Hot dog alert: Mighty Dogs Cafe and Bistro opening March 1







Update: Mighty Dogs is still awaiting final permitting and did not open on March 1. They hope to open on March 6. I will update this space when the opening is confirmed.

According to their outgoing voice-mail message, Mighty Dogs Café and Bistro will open in Austin on March 1. The café, which has a logo promising all-beef, farm-to-table dogs, is located at 401B Orchard Ave. between Fifth and Sixth Streets and two blocks west of Lamar Boulevard. Their website lacks much info. at the moment.

Coming soon: Bribery Bakery opens March 18; get a sneak peek

Jodi Elliott


Pastry chef and restaurateur Jodi Elliott will open Bribery Bakery in Wells Branch on March 18. The former Foreign & Domestic co-owner drew raves for her baked goods and sweets during service at the North Loop restaurant and expanded on her popularity with regular weekend bake sales that drew pre-opening lines.

The bakery will serve sweet and savory breakfast items, pastries, pies, cookies, cakes, cupcakes and more, as well as coffee drinks using Casa Brasil coffee. Bribery Bakery will be located at 2014 Wells Branch Pkwy. and be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Elliott says she already has a second location in the works.

Elliott will offer a sneak peek of the bakery at a private party for 40 people. Interested baked-goods-lovers can visit the bakery’s site for a chance to sample the menu and get an early tour of the bakery.

“I wanted to do something different and offer a unique experience to celebrate the opening of Bribery. It’s a dream come true so why not share it with others,” Elliott said.



Péché team opening Isla next week in Warehouse District


Péché owner Rob Pate and his team have taken over the former Pleasant Storage Room space and will introduce Isla when the restaurant-bar opens on March 2. The restaurant will keep a tropical theme similar to that of the rum-centric Pleasant Storage Room, which closed abruptly at the end of last year.

Executive chef John Lichtenberger will oversee the menu of “island-inspired” cuisine that will nod to the tropics. Dishes will include ropa vieja with coconut rice and a Caribbean seafood pepper pot of shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and okra in a spicy broth. Trey Jenkins will head the beverage program at the bar that will serve a variety of Tiki drinks and classic rum cocktails.

The restaurant at 208 W. Fourth St. will be open daily until 2 a.m., opening at 4 p.m Monday-Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.





Austin Restaurants: Dog-friendly

Four-legged friends are welcome at many restaurants and bars around Austin.
Four-legged friends are welcome at many restaurants and bars around Austin.

Restaurant listings

I regularly provide restaurant recommendations broken down by category. This week: Places you can go enjoy a meal with your four-legged friends. Please make sure to keep your little buddy on a leash (and respectful of other patrons), and only sit in the allowed outdoor areas at the places on our list. (This is not a comprehensive list. Don’t see one of your favorites here? Send me an email at and I will add it to our online listings.)

ABGB. 1305 W. Oltorf St. 512-298-2242,

Austin Java. 1608 Barton Springs Road. 512-482-9450,

Banger’s. 79 Rainey St. 512-386-1656,

Billy’s on Burnet. 2105 Hancock St. 512-407-9305,

Black Sheep Lodge. 2108 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-707-2744,

Bouldin Creek Café. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601,

Casa de Luz. 1701 Toomey Road. 512-476-2535,

Crown and Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168,

Freddie’s Place. 1703 S. First St. 512-445-9197,

Gourdough’s Public House. 2700 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-912-9070,

Green Mesquite. 1400 Barton Springs Road. 512-479-0485,

Home Slice Pizza. 1415 S. Congress Ave. 512-444-7437,

Jo’s Coffee. 242 W. Second St. 512-469-9003; 1300 S. Congress Ave. 512-444-3800;

Kerbey Lane. 3003 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-445-4451,

Little Deli. 7101 Woodrow Ave. 512-467-7402,

Opal Divine’s Davenport. 3801 N. Capital of Texas Highway #180. 512-369-3709,

Pieous. 12005 U.S. 290 West. 512-394-7041,

Pinthouse Pizza. 4729 Burnet Road. 512-436-9605,

Red’s Porch. 3508 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-440-7337,

Snack Bar. 1224 S. Congress Ave. 512-445-2626.

P. Terry’s. 404 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-473-2217.

Tamale House East. 1707 E. 6th St. 512-495-9504.

Guide on the go

Take my 2014 Dining Guide — a list of my top 25 restaurants and 75 other places I like to eat — with you by bookmarking on your smartphone or tablet.

Coming soon: Spartan Pizza opens March 2


Spartan Pizza on East Sixth Street.
Spartan Pizza on East Sixth Street.

Spartan Pizza will open its first brick-and-mortar location on March 2 at 1007 E. Sixth St., just across the street from where Spartan has operated in a trailer since 2009.

The restaurant, owned by husband-and-wife team Jeremy and Nicole Portwood, will serve an expanded menu and focus on take-out and delivery, while providing limited dine-in seating. The menu will include sandwiches, salads, appetizers, beer and wine.

Spartan Pizza will be open daily for lunch and dinner.

Two Austin restaurants land on GQ’s 25 best new restaurants list

Alan Richman, the longtime restaurant critic for GQ magazine, named his top 25 new restaurants in the country today, and Austin’s Dai Due and St. Philip Bakeshop made the list.

Dai Due charcuterie. Photo by Ricardo Brazziell for the American-Statesman.
Dai Due charcuterie. Photo by Ricardo Brazziell for the American-Statesman.

Jesse Griffiths’ East Austin eatery is sure to land on numerous best new restaurants lists this year, and though St. Philip is technically a pizzeria in Sunset Valley, its thoughtful small plates and solid execution (and connection to the Uchi restaurants) make it a popular destination for visiting critics as well.

Aaron Franklin among Austin semifinalists for James Beard Awards

lhs Franklin BBQ 01
Aaron Franklin runs Franklin Barbecue. Photo by Laura Skelding

Olamaie, Grae Nonas, David Bull, Bryce Gilmore, Sam Hellman-Mass and Aaron Franklin are semifinalists for this year’s James Beard Awards.

Olamaie earned the nod for best new restaurant, and its chef Nonas is among the chefs recognized in the Rising Star category. Mark Buley and Sam Hellman-Mass, the chefs behind Odd Duck — the sister restaurant of Barley Swine — share a joint nomination in that category.

Barley Swine’s Gilmore is a semi-finalist for the third year in a row and has been a finalist the previous two years. Bull, executive chef and partner at fine dining restaurant Congress has also received semi-finalist and finalist nods, was nominated for “Best New Chef Southwest” in 2007. This is the first Beard nomination for Franklin, the pitmaster behind his eponymous barbecue restaurant on East 11th Street.

Austin Food & Wine Festival announces cooking demonstrations and chef showcase schedule

Chicago chef Graham Elliott will return to the festival and face off in a mystery-box challenge with TV personality Andrew Zimmern. (Credit: Austin Food & Wine Festival)
Chicago chef Graham Elliott will return to the festival and face off in a mystery-box challenge with TV personality Andrew Zimmern. (Credit: Austin Food & Wine Festival)

The Austin Food & Wine Festival released the schedule of showcasing chefs and demonstrations for the fourth annual event that takes place April 24-26.

One of the demos that grabbed my attention is one featuring “Top Chef Master” competitor Jenn Louis. The chef of Portland’s Lincoln Restaurant will teach attendees how to make a trio of tartares – salmon, beef and lamb. The festival newcomer will be joined by fellow first-timer Levon Wallace of Nashville’s Cochon Butcher, who will demonstrate home butchery tips while breaking down a heritage pork shoulder.

The list of first-time festival attendees also includes chef and six-time James Beard Award nominee Hugh Acheson, who will host a panel that Saturday morning. The chef, who oversees a demi-empire of Georgia restaurants that includes Atlanta’s Empire State South, will demonstrate how to make soup from spring vegetables.

Chef Jonathan Waxman returns to the festival and will deliver a presentation on preparing global seafood, from San Francisco-style Dungeness crab stew to Asian-inspired lobster, and Chicago chef Tony Mantuano returns to impart his pasta knowledge to attendees. He will demonstrate how to make filled pasta.

Other returning chefs include Chicago’s Graham Elliot, who will face off in a mystery-basket challenge with TV personality Andrew Zimmern; Austin’s Paul Qui, who will show how to make his vegetarian Cambodian dip ktiss; and Houston’s Chris Shepherd. The Underbelly chef and James Beard Award winner’s love for Asian cuisine will be on display when he demonstrates how to make Vietnamese-style meat chips and Korean flat iron-grilled lamb vindaloo. And if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make sushi from a master, Tyson Cole will run a demo to teach you the way.

In the wine portion of the weekend programming, charming La V wine director Vilma Mazaite will direct attendees to some of her favorite sparkling wines from around the world. Popular fest fixture Mark Oldman will guide attendees through the best wines to enjoy with hot and spicy dishes and treat fest-goers to an education in some “special occasion” wines, and local Master Sommerlier Craig Collins and chef Andrew Curren of the Elm Restaurant Group will host a demo on food-and-wine pairing.

The Saturday chef showcase will include John Bates (Noble Sandwich Co.); Shawn Cirkiel (Olive & June); Tyson Cole (St. Philip); Todd Duplechan (Lenoir and Metier Cook’s Supply); Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due); James Holmes (Olivia); Lance Kirkpatrick (Stiles Switch BBQ); Tim Love (Lonesome Dove, Austin); Sarah McIntosh (Épicerie Café & Grocery); and Carlos Ysaguirre (Jacoby’s).

And Sunday will see Ji Peng Chen and Ling Qi Wu (Wu Chow); Sonya Cote (Eden East); Andrew Curren and David Norman (Easy Tiger); Kevin Garrett (Bufalina); Josh Jones (Salt & Time); Lawrence Kocurek & Eric Earthman (Counter 3 Five VII); John Lewis (La Barbecue); Rick Lopez (La Condesa); James Robert (Fixe); and Eric Silverstein (the Peached Tortilla) display their tasty handiwork.

“Weekender” passes for the festival cost $250 and offer access to the daytime events on Saturday and Sunday. The $550 “All-In” pass offers access to the daytime events, as well as Friday’s Taste of Texas and Saturday’s Rock Your Taco evening events at Republic Square Park. The festival kicks off with an unofficial, separately ticketed Feast Under the Stars on Thursday night.

For the complete schedule of events and demonstrations, and to buy tickets, visit

Chaat Shop chef to host pop-up dinner at Congress

Chef Joshua Thomas of Chaat Shop.
Chef Joshua Thomas of Chaat Shop.

Joshua Thomas, chef and owner of the Indian food truck Chaat Shop, will serve a five-course prix fixe menu at chef David Bull’s fine-dining restaurant Congress on February 24.

The menu will include Vada Pav (toasted brioche roll, crunchy potato fritter, peanut-coconut chutney, herb salad, and tamarind sauce); spiced beef and lamb puffs; and coconut shrimp curry. The dinner costs $65 ($95 with wine pairings). Reservations can be made here or by calling 512-827-2760.

The change of venue offers Thomas the chance to return to the fine-dining stage. The graduate of the Culinary Institute of America has previously worked at La Bernardin in New York City and served as sous chef at Devi, the first Indian restaurant in the U.S. to earn a Michelin star. He opened Chaat Shop in 2013.

​”​It’s a great honor to showcase the chaat concept on the big stage at Congress​, trading in paper boats for fine china,” Thomas said. “I have to say that it​’​s ​a ​really humbling opportunity to be able to offer ​guests ​this style of Indian food at a legendary restaurant like Congress. I’m very grateful to their team.​”



In honor of Pancake Day: 13 places to get pancakes in Austin

Buttermilk pancakes from Sawyer & Co. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Buttermilk pancakes from Sawyer & Co. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known in some parts of the world as Pancake Day. To celebrate, I rounded up places where you can get pancakes in Austin. Maybe not today, but you can get ’em.

Counter Café. 626 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-708-8800; 1914 E. Sixth St. 512-351-9961. One hotcake for $3.50 or two for $6.50. Add some blueberries for a little extra.

Enoteca. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, Vespaio’s cute little sister serves semolina-buttermilk pancakes at its Sunday brunch.

Hoover’s Cooking. 2002 Manor Road. 512-479-5006, Banana-nut, buttermilk, blueberry … on Saturdays and Sundays, Hoover’s has your pancake needs covered from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4206 Duval St. 512-458-3168, The original Hyde Park location serves a platter with three buttermilk pancakes (you can add strawberries, bananas, pecans, walnuts, blueberries or chocolate chips), two eggs, and bacon from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

Kerbey Lane Cafe. Multiple locations. An Austin original that has been interested in conscientious sourcing since before it was popular. Pancake variations include buttermilk, gingerbread, apple whole wheat, blueberry and rotating specials. You can also get a gluten-free version.

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Congress Ave. 512-445-0000; 2304 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-478-8645, Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes taste good any time of day. Variations include gingerbread, buttermilk, whole wheat, and cornmeal.

Olivia. 2043 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-804-2700, James Holmes farm-to-table restaurant serves pancakes with berries, whipped cream, and vanilla or cinnamon syrup during Saturday and Sunday brunch that starts at 10 a.m.

Omelettry.  4811 Burnet Rd. 512-453-5062, This cash-only Rosedale favorite serves buttermilk, whole wheat and gingerbread pancakes, to which you can add bananas, blueberries, pecans, raisins or chocolate chips. They’re still slinging pancakes where they have been for 37 years on Burnet Road, but they’ll be moving to Airport Boulevard later this year.

Sawyer & Co. 4827 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-531-9033, The New Orleans-inspired diner in East Austin serves buttermilk pancakes all day.

Texas French Bread. 2900 Rio Grande St. 512-499-0544, Banana-walnut pancakes for $10 from this bakery-by-day and bistro-by-night.

Trace at the W Hotel Austin. 200 Lavaca St. 512-542-3660, The sophisticated and airy restaurant at the W serves a plate of buttermilk pancakes with seasonal fruit jam, walnuts, and maple syrup.

Trio at the Four Seasons. 98 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-685-8300, The restaurant in the lakeside hotel serves, fittingly, a trio of pancakes: banana-blueberry, gingerbread, and oatmeal-pecan.

Zocalo. 1110 W. Lynn St. 512-472-8226, TheGalaxy Café owners put a fresh spin on Tex-Mex and also serve a weekend brunch starting at 10 a.m. that includes three buttermilk pancakes served with fruit and the choice of bacon, sausage or grilled potatoes.

Am I missing one of your favorites? Tell me in the comments.