Far south Austin bar and patio haven Armadillo Den will be expanding with two new locations this year. First is the spin-off bar and restaurant — Dainty Dillo — in the Govalle neighborhood at 3201 East Cesar Chavez Street. And then, just over a mile away, there’s a new bar and restaurant with the team behind Italian restaurants Juniper and Uncle Nicky’s — Chalmers — in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood at 1700 East Cesar Chavez Street. Dainty is expected to open in late February and Chalmers in March.
Dainty Dillo’s address appealed to the Armadillo team, co-owners Brett Berry, Skylar Reeves, Josh ‘Biggie’ Hazzard, and Cade Archer, because of the alfresco space of the former Tillery Bar and Kitchen (which closed in December 2023). “The reason we call it Armadillo Den is the nature side of it,” Berry tells Eater. “Our space in Armadillo Den, you walk in and you’re immersed in nature. This has a very similar feel to me. When you walk through those doors, you’re drawn to the river, you’re immediately drawn away from the road. That’s what we want to be known for: Texas.”
Much like Armadillo, Dainty will offer cocktails, draft non-alcoholic drinks with options to booze ‘em up, beers, and food. Because of the inherited on-site kitchen, the team can expand its dining options, with the help of its far south Austin food truck Biggie’s Yardbird run by Jonathan Haralson. This means Southern/Texan items like biscuits, nachos, loaded fries, patty melts, smash burgers, chicken sandwiches, chips and dips, etc.
Dainty Dillo’s has an indoor dining room and a backyard that overlooks the Colorado River. There are plans to install fire pits along the outside fence, and there’s a stage for live music. There will be several television screens too for sports purposes. There will be several fun murals by artist Austin Cashell.
The name is meant to recall what Berry describes as a “smaller Armadillo Den.” He continues: “Being [near] downtown, being a little bit smaller. This reminds me more of my mom’s place she’d want to hang out. My mom, she’s a Southern dainty woman.”
Chalmers is pegged as a casual Texas ice house. The project is a collaboration with the Excelsior Hospitality group, which is run by co-owners chef Nicholas Yanes (Juniper, etc.) and Michael Covey (who is also on the Dainty Dillo group). The Armadillo team is functioning as management. “[We’re] really there to help them executive the goal,” Berry tells Eater. “which is to have a big outdoor space where you can spread out.” Or, as he later describes, it’s a place that feels like “West Texas and Marfa meets Luckenbach.”
Expect draft beers, cocktails, nonalcoholic beverages, an on-site restaurant, and two to-be-named food trucks. Per the restaurant, there will be a casual menu that Berry says Yanes describes as “East Texas flair.”
Chalmers is taking over a former Shell gas station space. There will be fire pits and areas for live music, plus a potential off-leash dog park.
There’s also a third project in the works for Armadillo Den: an expansion into Gruene, Texas. Berry describes the Texas town as a “hospitality hotspot” and that “I think that they’re going to need more outlets for drinks and hospitality in that area.” He also likes that it’s not too far away from the original location, so it doesn’t “feel like we’re expanding too far out.” That’ll be found at Hunter Road and Farm-to-Market 306, with no opening date yet.
The bar expansions made sense to Berry, especially when it comes down to allowing the staffers to grow in their careers. Madeline Harrison, who had been at Armadillo Den, is now Dainty Dillo’s general manager. And over at Chalmers, the general manager is Aaron Amtower. Developing cocktails is Jason Stevens, who did the same for Armadillo Den.
Armadillo Den opened in December 2020. The team also operates Granbury, Texas venue and bar Warren’s Backyard.