El Chipirón rolling out more substantial pinchos menu

Building on the success of its two-day Festival de Pinchos event last month, Spanish restaurant El Chipirón has decided to offer a wider variety of the small plates on a regular basis (a reality I hoped for in my review last year).

Beginning Friday, chef Pablo Gomez’s South Lamar restaurant will serve a menu of pinchos Wednesday-Saturday nights that includes deconstructed Spanish tortilla de patata with egg and potato-mushroom foam, onion and serrano ham crisp ($8); sweet-and-spicy gazpacho made with hot strawberry gazpacho and piparras ($4); mojamita de atún ahumado made with cold, smoked tuna with sherry reduction ($9); salpicón de marisco featuring shrimp, mussels, seasonal vegetables and sherry-lime vinaigrette ($7); carne a la piedra, short-cured grass-fed beef served on a hot stone with herbs ($9); melón con jamón ($5); mussels with Albariño and garlic ($14); and much more.

In addition to the pinchos format, which inspires sharing and group dining, the restaurant will also serve porrones full of whole bottles of Spanish wine for $30 and their menu of creative gin and tonic cocktails, which should also liven the mood.

“Diners went crazy for the bar counter presentation of pinchos, the variety of pinchos on their table, and trying to drink from the wine porrones,” said Gomez of their April test run. “I say ‘trying’ as it is even difficult for me. Everyone was having fun, making friends and it felt reminiscent of the pincho bars in Spain.”

El Chipirón will feature its expanded pinchos menu Wednesday-Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., with Tuesdays still reserved as paella night.


Exclusive: Home Slice Pizza on North Loop sets grand opening date

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Central Austin’s long wait for some of the best New York-style pizza in Texas is almost over.

The new Home Slice Pizza at 501 E. 53rd St. (Credit: Julia Keim)

Home Slice Pizza announced this morning that it would officially open its 501 E. 53rd St. location to the public on May 30. As previously reported, in addition to the menu items at the original location, the new Home Slice will serve square Sicilian-style pizza every night, along with Buffalo wings (co-founder Jen Strickland is a Western New York native) and a full bar. There is also ample parking, as anyone who has passed by the location has seen. Home Slice will offer dine-in and take-out service (512-707-7437) and be open Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

While the restaurant won’t officially open until the end of May, the restaurant today started soft-open service, meaning the restaurant is open with limited seating and limited take-out as they perfect service in their new kitchen.


(Credit: Julia Keim)

Hugh Acheson, Alon Shaya and other celebrity chefs to participate in Austin dinner series

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance will raise money for its grant program this year with an impressive series of dinners featuring some of Austin’s top chefs and celebrity chefs from around the country.

The chefs will appear in conversation before preparing multi-course dinners in collaboration with local chefs at various Austin restaurants, and the meal prices will included autographed books from the chefs.

Chef Hugh Acheson

The series kicks off June 28 with Matt Jennings of Boston’s The Townsman at Olamaie in collaboration with chef Michael Fojtasek. Tickets are $225 and can be purchased online.

Other dates include Georgia chef and television celebrity Hugh Acheson cooking with chef Kevin Fink at Emmer & Rye on July 30 ($250); acclaimed New Orleans chef Alon Shaya cooking at Emmer & Rye on Sept. 10 ($250); and famed Italian chef Lidia Bastianich cooking at Italian restaurant L’Oca d’Oro with chef Fiore Tedesco on Nov. 8 ($350).   

Proceeds from the meals benefit the grant program of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance and can be purchased online now at austinfoodwinealliance.org.


James Beard nominee cooks steaks with Dan Dyer at Cosmic tonight

In a truly modern Austin mash-up of music and food, Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden is hosting a series of grill-outs with a visiting chef and soulful singer-songwriter Dan Dyer. Appropriately titled “Steak Out! With Dan Dyer,” the dinner series features the chef and musician working the grill, with dinner service from 6 to 8 p.m. and live music following at 9 p.m. Tonight’s dinner features 2018 James Beard Best Chef: Southwest nominee Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio, a Wisconsin native and charcuterie specialist who likely knows his way around a cow.

The name of Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden is a nod to the “cosmic cowboy” of the 1970s that redefined country and put Austin on the map as a live music hotbed. Cosmic’s co-owner previously owned Momo’s, a live music venue that ran for 10 years.

Tickets at the door cost $35 for the meal and the music. The series concludes next week (May 22) with Olamaie chef Michael Fojtasek.

“This kind of creative collaboration with our musician and chef friends is exactly what we had in mind when we  first conceived of Cosmic and the space it could fill in Austin’s food and culture scene,” said Paul Oveisi, Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden co-owner and operator. “We’re really excited to host our first food series with such an exciting group of chefs.”

Exclusive: One of Austin’s top sushi chefs leaving for Chicago

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One of Austin’s great culinary characters, a sushi obsessive with a relentless curiosity, is leaving town.

Kyoten Sushiko chef-owner Otto Phan, who started his business as an East Austin trailer before opening a quick-service lunch spot and austere omakase, has decided to move to Chicago to further pursue his lofty food goals. He has operated Kyoten, which ranked in the Top 15 in the city in both of the last two Austin360 Dining Guides, since July 2016.

“The goal has always been to be the best sushi chef in the world, and I know the pathway is a lot shorter if I move on,” Phan said. “It was going to take LeBron James a long time if he stayed in Cleveland to get that first championship”

Otto Phan prepares Tasmanian ocean trout nigiri at Kyoten Sushiko. Jay Janner/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Phan, who briefly worked for sushi master Masa Takayama in New York, said that in order to ascend to his desired heights in the food world, he needed to be in a “Michelin-starred marketplace,” a city where the restaurants are ranked by the vaunted Michelin Guide. The Houston native and University of Texas graduate has found a location in Chicago’s Logan Square, a seven-seat omakase located in a mixed-use development on the edge of the city’s excitement, not unlike his Mueller restaurant in Austin.

Kyoten’s seared madai. Matthew Odam/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Phan will prepare his final dinner service — his meals are approximately 22 courses for $150 — at the end of July. Before he leaves, he will train his replacement, and Kyoten will remain in business under the same name. While he is not ready to announce the name of his replacement, Phan says it will be a young, hungry chef and not an established, well-known name.

“It won’t be exactly the same without me. He has some shoes to fill, but I think he will be able to do it,” Phan said.

While he said the move from the town he has called home off and on for 14 years is bittersweet, Phan, whose work is fueled by a love of ingredients and experimentation with vinegar flavor profiles, said the move is the next logical step in his career.  

“The stage needs to be bigger, and the risk needs to be higher,” Phan said. “I’ll be better in Chicago.”

And Austin will be a little less great without him.


From the 2017 Austin360 Dining Guide:

This is my favorite sushi in Austin. But let’s address the elephant in the room: This is a surreal dining experience. You’re in a space smaller than a millionaire’s walk-in closet. And, with only eight seats available at the sushi counter, there’s a chance you and your date may be the only two people in the restaurant for the omakase experience. OK, even calling it a restaurant feels a little strange. But this is the bizarre and beautiful world chef Otto Phan has carved out for himself in the Mueller development.

Kyōten doesn’t offer the gorgeous design, sense of atmosphere, mannered service or wine list that Austin’s other top sushi restaurants have (though the sake pairings are very good), but what it does have is a chef driven by a joyful curiosity who creates exceptional sushi. The (possibly awkward) intimacy of the silent space affords you the chance to inquire about sourcing, technique and process from Phan as he hands you a buttery piece of sockeye salmon from Alaska, a bulbous piece of Oregon albacore kissed by sesame oil, Japanese pike mackerel bold enough to stand up to aged vinegar, and madai marinated in a vegetarian Japanese fish sauce that has none of the funky smell but all of the flavor of the traditional Southeast Asian variety.

There are not many dimensions to this unique dining experience, but the one it has can transfix you if you share the chef’s curiosity and give yourself over to it. And, if omakase isn’t your thing, there’s no better sushi served at lunch anywhere in town.

Sour Duck Market from Odd Duck team softly opens in East Austin

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The all-day market Sour Duck Market opened with limited hours this week at 1814 E. MLK Blvd., as the cafe, bakery and bar from the team behind Odd Duck finds its footing.


A multi-chambered space with indoor and outdoor seating areas and counter service for dine-in and carry-out customers, Sour Duck starts the day with baked goods, breakfast sandwiches (like a goat chorizo with egg pimento and tomato relish), grain bowls and a sourdough pancake.

Credit: Richard Casteel

Lunch and evening service, which begins at 11:30 a.m. currently, includes a pork sandwich, burger made with beer cheese and burnt ends, chicken salad sandwich and smoked shrimp bagel sandwich, with prices ranging from $10 to $12. There are also more than a half-dozen vegetable and salad offerings, from summer squash in dewberry vinaigrette to fried and smoked mushrooms with pickled onions. During soft-open service, Sour Duck is offering 25 percent off all bills. Sour Duck, as with its sister restaurants Odd Duck and Barley Swine, sources its menus from area farms and ranches.

Credit: Richard Casteel

The beverage program, a big part of the concept, includes a menu of five draft cocktails (cucumber Moscow mule, paloma, etc.) and five wines on tap, in addition to beers.

Sour Duck is open today from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is closed Monday, and one assumes the official opening will come sometime soon thereafter. Keep an eye on Sour Duck’s Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.


Opening date postponed for East Austin restaurant Rosewood

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Update: Rosewood’s opening has been delayed indefinitely due to an accident in the kitchen. A statement from reps for the restaurant below:

The Austin Fire Department responded to an alarm at Rosewood at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday caused by an issue with the heat barrier between the open wood fire grill and the back kitchen.  When the grill was turned off and cooled with water, the resulting smoke set off the alarms.  Everyone was evacuated from the building and no one was injured.  Thanks to the city’s ace Fire Department, the issue was identified immediately and there was minimal damage to the restaurant.  The restaurant’s opening will be delayed in order to make the necessary modifications to the heat barrier, and we will announce the new opening date soon.


East Austin will be getting a taste of South Texas and the coast beginning next week. Helmed by executive chef Jesse DeLeon, Rosewood will open for dinner service at 1209 Rosewood Ave. on Tuesday (May 15).

The restaurant, which was born of DeLeon’s Victoria Provisions pop-up with partners Chas Spence and Clark Evans, will serve a menu of reinterpreted regional dishes such as poached shrimp with black garlic salsa and quinoa, blue crab with guacamole, suckling pig porchetta, whey-braised lamb and more.

Panzanella salad at Rosewood.

DeLeon, who recently served as chef de cuisine at Geraldine’s and has worked at cornerstone Austin restaurants Zoot and Vespaio, will source from Gulf fishermen and Hill Country farmers and ranchers and intends to butcher in house.

General manager and sommelier Jeb Russell will oversee a bottle list, with prices ranging from $26 to $90, that focuses on family-owned wineries like Texas labels McPherson Cellars, William Chris Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, and Rosewood will offer 16 wines by the glass. The beer menu will also celebrate Texas brands, like Austin Beerworks, Big Bend Brewing Co., Blue Owl Brewing, Jester King and more, and the restaurant will also offer a full bar with specialty cocktail menu.

Rosewood was build in a late 19th-century Victorian-style home. (Credit: Chase Daniel)

The restaurant in the Victorian building that sits at the hillrise intersection of Rosewood Avenue and East 11th Street was designed by Austin architect Mark Odom (no relation), and the 19th century building features a multitude of seating areas, from a wrap-around porch to a chef’s counter, bar area and dining room.

Rosewood will initially be open 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with brunch and lunch service to be added this summer.


Peached Tortilla and JuiceLand now open at Austin airport; East Side Pies coming next year

Your time at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport just got a little tastier (and healthier). Asian-Southern fusion restaurant Peached Tortilla and JuiceLand officially open today at Gate 7 at the airport. Peached Tortilla will serve the fusion tacos, bowls and burger that has made their brick-and-mortar and truck locations such a hit, and JuiceLand will bring organic juice, smoothies and vegan grab-and-go food to travelers. No official hours for the businesses have been announced, but with Peached Tortilla getting into the breakfast taco game for the first time and JuiceLand known for their juices and smoothies, expect morning to evening hours.

JuiceLand at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Contributed)

“I have always had the dream of putting Peached Tortilla into the airport. It’s been a goal of mine since before I even moved to Austin. To me, your brand has arrived when you open at the airport,” Peached Tortilla owner Eric Silverstein said. “We are tied to other tremendous local brands like JuiceLand, Tacodeli, East Side Pies and Amy’s. A manager referred to the new area of the airport we are in as Austin 2.0. In many ways it is. When you land at the airport you now get a sense for what Austin is all about: unique food concepts with an attention towards taste and an overall experience.”

The two locally owned businesses join fellow Austin businesses Annie’s Cafe & Bar, Maudie’s Tex-Mex, Second Bar + Kitchen and others. Additionally, East Side Pies announced yesterday on Facebook that they would be joining the local food options at the airport, with plans to open in the terminal early next year.

Where to eat at ABIA

Gate 5

Fig + Plum: Tacos and cocktails

Saxon Pub: A whiff of that old South Austin vibe along with burgers and beer.

Between Gate 6 and 7

Plane Box Food Co.: Grab-and-go sandwiches.

Second Bar + Kitchen: One of Austin’s leaders in upmarket New American. And a craft cocktail before a flight is never a bad idea.

Gate 7

Auntie Anne’s: Carb delights.

JuiceLand: Organic juice, fresh smoothies and grab-and-go vegan food from an Austin original.

Peached Tortilla: Asian and Southern flavors blend in bowls, tacos and more.

Gate 8

Hippies & Hops: A bar featuring Live Oak beers, as well as some national brands and wine by the glass.

Gate 10

Ray Benson’s Roadhouse: Load up with burgers, hot dogs and a pulled pork sandwich at this comfort spot that features live music.

Austin Java & JuiceLand: Coffee to-go and a refrigerated case of cold-pressed juices from Austin’s number one name in juice.

Salt Lick Taco Bar: Brisket tacos. That’s pretty Austin.

Gate 12

Amy’s Ice Creams: Fill your orbs of ice cream with a variety of crush-ins.

The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que: Get covered in sticky barbecue sauce from the Hill Country legend.

Maudie’s Tex-Mex: Nachos before take-off? Or, even better, nachos during take-off?

Schlotzsky’s Deli & Cinnabon:  Lunch meats and sweet cinnamon rolls? A match made in airport heaven.

Gate 13

Vino Volo: Pinkies out and glasses up at this wine bar.

Gate 15

Austin Java Coffee: Nobody wants to fall asleep on the person next to them on the plane.

Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar: Sports bars and sausage wraps courtesy of The Tyler Rose.

Gate 18

Annie’s Café & Bar: Probably your healthiest bet at the airport, from salads to sandwiches and a variety of prepared foods.

Gate 19

Ruta Maya Café: Organic coffee and pastries from an Austin original

ThunderCloud Subs: Get the Office Favorite (egg salad with bacon) at this Austin institution.

Gate 20

Ivini’s Italian: Pizza, pasta and wine. Like an Italian sidewalk café but in the airport.

Pizza specialists 40 North opens today on Lamar Boulevard

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Clint Elmore made our list of the best pizza places in Austin in 2015, but his 40 North trailer closed shortly thereafter. Elmore joined the team that operated the short-lived PS35 in Round Rock and now returns to the Austin scene with a brick-and-mortar version of the trailer that made him popular.

Credit: Nicolai McCrary

40 North, which opens today at 11 a.m., is located at 900 W. 10th St. in the old Bacon space and focuses on wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, with a menu that includes the Hot Honey (tomato sauce, ricotta, coppa, parmesan, fresno, charred scallion, Mike’s Hot Honey), The Barbe (tomato sauce, fennel sausage, coppa, red onion, chili, parmesan, basil), The Queen (tomato sauce, mozzarella, pecorino, basil) and others.

In addition to his excellent Neapolitan pizzas, Elmore’s 40 North also serves a porchetta sandwich, hamburger, vegetable-driven small plates, salads and more, with Elmore focusing on sustainability and quality by sourcing locally.

“The overall vibe and menu will feel very familiar to fans of the trailer, but I’m excited to branch out and expand the menu a bit. We’re laid back, welcoming, a little rough around the edges. It’s a neighborhood pizza joint – a place you want to frequent multiple times a week… meet up with friends and linger over a bottle or three of wine,” Elmore said.

40 North is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.


2.12.2015: The best pizza in Austin

Texas French Bread heightens its ambitions with new executive chef Max Mackinnon

Texas French Bread has elevated its ambitions. The Austin staple owned by Murph Willcott has offered regular dinner service for about seven years, but with the hiring of new executive chef Max Mackinnon, the restaurant that opened its original location in 1981 under the stewardship of Willcott’s parents, Judy and Paul, has signaled that it has grown more intent on becoming a serious player in Austin’s dining scene.

Chilled carrot and avocado salad with spiced carrot puree, cilantro and pecan from Texas French Bread. (Contributed by Ilana Panich-Linsman)

“In so many ways, Texas French Bread feels like a natural fit, and my general feeling as the incoming chef is that the food should not feel like a tremendous departure from the fresh, seasonal menu that Texas French Bread has offered in recent years,” Mackinnon said. “Rather, my focus will be on developing the culinary team and making sure that up and down the line, we have the skills to execute core bistro techniques that can elevate a very simple dish into something truly and consistently special.”

Mackinnon’s seasonal and ingredient-driven menu currently includes dishes like chicken country pâté, chilled carrot and avocado salad with spiced carrot purée, tagliatelle with Gulf shrimp and pompano with charred cabbage, a dish reminiscent of that which Mackinnon cooked for Willcott during a dress rehearsal dinner for the role.

“I like simple, humble, restrained but really well-executed food, and I feel like I speak the same language as those guys,” said Willcott, who points to Montreal bistro L’Express as the template for the consistency of quality he’d like his restaurant to emulate under Mackinnon.

The chef joins Texas French Bread following a quick stint back home in Vermont, where he first came to national attention as the executive chef of Pistou, a restaurant that earned him a James Beard semifinalist nod for Best New Restaurant in America directly out of culinary school at the former French Culinary Institute in New York.

Judy Willcott opened the campus-area location of Texas French Bread in 1987. (Contributed by Ilana Panich-Linsman)

After leaving his home state, Mackinnon worked at esteemed restaurants in Copenhagen and Washington before helping San Francisco restaurant Mason Pacific earn Bib Gourmand honors from the Michelin Guide.

Mackinnon is joined at the restaurant by his wife, a longtime Texas French Bread regular and former wine rep, Carenn Jackson, who will serve as the restaurant’s general manager and beverage director.