Scholz Garten introduces new barbecue menu this weekend

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Austin’s oldest dining and drinking establishment will tap back into Central Texas traditions this weekend, as Scholz Garten introduces a new barbecue menu. The oldest bar in Austin will serve its new barbecue menu on Sundays only, with a menu that includes brisket turkey, ribs, sausage (and vegan sausage) and more. Customers can order a three-meat plate with three sides, with options like cole slaw, charro beans and a corn cup, for $24.95 or a kids plate of one meat and two sides for $12.95. The owners of downtown haute dog restaurant and bar Frank took over food and beverage operations of the historic German beer hall last summer, taking over from longtime helmers Green Mesquite.

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Barbecue at Scholz Garten. (Contributed)

Annies Cafe & Bar on Congress Avenue is closing

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The ever-changing landscape of the downtown dining scene will receive some more action next month when Annies Cafe & Bar closes after an almost-10-year run at 319 Congress Ave..

Ralpha Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Love Nance, who founded Annies in 1982 and moved it to its Congress location in June 2009, has sold the hot piece of real estate where the restaurant sits on Congress Avenue and will turn her energy to her concepts at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA), Annies & Farm Aire and  I Vini, a fast-casual Italian restaurant, wine bar and market. In an emailed statement, Nance also hinted at a future street-side home for Annies.

“To our treasured downtown customers and family of employees, thank you for years of extraordinary memories,” Nance said. “All of your favorite Annies menu items and classic dishes are still available at our Annies & Farm Aire location (gate 18) at the Austin airport.  Until we see you again street-side, we look forward to seeing you at the airport.”

The last day of service at the restaurant’s Congress Avenue location will be April 22.

The downtown Austin lunch scene has seen increased competition in recent years with the arrival of chains like Mad Greens, Flower Child, Modern Market and Newk’s Eatery.

Punch Bowl Social planning downtown Austin location

Punch Bowl Social will open a second Austin location late this year.

The entertainment venue has signed a letter of intent for 22,000 square feet in the Scarborough Building at West Sixth Street and Congress Avenue.

Plans call for Punch Bowl Social to occupy spaces on the first floor and in the basement that were vacated by Brooks Brothers and Gold’s Gym. An outdoor patio along Congress Avenue is envisioned, as well.

When the downtown location opens, it will join one that has been at The Domain since 2014. Nationwide, there are 13 locations – most in urban settings similar to the new downtown Austin location.

“The Domain location was such a homerun from the very beginning,” Punch Bowl Social founder and CEO Robert Thompson said. “We love Austin and are excited to finally have a downtown location.”

While there will be many similarities between the two locations – dining, a bar and plenty of games – there will also be some differences, Thompson said.

“I’d say the look will probably be the biggest difference,” he said. “Back when we opened at The Domain, that was only our third location and we just didn’t the budget then that we have now.”

Expect some menu adjustments, too. The focus will still be comfort foods, Thompson said, but more Tex-Mex cuisine will be added. All dishes are made from scratch.

CNN reporter declares Salt Lick ‘heaven’ and starts a flame war on Twitter

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Can’t everybody just let people like what they like and let it rest? I guess not when it comes to barbecue. (And, hey, pot calling kettle “black,” I confess.) And, especially when it comes to Salt Lick BBQ. CNN political analyst/serial hot taker/comedian Chris Cillizza did something he probably thought was fairly innocuous (and it should have been). He went to an unarguably charming and pastoral setting (Salt Lick), ate some barbecue and declared he had found heaven. Trust me, after living in D.C. and eating some barbecue out that way and points further north, I have no doubt that for a District denizen drifting into Driftwood, the Salt Lick would feel heavenly, especially on a beautiful spring evening when twilight seems to last for four hours.

Contributed by Kenny Braun

Do I think Salt Lick serves some of the best barbecue in Central Texas? No. Did I Tweet at Mr. Cillizza with some more ideas, while not shaming him for his choice? Yes. Did other people get much more carried away with Cillizza’s declaration? Of course. Because the internet. And barbecue. To his credit, Cillizza handled the mocking with aplomb, and a full stomach.

As the popularity of barbecue and the proliferation of great barbecue options in the Austin area has increased, so has the vitriol for anyone who dare say anything nice about Salt Lick, one of the places that many of us who have decades of history in Austin will always hold close to our hearts for nostalgic purposes, if nothing else.

So, without further ado, the public shaming and rushing to defense of a reporter who his Tweet. Folks, if we keep treating visitors like this, nobody will ever move here.

Etc.

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Exclusive: Galaxy Cafe at the Triangle closing after 10 years, looking to relocate

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Galaxy Cafe will close its location at the Triangle (4616 Triangle Ave.) on April 15 after 10 years of business. The location celebrated its 10th birthday on March 22.

The Austin-born cafe, which opened its first location at Brodie and Slaughter Lanes in 2004, plans to relocate the shuttered business to a location with more of a neighborhood vibe, and one with fewer parking and logistical distractions, allowing the business to focus on food and guests, according to co-owner Kelly Chappell. The partners hope to make an announcement on expansion by the end of the year, if not sooner.

French toast with bananas and strawberries from family-friendly, all-day restaurant Galaxy Cafe. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The Galaxy Group operates the original location, along with Galaxy Cafes on West Lynn Street and Mesa Drive, along with Zocolo Cafe on West Lynn Street and Top Notch on Burnet Road (home to one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in town).

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Winflo Osteria on West Sixth Street is closing

West End Italian restaurant, happy hour hang and listening room Winflo Osteria (1315 W. Sixth St.), which is owned by the Dickson family of Austin, will close on March 30 after five years in business. A new restaurant group will take over the space in the coming months.

The patio at Winflo on West Sixth Street. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

“We are thankful and grateful for our customers, neighbors, staff, family, and friends for their support,” the family said in a statement. “After much deliberation, we’ve decided to close the restaurant with service concluding on March 30. We are transitioning to a new operator from New Orleans with strong restaurant experience that has great plans for our little bungalow and we are very supportive of the next chapter of this special place.”

Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor adding alcohol to its menu

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Want to buy a cold beer or some warming bourbon to go with your massive beef rib at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor? Soon, all of your booze-fueled dreams will come true.

Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor.

Wayne Mueller, owner of the legendary restaurant and grandson of its namesake, posted on Facebook this week that the restaurant has applied for a permit to sell mixed beverages and stay open late. He tagged the photo, in which he teased drinks on the menu this summer, #margaritaville and #itsaboutdamntime.

Credit: Wayne Mueller’s Facebook page reposted on Louie Mueller BBQ page.

In the comments section, Mueller expounded on the change at the establishment that is currently BYOB: “Yes, it’s been a byob place for about 7 years. Thank you for your continued support during our ‘dry’ era. Recently, we decided to offer convenience to the majority of our patrons wishing to share in libations but for reasons specific to them, are unable to bring it with them. We also hope to participate in the enrichment of the burgeoning night life in Taylor’s downtown district with later hours of operation, beers and spirits, occasional music and special Pitmaster events.  Fun and festive times ahead!!!”

Louie Mueller Barbecue is not only adding alcohol, they are also looking to expand their hours. They are currently open until 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday but are targeting opening on Sundays and being open later on weekdays and as late as 2 a.m. on weekends.

“We want to generate some night life. We have had enough influx of people moving from Austin looking for a little less stress and traffic nightmares,” Mueller said. “If that demographic is flowing into Taylor, we really need more amenities to keep them here.”

They will also add live music one or two nights a week to the mix. The alcohol offerings will slowly roll in, starting with keg beer and a frozen margarita machine, before expanding.

While liquor will be new to the legacy barbecue restaurant, it won’t be the first time cold beer has been served at the Taylor destination. Louie Mueller Barbecue sold beer from 1959 to 2011.

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Micklethwait Craft Meats opening location in Smithville this summer

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Micklethwait Craft Meats, the East Austin trailer that recently ranked #5 in my best barbecue in Austin list), took to Facebook yesterday to tease its forthcoming Smithville location. The photo is of the old Vasek Automotive building at 114 NE 2nd St. in the burgeoning town in Bastrop County. The photo says it will open this summer.

Texas Highways Magazine published a starry-eyed story from Michael Corcoran last year documenting all of the growth in the much-filmed town. We’ll have more details about opening date, hours and menu as they become available.

The future home of Micklethwait Craft Meats in Smithville. (Credit: Facebook.com/MIcklethwaitCraftMeats)

The original Micklethwait Craft Meats on Rosewood Avenue is closed until March 27, as they recover from SXSW and feed folks at the World Golf Championships at Austin Country Club.

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Correction: This blog has been updated to reflect the publication date of Texas Highways Magazine’s story.

 

 

Exclusive: View the menu at Loro, the Japanese smokehouse from Uchi’s Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin, opening April 4

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The world will soon get a taste of what happens when two of Texas’ best chefs combine their talents and minds.

Thai green curry pork sausage sandwich, smoked turkey breast, crunchy sweet corn fritter, and Malaysian chicken bo ssam at Loro. (Credit: Logan Crable)

Hai Hospitality’s Loro, a collaborative effort between Uchi co-founder chef Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin will open to the public on April 4, and we have the first look at the menu from the Japanese smokehouse from the two James Beard Award winners.

The casual restaurant located at 2115 South Lamar Blvd. will feature a menu divided into snacks, starters, sandwiches, rice bowls, plates and sides, with smoked and grilled dishes heightened by Asian flavor profiles serving as a major centerpiece. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m., closing at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (See the full menu below.)

“The complex flavors of Southeast Asian food, ranging from the acidity in citrus, to heat from a variety of spices, to all the clean fresh flavors of the herbs, create a balance that is the perfect counterpoint to the richness of smoked meat,” Cole said.

Rice bowl with Malaysian chicken. (Credit: Logan Crable)

The snacks and starters have a variety of Asian influences, including togarashi-dusted kettle corn served with brisket burnt ends, oak-grill snap peas with kimchi emulsion and siracha powder, a Vietnamese kale salad with yuzu vinaigrette, and chicken karrage with sweet Thai chili gastrique and Szechuan peppercorns.

People likely will be the most excited about the hallmark dish of the collaboration between Franklin and Cole, the smoked beef brisket. The beef is marinated in Vietnamese nuoc mam and Thai chili gastrique and finished with herbs and chili oil. It will be served only at dinner, though the brisket finds its way to a sandwich with papaya salad, Thai herbs and jalapeno aioli served at lunch.

“That dish is probably one of the most literal combinations of our styles,” Franklin said.

Thai green curry sausage sandwich at Loro. (Credit: Logan Crable)

Other entrees include Malaysian chicken bo ssam served with lettuce wraps and curry dipping sauce, Thai green curry sausage (also available on a sandwich), char siu pork shoulder, oak-smoked salmon and smoked turkey breast (a Franklin secret weapon) served with apricot gastrique.

“Aaron rubs it with black pepper and we use Korean chilies,” Cole said. “It adds a colorful component to it but it also – Korean chilies have this great, kinda smoky quality. They’re not very spicy but they have like a little hint of spice and a lot of savory character.”

Coconut rice bowls with proteins like crispy Szechuan tofu and grilled Malaysian chicken, along with an assortment of sides such as Texas sweet corn with miso beurre blanc finished with shiso and edamame round out the menu from the kitchen will be helmed by chef de cuisine James Dumapit, an Uchi alumnus and one of the founding chefs of Old Thousand.

The restaurant, full of natural light, patio seating and open space, was designed by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture in collaboration with interior designer Craig Stanghetta of Ste. Marie Design and inspired by the historic dance halls of the Texas Hill Country. That casual feel is complemented by counter-service and table delivery. To-Go service will be available and encouraged, with a separate pick up area at the bar.

Loro will give a preview to the public with a No Kid Hungry benefit on March 29. Tickets cost $100 and are available online.

The menu at Loro.

 

Chef Philip Speer’s food truck dedicated to recovery closes but mission continues

Bonhomie chef Philip Speer and partner William Ball have closed their brunch-centric food truck My Name is Joe after a little over a year in business.

Ny Name is Joe owners Philip Speer (left) and William Ball. (Credit: Julie Cope Photography)

The truck donated profits to Comfort Cafe in Smithville, which supports the Serenity Star recovery center. My Name is Joe raised over $50,000 in 2017 and sent 100 percent of that to Serenity Star to fund the completion of their Women’s Center and their Family Center, according to Speer.

“We are happy to continue to work with Serenity Star and Comfort Cafe, not only with fundraising but with job placement as well,” Speer said. “With My Name is Joe, we have been able to employ several people in recovery and move them on to restaurants such as Holy Roller, Juniper, Bonhomie, etc.”

While the truck has shuttered for now, Speer, who got sober in 2014 and has since raised awareness also by running marathons and rappelling down buildings with chefs, says the work helping those in recovery continues.

“For us, this is our focus right now, being as impactful as we can be. Joe is absolutely still alive, we are just refocusing our efforts right now!”