The Tatsu-ya restaurant group — behind lauded Austin mini-chain Ramen Tatsu-ya, among others — is taking over the former space of longtime restaurant Contigo in MLK. The forthcoming restaurant, called BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya, will be found at 2027 Anchor Lane starting sometime in the late summer.
As indicated by the name, the restaurant will focus on two foods the group does well: ramen and barbecue (similar to what it has served over at Texas-Japanese izakaya Kemuri Tatsu-ya, see: brisket ramen). There will be ramen with house-smoked meats, such as brisket, tri-tip, pork belly, and chicken. There will be cocktails too.
Overseeing the restaurant will be new executive sous chef and pitmaster Josh Carbajal, who worked at other Tatsu-ya spots, and general manager Erin Maley, who had worked at seafood restaurant Perla's. Contigo’s iconic patio will remain in use, as well as its indoor space.
A press release notes that Contigo co-owner Andrew Wiseheart actually came to chef and owner Tatsu Aikawa about taking over the restaurant space.
The Tatsu-ya group opened its first restaurant — Ramen Tatsu-ya on Research Boulevard — in 2012. The portfolio has since expanded with several locations of the ramen restaurant (including one in Houston), then Kemuri Tatsu-ya, Japanese patio bar Domo Alley-Gato Tatsu-ya, followed by new-school hot pot restaurant DipDipDip Tatsu-ya and its ice cream counterpart, and most recently, tiki bar and restaurant Tiki Tatsu-ya. The press release announcing the restaurant’s new name also notes that the Tatsu-ya group has “plans to expand in Austin and beyond.”
Contigo opened in 2011. It expanded to downtown food hall Fareground when that opened in 2018, but the stall closed when Fareground closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contigo itself closed in December 2021, although its catering business remains open. The restaurant group formerly operated two other restaurants — vegetable-centric Gardner which was open from 2014 to 2016 and casual Chicon which was open from 2016 to 2018 — in the East Sixth space that Caribbean restaurant Canje now occupies.
When it opens, BBQ Ramen’s hours will be from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and then from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Update, August 26, 10:22 a.m.: This article, originally published on March 2, has been updated to include the name of the new restaurant and additional details.