Pacific Asian restaurant and cocktail bar coming to downtown’s 2nd Street District

The 2nd Street District will be getting an infusion of Asian flavors later this summer, as She’s Not Here is set to open in the former Malaga space at 440 Second St. next to the Violet Crown Cinema. The restaurant, operated by Uchi veterans Ben Cachila (former Uchi development director) and Chris Romero (branding and marketing director), will serve lunch and dinner and a Pacific Asian-influenced cocktail list. The chefs for the concept have not been announced.

Soft shell crab from She’s Not Here. (Credit: Nicolai McCrary)

The lunch menu will center on quickie dishes like grab-and-go bento boxes with pork belly rolls and fried chicken sandwiches, while the dinner menu will include dishes like Hawaiian Saimin noodles in a Shanghai beef tip and Tokyo clam broth, Filipino porchetta stuffed with sugarcane-grilled shrimp, and Tasmanian ocean trout with passion fruit.

Cocktails will feature Pacific Asian-influences flavor profiles from the use of hibiscus rye, roasted coconut, jasmine, cloves, falooda syrup, cardamom, kaffir lime and more.

She’s Not Here is planning to be open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m. Follow progress on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram and visit shnaustin.com for more details.

Downtown sandwich spot closes unexpectedly

Capitol denizens and downtown workers along the northern strip of Congress Avenue are going to have to find a new option for their lunchtime sandwich fix.

Credit: Planet Sub Facebook

Planet Sub (906 Congress Ave.) has closed, posting a sign on the door indicating that the closure came due to the shop’s inability to adequately staff. The sign also states that the Cedar Park location (1320 Cedar Creek Blvd.) of the regional chain popular from Texas to Michigan remains open.

One of Austin’s oldest restaurants is closing

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Austin will lose a piece of its dining history later this month when the Frisco closes July 29. The shutter, first confirmed by the Austin Business Journal, will be the end of the 65-year run for a restaurant that was originally opened by Harry Akin at Koenig Lane and Burnet Road in 1953. 

The Frisco on Burnet Road. (AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Known for its comfort food like beef tips, chicken-fried steak, chicken and dumplings and icebox pie, the Frisco Shop was part of the Night Hawk chain that Akin, mayor of Austin from 1967 to 1969, started in 1932 when he opened the first Night Hawk at Riverside Drive and Congress Avenue. The Frisco Shop, which moved into the former Curra’s Grill location at 6801 Burnet Road when the original was demolished to make way for a Walgreen’s, was the last of that storied chain. 

In addition to being a staple for decades for families and devoted regulars, the Frisco Shop and Night Hawk also played important roles in the sociopolitical history of Austin, as Akin was one of the first white restaurateurs to serve black customers. 

PHOTOS: 20 Austin restaurants that are at least 20 years old

“He was a hero to me,” former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn told the Statesman in 2008 when the new Frisco Shop location opened. “Harry was open and accessible to all, which is what Austin is all about. He was a visionary and with the times.”

Go to mystatesman.com to read more about the Frisco and the fans who are coming by for one last meal.

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From 2016: One of Austin’s oldest Mexican restaurants closes

One of the Top 20 restaurants in Austin is closing

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Downtown is losing one of Austin’s rare fine dining establishments. Counter 357, the prix fixe menu specialists on Congress Avenue, announced on social media that it would close July 28.

The Peeler Ranch Striploin with local potato, summer truffle and beeswax at Counter 3. FIVE. VII on Thursday, May 11, 2017. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Chef Eric Earthman oepened the austere and modernist space in March 2015 and cycled through three chefs — Lawrence Kocurek, Damien Brockway and Alan Delgado — before announcing the restaurant would shutter after just over three years.

The announcement comes on the heels of closures from fellow Top 25 restaurants Bonhomie and Bullfight and is a blow to locally owned businesses in a downtown that is seeing increased rents and more national brands entering the market. There is no word on what will come of the space nestled in between the Elephant Room and Swift’s Attic.

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Review from 2015: Attention to details sets Counter 357 apart

App-based coffee kiosk, Briggo, opens at airport

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You’re probably almost always running late when heading to the airport. Or maybe it’s just me. Every extra second counts, so standing in line for some scalding hot coffee at kiosk may not be in the cards. Briggo thinks it has come up with a solution. The app-based coffee service allows you to place your coffee order in advance and swing by the kiosk (located near gate 8 at ABIA) and enter a code or flash your digital receipt and pick up your coffee.

The Briggo machine at ABIA. (Matthew Odam/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The machine officially lunched today at the Austin airport. I downloaded the app while waiting for my JuiceLand smoothie, ordered a latte with one sugar and soon thereafter received a text alerting me the drink was ready. I swung by the machine, tapped in my code (the interface on the Briggo also showed me my drink was ready, using the username I had entered when downloading the app), grabbed my latte (for which my linked card was charged $3.99) and was off to stand in line to get on my flight with fellow passengers marveling at me like I was George Jetson. Or Astro.

RELATED: The ‘robotic barista’ of Briggo returns to UT campus with on-demand coffee

Your new go-to source for Dallas restaurant recommendations

If you’re heading up I-35 toward the Metroplex sometime in the future, you probably want to start following Michalene Busico on Twitter and Instagram. The Dallas Morning News announced last week that the long-time journalist has stepped into the role as the paper’s restaurant critic.

The lamb shank at FT33 is artfully plated and full of hearty and complex flavors. (Credit: Jeff Gregory)

Busico, who takes the place of Leslie Brenner who left last summer, has worked as food editor at the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Robb Report. Busico was raised in California by first-generation Italian-Americans and discusses her personal and professional history with food in the story on the DMN website.

Welcome to the Texas food scene, Michalene.

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Galaxy Cafe coming to Steiner Ranch in 2019

Family-friendly neighbor restaurant Galaxy Cafe will plant its flag near Lake Travis early next year, as it plans to open a location at 5145 FM 620 North (at Quinlan Crossing) in Steiner Ranch.

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

Galaxy co-owner Kelly Chappell says the restaurant group’s decision to open in the suburbs was a conscious one based on the changes in the Austin restaurant market and that it adhered to the family-friendly ethos that has guided them since their inception 15 years ago.

“We’re not interested in the competitive environment of the the inner Austin area,” Chappell said. “We know there are plenty of good people in outlying areas that just want to eat a quality meal at a good value. We’ve always wanted a playground and endless parking both of which are difficult to come by downtown.

The restaurant, Galaxy’s fourth in the Austin area, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and include a playground, private room, designated dog-friendly area and large outdoor dining space.

Cafe Josie serves an all-you-can-eat tasting menu called The Experience for $45

Do you ever end up at dinner and wish you could try a little bit of everything on the menu? West End staple Cafe Josie has done away with selection paralysis with its “The Experience,” an all-you-can-eat tasting menu experience that costs $45. While a la carte dishes are offered during the week, on the weekends, all diners participate in the choose-your-own-adventure dining experience.

Smoked meatloaf with
garlic mashers, tamarind hoisin steak sauce and crispy onions. at Cafe Josie (Credit: Facebook.com/cafejosie)

The dishes are tapas sized, offering about four to six bites per plate. And, if you take a liking to the crispy Brussels sprouts glazed with a tangy Dijon and served with rum-soaked cherries, you can order another plate. Or two. On a recent visit, my dining companion and I selected six dishes and had them set in the middle of the table and ate directly from them. Of course, if you are not comfortable sharing, you can keep to yourself and if your friend’s sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken looks good, you can just order yourself a plate. The populist dishes are straight forward, comforting and don’t try and dazzle you with technique or plating.

The Experience is less about value than it is about options and variety. We were able to move from an umami packed farro risotto rich with parmesan and aged balsamic to a bright Texas peach salad with candied pecans and a smoky Asian-influenced meatloaf (with little binding, its texture more closely resembled a crispy burger patty) Our six dishes averaged out to $15 a plate, which is more than you’d probably normally pay for a dish the size of which is served as part of the tasting menu. If we had been hungry enough to finish eight plates, the value proposition starts to look more appealing. But the dining experience, which kind of resembled a mannered tasting session with a commendable catering outfit or a dinner party at an excitable and creative friend’s home, is a unique one that allows for an exploratory take on dining that you rarely find at this level.

Located at 1200 W. Sixth St. (just behind Clark’s Oyster Bar), the 21-year-old Cafe Josie is open Monday-Saturday for dinner and Sunday for brunch (where a $25 brunch experience is available). The dinner experience is offered for $10 off during happy hour, Monday-Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. And, though it should go without saying, no, you can’t take food to go.

Austin chefs competing on ‘Sugar Rush,’ new Netflix cooking challenge show

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Austin chefs Amir Hajimaleki and Dennis Van of District Kitchen + Cocktails and Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar  are competing on the newly released Netflix competition show “Sugar Rush”.

Screengrab from “Sugar Rush” on Netflix.

The show, which was released by the online streaming giant today, features the chefs battling in a series of pastry-related competitions. We won’t give away the ending, but you can stream the whole eight-episode series online now.

Community Pizza and Beer Garden now open in Wimberley

When a town only has about 3,000 residents, a new restaurant opening is pretty big news. When the restaurant is as good as Community Pizza and Beer Garden, the latest addition to Wimberley’s dining scene, it’s pretty great news, as well.

A pizza from Community Pizza and Beer Garden. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The husband-and-wife team of Michael and Morgan Mekuly opened the restaurant and bar about eight weeks ago in the Lumberyard Office and Retail Space at 111 Old Kyle Road, just steps from the main town square.

The restaurant from the two longtime service industry veterans and Austin transplants specializes in pizza pies with puffed edges and supple centers (more Neapolitan than New York style) with exciting flavor combinations like salami, goat ricotta, serrano peppers and fontina cheese ($13); and roasted mushroom, curly kale and caramelized onions ($12). In addition to the pies, the restaurant also serves almost a half-dozen salads and appetizers like meatballs and spinach dip.

The bar, a clean space backed by subway tiles, serves craft cocktails and an impressive rotating roster of local and imported beers, with offerings from Real Ale Brewing Company, Live Oak Brewing Company, Austin Beerworks and more.

The relaxed, family-friendly restaurant, which features indoor and plenty of outdoor seating as well as a children’s playscape, is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

Community joins a dining community that includes stalwarts Leaning Pear and Linda’s Fine Foods and adds to the draw of the town self-described as a little peace of heaven on the Blanco River.

The bar at Community Pizza and Beer Garden. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)