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Austin’s Top Openings, Shutters, and News in February 2020

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A monthly review of big restaurant happenings in the city

The wine shop at LoLo
The wine shop at LoLo
Courtney Pierce/EATX
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

As concerns over novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19) spread across the country, people are stocking up on groceries, avoiding the totally unrelated Corona beer, and causing economic losses at Chinese food restaurants in the U.S., despite the fact that there is no evidence that the illness is affecting Chinese populations more than any other group. With that in mind, show your favorite Austin Chinese food spot some love.

James Beard Award semifinalists were announced in February, with three Austin chefs — Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo), Kevin Fink (Emmer & Rye, Hestia), and Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie) — receiving nominations in the first-ever Best Chef: Texas category. Notably, six-time nominee Bryce Gilmore did not receive a nomination this year in section. Also nominated were Larry McGuire of McGuire Moorman for Outstanding Restauranteur and Jeffrey Stuffings and Michael Stuffings of Jester King Brewer for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer. Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 25 and winners on Monday, May 4.

Big Restaurant, Bar, & Food Truck Openings

LoLo: Natural wine bar LoLo is now pouring on East Sixth Street near Hotel Vegas. The approachable shop will also sell wines by the bottle and serve a small menu of snacks.

Reunión 19: Los Angeles chef Esdras Ochoa (who competed on Netflix’s The Final Table) opened his Austin taco restaurant in the former home of Gotham on East 2nd Street. It has tacos, sides, and a full bar.

Nau’s Enfield Drug: Beloved soda fountain Nau’s has reopened after closing for a year. For now, it’s only open during the week, but serves the same burgers, fries, and shakes.

Bummer Burrito: The burrito food truck from the Better Half team is now open on Rainey, serving next to sibling bar Little Brother. Expect burritos with local meats and produce and “a little Taco Bell thrown in for good measure.”

Captain Quackenbush’s Coffeehouse: The third and largest location of Quack’s serves baked goods and coffee on Menchaca Road.

Very Exciting Coming Attractions

Uptown Sports Bar: Barbecue legend Aaron Franklin has teamed up with James Moody (co-owner of the Mohawk music venue) for a neighborhood bar and sandwich shop, taking over a long-vacant space on East Sixth. It will serve brisket po’ boys, grilled cheeses, and feature cocktails from Half Step’s Chris Bostick.

Easy Tiger South Lamar: Popular local bakery (and home of James Beard nominee David Norman) is taking over the former Red’s Porch on South Lamar for a third location. In addition to the bakery and beer garden, there will be space for classes and workshops.

Teal House Bakery: The family-owned food truck known for excellent cinnamon rolls is finally opening a restaurant on South Congress, possibly as soon as the end of this year, taking over the former New India space with an expanded menu of new goodies.

Major Shutters

She’s Not Here: The beautiful Pacific-Asian restaurant in the 2nd Street district downtown closed suddenly, even though it was in the middle of a menu revamp. However, sister restaurant Old Thousand is still going strong.

Hoffbrau Steakhouse: Don’t panic: The 87-year-old steakhouse on West Sixth Street is only closed temporarily for a facelift. It will likely reopen this spring, with a revamped menu to boot.

Mum Foods Deli: The temporary Cherrywood deli installment of pastrami masters Mum Foods closed a bit earlier than expected. It’s presumably closing as Suerte co-owner Sam Hellman-Mass readies the space for the restaurant he’s opening. Mum Foods can still be found at various Austin farmers markets.

Most-Read Stories of February 2020

  1. Looks Like Aaron Franklin’s Opening a Sandwich Shop and Bar on East Sixth
  2. Austin’s First Natural Wine Bar Is Finally, Finally Here
  3. Pretty Downtown Asian Restaurant She’s Not Here Closes Suddenly
  4. Beloved Old-School Clarksville Diner Is Closed For Now
  5. A Stunning New Vietnamese Restaurant Opens in North Campus

Most-Read Maps & Guides of February 2020

  1. Where to Find the Finest Crawfish Boils in Austin This Season
  2. Where to Celebrate Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday in Austin
  3. Where to Find King Cake for Mardi Gras in Austin
  4. 19 Excellent Austin Dive Bars

Most Popular Instagram Posts of January 2020

January 2020

It’s a new year in the Austin food scene, and already there have been major closures (like a 17-year neighborhood standby) and announcements to look forward to (Atari Hotel, anyone?). Eater put together a list of the most exciting restaurant openings to come this year.

The big news this month was that Tex-Mex institution Trudy’s filed for bankruptcy protection. There had been rumblings about taxes owed and employees not getting paid, but the filing revealed the full extent of the debt, which includes over a million dollars owed to Sysco food suppliers. Trudy’s ran into trouble with the opening of the Four Star location, which lost a million dollars every year it was open, but owner Gary Truesdell’s son Stephen Truesdell is working to turn things around.

On the other hand, taco purveyors Torchy’s have plans to double the number of restaurants over the next four years. This will include an expansion to new states, although exactly where has not been announced.

Big Restaurant, Bar, & Food Truck Openings

Tsuke Honten: Austin’s latest omakase offering is only $29, courtesy a food truck parked at a brewery. Tsuke Honten is helmed by chef Michael Che, who previously worked at Austin restaurant such as Soto and Kyoten Sushiko, and is parked at Hopsquad Brewing Co. in North Burnet.

Bouldin Acres: This new casual restaurant from the owner of EastSide Tavern has burgers, pastrami sandwiches, cocktails, and tacos from Pueblo Viejo, all served in a large outdoor space with lawn games.

TenTen: The sceney new Japanese restaurant on West Sixth serves sushi, sashimi, and charcoal-grilled meats and vegetables.

TenTen’s king crab
TenTen’s king crab
Letitia Smith

Very Exciting Coming Attractions

Local Foods: The Houston-based shop is expanding to downtown Austin, bringing health-focused sandwiches, salads, soups, and plates along with wine and beer on tap. It will move into the former home of Alimentari 28 on Second Street.

Atari Hotel: Retro video game company Atari is experiencing a rebirth in hotel form. The video game-themed hotel is first opening in Phoenix with restaurants, a bar, an arcade, and a bakery, and has expansion plans for Austin as well.

Rise: Dallas-based soufflé restaurant Rise will head to Rosedale later this year. Rise serves sweet (Grand Marnier) and savory (escargot) soufflés using ovens imported from Europe.

Major Shutters

The Bonneville: Seven-year downtown resident The Bonneville has closed, to make way for an unnamed restaurant from a new restaurant group.

Téo Gelato: After 17 years, the scoop shop of Téo Gelato in Rosedale has closed. The pints will still be available at grocery stores.

Most-Read Stories of January 2020

  1. New Japanese Truck With Affordable Omakase Opens Within New Brewery in North Burnet
  2. Seven-Year-Old Downtown Austin Restaurant Is Closing
  3. Local Tex-Mex Institution Trudy’s Owes $130,000 in Taxes
  4. New Casual Outdoor Restaurant and Bar Opens on South Lamar
  5. Beloved Houston Sandwich Shop Local Foods Is Coming to Austin

Most-Read Maps & Guides of January 2020

  1. Austin’s 14 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings in 2020
  2. 27 Vital Breakfast Spots To Know in Austin
  3. The 3 Most Anticipated Restaurants Opening in Austin, Winter 2020
  4. 19 Happy Hours for Cheap Eats and Drinks in Austin, Winter 2020
  5. Austin’s 13 Essential Brunches, Winter 2020

Most Popular Instagram Posts of January 2020

December 2019

Before we dive into the exciting news of the year ahead, it’s time to look back a bit on the biggest news stories in December 2019.

The Eater Award winners for 2019 were announced in December, with Dipdipdip Tatsu-ya nabbing restaurant of the year, Comedor picking up design of the year, and Talād Thai and Lao Street Food winning best food truck. Look for more on these award-winning restaurants soon.

As the year drew to a close, Austin dining experts reminisced for Year in Eater, sharing insights like the biggest dining complaint, best meal, and headline predictions for 2020. Eater also delved into the biggest openings, saddest closures, and most-read stories of the year.

Finally, neighborhood restaurant Jack Allen’s Kitchen celebrated its 10-year anniversary in December, and co-owners Jack Gilmore and Tom Kamm reflected on their time in the business and challenges ahead for the Austin market.

Big Restaurant, Bar, & Food Truck Openings

Hestia: The team behind lauded Rainey restaurant Emmer & Rye opened live-fire restaurant Hestia this month in downtown Austin. The dinner-only spot features luxe entrees like a dry-aged bavette and hearth-fired breads.

Austin Proper Hotel: Downtown’s newest hotel and condo building opened its first two restaurants from McGuire Moorman Hospitality: The Peacock Mediterranean Grill & Bar and a guests-only bar called Goldie’s. The hotel will eventually open two other restaurants from the group.

Very Exciting Coming Attractions

Rendering of Lutie’s
Rendering of Lutie’s
Rendering: Lutie’s [Official]

Simi Estiatorio: Greek fine dining restaurant Simi Estiatorio is heading to downtown Austin. The restaurant will features 200 kinds of wine and will focus on seafood, some of which will be flown in daily from the Mediterranean.

Lutie’s Garden Restaurant: Barley Swine alums Bradley Nicholson and Eater Young Gun Susana Querejazu (’16) are returning to Austin to open a restaurant with high-end Texas fare. Lutie’s Garden Restaurant will be found on the Commodore Perry Estate in Hancock, and will also offer rare and vintage spirits.

Keepers: Chef Amir Hajimaleki, of beloved neighborhood spots Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar and District Kitchen, is opening a new seafood restaurant on West Slaughter Lane in South Austin in late summer. The menu will focus on local and sustainable seafood like fries topped with shrimp etouffee. He’s also opening a new location of Oasthouse in the same building in fall 2020.

Backspace: Parkside Projects’ Neapolitan pizzeria Backspace is opening a second location on West Anderson Lane. No further details are available, but expect pizza, panini, salads, and desserts in jars.

Major Shutters

Zax: Casual Barton Springs restaurant Zax is closing after its purchase by Endeavor Real Estate Group. The restaurant has been open since 2003.

Spun Ice Cream: Liquid nitrogen ice cream shop Spun closed on East 7th Street. However, it will live on in the parking lot at Whole Foods in the Domain.

Thai Kun: The last remaining food truck of Thai street food restaurant Thai Kun closed its location at Whisler’s, where it had been parked since 2014.

Most-Read Stories of December 2019

  1. Austin’s 2019 Eater Award Winners
  2. Franklin Barbecue’s Breakfast Taco and Coffee Truck Is Kind Of Open
  3. Austin’s New Greek Restaurant Will Fly In Fish From the Mediterranean Daily
  4. The Top Complaints About Austin Dining in 2019
  5. Upcoming Ramen Spot Adds Chef From Michelin-Starred Japanese Restaurant

Most-Read Maps & Guides of December 2019

  1. Austin’s 24 Most Iconic Dishes
  2. Where to Eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Austin
  3. Where to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Austin
  4. The Best Dishes Eater Austin Editors Ate in 2019, Mapped
  5. Where to Find Great Chinese Food in Austin

Most Popular Instagram Posts of December 2019

November 2019

It’s already awards season again. The finalists for Eater’s Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Food Truck of the Year have been named, and the winners will be announced December 10.

There were very few closings this month, however, anticipated gourmet donuts shop Donuts Please is no longer opening. A lawsuit apparently stymied the restaurant, which was slated to move into Rosedale. Owners Angel and Arianna Salinas are currently looking for another project.

Big Restaurant, Bar, & Food Truck Openings

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Ohio-based chain Jeni’s opened its first Austin location in Rock Rose at the Domain Northside. The store serves classic ice cream treats like salty caramel and frosé sorbet, as well as ice cream flights. There’s another location coming to South Congress, too.

Kalimotxo: Emmer & Rye opened its Basque-style tapas bar, located in front of forthcoming live fire restaurant Hestia. Former Whisler’s bar manager Brett Esler is in charge of drinks, which include porróns and a frozen version of its namesake red wine and Coke concoction, and chefs Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph created the menu of Spanish classics like tortilla española and jamón ibérico.

OMG Squee: The adorable farmer’s market favorite is now offering its gluten-free sweets out of a bakery in east Austin. Items include macarons, Japanese jiggly cheesecakes (in flavors like ube and matcha), and soft-serve ice cream.

Very Exciting Coming Attractions

Bummer Burrito: The team behind Better Half and Little Brother Bar is opening a food truck on Rainey Street that serves food focused toward the drinking crowd, namely, burritos. It will be parked outside of Little Brother starting this year.

High Noon: The former Craftsman spot on East Cesar Chavez is being transformed by the teams behind Kitty Cohen’s and honky tonk bar White Horse. Few details are available, but it will open next year.

BB.Q Chicken: The massive Korean fried chicken chain is moving into Highland. It serves chicken in many forms, including sandwiches, Korean dishes like bulgogi, as well as other dishes like pizzas and pastas.

Rainey Tavern: The last remaining house on Rainey Street is being turned into a bar by Bob Woody, known for bars like Shakespeare Pub, Blind Pig, and Buford’s Beer Garden.

Major Shutters

Unicorn Magical Dessert Bar: After a mere two months, Unicorn Magical Dessert Bar closed. Though the shop started in Dallas and promised a Santa Monica location, the Houston location is the only one currently open.

The Granary: One of the original tenants of San Antonio’s Pearl District, The Granary barbecue restaurant closed at the end of the month. It was named to Texas Monthly’s best of barbecue list.

Doc’s Motorworks: The Rosedale location of the bar and restaurant has closed. The Sunset Valley location is still open.

Most-Read Stories of November 2019

  1. Texas Governor Loses Appetite for Chick-fil-A Following Its Decision to Stop Anti-LGBTQ Donations
  2. Eater Awards 2019: Here Are the Austin Finalists
  3. Bring a Labrador and Grab a Latte at the Massive Indoor Dog Park Coming to Austin
  4. Jimmy Fallon Dined at Austin’s Best Taco Truck Veracruz All Natural
  5. Ginormous Korean Fried Chicken Chain BB.Q Chicken Is Coming to Austin

Most-Read Maps & Guides of November 2019

  1. Where to Eat on Thanksgiving Day in Austin, 2019
  2. Where to Find Great Bowls of Ramen in Austin
  3. The Thanksgiving Takeout Guide From Austin Restaurants
  4. 11 Amazing Korean Restaurants in Austin
  5. 14 Great Bets for Chicken Fried Steak in Austin

Most Popular Instagram Posts of November 2019

October 2019

October was quite the month for local restaurant company McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group. The company’s newly hired beverage director, Ryan Arnold, was accused of sexual assault by a former colleague at his previous employer, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, in Chicago. The restaurant group placed Arnold on a leave of absence in response. Soon after, the company announced three new projects in Austin: an Italian red sauce joint on West Sixth, Sammie’s; a next-door pizzeria, Favorite’s Pizza; and a sushi restaurant on South Congress, Neighborhood Sushi. The names of all of the restaurants and bars slotted for its downtown Austin development, Austin Proper, were also revealed.

Also on the police blotter this month was one of the stars of television series Supernatural Jared Padalecki. He was arrested outside of the downtown Austin bar Stereotype (of which is he also connected to) after allegedly assaulting two of the bar’s employees.

Finally, although there were many exciting restaurants announced, several few decades-old Austin institutions announced they were closing, like Red’s Porch (ten years), campus icon Milto’s Pizza (42 years), and Zilker-adjacent barbecue spot Uncle Billy’s (13 years).

Big Restaurant, Bar, & Food Truck Openings

The Meteor: The combination pizzeria/cafe/wine bar/bike shop opened on South Congress this month. It serves pizza slices by weight, pastries and breakfast dishes, and has a substantial menu of natural wines. This is the second location of Meteor, which is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Breakfast Bar: Looking for White Claw at breakfast in North Austin? Brunch-focused restaurant Breakfast Bar serves the fizzy drink in morning cocktails, to pair with waffles, pancakes, omelettes, and the like from the team behind chicken and waffles spot Rolling Rooster.

Rebel Cheese: Entirely vegan shop, Rebel Cheese offers wine and cheese (brie, mozzarella, cheddar, and the like) in Mueller. The vegan offerings also extend to charcuterie like lox and corned beef.

Very Exciting Coming Attractions

Sammie’s: Local hospitality developers McGuire Moorman announced its purchase of the shuttered Hut’s Hamburgers on West Sixth to turn into an Italian red-sauce restaurant. It will serve housemade pastas, wine in jugs, and chicken and veal parmesan.

Troublemaker: After the Hightower closed in August, the same team is turning the space into a bar and record store called Troublemaker. The East 7th shop will feature California burritos and cocktails.

Unnamed Natural Wine Bar: Sam Rozani, who owns Sunrise Mini Mart on West Anderson Lane, is expanding into the space next door with a natural wine bar. Rozani is planning food to go with the wines, like Neapolitan-style pizza.

Coconut Club: Two alums of popular bar Cheer Up Charlie’s are opening a new tropical-themed “sweaty dance club” called Coconut Club. It will serve drinks that are frozen, like piña coladas, as well as Gatorade-based drinks for the hangover-conscious.

Proud Mary Cafe: Melbourne-based restaurant and coffee shop Proud Mary Cafe is searching for the right space in Austin. It serves avocado toast, vegemite spreads, and meat pies.

Major Shutters

Torchy’s Tacos: The original South First location of beloved local chain Torchy’s closed, citing a lack of parking and inability to serve cocktails. The building will stay in Torchy’s ownership as they figure out a use for the space. Not to worry — there are still 14 Torchy’s locations in Austin.

Red’s Porch: After a decade in Austin and three locations, the last location of comfort food spot Red’s Porch on South Lamar closed this month. It lives on in sister restaurant North by Northwest in North Austin.

Uncle Billy’s: The barbecue restaurant and brewery on Barton Springs Road shut down, but it, too, lives on. Uncle Billy’s is moving to Dripping Springs with an expected opening date in 2020, though the actual brewing is taking place in Celis Brewery.

Most-Read Stories of October 2019

  1. The Last Remaining Red’s Porch Has Closed
  2. Torchy’s Tacos Is Closing Its Original Restaurant
  3. Drink White Claw for Breakfast at the New Brunch Restaurant in North Austin
  4. Roman-Style Pizza Meets Natural Wine in a New South Congress Bike Shop
  5. Austin Wine Director Allegedly Sexually Assaulted a Co-Worker in Chicago

Most-Read Maps & Guides of October 2019

  1. Austin’s 14 Most Underrated Restaurants
  2. 20 Austin Restaurant Closings to Know About This Fall
  3. 18 Terrific Lunch Options in Downtown Austin
  4. Austin’s 25 Outstanding Bakeries: Where to Pick Up Baked Goods
  5. 14 Must-Eat Pies in Austin

Most Popular Instagram Posts of October 2019

September 2019

September held quite a few major announcements about forthcoming restaurants. Eater took a deeper look at the most exciting restaurant opening this fall like Emmer & Rye’s Hestia and vegan cheese shop Rebel Cheese.

The new restaurant moving into Austin include big national chains like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Chicago restaurant Aba (the first Texas location for both). Music Lane, a development coming soon to South Congress, also announced the forthcoming dining offerings, detailed below.

Picnik’s lawsuit against Bento Picnic over the word “picnic” is still dragging on. The lawsuit started when paleo restaurant Picnik sued Japanese restaurant Bento Picnic back in May, alleging that the restaurant had similar menus and logos, and a judge dismissed the case, but now Picnik is asking for the court to reconsider.

Big Restaurant, Bar, & Food Truck Openings

DipDipDip Ice Cream: The Ramen Tatsu-ya family opened an ice cream shop outside Shabu shabu restaurant DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya in North Austin. The unique ice cream flavors have a strong Japanese influence, like black pepper-yuzu-mascarpone or miso-peanut butter-jelly ice cream.

El Patio: The 65-year-old restaurant closed in July, but reopened with new owners this month. The menu and staff will remain the same, though there may be a few new drinks.

Salt Traders Coastal Cooking: Jack Gilmore’s sixth Austin restaurant is a second location of his Round Rock seafood spot. Salt Traders has dishes like chowder, grilled fish, and a hefty raw bar.

Very Exciting Coming Attractions

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Ohio-based ice cream chain is opening its first Texas locations in Austin, with one shop moving into South Congress and the other to the Domain. The shop will serve scoops, cones, and pints to go, with flavors like brambleberry crisp and frosé sorbet. Owner Jeni Britton Bauer won a James Beard Award in 2012 for her cookbook.

Music Lane: The forthcoming development complex on South Congress announced a host of food tenants. First, there’s Sweetgreen, the fast-casual salad chain. Then there’s Mediterranean spot Aba from Top Chef alum CJ Jacobson. California juice bar SunLife Organics is also moving in, and fancy department store Neighborhood Goods will open a restaurant there as well. (New locations of Gelateria Gemelli and Velvet Taco are also coming).

Donuts Please: Bryker Woods is getting a gourmet donut shop with Donuts Please. Co-owners and couple Angel and Arianna Salinas have been researching donuts around the country for three years.

Sazan Ramen: Focused on creamy chicken broth tori paitan, Sazan will open in Highland very soon.

Major Shutters

Noble Sandwich Co.: One of Austin’s essential sandwich shops closed after five years on Burnet Road. A location will live on at the airport.

East Side Pies: The West Anderson location of the Austin pizza shop closed this month, allegedly for being too close to another location on Airport Boulevard. Three locations (including one in the airport) are still open.

Most-Read Stories of September 2019

  1. Ramen Tatsu-Ya’s Japanese Ice Cream Shop Begins Scooping This Weekend
  2. One of Austin’s Best Sandwich Shops Noble Sandwich Co. Is Closing
  3. Austin City Limits Adds a Bunch of New Restaurants to Its Food Lineup
  4. Beloved Ice Cream Chain Jeni’s Is Coming to Austin
  5. Adored Shuttered Tex-Mex Restaurant El Patio Is Coming Back

Most-Read Maps & Guides of September 2019

  1. The 4 Most Anticipated Restaurants in Austin, Fall 2019
  2. A One-Day Eating Itinerary in East Austin
  3. 30 Excellent Coffee Shops in Austin, Fall 2019
  4. 13 Hot New Barbecue Spots in Austin
  5. 9 Fantastic Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Austin

Most Popular Instagram Posts of September 2019