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New Mediterranean Restaurant From Chicago Group Opens in Austin

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s Mediterranean restaurant Aba will serve khachapuri and kebabs along South Congress

Aba’s hummus with lamb ragu
Aba’s hummus with lamb ragu
Aba [Official]
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.

Chicago-based Mediterranean restaurant Aba is opening in Austin on Thursday, October 1. It’s opening within the Music Lane development at 1011 South Congress Avenue, Building 2, Suite 180, in Travis Heights. It’s opening both for dine-in, takeout, and curbside pickup services. This is parent hospitality group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’s first Texas restaurant.

Aba’s Mediterranean menu focuses heavily on Israeli, Lebanese, Turkish, and Greek cuisines. On deck will be khachapuri (the popular cheesy bread from the country of Georgia); an array of hummus; kebabs like grilled cauliflower and chicken kefta; meats including tamarind-braised short ribs, shawarma-spiced skirt steak, and eggplant-wrapped slow-braised leg of lamb; brunch dishes such as bagels with a smoked salmon spread and labneh, bougatsa (a cream-filled Greek pastry); plus desserts like the orange blossom creme brulee pie and various kulfis (essentially a South Asian ice cream).

Aba’s drinks, created by Aba’s lead mixologist Liz Pearce, will make use of Middle Eastern ingredients, such as the bloody mary with green harissa, and the Mediterranean Mule with pistachio and an herb-infused vodka. There’s a zero-proof drink menu, as well as a wine list highlighting selections from Morocco, Israel, Greece, and the Canary Islands, curated by the restaurant group’s sommelier Alex Augustine.

The restaurant, which is named after the Hebrew word for “father,” is led by chef partner CJ Jacobson, who is also a Top Chef alum, and Lettuce’s executive partner and divisional president Marc Jacobs.

The physical space will look like its Chicago counterpart. There’s an indoor dining room, as well as a multiple-level patio and terrace. The dining room will open with 75 percent indoor capacities, as allowed by the state. (The Chicago restaurant is currently operating at 50 percent indoor capacities.)

In response to the pandemic, guests will have their temperatures taken before entering the space, and, except when actually eating and drinking, they’re required to wear masks, including when interacting with the staff. While the Chicago location is implementing a four percent COVID-19 surcharge on checks, the Austin restaurant won’t.

Aba’s hours are from 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Guests will be able to validate parking in the garage for the first two hours.

Lettuce opened in 1971, and grew with over 130 restaurants across the country, ranging from fast-casual to fine-dining. The company opened Aba in 2018. Eater Chicago readers named it as the restaurant of 2018. The restaurant is still hiring for various positions in the Austin restaurant too.

Also opening in October at Music Lane is New York-based Australian cafe Two Hands, with its first Texas location.

Update, 5:22 p.m.: This article, originally published on September 22 at 3:15 p.m., has been updated to clarify that the Austin location won’t issue a COVID-19 surcharge and to include that the dining room will open at 75 percent indoor capacities.

Aba [Austin]

1001 South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78704 Visit Website