Veracruz All Natural taco trailer opens on East Seventh Street

Veracruz All-Natural now has four taco trailers in Austin. (Credit: Ricardo Brazziell)
Veracruz All-Natural now has four taco trailers in Austin. (Credit: Ricardo Brazziell)

Veracruz All-Natural is one of the great trailer success stories in Austin in recent years. They have two wildly popular trailers, are opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant next year at 2301 E. Cesar Chavez St., and today announced they’ve relocated their third trailer next to Vintage Heart Coffee at 1405 E. Seventh St. The trailer, which serves my favorite migas tacos in town, excellent fish tacos and more, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Austin restaurants: Where to eat alone

The Wink Wine Bar is a great place to dine alone. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
The Wink Wine Bar is a great place to dine alone. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Regularly in Austin360 I offer a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Sometimes you just want to go to dinner alone with a book (or your electronic device). Or, maybe you’re just having trouble finding a date. I offer a list of places where I like to dine alone. Most of these places have bars – whether a traditional bar or a row of seating overlooking an open kitchen – where you’ll feel completely at home dining solo. Don’t see one of your favorites listed? Leave a comment or email me at This blog was updated on April 10, 2018. If you spot an error, let us know.

Guide on the go

Take my 2014 Dining Guide — a list of my top 25 restaurants and 100 other places I like to eat — with you by bookmarking on your smartphone or tablet.

Austin Land & Cattle. 1205 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-472-1813, No pretense, just good steaks, a fun mood and a bar that serves strong drinks and excellent happy hour specials.

Backspace. 507 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-474-9899, Neapolitan pies from Parkside chef’s small restaurant that also delivers charcuterie plates and a nice roster of antipasti.

Barlata Tapas Bar. 1500 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-473-2211, About 10 variations of paella, two dozen hot small plates and a convivial atmosphere at this Spanish tapas restaurant with a long, winding bar.

Botticelli’s South Congress. 1321 S. Congress Ave. 512-916-1315, Intimate Italian dining on bustling South Congress, with a small bar for counter dining. Try the homemade ravioli with butternut squash in a brown butter and sage sauce.

Bufalina Pizza. 1519 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-2523, The best Neapolitan pizza in the city and a great Italian wine list at this little East Austin restaurant makes the wait worth it.

Café Malta. 3421 W. William Cannon Drive. 512-853-9584, A nice surprise in South Austin, this neighborhood restaurant does brisk happy hour business with wine specials at its bar and serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and lamb kabobs.

Casino El Camino. 517 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9330, CasinoElCamino.Net. All reds and blacks, this Sixth Street classic has a devilish attitude and serves up fat, peppery burgers off a grill, like a garden party along the River Styx. Post up at the bar like a loner.

Chavez. 111 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-478-2991, This sleek restaurant in the Radisson Hotel from culinary star chef Shawn Cirkiel overlooks Lady Bird Lake and pays tribute to Austin, Mexico and the Southwest. Large bar makes for good chit-chat with tourists or watching a game.

Clark’s. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297-2525, Excellent crab cakes, burgers, oyster selection and entrees at this jewel box seafood restaurant from Larry Maguire’s team.

Counter Café. 626 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-708-8800, You can almost reach over and touch the grill at this shoebox café that turns out great burgers, crab cakes with poached eggs and curried peanut sauce, and all of the breakfast classics.

Drink.Well. 207 E. 53rd St. 512-614-6683, Refined bar food like a spicy kimchi Reuben and one of the city’s best burgers at this smart little North Loop bar that makes exceptional cocktails.

El Meson. 2038 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-442-4441, What started as a small taqueria near the airport expanded to this restaurant on South Lamar that carries on the original’s tradition of made-from-scratch interior-Mexican classics. I watched several World Cup matches alone at the tall bar.

Enoteca. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, Vespaio’s cute little sister, Enoteca makes very good pizza, piping hot pastas (try the ravioli with chicken confit) and solid Italian desserts.

Foreign & Domestic. 306 E. 53rd St. 512-459-1010, The kitchen here turns out comforting and thoughtful dishes, from refined vegetarian dishes to hearty off-cuts, and the counter seating gives a nice view of the bustling open kitchen.

Frank. 407 Colorado St. 512-494-6916, Fancy dogs like the Jackalope (made with smoked antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage, and topped with cranberry compote) at this fun spot in the Warehouse District.

Freedmen’s Bar. 2402 San Gabriel St. 512-220-0953, Sophistication and smoke rub elbows at this barbecue joint in a historic building near the UT campus.

Hopdoddy. 1400 S. Congress Ave., 512-243-7505; 2438 W. Anderson Lane, 512-467-2337. Find a seat at the bar and skip the wait for one of a dozen well-crafted burgers (that’s the doddy) and good beer (that’s the hop). Find a seat at the bar and skip the wait.

Hopfields. 3110 Guadalupe St. 512-537-0467, The French-inspired gastropub with an array of taps serves one of the city’s best burgers and a sinful French ham sandwich smeared with creamy butter.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4206 Duval St. 512-458-3168, There’s something of a “Cheers” vibe at this old neighborhood haunt known for its fries.

Jeffrey’s. 1204 W. Lynn St., (512) 477-5584, The bar feels plucked from Manhattan, and serves a menu that includes excellent beef tartare, a lump crab cake, and a dry-aged bar steak. Half-off all day Sunday and Monday.

Justine’s. 4710 E. Fifth St. 512-385-2900, A blend of style and grace, this French bistro offers a unique dining experience, whether you’re sitting at the bar in the warmly lit dining room listening to vinyl or out under the trees and twinkle lights.

Kome. 4917 Airport Blvd. 512-712-5700, Nigiri sushi, a variety of traditional and fusion rolls and a range of Izakaya dishes that include grilled fish and fried chicken from the couple who started with a humble trailer.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. 401 W. Second St. 512-494-1500, The fanciest barbecue spot in town, Lamberts smokes traditional meats such as pork shoulder and beef brisket and also has a touch with more delicate items like a smoked trout salad.

Lenoir. 1807 S. First St. 512-215-9778, Grab a seat at the bar and select three courses from the seasonal menu at this restaurant that delivers amazing food and the best value in town.

Licha’s Cantina. 1306 E. 6th St. 512-480-5960, This venture from former Mettle general manager Daniel Brooks specialized in Mexican street-food like huaraches and tacos.

Little Barrel and Brown. 1716 S. Congress Ave. 512-582-1229, The menu at this South Congress spot that blends modernism with vintage 1920s touches includes smoked haddock toast, grilled quail and burgers. The bar offers plenty of seating.

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Congress Ave., 2304 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-445-0000, Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes and omelets tastes good any time of the day or night. So do quesadillas.

Manuel’s. 310 Congress Ave., 10201 Jollyville Road. 512-472-7555, This sophisticated Mexican restaurant in the heart of downtown has delivered bright, citrusy ceviche and chile rellenos since 1984.

Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, A 61-year-old Austin institution offering Mexican food in a sprawling but welcoming space with a huge bar.

Maudie’s. Multiple locations. If you haven’t had Maudie’s Diablo Sol Food queso, you can’t really call yourself an Austinite. These Tex-Mex purveyors have recently moved to serving all-natural beef and pork and organic eggs.

Mulberry. 360 Nueces St. 512-320-0297, Beef, fish and bar snacks make up most of the menu at this small wine bar at the bottom of a downtown condo tower.

Musashino. 407 Greystone Drive. 512-795-8593. You get the sense you’re eating on an old wooden ship at this sushi restaurant that’s full of character. And if you don’t like raw fish, they also serve a pretty nice tempura-fried chicken.

Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, The bar wraps around a massive oven at Bryce Gilmore’s restaurant that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients and delivers plates like your grandmother might if she’s gone to culinary school.

Olive & June. 3411 Glenview Ave. 512-467-9898, Small shared plates and fresh pasta are major draws at this gorgeous multi-tiered restaurant with a bar on the second floor.

Olivia. 2043 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-804-2700, Fancy at night, but downhome at brunch. Light pours in from the floor-to-ceiling glass, and the patio is nice if the weather isn’t out of control. (Recommend: Dandy Don goat chili with fried eggs, the Willie Nelson chicken fried steak, and French toast.)

Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, Great fried shrimp, grilled catch of the day and Gulf oysters are some of the keys to the staying power of this restaurant-market.

Qui. 1600 E. Sixth St. 512-436-9626, Keep an eye on the kitchen as they execute dishes for an eclectic tasting menu or sit at the bar and admire some of the best cocktail makers in town.

Salt & Time. 1912 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1383, This butcher shop sells sandwiches with fresh, quality meat and turns out magnificent charcuterie plates, a thick juicy burger and other specialties on their dinner menu.

Second Bar + Kitchen. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750, New American on Congress Avenue puts you right in the middle of downtown. (Recommend: pepperoni soup; seared trout; fried pickles; seared scallops; cheeseburger; bleu cheese, pork belly and medjool date pizza.)

South Congress Cafe. 1600 S. Congress Ave. 512-447-3905, This bright and airy spot on South Congress consistently executes solid Southwestern flavors and offers a small bar separate from the main dining area.

Uchi. 801 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-916-4808, You get a front-row seat for viewing the preparation of world-class sushi.

Vino Vino. 4119 Guadalupe St. 512-465-9282, Dark wood, pleasant lighting, walls of wine bottles, helpful staff, solid bistro fare and a long bar on the edge of Hyde Park.

Wink Wine Bar. 1014 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-482-8868, Exceedingly friendly staff offers wine suggestions to go with strong bar menu items like truffle mac and cheese or a trio of sliders, and you can also order from the fine dining restaurant’s full dinner menu.

Zax. 312 Barton Springs Road. 512-481-0100, A friendly atmosphere pervades this restaurant that features a quality tap wall and solid dishes such as Caesar salad, mussels and fries, and pan-seared duck breast.


Uber delivering Easy Tiger today at lunch

Uber will deliver lunch from Easy Tiger today.
Uber will deliver lunch from Easy Tiger today.

What would “the Uber of food delivery” look like? Well, it would probably look a lot like Uber. The mobile application service continues its flirtation with (and marketing of) their delivery services today in 9 cities, as they partner with No Kid Hungry to deliver lunch.

Uber has partnered with Easy Tiger (the day after Elm Restaurant Group announced another new restaurant coming next year) and will deliver the bakery and beer garden’s popular roast turkey sandwich to Uber users in Austin today.

Between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Uber users can open the app, click the “lunch” option and order a sandwich, potato salad and cookie from Easy Tiger for $10. Then sit back and wait for your lunch to arrive. Proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry. Click here for more details.

Veggie Heaven closing December 22

The #12 dish called Open Sesame at Veggie Heaven on Guadalupe Street in Austin. It's noodles stir-fried with carrots, zucchini, squash, onions, cabbage and sesame seeds in a brown sauce with garlic. (Mike Sutter AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
The #12 dish called Open Sesame at Veggie Heaven on Guadalupe Street in Austin. It’s noodles stir-fried with carrots, zucchini, squash, onions, cabbage and sesame seeds in a brown sauce with garlic. (Mike Sutter AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Campus-area favorite of vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, Veggie Heaven will close its doors on December 22. The owner, Mrs. Chen, is retiring from operating the restaurant that has been in business on Guadalupe Street since 1998.

A potential new owner is in negotiations to take over the space and re-open Veggie Heaven, with some updates to the space, in the coming months, an employee said. I’ll give you more updates as they become available.

Easy Tiger/24 Diner group to open new American bar and restaurant off West Sixth Street

Andrew Curren and the Elm Restaurant Group plan to open Irene's in April 2015. (Mark Matson AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Andrew Curren and the Elm Restaurant Group plan to open Irene’s in April 2015. (Mark Matson AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The restaurant group behind 24 Diner and Easy Tiger will open a new American bar and restaurant called Irene’s in 2015. The announcement comes just months after the group also announced it would open Italian restaurant Italic on West Sixth Street next year.

Irene’s will be located at 506 West Ave. in the former home of Joe’s Bar & Grill in the West Sixth Street entertainment district.

The group says they are taking inspiration from Elm Restaurant Group partner Chad Gluckson’s grandmother, a woman he described as “drinking, smoking, gambling woman with an immense heart and a keen understanding of true hospitality.”
Lunch menu will feature soups, salads and sandwiches like Philly cheesesteaks, meatball subs and tuna melts. The evening menu will feature Blue Plate specials like barbecue chicken, red beans and rice, and chicken pot pie.

Elm executive chef and partner Andrew Curren will oversee the culinary side of things, while Elm’s beverage Director Craig Collins will guide the bar, which will serve house-mixed boozy punches with fresh fruit, a variety of local taps, and craft cocktails.

The group hopes to open Irene’s in April.

Stiles Switch celebrates season with 12 Days of Smoked Meats specials


Riffing off the “12 Days of Christmas,” barbecue restaurant Stiles Switch will serve up 12 Days of Smoked Meats. The promotion features daily specials and runs through December 21. Each day the restaurant, which opened three years ago this month, will served a smoked meat special.

The schedule is listed below, starting with today (day two):

Day 2: Wednesday, Dec. 10th – smoked bone-in ribeye

Day 3: Thursday, Dec. 11th – Bacon Wrapped Smoked Quail W/Smoked Corn on the Cob

Day 4: Friday, Dec. 12th – smoked Bone In Pork Chop

Day 5: Saturday, Dec. 13th – Dunker’s smoked Chicken & Sausage Gumbo w/Cornbread

Day 6: Sunday, Dec. 14th – smoked turducken

Closed Monday, Dec. 15th

Day 7: Tuesday, Dec. 16th – smoked prime rib

Day 8: Wednesday, Dec. 17th – smoked cornish game hens

Day 9: Thursday, Dec. 18th – smoked brisket meatloaf with buttermilk mashed potatoes

Day 10: Friday, Dec. 19th – smoked chicken fried beef rib with tater tot casserole

Day 11: Saturday, Dec. 20th – smoked brisket stew with cornbread

Day 12: Sunday, Dec. 21st – smoked brisket tamales and spicy smoked sausage chili con queso

Re: those brisket tamales, Stiles Switch will sell them for the holidays through December 16. Call 512-380-9199 or stop by the restaurant to place an order. The tamales can be picked up December 21-23.

ThunderCloud Subs opens 30th location


ThunderCloud Subs hit a round-number landmark this week when it opened its 30th store. The latest store is located at 12400 Texas 71 at the end of Bee Caves Road in the H-E-B shopping center. An Austin original, ThunderCloud opened in 1975.

The new store, which seats about 60 people, including a 15-seat patio, is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The next new ThunderCloud Subs shop will open in San Marcos in the late spring or early summer of 2015.

Former Strange Fruit Public Relations announces new name

Following a weekend of controversy surrounding what many saw as a racially-insensitive name, the public relations firm formerly known as Strange Fruit PR has changed its name to Perennial Public Relations.

“We sincerely apologize to those offended by the former name of our firm. As of today, we have renamed our firm to Perennial Public Relations,” the owners said in a statement. “We have always prided ourselves as open-minded individuals and we remain committed to serving our clientele and community. In no way did we ever intend for the name of our firm to offend nor infer any implication of racism.  We are grateful for and appreciate the ongoing support of our clients and community.”

Wu Chow giving away pork dumplings this morning to preview new restaurant

Wu Chow partners Stuart Thomajan and C.K. Chin. (Michael Barnes AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Wu Chow partners Stuart Thomajan and C.K. Chin. (Michael Barnes AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

UPDATE: The dumpling giveaway has moved to the lobby at Swift’s Attic. 

Forthcoming Chinese restaurant Wu Chow will give folks downtown a taste of what’s to come this morning. The restaurateurs behind Swift’s Attic will be giving away pork soup dumplings at 11:30 a.m. this morning in the courtyard behind Swift’s Attic, off of Fourth Street between Brazos Street and Congress Avenue. They will give out dumplings until they run out. Wu Chow is expected to open in February or March at 500 W. Fifth St.

Bufalina hosts wine dinner with Frank Cornelissen


rgz xl dine bufalina 11

Bufalina welcomes distinguished winemaker Frank Cornelissen to the East Austin restaurant on December 11. Bufalina will prepare a four-course meal that will be paired with naturalist Cornelissen’s eclectic Sicilian wines. There are six separate seatings between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with tickets costing $60. For tickets and more information, click here.

The menu:

First course

Salumeria Biellese Finochietta, Pecorino Toscano, Cerignola Olives

2013 Domaine Robinot Fetembulles Chenin Blanc Pet Nat


Second course

Fall Vegetable Ragout: Romanesco, Turnip, Kale, Escarole, Beans

2013 Cornelissen Terre Siciliane “Munjebel” Bianco


Third course

Duck Liver Agnolotti: Consommé, Radish, Miso Vinaigrette

2013 Cornelissen “Susucaru”


Fourth course

Pizzetta: Braised Duck, Butternut Squash, Fontina, Thyme

2013 Cornelissen “Contadino” Rosso

2013 Cornelissen Terre Siciliane “Munjebel” Rosso



Ice Cream