2022 is almost over, and to recap the long year, Eater Austin is collecting the site’s most-read stories. The local restaurant industry is still feeling the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, coupled with supply chain issues and inflation, but there were still bright moments over these past 12 months.
From last year’s water boil notice to Netflix reality shows taking over the city, these are the 13 stories that caught the eyes of Eater Austin readers this year, plus, 15 additional stories that you might’ve missed this year that are worth reading.
Remember when the city underwent its third boil water notice in the span of five years last February and the second one due to a freeze and the first one because of a power outage at the water treatment plant?
As part of the deluge of higher-end restaurants in the city, this opening by Los Angeles chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee caught Eater Austin readers’ attention. This is LA-based Michelin-starred Italian Pasta|Bar’s second location, taking over what had been the tiny Maggie Louise Confections space on East Sixth.
11. Austin Chefs Rock the James Beard Awards
Okay, this is a two-for-one, but Austin chefs did really well in this year’s returning James Beard Awards. Four chefs became semifinalists, including barbecue truck Distant Relatives pitmaster Damien Brockway and Olamaie chef de cuisine Amanda Turner. From there, two chefs became finalists and then also won their respective categories: Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria in the emerging chef category and Iliana de la Vega of Oaxacan restaurant El Naranjo in the best chef, Texas category. And then, over in the James Beard Media Awards, Dai Due owner and chef Jesse Griffiths won an award for his book The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs in the single subject category.
Two’s a lucky number and the city is set to get a pair of all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurants at some point. One is the New York chain’s K Pot in Sunset Valley, the second is the family-run Soupleaf Hot Pot in Highland. Hopefully, they’ll open in 2023.
And also, sometimes two is an unlucky number, or at least when it came to downtown Austin bars the Container Bar and Bungalow. As part of ongoing development construction along the busy entertainment strip of Rainey Street, the two bars closed right after South by Southwest in March and have been demolished since then. The block will soon become home to a high-rise condo building that is pegged to have a new bar run by Container’s Bridget Dunlap, opening sometime in 2024.
Harry Styles mania took over Austin in the fall when the global pop star played six concerts over the span of a week-ish. Because he had to eat, he apparently placed a big order of smoked meats and the such from the Brentwood barbecue restaurant, though the singer is pescatarian.
There are a lot of not-great Texas politicians and the no-bars-hold pop-up Bad Larry Burger Club knows this. So much so that, when the city was afraid of potential power outages over the summer because of the heatwave, the pop-up created a fantastic shirt making fun of two of the state’s notorious politicians. The shirt depicts a photo of Texas Senator Ted Cruz (the very person who flew to Cancun during the horrible winter storms of 2021) with text that reads “Fuck Abbott,” since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t done a single thing to make sure the power doesn’t go out in the state. The shirt sales benefitted Stop the Sweetps ATX, who helped support the city’s houseless population during the heat.
Eater Austin unthreaded the complicated story of the short-loved downtown Greek restaurant short-lived downtown Greek restaurant where workers were allegedly unpaid, there was an eviction notice, and the managing partner suddenly left America.
Time keeps repeating itself, and when the city was undergoing another COVID surge back in January (much like it is now, coupled with flu and RSV), city officials shared very base recommendations of how to keep people safe since their hands were tied due to Gov. Abbott who wouldn’t implement any actual safety measures (see number 7).
The ever-growing Tatsu-ya restaurant group announced these plans to take over the space of another beloved restaurant that closed in late 2021. BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya replaced longtime restaurant Contigo, with smoked meats and ramen menus, opening in October.
The co-owners of the celebrated barbecue restaurant are being inducted on fraud charges by the Texas Department of Insurance, according to a release over the summer. This is regarding an insurance claim filed in 2016. The pre-trial hearing is scheduled for January 10, 2023.
Austin readers love Austin restaurants on television, and this episode of the Netflix series’s latest season was no exception. Host Phil Rosenthal ate and hung out and posed in front of 18 Austin restaurants and bars.
1. Queer Eye Takes Over Austin
In line with the pop culture theme (see above), the Fab Five debuted its Austin season on New Year’s Eve, but we’re still counting these stories for 2022. First, there’s the map of every single restaurant and bar featured in the Texas season. And then Eater Austin interviewed Texas-Asian bakery OMG Squee owner Sarah Lim about her experience of being made over by the group.