South by Southwest is known for brand activations and pop-ups from big name chefs, but this year, the festival may have outdone itself. Chef Mads Refslund, co-founder of Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant ranked #1 in the world four times, is cooking at a pop-up in Austin during SXSW. The pop-up, a collaboration with Tigerspring Agency, will be held today through Wednesday from 8 p.m. to midnight. The meals will be served at the House of Scandinavia (340 E. Second St.) and hosted by Scandinavian Airlines. The menu is based on local Austin cuisine, as seen through the lens of Nordic cooking and sourced with organic wines and cocktails made with Nordic spirits. The two prix fixe menus range from $75 to $100 and reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com.
We received an email this morning from a frustrated reader. They weren’t frustrated with us (yea!) but with the fact that they had received an email yesterday afternoon at 3 p.m. alerting them that Vox Table had closed suddenly due to a maintenance issue and therefore the emailer’s Valentine’s dinner reservation could not be honored. The email (which we’ve seen) actually went out, apparently, to all people who had a reservation. The restaurant responded to aggravated diners with a list of restaurants that still had reservations and with phone numbers for those restaurants.
It is unclear if the closure is permanent. We went by the restaurant this afternoon and found a sign on the door that stated the following: “Due to reoccurring maintenance issues, we will be closed this evening. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
The James Beard award for Best Chef Southwest has quite a bit of Austin flavor this year. The prestigious culinary institution announced its semifinalists today and Austin took home four nominations, with chefs Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie), Kevin Fink (Emmer & Rye) and Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine) all earning nods for Best Chef Southwest and Laura Sawicki (Launderette) earning a semifinalist nod for Best Pastry Chef in America, her third consecutive nomination and fifth total. Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, the izakaya-smokehouse from Takuya Matsumoto and Tatsu Aikawa was named a semifinalist for the honor of best new restaurant in America. In addition to the kitchen awards, Jester King Brewery’s Jeffrey Stuffing’s earned a semifinal nod for best wine, beer or spirits or professional.
Gilmore was Austin’s only semifinalist last year, and the chef went on to earn his fifth consecutive finalist nod, but the city has done well in recent years. Aaron Franklin won the award in 2015, and former Austin winners include Paul Qui (2012) and Tyson Cole of Uchi (2011), Austin’s first-ever winner.
The other Texas chefs earning semifinalist nods for best chef southwest are Ross Coleman and James Haywood (Kitchen 713, Houston), Diego Galicia and Rico Torres (Mixtli, San Antonio), Anita Jaisinghani (Pondicheri, Houston), Ronnie Killen (Killen’s Steakhouse, Pearland), Steve McHugh (Cured, San Antonio), Trong Nguyen (Crawfish & Noodles, Houston), Ryan Pera (Coltivare, Houston), Regino Rojas (Revolver Taco Lounge, Dallas) and Norma Frances “Tootsie” Tomanetz (Snow’s BBQ, Lexington). For the complete list of all nominees, go to jamesbeard.org.
The finalists will be announced on March 14 and the awards will be handed out on May 7 in Chicago, with the ceremony streaming live online.
There were a lot of happy people in Austin last night when Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a thrilling upset of the New England Patriots. Foles is a partner in his father Larry’s latest restaurant, ATX Cocina, and to honor the Super Bowl MVP and the Eagles, the modern Mexican restaurant downtown is running a special $9 all week that honors the green-and-white of Nick and the Eagles. The drink has Bristow Gin, mint simple syurp, lime and ciders. And it glows like the city of Philadelphia did last night.
The Holy Rollers, who participate in the Texas Roller Derby league, the city’s only banked-track roller derby league, will face off against the Rhinestone Cowgirls at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Travis County Expo Center. You can purchase tickets at the door or online at txrd.com.
Nick Foles, the Westlake High School graduate who took his team to the Division I title game in 2006, is the son of Austin super-restaurateur Larry Foles and also one of the owners of ATX Cocina (our recent review here). Larry Foles, along with partner Guy Villavaso, opened Z’Tejas, Hopdoddy, Eddie V’s (which they sold for a small fortune), Salty Sow, Roaring Fork, Red Ash and most recently ATX Cocina.
If you untangle the Austin-Philly-football-restaurant connections a little further, you’ll discover that ATX Cocina executive chef Kevin Taylor’s parents in New Jersey were good friends with former Eagles player Brit Hager and his wife, Bridgette. The Hagers moved to Austin, and their son, Bryce, played at Westlake and became friends with Nick Foles. When Larry started visiting Philadelphia to watch Nick play with the Eagles, the Hagers put him in touch with Taylor, according to a rep for ATX Cocina. Larry Foles, who was interested in Starr Restaurants, became friendly with Taylor, who was the chef at Starr’s El Vez Mexican restaurant. And, voila, the chef now works for Foles in Austin.
No word on Nick’s favorite food (though he once told another publication he was a regular at Texas Honey Ham Company as a kid), but apparently his appetite for the industry his dad has worked in for decades spans back quite a few years. While playing for the University of Arizona in 2010, Nick Foles told the Oklahoman, “I remember when I was little, he’d come home late and I’d smell the catfish on his shirt. (Getting into the business) is something I want to do after football.”
Maybe he can open a Philly cheesesteak spot in Austin.
In honor of Foles playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, ATX Cocina wil be closed, while both Roaring Fork locations will be doing a buy-one-entree-get-one-free special at dinner Sunday and Salty Sow will serve a four-course chef’s tasting menu for $20 per person in addition to their regular menu. For more Super Bowl specials at Austin restaurants, click here.
A wonderful meal on Valentine’s Day is almost impossible to resist. You could stay home and cook for your beloved, but why run the risk of overcooking the lobster or having your sauce break? Austin restaurants have a slew of special dinners planned at all price points.
Andiamo Ristorante. 2521 Rutland Drive. 512-719- 3377, andiamoitaliano.com. The North Austin Italian restaurant will serve a four-course “Aphrodisiac” Valentine’s Day dinner, with choices like oysters, barramundi in white wine sauce and risotto with lobster. Cost is $85 per person.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen.2110 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-916-4445, aviarywinekitchen.com. The wine bar and bistro will serve a five-course menu for $60 per person, with wine pairings for an additional $35.
Barley Swine. 6555 Burnet Road, #400. 512-394-8150, barleyswine.com. Bryce Gilmore’s sensational farm-to-table restaurant will serve a fixed menu for $120, with wine pairings an additional $65. Reservations can only be made over the phone.
Boiler Nine Bar + Grill. 800 W. Cesar Chavez St. 512-220-9990, boilernine.com. The restaurant at Seaholm serves a special a la carte menu with oysters, burrata and beef tenderloin, and will serve a complimentary glass of bubbles.
Café Josie. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-322- 9226, cafejosie.com. The longtime West End favorite serves a four-course menu with options like fried goat cheese, grilled redfish and crispy pork belly. Cost is $60.
Cannon & Belle. 500 E. Fourth St. 512-493-4900, cannonandbelle.com. The restaurant at the Hilton will serve a four-course dinner that includes options like drunken clams, oven-baked scallops and grilled beef tenderloin. Cost is $64 per person.
Carillon. 1900 University Ave. 512-404- 3655, thecarillonrestaurant.com. The sophisticated restaurant at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center serves a three-course menu with dessert for two. Diners have the choice of two menus, one centered around Iberico ramen and the other around striploin. Cost is $70 per person, with wine pairings for an additional $25.
Chez Zee. 5406 Balcones Drive. 512-454- 2666, chez-zee.com. The Balcones bistro will feature a special Valentine’s dinner menu that includes strawberry salad with scallops, quail and scallops and seafood pasta. The restaurant will also present live music from 5 to 10:30 p.m.
Chicon. 1914 E. Sixth St. 512-354-1480, contigotexas.com/chicon. Contigo’s slick kid sibling in East Austin will serve a four-course movie-inspired menu that includes choices like spicy tempura squash (“Walk the Line”), grilled lobster tail (“Annie Hall”) and bucatini with oxtail Bolognese (“Lady and the Tramp”). The Wednesday wine happy hour will extend through the night, with some bottles priced at $15. Cost for the dinner is $45 per person.
El Chipirón. 2717 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-518-3618, elchipironaustin.com. The Spanish restaurant has two options. A three-course meal for $49 that includes salad, strip loin and chocolate and churros; and a five-course menu for $79 that includes roasted beet salad, grilled Gulf shrimp, rabbit, strip loin and more.
Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614- 2260, contigotexas.com/austin. The ranch-inspired restaurant will serve a special menu, with guests each being served three small plates, with choices like roasted beets and charcuterie, and one large-format entree like a half chicken or mushroom risotto. Wine bottles will be half off all night. Cost is $70 per couple.
Cover 3. 2700 W. Anderson Lane. 512-374-1121; 1717 W. Sixth St. 512-982-1550; 2800 N. Interstate 35. 512-693-2393; cover-3.com. The upmarket sports bar serves a four-course dinner that includes selections such as grilled snapper Veracruz, blackened filet mignon and Patron XO chocolate cinnamon mousse. Cost is $79 per couple.
Dai Due. 2406 Manor Rd. 512-524-0688, daidue.com. Chef Jesse Griffiths’ Texas-centric restaurant serves a three-course dinner for omnivores that includes venison tartare and grilled venison and one for seafood lovers that includes Gulf oysters and grilled shrimp Caesar salad. Those two dinners cost $75 per person. There is also a three-course vegetarian menu for $65 that includes vegetable fritters with yogurt and cilantro and winter vegetable curry.
District Kitchen + Cocktails. 5900 W. Slaughter Lane. 512-351-8436, districtaustin.com. The restaurant will serve a four-course meal with options like shrimp and lobster bisque, hamachi crudo and duck breast. Cost is $75 per person.
Driskill Grill. 604 Brazos St. 512-391-7162, driskillgrill.com. One of Austin’s few fine dinng restaurants will serve a five-course ($89) and seven-course ($109) menu with options like lobster bisque, filet mignon and goat brie.
Elizabeth Street Café. 1501 S. First St. 512-291- 2881, elizabethstreetcafe.com. The French-Vietnamese bakery is selling heart-shaped macarons through February 10 for pick-up on the 13th and 14th. Cost is $15 per box.
Foreign & Domestic. 306 E. 53rd St. 512-459-1010, fndaustin.com. The neighborhood restaurant from chefs Nathan Lemley and Sarah Heard will serve a three-course menu with choices like beet salad, pork rillette tartine, NY strip and strawberry buttermilk pie. Cost is $55 and an additional $22 for wine pairings.
Garage. 503 Colorado St. 512-364-3490, garagetx.com. The hip and hidden cocktail bar launches its coup night on the 13th and 14th with a couple’s deal that includes four craft cocktails and a choice of three Italian dishes that include hand-pulled mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad, beef and pork croquettes and braised beef cheek. Cost is $60.
Geraldine’s. 605 Davis St. 512-476- 4755, geraldinesaustin.com. The restaurant at the Hotel Van Zandt will serve a set menu that includes roasted bone marrow, herbed gnocchi and braised oxtail. Cost is $75 per person.
Gibson Street Bar. 1109 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-386-1345, gibsonstreetbar.com. The South Lamar bar is serviced by Luke’s Inside Out food trailer, which will be serving a meal of angel hair pasta with prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, hand-cut beef tenderloin with lobster risotto and chocolate torte. The meal costs $70 for two people. Email firstname.lastname@example.org by February 12 to reserve meals.
Gino’s Vino Osteria. 1239 E. 51st St. 512-351-8426, ginosvino.com. The Italian restaurant near Mueller will serve a four-course meal with options such as crab cakes, lobster bisque and rack of lamb. Cost is $65 per person. The dinner will be available from February 8-14.
Goodall’s Kitchen. 1900 Rio Grande St. 512-495- 1800, goodallskitchen.com. The restaurant at the Hotel Ella will serve a five-course meal on the 13th and 14th with options that include New York strip and lemon brulée. Cost is $90 per person.
Jeffrey’s. 1204 W. Lynn St., (512) 477-5584, jeffreysofaustin.com. The classy steakhouse in Clarksville will serve a three-course dinner that includes options like lobster and fennel bisque and black truffle tortelloni, petit filet with celery root mousseline and roasted shallot oxtail red wine sauce, and white chocolate mousse with ruby red grapefruit. Cost is $100 per person.
Josephine House. 1601 Waterston Ave. 512-477- 5584, josephineofaustin.com. Jeffrey’s kid sister will serve a three-course meal that includes a lobster wedge salad, prime filet and crispy red snapper. Cost is $75 per person.
June’s All Day. 1722 S Congress Ave. 512-416-1722, junesallday.com. The all-day bistro-meets-diner will serve a meal that includes seared foie gras on croissant with sour cherry caramel, snapper carpaccio and pappardelle pasta with oyster mushroom ramp butter. Cost is $75 per person, with wine pairings available.
Juniper. 2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-220-9421, juniperaustin.com. The sleek Italian restaurant in East Austin will serve a prix fixe menu with choices like chicken saltimbocca, New York strip and tiramisu. Cost is $65 per person.
Kemuri Tatsu-Ya. 2713 E. Second S. 512-893-5561, kemuri-tatsuya.com. The izakya-smokehouse will serve a five-course prix fixe menu that includes scallop and Gulf drum ceviche, smoked tea-pickled beets and truffled porridge with smoked braised beef short rib. Cost is $85 per person.
Lavaca Street Bar. 3121 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-291-3407; 11420 Rock Rose Ave. 512-575-4428, lavacastreet.com. The South Austin and Domain Northside locations of the bar will serve hand-cut ribeyes, asparagus and baked potatoes for $20 per person.
L’Oca d’Oro. 1900 Simond Ave. 737-212-1876, locadoroaustin.com. The Italian restaurant has Mueller has a little fun with the holiday for lovers, presenting a themed musical night, with a four-course “Love” menu inspired by The Carpenters and a four-course “Hate” menu inspired by the Sex Pistols. The combined eight courses include dishes like black spaghetti carbonara (Hate), brick chicken roulade with mushroom mousseline (Love) and a strawberry-hazelnut hot fudge sundae. Vegetarian substitutions are available for both menus. Cost is $65 per person, with wine pairings an additional $40.
Native. 807 E. Fourth St. 512-551-947, nativehostels.com. The high-end hostel will serve a three-course dinner with selections such as coriander-crusted lamb chops and pan-seared prawns. Cost is $150 per couple and includes a bottle of wine.
Pitchfork Pretty. 2708 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-494-4593, pitchforkpretty.com. The refined Hill Country restaurant will serve a five-course menu that includes options like beef tartare with sambal, sweet potato rosette, beef rib and lemon box pie Cost is $85 per person.
Le Politique. 110 San Antonio St. 512-580-7651, lepolitiqueaustin.com. The French restaurant downtown will serve a three-course prix fixe menu that includes salmon tartare and Parisian gnocchi. Cost is $55 per person.
Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452- 3820, qualityseafoodmarket.com. The seafood market and restaurant will celebrate the holiday from February 9-17, serving bacon-wrapped filets and lobster tails with mashed potatoes, asparagus and dessert. The meal costs $64.95 per couple.
Searsucker. 415 Colorado St. 512-394- 8000, searsucker.com/austin. The Warehouse district restaurant will serve a four-course menu with options like tuna poke, branzino and mushroom risotto. The meal costs $75 per person.
Second Bar + Kitchen at Domain Northside. 3121 Palm Way. 737-300-4800, sbkdomain.com. The North Austin location of David Bull’s restaurant will serve a four-course prix fixe menu that includes black truffle and potato ravioli, Akaushi strip loin and seared sea scallops. Cost is $75 per person, with wine pairings for an additional $40.
Soursop.440 E. Saint Elmo Road. 512-522-7710, soursopaustin.com. Who says Valentine’s Day is just for fancy restaurants? The pan-Asian trailer in the beer garden at St. Elmo will serve a meal that includes waterfall ribeye, honey-buttered mashed potatoes, Japanese yams and more. Orders must be placed in advance, and meals cost $100 per couple. Email email@example.com for more information.
Swift’s Attic. 315 Congress Ave. 512-482- 8842, swiftsattic.com. The gastroclub on Congress Avenue will serve a seafood platter for two (market price), along with a three-course dinner that includes options like pozole verde, seared pork shoulder and red velvet cake. Cost is $60 per person.
Texas French Bread. 2900 Rio Grande St. 512-499- 0544, texasfrenchbread.com. The campus-area institution will serve a three-course meal with options like wild boar chop, confit chicken and butterscotch budino. Cost is $55 per person.
Trace at the W Hotel Austin. 200 Lavaca St. 512-542- 3660, traceaustin.com. The restaurant at the W Hotel Austin will serve a menu centered around decadence and richness. Options include oysters, caviar and honey-glazed duck breast. The meal costs $60 per person.
Walton’s Fancy & Staple. 609 W. Sixth St. 512-542-3380, waltonsfancyandstaple.com. Sandra Bullock’s brick-walled cafe will serve a four-course meal with options like roasted sweet corn soup, hanger steak and roasted salmon. Cost is $75 per person.
Wu Chow. 500 W. Fifth St. 512-476- 2469, wuchowaustin.com. The upscale Chinese restaurant will serve a three-course dinner that include dry-fried green beans, salt-and-pepper soft shell crab and cumin lamb. Cost is $50 per person, with wine pairings available for an additional $25. The restaurant’s popular soup dumplings will be available for $10.
Yuyo. 1900 Manor Road. 512-919-4147, yuyoaustin.com. The Peruvian restaurant from the El Chile Group will serve a fixed menu of sea scallop ceviche, duck leg with green rice and Peruvian chocolate ganache. Cost is $39 per person.
Z’Tejas. 1110 W. Sixth St. 512-478-5355; 9400 Arboretum Blvd. 512-346-3506, ztejas.com. The Southwestern grill locations will serve a four-course dinner that includes chicken tortilla soup, miso salmon and ancho pie. Cost is $49 per couple, and the menu will run from Valentine’s Day until the 17th.
Yesterday I told you about the best cheesesteak in Austin (along with a dozen other places to buy them), in case you wanted to get in the Super Bowl spirit by eating the trademark sandwich of Philadelphia. In the interest of equal time (and as a nod to my Patriots-loving co-worker, the tireless investigative reporter Jeremy Schwartz), I’ll tell you my favorite lobster roll in town and some other good options, in case you want to get in a New England state of mind/stomach. Yes, I could have gone with places to get clam chowder, but I prefer lobster rolls, and it’s my blog.
Heidi Garbo is a woman with the confidence to go against the grain. After moving to Texas from Florida, the New England native opened a lobster roll truck in landlocked Austin. Then she opened another. Then came a brick-and-mortar restaurant in a part of far North Austin not known for restaurants. The lobster rolls, their crimson knuckle and claw meat bursting from their toasty pouches, serve as the centerpiece for the restaurant.
You can order the roll with Maine style (mayo, celery and lemon) or Connecticut style (drawn butter). The rolls cost $13 at the trailer and $14 at the restaurant.
More solid lobster roll options in Austin:
Clark’s Oyster Bar. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297- 2525, clarksoysterbar.com. The jewel box seafood restaurant from McGuire Moorman Hospitality serves a lobster roll dressed with mayo and drawn butter for $34.
Dock and Roll. 1720 Barton Springs Road. 512-924-1766, dockandroll.com. This trailer serves five varieties of rolls with Maine-sourced lobster, from traditional mayo or butter or non-traditional options like spicy or with bacon. Cost is $19.95.
Happy Lobster Truck. Roving. happylobstertruck.com. The food truck from Chicago serves a lobster roll on a hamburger-style bun with a touch of butter and mayo. There’s also a spicy version. $17 for regular size and $10 for junior size.
Monger’s. 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-215-8972, mongersaustin.com. The market-restaurant serves a lobster roll at dinner. Sold at market price.
Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291- 7300, perlasaustin.com. The seafood restaurant with the great patio serves a lobster roll dressed with mayo and drawn butter ($34 at lunch and $35 at dinner).
Salt Traders Coastal Cooking. 2850 N. I-35. Round Rock. 512-351-9724, salttraderscc.com. The seafood restaurant from Jack Gilmore puts a spin on the tradition by adding shrimp to the lobster roll that comes with pickled celery. Cost is $19.
The Super Bowl is Sunday, and to help you get in the spirit, I’ve compiled a list of a dozen places in Austin to eat a Philadelphia cheesesteak, in honor of the underdog Eagles, who are led by Westlake High School graduate Nick Foles.
The best one in town is at the patriotically named 1776 Cheesesteak Co., a food truck located at Buzz Mill in East Austin (1505 Town Creek Drive). Amorosso rolls with a crusty edge and a soft pull squeeze the thin-sliced Angus beef buried (if you order correctly) under the glow of Whiz. The trailer, which is only open for dinner, serves a variety of the sandwiches, all named after American patriots (I like to order the John Adams and rave of its meaty glories in a Paul Giamatti accent). You can get your cheesesteak supplemented with onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. I like mine with raw and grilled onions, provolone and Whiz (an order I stole from Austin comedian, fellow American University graduate and lifelong Eagles fan Dave Buckman).
Three more solid local options are Tucci’s Southside Subs, which grills their thin-sliced sirloin with onions on the flattop; the grass-fed ribeye version at Wholly Cow Burgers, which comes on a nice, soft bun; and Way South Philly, a deli and trailer that also gets it right and original with Whiz and the Amorosso roll of Philly.