Despite all the success stories within Austin's ever-growing restaurant scene (yep, we're more than just tasty tacos and barbecue), there’s plenty of heartbreak, too. Lots of restaurants closed in 2016 from fancy and fine LaV to the old-school Tex-Mex spot El Azteca. While the full roster of shutters is extensive, below is a list of the hardest closures Austin has had to suffer through this year. There's plenty to miss, and our stomach still ache for cocktails at East Side Show Room, vermicelli bowls at Lulu B’s, and brunch at Olivia’s.
Fret not. Austin's dining scene will go on, and there are lots of noteworthy projects coming next year to look forward to. Chins up. Forks up. Share your most-missed restaurants in the comments below.
Address: 2600 East Seventh Street
Major Players: Established by Jorge Guerra and his family
The longtime Tex-Mex institution on the East Side shuttered after 53 years. The restaurant was featured in an episode of No Reservations, when host Anthony Bourdain and singer/songwriter Alejandro Escobedo stopped by for mole enchiladas and that famed cabrito.
Address: 1501 East Seventh Street
Major Players: Opening team included wine director Vilma Mazaite, executive chef Allison Jenkins, and pastry chef Janina O'Leary
After a flurry of staff departures, the beautiful upscale Provencal-inspired restaurant and wine bar was 2016’s first closure. The space remains unoccupied, but the current owner is looking for a local restaurant to take over the digs.
Address: 2043 South Lamar Boulevard
Major Player: James Holmes
In a recent switcharoo, Austin lost one of its early pioneers in the city’s farm-to-table movement. Olivia opened in 2008 and was quickly named as one of the ten best new restaurants by Bon Appetit for its upscale comfort food with a Texas twist. Lucy’s on the Fly — chef and owner Holmes’ fourth Lucy’s Fried Chicken — moved in shortly after, bringing with it fried chicken, sandwiches, a full bar, and a playground for kids.
East Side Showroom
Address: 1100 East Sixth Street
Major Players: Mickie and Trudy Spencer
With a string of celebrated bartenders and locavore chef Sonya Coté helming the opening kitchen for years, East Side Showroom shut down the party in July. Ah Sing Den, the replacement bar from the same mother-daughter duo, opened the following month with Asian-inspired food and beverage menus.
Address: 3632 South Congress Avenue
It was bye bye banh mi when the Vietnamese trailer-turned brick and mortar quietly shut its doors this fall. The restaurant had been serving up the same menu as its popular food truck (also now defunct), along with nightly dinner specials. No word on if the trailer will be revived.
Address: 601 West Sixth Street
Major Players: ELM Group
West Sixth Street bid adieu to French-inspired Arro and its wood-fired grill fare, French wines, and expansive patio in early 2016. Bar maven Bridget Dunlap later took over the space turning it into game lounge called Parlor & Yard, and kept some of Arro’s design details.
Address: 1224 South Congress Avenue
Major Players: Bethany Andrée and Karl Gilkey
After a seven-year run on South Congress, Snack Bar called it quits, explaining in a letter: “Do we close now, knowing we can take care of our whole team or do we hang on two more years in a growing city where the restaurant scene is tumultuous at best?” It opted for the former. The closure comes on the heels of impending renovations for Austin Motel, where Snack Bar is located. Down the street, Doc’s Motorworks is preparing for its own shutter to make way for a new development.
Address: 360 Nueces Street
Major Players: Florian and Romana Prelog
The European-style eatery located within the Austin 360 building temporarily closed after just over a year of service. The hope is that it will reopen in a more intimate space in Central Austin, but so far nothing is confirmed. Home deliveries through Full Fridge (cofounded by Prelog’s owners), customized cooking classes, and catering gigs continue to be provided during the relocation process.