UberEats cancels Instant Delivery option

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UberEats launched in Austin about a year ago, initially offering lunch delivery from a select few restaurants to downtown denizens in less than 10 minutes. Over the past year, that program has expanded to range from morning to night and from South Austin to North Austin. The Instant Delivery that kick-started the program still existed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but as of this week, that part of the platform is no more. UberEats has cancelled the Instant Delivery option in all markets except Los Angeles. A rep for the tech company explains:

“Instant Delivery started as a proof of concept – if we could get a car to you in 5 minutes, what else could we deliver? We started with speed and a limited selection of menu items. Since launching Instant, UberEATS has significantly expanded from allowing people in downtown to pick 4-5 meals during the lunch hour to offering thousands of items at all hours of the day, and throughout the city. We will now be focusing on how we can bring customers an even better selection of on-demand meals, delivered as fast as possible.”

UberEats is still delivering food in Austin, and the choices have actually expanded significantly. There are now more than 100 restaurants serving food via UberEats, but almost all of them have quoted times between 30 minutes and an hour. There is a designation with a red check mark that guarantees food in 25 minutes or less or it’s free, but that designation is currently only applied to a cupcake bakery.

 

Event: James Beard winner Justin Yu of Oxheart dinner at Josephine House

The intimate atmosphere at Oxheart gives diners an up-close view of the exceptional work of chef Justin Yu and his team. (Credit: Julie Soefer GREATER HOUSTON CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU)
The intimate atmosphere at Oxheart gives diners an up-close view of the exceptional work of chef Justin Yu and his team. (Credit: Julie Soefer GREATER HOUSTON CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU)

Two of Houston’s brightest food and beverage stars will visit Austin on October 9, as James Beard award-winning chef Justin Yu of veggie-focused Oxheart and his business partner Justin Vann of Public Services Wine & Whiskey will serve a four-course, wine-paired dinner at Josephine House. How accomplished is Yu? If the Beard doesn’t convince you, the fact that his tiny restaurant near downtown Houston has earned Houston Chronicle critic Alison Cook’s #1 ranking in four of the past five years should. Vann’s glamorous and stately bar focused on, as the name implied, whiskey and wine is located in an old cotton exchange building in downtown Houston.

oxheartYu, who doesn’t do a lot of out-of-town appearances, will cook a meal that include flounder sashimi, sticky rice & sesame tamales, and braised beef and sweet potato ‘tang yuen.’ You can see the complete menu, along with pairings, here.

Tickets are $50 per person and $85 with pairings. Purchase them here.

Taste of Ethiopia now open on South Congress

Woinee Mariam opened Taste of Ethiopia in Pflugerville in 2008, and now she's bringing her food and vibrant personality to South Congress. (Marcial Guajardo PFLUGERVILLE PFLAG)
Woinee Mariam opened Taste of Ethiopia in Pflugerville in 2008, and now she’s bringing her food and vibrant personality to South Congress. (Marcial Guajardo PFLUGERVILLE PFLAG)

One of my favorite restaurants from the suburbs has made the move to Austin proper. Taste of Ethiopia is now open in the mixed-use development at 3801 S. Congress Ave. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, serving classic Ethiopian dishes like kitfo (marinated raw beef dusted with chili powder), doro wot (a slow-simmer chicken with boiled egg, the national dish of Ethiopia), and a vegetarian platter that includes collard greens, lentils and a stew of string beans, carrots, tomatoes and onions, all served on the spongy injera bread which you use like little pinched tortillas to scoop the food.

Woinee Mariam and her husband, Solomon Hailu, moved to Cedar Park about a decade ago and opened the First Taste of Ethiopia in Pflugerville in 2008.

Two female chefs to help lead kitchen at Apis

Abby Searles has been promoted to chef de cuisine at Apis, which also announced today its new pastry chef, Lauren McCann, who moves to Austin from New York City. (Apis Restaurant & Apiary)
Abby Searles has been promoted to chef de cuisine at Apis, which also announced today its new pastry chef, Lauren McCann, who moves to Austin from New York City. (Apis Restaurant & Apiary)

Yes, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t point out that two prominent chef roles at Apis were just filled by women, but in an industry that last year was reportedly dominated by men at a four-to-one rate, it is encouraging to hear of the news from the fine dining restaurant in Spicewood.

The restaurant hired University of Texas graduate Lauren McCann, who served as chef de partie at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City, to serve as pastry chef. The Texas native is a 2013 graduate of the pastry arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine. In addition to the new hire, Apis has promoted Abby Searles to the position of chef de cuisine. The Houston native, who has worked in New York City for chefs like Larry Forgione, Marc Forgione and Anita Lo, was promoted from the position of sous chef.

Searles replaces Adam Brick, a fellow Texan and veteran of New York City kitchens, who is turning his attention to Apis’ Pizzeria Sorellina, an Italian restaurant that will open soon in a building on the Apis campus in Spicewood. Apis will give a taste of what’s to come at Pizzeria Sorellina when it hosts a pop-up Monday night at Bufalina in East Austin. Get details here.

 

 

National chain restaurants descending on Austin by the dozens

Moe's Southwestern Grill plans to have 14 Austin-area locations up and running when it's all said and done.
Moe’s Southwestern Grill plans to have 14 Austin-area locations up and running when it’s all said and done.

A wave of national restaurant chains is preparing to crash on the city that likes to Keep it Weird. Statesman business reporter Gary Dinges writes in this weekend’s Statesman, that  almost 100 locations of chain restaurants will come to Austin and surrounding communities in the next few years. The list includes newcomers to Central Texas, like the Atlanta-based Moe’s Southwest Grill, which this month opened in Cedar Park, the first of more than a dozen locations planned for the Austin metro area, as well as familiar faces, like Saladworks and Smoothie King. Read Dinges’ story for the complete details on the invasion.

 

 

Tim Love introduces Lonesome Dove Book Club night (aka Ladies Night)

Tim Love is the chef and owner of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Tim Love is the chef and owner of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Talented chef and rapscallion live-fire grilling demo master Tim Love is introducing Tuesday night Book Club at his wild game-centric steakhouse Lonesome Dove Western Bistro. Ever Tuesday night, any table filled exclusively of women (or just one woman dining solo, at a table, not the bar) get 50% off their entrees and half off a rotating selection of red and white wines. That would include items like the Warehouse District restaurant’s signature roasted garlic-stuffed beef tenderloin, pan-seared halibut with arugula-quinoa salad, and porcini-crusted spatchcocked game hen with savory oatmeal, sweet pepper marmalade, and parsley chimichurri. As for the “book” part of book club, a rep for Lonesome Dove said Love will get in on the fun by recommending books via social media.

Home Slice’s Carnival O’ Pizza postponed

rbz Home Slice Pizza Party 04

Put your pizza-fueled Saturday plans on hold, folks. The Carnival O’Pizza, an annual fundraising event at Home Slice Pizza, has been postponed because of possible severe weather.

Here’s what organizers had to say: “Due to the risk of inclement weather on Saturday, Home Slice Pizza has postponed the 11th Annual Carnival O’ Pizza to Saturday, November 12. Home Slice and Austin Bat Cave have decided it is in the best interest to reschedule to ensure everyone can enjoy Carnival O’ Pizza to the fullest. We will continue to keep you updated and look forward to the same family-friendly, pizza-fueled fun on the new date.”

Watch their Facebook page for more information.

Pastry chef Janina O’Leary hosting donut pop-up at Franklin Barbecue

Janina O'Leary
Janina O’Leary

Barbecue from arguably the best pit master in Texas with donuts from one of the state’s best pastry chefs? What would Homer Simpson say?

All of your sticky-sweet-meaty dreams will come true on October 2, as Janina O’Leary (formerly of LaV and Trace) will sell her sweet, fluffy donuts at a pop-up sale at her Play Dough Pop-Up at Franklin Barbecue.

O’Leary will sell her salty dulce doughnuts, bourbon banana Franklin doughnut and brioche doughnuts for $2 each and her strawberry cobbler jam and Nutella mousse “dippers” for $1 each. The sale starts at 9 a.m. and goes until she is sold out. That Franklin doughnut? It’s a brioche doughnut with bourbon-banana pudding on the inside and a brisket-chocolate glaze on the outside. Oh, and it’s fried in brisket fat. O’Leary says it, “Tastes better than is sounds.” I say it sounds pretty damn good as it is.

In addition to that pop-up, O’Leary will be hosting a Play Dough Pop-Up Bake Sale (3012 Gonzalez St.) at the Swoop House this Sunday starting at 11 a.m. In addition to donuts, cinnamon rolls, market pizzetas and more, O’Leary will also sell beer, wine and mimosas.

 

 

 

Olive & June names Brian Moses new executive chef

Parkside Projects veteran Brian Moses has replaced Justin Rupp as the executive chef at that restaurant group’s Italian concept Olive & June. Moses, who has spent the last two years working as chef de cuisine at Contigo after a stint as chef de partie at Thomas Keller’s French bistro Bouchon in Napa, last worked for Cirkiel at Parkside.

Rupp, who opened Parkside and Backspace with Cirkiel, will stay on with Parkside Projects, working with Cirkiel on the group’s other projects.

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What to expect with the new change at the Southern Italian-inspired mid-century treehouse restaurant? Moses will debut his first Sunday family menu this week. The multi-course dinner will include grilled acorn squash agrodolce with goat cheese and pecan pesto; orecchiette with pork belly and mushroom in smoked pork broth; and grilled bluefish with local squash and potato. See the full menu attached to this post. The meal costs $36, and children under 12 eat free.

Austin icon El Azteca closing next week

One of Austin’s oldest Mexican restaurants will serve its final customers next week, as El Azteca (2600 E. Seventh St.) will close after service on Sept. 29. Jorge D. Guerra and Ninfa Guerra founded the restaurant in 1963.

(Eric Webb/American-Statesman)
(Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

The restaurant, known for its colorful calendars, serves Tex-Mex staples such as enchiladas and tacos and earned a name for itself on the strength of dishes like juicy cabrito, rich chicken mole and barbacoa de cabeza.

“Barrio restaurants owned by people who had a strong sense of community are (becoming) a thing of the past and that’s a shame. But between the proliferation of chains, the gentrification, increased property values and the aging of long time barrio residents, those kinds of places are difficult to sustain,” former Statesman editorial page editor Arnold Garcia wrote in an email.

bourdainazteca
Alejandro Escovedo and Anthony Bourdain eat at El Azteca. (Credit: Screen grab from YouTube clip of the Food Network’s “No Reservations.”)

The restaurant has been a cultural touchstone and meeting place for the East Austin community over the decades, and Austin music great Alejandro Escovedo even told Anthony Bourdain that it was the first place he ever dined in Austin. (See that clip from “No Reservations” at the 27-minute mark here.)

The Guerra family has not made public the name of the buyer.