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Austin’s Biggest Dining Stories of 2018

From Supernatural’s Texas brewery to the opening of H Mart to Paul Qui’s criminal charges

H Mart in Austin
H Mart in Austin
Emy A./Yelp
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

2018 felt like a very long year, and much has happened in Austin, especially when it came to restaurant news. There were a bunch of firsts for the city (a food hall, H Mart), major openings (Sour Duck Market, Fairmont Hotel, Family Business Beer Co. courtesy of a celebrity couple), and the next chapter on Paul Qui and his assault charges.

For more detailed breakdowns of what happened in Austin this year, check out Eater’s monthly recaps. With that, here are the ten most-read stories of the year, in ascending order, on Eater Austin of 2018:

10. Odd Duck’s Ambitious New Everyday Restaurant Opens in Central East Austin

For chef Bryce Gilmore’s third restaurant, he went the causal route with Sour Duck Market, which contains a bakery, restaurant, bar, market and even a smoker, all with the same attention and care towards local, quality sourcing.

9. Explore Downtown Hotel Fairmont Austin’s Many New Restaurants

The long-awaited downtown hotel came packed with various restaurants and bars, from the food court-esque Revue dishing out everything from raw seafood to pan-Asian dishes, fine dining spot Garrison, to rooftop cocktails at Rules & Regs.

8. ‘Duck Dynasty’ Stars Open Texas Food Truck at Jensen Ackles’ Brewery

As part of actors Jensen and Danneel Ackles’ Dripping Springs brewery Family Business Brewing Co. (see below), the couple gave their friends Jep and Jessica Robertson the opportunity to open their own food truck. They also happen to be the stars of reality television show Duck Dynasty. The menu focuses on Southern and Cajun comfort food.

7. Austin Bar Dresses Up as ‘The Simpsons’ for Halloween

Nickel City went all out for Halloween this year by dressed up as Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons, with everything from the signage, those signature drinks (hello, Flaming Moes), and bow-tied bartenders.

6. Chef Paul Qui’s Criminal Charges Are Being Dismissed

Two years after Paul Qui’s arrest for allegedly beating and bloodying his girlfriend, the criminal charges against the chef were dismissed because the alleged victim signed an affidavit of non-prosecution in April.

5. Ethan Hawke’s Go-To Restaurants Are Austin Classics

While the actor doesn’t live in Austin, Ethan Hawke was born in the Texas city and he considers it a very important home base. Eater got the opportunity to hang out with Hawke and Ben Dickey, the star of Hawke’s movie Blaze. Among their favorite Austin restaurants are Tex-Mex vegetarian Mr. Natural, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, and others.

4. P. Terry’s Taco-Dedicated Drive-Thru Opens This Week

Austin’s beloved burger drive-thru chain and its co-owners Patrick and Kathy Terry know what they’re doing when it comes to quality fast food, so they decided to apply the same approach to tacos. Taco Ranch opened its first location down in Oak Hill back in January, serving up simple breakfast tacos, burritos, and bowls. It was so swamped those first couple of days that it had to adjust its hours.

3. Fareground: the Ultimate Guide to the Downtown Austin Food Hall

The city jumped aboard the food hall trend with its very first one right in the middle of downtown Austin. Fareground, curated and managed by the ELM Restaurant Group, brought together some of the best of Austin’s restaurants and chefs into one handy location in January. Dai Due opened a taqueria helmed by chef Gabe Erales, Emmer & Rye opened a casual outpost dubbed Henbit with kolaches and burritos, a mash-up of Kome and Daruma (which are owned by the same team), plus there’s Contigo, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop (that is, until it closes at the end of this year), and what had been ELM’s own bakery Easy Tiger. (ELM and Easy Tiger split a month later in February.)

2. Austin’s H Mart Finally Has an Opening Date

Austin was very excited for the debut of its first H Mart location in February, and for good reason. Along with groceries and food products, the Korean supermarket chain brought along its first-ever food hall. While the pan-Asian vendors were originally put together under the guidance of San Francisco chef Deuki Hong, it looks like he’s no longer a part of that team.

1. ‘Supernatural’ Actor Jensen Ackles Opens Texas Brewery

Supernatural co-star Jensen Ackles and actress Danneel Ackles put down some Texas roots when they opened their very own brewery out in Dripping Springs. The resulting Family Business Beer Co. opened in January, focusing on a variety of what they deem as daily beers, from IPA to rye lagers, along with the help of head brewer Nate Seale. The couple is already expanding with a second brewery down in far South Austin as part of the forthcoming St. Elmo Public Market.