Sample queso from some of Austin’s top restaurants at Quesoff in August

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The cheesiest day in Austin will take place on August 25, as the eighth annual Quesoff returns to the Mohawk on Red River Street. It is actually only the seventh iteration of the event, as last year’s was rained out.

More than 30 teams will compete for the prestigious Quesoff title on August 25. Contributed by Jessica Alexander

For those not in the know: Quesoff features an astonishing amount of quesos from dozens of amateur and professional teams. And over the years, many amateurs have gone chip to chip with the pros. I’ve judged several competitions and will return to judge again this year.

How it works? You donate $2 or two canned goods, which go to the Central Texas Food Bank, and pay $5 for a bag of chips and a chance to taste all the competitors’ quesos, as they do battle in four categories — meaty, spicy, veggie and wild card. If queso and August sound like a bad fit, they’re not. Each year hundreds of people line up to get in, proving that queso really is the unofficial food of Austin.

This year’s competitors include Dai Due, Micklethawait Craft Meats, multiple winner Frank, Austin Daily Press, past winners Cheesus and many more. There are still a few spots open for competitors. Email to enter.


Taco Tuesday: El Primo on South First Street

Much has changed over the years on South First Street. But one thing that has remained consistent on the South Austin artery for the past 13 years is the consistently great service and tacos coming from the tiny El Primo trailer that sits at the edge of a parking lot in front of Once Over Coffee, Sekret October and Pecan Food Mart.

Barbaco, pastor, migas and carne asada tacos from El Primo. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

If you’ve visited once, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the affable man many simply call “Primo,” though his given name is Humberto Reyes. The Michoacán native works quickly and with a deft touch, scraping and flipping the eggs for his migas taco just as they begin to toast and the cheese starts to melt into the middle of the pile. Reyes does fast work at the grill, turning out breakfast tacos (all $2.25) and meatier lunch tacos ($2.50 on corn and $2.75 on flour) for devoted regulars of the cash-only trailer. When he’s not manning the grill, it’s his brother-in-law and fellow Michoacán native Jose Luis Perez.  These guys get the glory, and Perez’s sister Guadalupe gets some recognition working the register, but it’s the rarely seen Anna Reyes, wife of Humberto and sister of Jose Luis, who makes this operation hum.

El Primo on South First Street. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

She works at a commissary kitchen cooking pastor finely chopped so that you can’t differentiate the fatty pieces from the lean; finding balance in shredded barbacoa; and grilling salty nibs of carne asada for one of the best valued beef tacos in town.

Reyes and Perez prefer to serve their tacos on corn (though not the artisanal black corn tortillas they recently brought back from Mexico that are kept hidden out of site from customers). But they do serve one of the best migas tacos in town, studded with smoky deli ham, in flour. The corn and flour tortillas come from a local tortilla company (they might tell you if you ask, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy) and are some of the best bagged versions I’ve ever tasted. The tender corn ones are imbued with a mellow sweetness, and the flour are tossed on the flattop and billow as they toast. Anna Reyes also makes the two salsas, a tomatillo that is more floral that fire and a rust-colored chile de arbol packed with dusky sting.

With amazing value, great people and a tenure that would be the envy of almost any restaurateur, El Primo is one of the true gems of South Austin.

The order: migas on flour ($2.25), pastor on corn ($2.50) and carne asada on flour ($2.75).

El Primo. 2001 S. First St. 512-227-5060, Facebook


All breakfast tacos at El Primo cost $2.25. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STAESMAN)



Texas Monthly BBQ Fest Early Bird tickets sales end Monday

If you wanna be one of the lucky meat-sweaty hundreds at the Long Center the first weekend of November, today’s your final chance to get the biggest bang for your buck. Early Bird tickets for the 9th annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest end today. The tickets for the November 4 event that showcases many of the magazines Top 50 barbecue spots around Texas cost $80, with VIP tickets (which include a subscription to the magazine, two drink tickets and early admission to beat the crowds) currently cost $165. More details and links to purchase tickets are available online.

Brad Stockman takes a bite of Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ pork ribs at the 2011 Texas Monthly BBQ Fest. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)


The two best places in Austin to watch Brazil vs. Belgium in the World Cup Friday

Brazil and Belgium will battle in the World Cup quarterfinals, and if you like to pair your sporting events with culturally appropriate food and beverage experiences (and maybe watch with some foreign nationals), you will want to take in today’s match with either a bowl of feijoada or a Belgian beer.

Longtime campus-area Brazilian restaurant Sao Paulo’s and Congress Avenue Belgian beer bar Mort Subite will both be showing the match at 1 p.m. Enjoy the game!

Brazil supporter Bruna Bastos, center, celebrates Brazil’s victory over Mexico at a FIFA World Cup Round of 16 knockout stage watch party at Vares in Brickell on Monday, July 2, 2018. (Sam Navarro/Miami Herald/TNS)


Chef Jacob Weaver joins Hotel Zaza after leaving Juliet Italian Kitchen

Austin chef Jacob Weaver has left his position as executive chef at Juliet Italian Kitchen and joined Hotel Zaza as that boutique hotel brand’s corporate director of food and beverage. Weaver, who is a veteran of Asti Trattoria and Café Josie, will helm the program for the Hotel Zaza locations in Dallas and Houston and will directly oversee the Austin property, which is slated to open next summer at Guadalupe and Fourth streets.

Contributed by Z Resorts.

“I am thrilled and humbled to have been given the opportunity to join Hotel Zaza, a brand that sets the bar for luxury, Texas style,” Weaver said. “Everything from the team, food and beverage offerings and of course, the magnificent properties are world class, and I am eager to bring my own skillset to the program, as well as grow with the company as Hotel Zaza continues to expand.”

Juliet announced last month that it has replaced Weaver with chef Jayson Munguia. The restaurant posted the following words from Weaver about Munguia on Facebook:

“The last three years at Juliet have been some of the best times of my career to date. We have accomplished so much and I’m proud to say Juliet is doing better than ever by any metric imaginable. Though it is bittersweet to leave Austin and Juliet behind I am excited for the amazing opportunities for myself and the team at Juliet, including the promotion of my friend and partner in the kitchen for the last several years, the newly appointed Executive Chef Jayson Munguia. Jayson, General Manager Emily O’Connor and the rest of the team have been integral in the creation and building of Juliet Italian Kitchen. JIK wouldn’t be what it is today without the unyielding dedication to excellence and genuine hospitality this team brings to the table each and every day.”


All-day New American-meets-Mediterranean restaurant Kicked Up Grub now open on South Lamar

Kicked Up Grub, an all-day restaurant serving a mix of Mediterranean-influenced dishes and New American food, has opened in the space at 3403 S. Lamar Blvd. in the space previously occupied by Manin Pasta.

Atx Omelette filled with avocado, grilled corn, crispy bacon, gruyere cheese, topped with cilantro cream, chives and cotija cheese at Kicked Up Grub. (Credit:

The kitchen is helmed by some chefs that appear new to the Austin scene, with a wide-ranging menu that stretches from a selection of toasts, French toasts, sandwiches and pancakes at breakfast to Mediterranean-influenced pasta and vegetable dishes, and an array of burgers. The owners state on the website that the restaurant was born of one partner’s desire for whiskey and meat and the other’s longing for healthier fare.

The short-lived Manin Pasta opened at the end of last year, taking the place of Aroma Italian Kitchen.

Kicked Up Grub is open Tuesday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Best restaurants and pubs for watching England vs. Colombia Tuesday

England continues its quest for its first World Cup title in 52 years today when it takes on Colombia today at 1 p.m. CST in Russia. England are a slight favorite today (60 percent, according to and are in a half of the bracket with a much easier path to glory. If you’re watching the match today in Austin, you’ll want to do so with a cold pint and some fish and chips.

Harry Kane of England applauds fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between England and Belgium at Kaliningrad Stadium on June 28, 2018 in Kaliningrad, Russia. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Here are my picks for watching the England match today. Don’t forget the vinegar for your chips.

Five restaurants where you can watch Mexico vs. Brazil Monday

El Tri takes on the winningest nation in World Cup history on Monday at 9 a.m. and you know televisions at Mexican restaurants and bars all over Austin will be tuned to the epic knockout-out round tilt. In addition to the restaurants that usually serve breakfast or have 24-hour service, like Las Cazuelas and La Mexicana, several restaurants are rolling out the red (and green and white) carpet for the game.

YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 27: Mexico fans celebrate after hearing the news of a Korea Republic goal that will send Mexico in Round of 16 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Mexico and Sweden. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Lichas Cantina on East Sixth Street will open at 8:30 a.m.; Takoba on East Seventh Street (which, amidst renovations, reopened just for the World Cup) will open at 7:30 a.m.; and Fresa’s on South First Street opens at 8 a.m. Expect food, drink and wild cheering at them all, as Mexico attempts to make the quarterfinals for just the second time in history.