Park. This year’s Kite Fest will allow store-bought kites to be eligible for entry in all seven contest categories. Additional activities include a kids club, pet zone, and a children's concert called MossFest. General admission is free and open to the public. VIP tickets are available for purchase at abckitefest.org.

Pop-Up Picnic
Enjoy a day on the lawn at Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park complete with picnic baskets, craft cocktails, live music, and sunset views. Beer, wine, mocktails, and cocktails will be available for purchase. Guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets and food items for an optimum picnic experience. For basket offerings and more on what to expect, visit the givesmart.com. Admission is free and open to the public.

Sunday, April 2

2023 CMT Music Awards
Austin hosts the CMT Music Awards for the first time ever at Moody Center. Highlights of the show include co-hosts Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown and a slew of special guests including Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, and Wynona Judd + Ashley McBryde. To purchase tickets and view seating options, visit moodycenteratx.com.

Kite festival

The ABC Kite Festival is back on Saturday.