Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. 2 Hollywood celebrities dined at one of Austin’s best restaurants this week. While most Austinites cozied up at home this week, these famous spouses ate at an award-winning restaurant before a screening of their new film.

2. Austin's flagship Kendra Scott store transforms into mini-Museum of Ice Cream for Valentine's Day. Here's one sweet collaboration you won't want to miss — and it launches this weekend!

3. Texas scores top ranking among best states for dating, says new report. This Valentine’s Day is for the unattached, and it turns out Texas is a pretty great place to be single.

4. This Tesla rental service got me from Austin to Houston, despite my best efforts. A Tesla is a smooth ride, and the UFODrive self-service process ensures a smooth trip — if you pay attention.

5. Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend. Festive (fictional) funerals, demon barbers, live podcasts, and more reasons to venture out as the weather warms up this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Cassandra Klepac

Treat your sweetheart with any of these 8 Valentine’s Day festivities in Austin


February in Austin can be a fickle month to plan a date – we’re just in the midst of winter and feeling the effects of fake spring (with the allergies to match). Is it cold enough to wear a sweater? Is your connection with bae warm enough for a fancy dinner?

No matter the weather, there’s no better way to spend your Valentine’s Day than with your significant other in the heart of Texas. We’ve got your picks for extravagant date nights, laid back at-home dinners, and anti-V-Day fun.

Snap Kitchen takeout
For an easy Valentine’s Day dinner for two, look no further than any of the nine local Snap Kitchen locations in Austin. Their V-Day Bundle includes starter salads, lemon-roasted salmon, parmesan roasted broccoli, and brownie batter chia seed pudding. The meal deal will be available from February 9-14 and can be ordered online ($19.99) at snapkitchen.com or picked up in-person at any location.

Blue Starlite Drive-in’s Valentine’s at the Drive-In
A classic date night with an Austin twist: Blue Starlite’s 13th annual Valentine's at the Drive-in Nights are back from January 20 through February 14. This year’s romantic line-up includes The Princess Bride and The Notebook, while new additions include Twilight, The Bodyguard, The Wedding Singer, and more. Blue Starlite’s Ultimate Valentine's Day package for two comes with two popcorns, two movie theater candles, Valentines candy and a rose, and the Mueller location has drive-in donuts from its own food truck. The theater chain is navigating a recent theft at the downtown location, so check bluestarlitedrivein.com closer to the date to verify showtimes as they may change.

Truluck’s TRU love Valentine’s Day specials
If you’re interested in celebrating the holiday early, Truluck offers guests the “ocean’s finest sustainably sourced seafood” at two unique locations in Austin. Both will have a seasonal chocolate strawberry cake dessert and TRU love cocktail for all of February, with a special king crab ravioli from February 10-14. Reservations are not required but are highly recommended; reserve on OpenTable.

The Melting Pot's Valentine's and Galentine's events
Austin’s destination restaurant for love, romance, and friendship has a variety of options for the week of February 14. Every Wednesday, it offers a Best Fondue Friends Forever (BFFF) menu, complete with cheese and chocolate fondue ($32 per person). On Thursday, it offers four-course Thursdate dinners for two featuring a rose petal and candle-covered table for couples ($52 per person). On Valentine’s Day from 2-11 pm, they will provide lovebirds a five-course fondue experience that includes charcuterie, a decadent chocolate fondue, and more for $79 per person. Reservations encouraged at meltingpot.com.

Devil May Care’s “My Bloody Valentine!”
Austin’s favorite underground lounge is providing guests with an anti-Valentine’s day atmosphere this year, if you prefer to reject the overly sickly sweet sentiments of the holiday. Galentines can spend the night dancing and enjoying their choice of Mediterranean cuisine with specially prepared dishes such as cured beet salmon, and build-your-own gyro-style grilled lamb legs. Devil May Care is also whipping up a specialty cocktail, “Real Short Skirt,” topped with a house-made heart-shaped bitter lollipop. Reserve starting January 27 at devilmaycareatx.com.

Honey Moon Spirit Lounge
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge’s Valentine’s Day menu is just the right choice for couples looking for a luxe date night. Featuring caviar service, a grand seafood tower, East Coast oysters and more, these high-end offerings are certain to enchant guests and provide a sumptuous evening experience. Reserve on OpenTable.

L’Oca d’Oro's "Valentine's Mash Up Vol. VI"
1970's hits from corporate-backed pop and indie rock backgrounds will play head-to-head at L’Oca d’Oro’s sixth annual Love v. Hate dinner, this time focusing on ABBA and Big Star. Guests are encouraged to dress in their best 70s attire to enjoy a self-described “Italian-ish” menu of multi-course shareable dishes based on lyrics by both groups. The two groups’ music will be heard throughout the restaurant with their music videos played in the dining room. Tickets ($100 per person) and an optional beverage pairing ($60) available at locadoroaustin.com.

Uchi & Uchiko’s 10+ course omakase tasting menus
Austin’s non-traditional, elevated Japanese restaurant duo are offering in-person and to-go options for their 10+ course omakase dining menus from 4-11 pm. Both restaurants will have optional beverage pairings. Menu highlights from Uchi’s menu include its lobster chawanmushi (steamed custard, trout roe and radish) and pavlova (smoked white chocolate, pomegranate and chili crisp). Uchi will provide its Valentine's Day dinner in person ($300) or to-go ($225). Highlights from Uchiko’s menu include grilled oyster (vadouvan curry and caramelized apples) and duck (smoked beef jus and fennel), and can also be provided in person or to-go ($350 for either).

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Willie Nelson receives prestigious honor and inaugural endowment at UT Austin

Willie forever

Willie Nelson has earned countless awards for his seven-decade music career, but the legend is also well known for his activism — particularly in the areas of farming and food security. In recognition of his longtime advocacy work, the LBJ Foundation will present its most prestigious honor, the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award to Nelson this spring.

The award will be presented at a special gala tribute dinner on Friday, May 12, 2023, which in turn will benefit the newly established Willie Nelson Endowment for Uplifting Rural Communities at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, a part of The University of Texas at Austin.

According to a release, the endowment will fund research and student fellowships focused on sustainable agriculture, eliminating hunger, resilient energy, sustainable water, and natural disaster recovery to benefit rural and farm communities.

Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise funds for struggling farmers, which has since raised over $70 million for those who own and operate family farms throughout the United States. He has also helped raise millions around disaster relief, for families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and for veterans, as well as working toward environmental and animal advocacy, and voting rights. His Luck Family Foundation provides financial grant assistance and other resources to artists, organizations, and programs in need, donating proceeds from Luck Reunion events to Farm Aid and other longtime charity partners like the Texas Food & Wine Alliance.

“Willie Nelson is a national treasure who gained fame through his sheer musical talent and won hearts as someone who truly cares about the lives of his fellow Americans," says Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, via release. "A product of rural Texas, Willie has never forgotten where he comes from. His longtime efforts to raise money and awareness for family farmers through Farm Aid and numerous other endeavors to help those in need throughout his career make him a true inspiration.”

The dinner will honor Nelson's lifelong support for rural communities, embodying President Lyndon Baines Johnson's commitment to public service, particularly in the areas of farming and food security. With their similar backgrounds as rural Texans, both President Johnson and Nelson shared a keen awareness of the struggles of those who work in the agricultural industry.

“The bounty of the earth is the foundation of our economy," President Johnson shared in a 1965 Special Message to Congress on Agriculture. "Programs in every aspect of our nation’s life depend on the abundant harvests of our farms.”

Bluegrass trio Nickel Creek celebrates new tour + album with fall Austin date

Welcome Back

The Grammy Award-winning bluegrass trio Nickel Creek — mandolinist Chris Thile, violinist Sara Watkins, and guitarist Sean Watkins — is extending their 2023 tour into the fall with a stop in Austin at the Moody Amphitheatre at Waterloo Park on October 21.

This is the first tour that the folk group has headlined since 2014, and it kicks off in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 15. The Austin stop is the tour's last, preceded by a night at Dallas' Majestic Theatre on October 20.

Nickel Creek is also releasing a new 18-track studio album for the occasion, titled Celebrants. It's their first new album in nine years and is available beginning March 24, which is also when tickets for the Texas tour stops go on sale.

Ahead of the release, Nickel Creek has unveiled three album tracks: “Where The Long Line Leads,” “Holding Pattern,” and “Strangers."

Nickel Creek revolutionized bluegrass and folk in the early 2000s and ushered in a new era of what we now recognize as Americana music. After meeting as young children and subsequently earning the respect of the bluegrass circuit for a decade, the trio signed with venerable label Sugar Hill Records in 2000 and quickly broke through with their Grammy-nominated, Alison Krauss-produced, self-titled LP.

Each member has also kept busy with individual projects over the years. Thile is a 2012 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and served as the host of the American radio variety show Live from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion) from 2016 to 2020.

Sean Watkins is a co-founder of Watkins Family Hour alongside his sister Sara, who has released four albums and maintains a long-running collaborative show in Los Angeles. Sean has also released a string of solo albums, while Sara’s extracurricular projects include the Grammy-winning roots trio I’m With Her, which she co-founded alongside Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz.

Sara has also contributed fiddle to recordings by artists like Phoebe Bridgers, the Killers, and John Mayer.

Pre-sale tickets are on sale now, with general sale beginning March 24 at 10 am here.

There is also the option to join the VIP Celebrants Club, which in addition to a premium reserved or GA ticket includes a private pre-show performance and Q&A with Nickel Creek plus early access to the venue, an enamel pin, and a limited edition poster signed by the band. Membership starts at $169 plus taxes and fees. More info can be found here.

Homegrown vodka brand invites Austinites on a VIP Dell Match Play experience and giveaway

Bogey Boat

We may still be recovering from SXSW, but it's time to gear up for our next big local event. WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (a.k.a., Dell Match Play) returns this weekend, and our favorite local vodka brand is getting in on the fun.

As the official vodka sponsor of the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, Tito's Handmade Vodka is bringing back its famousTito’s Bogey Boat, setting sail on Lake Austin. Stationed by the Austin 360 bridge overlooking the 13th hole, the Tito’s Bogey Boat offers fans a VIP experience during Dell Match Play and features a live DJ, photo booth, tasty bites, and more.

And best news of all: Austinites who visit the Love, Tito's Retail Store can win a chance to experience the Tito’s Bogey Boat for themselves: The first 10 fans that stop by the store when it opens on Thursday, March 23, and Friday, March 24, will receive passes.

For fans who win a spot on the boat, the brand will provide water taxi transportation between 12 pm and 6 pm to convenient pick-up and drop-up locations, one of which will be specifically for winners who already have tickets to Dell Match Play.