Z’Tejas releases statement on its bankruptcy filing

Tejas Trio appetizer at Z'Tejas.
Tejas Trio appetizer at Z’Tejas.

As Statesman business writer Gary Dinges reported last week, Z’Tejas Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 22. The company operates Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill locations in Arizona and Texas, as well as the restaurant Taco Guild in Phoenix. Z’Tejas Inc. president and CEO Steve Micheletti today addressed lingering questions surrounding the bankruptcy.

“I would like to personally reassure our valued guests that Z’Tejas and Taco Guild will continue to provide great food and service. It will be business as usual throughout the bankruptcy proceedings – our guests will continue to receive the same quality food, beverages and excellent service they’re accustomed to, and your gift cards will be honored.

Z’Tejas filed for bankruptcy to restructure its long-term debt and other financial obligations. It was an extremely difficult decision, but it was the best way to preserve our brand so that we can continue to serve great food and beverages. A successful restructuring also will allow us to preserve the jobs of our team members, maintain our vendor relationships and maximize value for our stakeholders.

The Z’Tejas and Taco Guild brands are not going anywhere, and they will be in a better financial position after a successful restructuring. We are excited for the future and have confidence that new ownership will continue to satisfy our guests, whose support we greatly appreciate now and over the last 25 years.”

Despite the reference of  “new ownership,” Z’Tejas, Inc. has not been sold as yet.

Rush Limbaugh claims Austin liberals have declared war on barbecue

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh prepares for daily radio show in his New York studio on Monday, November 17, 2003. (Associated Press)
Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh prepares for daily radio show in his New York studio on Monday, November 17, 2003. (Associated Press)

I saw a recent comment on a Statesman article or blog suggesting the city was going to kill the barbecue industry. I figured the commenter was referring to the recent discussions about limiting smoke output, but wasn’t sure how they made that logical jump.

The answer may be talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. As Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly pointed out in detail on his site, Limbaugh recently took to the airwaves decrying liberal Austin.

The provocateur seems to think liberals in Austin have declared war on barbecue, judging by the title of his recent rant entitled (his words), “The Left Declares War on BBQ.”

Limbaugh bases his entire opinion on a specious article written on a website called IAmTexan.com (a website Vaughn claims has plagiarized him on multiple occasions), which stated that “if the Austin City Council gets their way, food tourism may soon be a thing of the past.”

Limbaugh’s monologue takes on the “global warming crowd” and conflates abortion with barbecue. He also says the attack on small business owners is “incremental, so-slow-you-barely-notice-it loss of liberty and freedom that’s happening right before everybody’s eyes.”

The talk show host’s ultimate solution for homeowners dealing with smoke infiltration is that they create an “air pressure differential,” as he did in his house to deal with his cigar smoking.

I wonder what Limbaugh would say about the residents suing Terry Black’s Barbecue.

So, where does the issue of barbecue restaurants and their smoke currently stand. As the Statesman’s James Barragan reported this week:

“In May, City Council Member Sabino Renteria tried to propose a city solution to smoke emissions from restaurants. The council’s economic opportunity commission shot down an ordinance and its health and human services committee is still kicking around the issue.”

For more barbecue, visit Austin360.com/barbecue for my 2014 list of best barbecue places in Austin.



Neighbors suing Terry Black’s Barbecue

South Austin residents in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood have filed suit against Terry Black's Barbecue. (Credit: RALPH BARRERA AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
South Austin residents in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood have filed suit against Terry Black’s Barbecue. (Credit: RALPH BARRERA AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

After more than a year of discussions they hoped would remedy the problem, a group of Bouldin Creek neighbors are suing Terry Black’s Barbecue on Barton Springs Road, according to the Statesman’s James Barragan. The suit claims the smoke has created a nuisance for the neighbors and lowered their property value. Go to MyStatesman.com for the full story.


Austin restaurants: Where I’d eat my final meal in Austin

The hama chili at Uchi (baby yellow tail, ponzu and Thai chili) would haunt my dreams if I ever left Austin for good. (Credit: Erica Wilkins)
The hama chili at Uchi (baby yellow tail, ponzu and Thai chili) would haunt my dreams if I ever left Austin for good. (Credit: Erica Wilkins)

Reader Jamil Bata asked which restaurant would be my last stop before moving away from Austin. Good question. Tough question. It brings up others: Do you eat somewhere you can only eat in Austin? Do you eat a cuisine you can’t find other places? Do you eat somewhere with a high nostalgia quotient? So many factors come into play, like the destination of your move away from Austin.

Since I have the space, I decided to give Bata (and you) the long version of my answer.

Where would you eat your final meal in Austin? Let me know in the comments.

» Interactive map: Final meal in Austin

Take my 2014 Dining Guide — a list of my top 25 restaurants and 75 other places I like to eat — with you by bookmarking austin360.com/diningguide on your smartphone or tablet.

Austin Land & Cattle. 1205 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-472-1813, alcsteaks.com. No pretense, just good steaks, a fun mood and a bar that serves strong drinks and excellent happy hour specials, such as a filling steak sandwich.

Barley Swine. 2024 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-394-8150, barleyswine.com. Chef Bryce Gilmore and his team create beautiful and delicious dishes sourced locally. You won’t find dishes with these same ingredients once you leave town.

Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, bouldincreek.com. This fun and funky café delivers solid vegetarian and vegan dishes, along with a true taste of Austin.

Bufalina. 1519 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-2523, bufalinapizza.com. Pizza may be my favorite food, and if I’m leaving Austin, I want to have some of the best the city has to offer.

Casino El Camino. 517 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9330, casinoelcamino.net. Navigating the gruff staff, dark ambiance, and coarse-grind burgers at this Sixth Street bar is a rite of passage. I’d have to dip back in for one more burger smothered in cheese and peppers. And a whiskey.

Congress. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2760, congressaustin.com/congress. Saying goodbye to Austin would be bittersweet with dinner at chef David Bull’s restaurant, which features some of the finest service in the city.

Crown & Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, crownandanchorpub.com. One last double cheeseburger with bacon and a cold beer on the patio of this 28-year-old campus-area jewel would make me a happy man.

Dai Due. 2406 Manor Road. 512-524-0688, daidue.com. Love what these locavores do at every level of the game. It’s hard to think of a more quintessential Austin restaurant at the moment.

Franklin Barbecue. 900 E. 11th St. 512-653-1187, franklinbarbecue.com. Wherever I’m going, they don’t have barbecue like this.

Home Slice Pizza. 1415 S. Congress Ave. 512-444-7437, homeslicepizza.com. A healthy dose of nostalgia and some excellent New York-style pizzas would be a great way to say goodbye. And I could walk to the Continental Club or C-Boy’s afterward.

Jeffrey’s. 1204 W. Lynn St. 512-477-5584, jeffreysofaustin.com. A stroll down memory lane comes with some of the best steaks and one of the best bars in the city.

John Mueller Meat Co. 2500 E. Sixth St. johnmuellermeatco.com. You ain’t gonna find brisket or a character with this kind of bark anywhere outside of Central Texas.

Kyōten. 1211 E. Sixth St. kyotenaustin.com. Where are you moving where you can get exceptional sushi from a food truck? Thought so.

Lenoir. 1807 S. First St. 512-215-9778, lenoirrestaurant.com. Chef Todd Duplechan will make you regret leaving town, as he takes local ingredients to replicate flavors of hot climates (Africa, Spain, Southeast Asia) from around the world.

Licha’s Cantina. 1306 E. Sixth St. 512-480-5960, lichascantina. You’re moving somewhere you can find Mexican street food like huaraches and tacos in a cute old shack that has ample outdoor seating? Didn’t think so.

Little Deli. 7101 Woodrow Ave. 512-467-7402, littledeliandpizza.com. The mid-century shopping center and New Jersey-style pizzas take me back in time every single time.

Luke’s Inside Out. 1109 S. Lamar Blvd. lukesinsideout.com. It’s not just the food I’d miss about Austin; it’s the people. A juicy burger and some juicy Old Austin stories from chef Luke Bibby would make for a fitting send-off.

El Naranjo. 85 Rainey St. 512-474-2776, elnaranjo-restaurant.com. Only a few cities around the country have restaurants that serve refined interior Mexican food like that prepared by Iliana de la Vega.

Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, oddduckaustin.com. Eating here one last time would be like a final visit to your grandmother’s house, if she were a James Beard-nominated chef.

Olamaie. 1610 San Antonio St. 512-474-2796, olamaieaustin.com. No matter where you’re headed, you probably won’t find fresh, inventive and refined Southern cuisine like this.

Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291-7300, perlasaustin.com. I’ve probably spent more time on this patio than any other in Austin.

Polvos. 2004 S. First St. 512-441-5446, polvosaustin.com. The service can be a bit uneven, and the fajitas a little greasy, but it feels like home for this South Austinite. And that salsa bar …

P. Terry’s. Multiple locations. pterrys.com. I’ve had more burgers from the drive-thru on South Lamar Boulevard than any burger joint in Austin.

Qui. 1600 E. Sixth St. 512-436-9626, quiaustin.com. Other cities have award-winning chefs and great service, but this place feels uniquely Austin.

Salt & Time. 1912 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1383, saltandtime.com. You gotta say goodbye to the folks at your local butcher shop, especially when they make great sandwiches and charcuterie.

Tam Deli. 8222 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-834-6458, facebook.com/tamdeliandcafe. Some of my favorite people making my favorite Vietnamese food in town.

Top Notch Hamburgers. 7525 Burnet Road. 512-452-2181, topnotchaustin.com. Kill two birds with one stone: Visit a piece of Austin history and get a great chargrilled burger (or fried chicken).

Uchi. 801 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-916-4808, uchiaustin.com. Some of my favorite sushi in the country, a great vibe, and they’ve been neighbors for a decade. Hard to imagine this not being my final stop in Austin.

Veracruz All-Natural. Multiple locations. veracruztacos.com. If you’re moving somewhere that has better tacos than the migas at these trailers, more power to you.

Vespaio. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-6100, austinvespaio.com. Get the corner table and feel like a made man as you dine one final time on the best lasagna in town.

Via 313. Multiple locations. via313.com. Unless you’re moving to Detroit, you’ll have trouble finding better slices of thick, fluffy, cheesy pizza.

Wink. 1014 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-482-8868, winkrestaurant.com. The hospitable farm-to-table trailblazers in Austin have hosted me for several memorable meals over the years — why not one more?

Fox News names two Austinites to list of most influential pitmasters and BBQ personalities in the country

John Mueller was named one of the most influential pitmasters in American by Fox News.
John Mueller was named one of the most influential pitmasters in American by Fox News.

FoxNews.com celebrates the alchemy and craft of barbecue with a list of about a dozen folks who have helped elevate barbecue to its vaunted place in the American culinary landscape. Two Austinites made the list, as well as several other Texans (both living and dead). At the top of the list is Aaron Franklin, the only pitmaster to win a Best Chef award from the James Beard Foundation.

Further down the list at #9 is Taylor native John Mueller of John Mueller Meat Co. in East Austin and a former employer of Franklin. Mueller is joined on the list by his brother, Wayne of Louie Mueller Barbecue (where John got his start working) and his father, Bobby, and grandfather, Louie, who come in collectively at #4.

Others Texans include Frederick Fountaine (#5), the late pitmaster at Louie Mueller in Taylor, though the Fox News list seems to imply he is still living; Tootsie Tomanetz (#10) of Snow’s BBQ in Lexington; and Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn (#11).

Head over to Fox News for the full list and explanations.

For my 2013 list of best barbecue in Austin, head to austin360.com/barbecue.

For my 2012 profile of John Mueller, click here.


Would you like some half-price cheesecake?

In honor of Thursday’s National Cheesecake Day, noted bastion of decadent desserts The Cheesecake Factory is offering half-price slices of its cheesecakes today and tomorrow, according to a news release. How many times can we write “cheesecake” in one sentence?


Salted Caramel Cheesecake (Photo courtesy The Cheesecake Factory)

Any guest who dines in at the restaurant is eligible for a budget-friendly slice, including the restaurant chain’s newest flavor, Salted Caramel Cheesecake. Austin’s sole Cheesecake Factory is located in the Arboretum at 10000 Research Boulevard, next to Barnes & Noble. The restaurant is open until 11 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Thursday.

Now open: Garducci’s Pizza Pie in South Austin, Il Forte downtown

Pizza from Garducci's via Facebook.com/garduccispizzapie
Pizza from Garducci’s via Facebook.com/garduccispizzapie

Garducci’s New York Style Pizza Pie opened at 730 W. Stassney Ln. (near South First Street) in South Austin. The restaurant serves a variety of New York-style pies with more than two dozen topping options, as well as a couple of salads and a meatball hoagie. Check out the menu here.

Garducici’s is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. And, according to their Facebook page, they offer deliver in the 78745 zip code. (garduccispizzapie.com)

Il Forte opened at 800 Brazo St. in downtown. The restaurant, which uses its Facebook page to boast its Tuscan roots, serves handmade pastas, like ravioli and lasagna, pizzas, Italian wines, and more. Il Forte is open Monday-Friday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday-Saturday for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Facebook.com/ilforteatx)


Westin Austin Downtown’s Stella San Jac names executive chef


Stella San Jac, at the recently opened Westin Austin Downtown (301 E. Fifth St.), has named Michael Cerrie executive chef. The Pennsylvania native and 25-year culinary veteran has overseen the development of an “eclectic Southern menu that embodies the music, flavors and culture that define Austin,” according to a release.

Menu items include beet blueberry sweet bread French toast, Gulf shrimp and lump crab roll, braised short ribs with sweet potato mash, and, of course, biscuits.

Stella San Jac is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information about Stella San Jac visit StellaSanJac.com.


Now open: Boise Fry Company on Burnet Road and Alamarah Mediterranean on RM 620

Photo via Facebook.com/bfcatx
Photo via Facebook.com/bfcatx

Idaho spud obsessives Boise Fry Company opened their first Austin location at 11005 Burnet Rd. near Kramer Lane. The restaurant serves eight varieties of fries (including russet, yam, purple, and Brussels sprouts) delivered in one of seven different cuts (regular, curly, waffle, etc.), as well as veggie, bison, and beef burgers. The fries come with the choice of several homemade seasonings, spritzers, and dipping sauces. Boise Fry Company is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. (boisefrycompany.com)

Almarah Mediterranean Cuisine opened at 12129 RM 620 (at Lake Creek Parkway). Almarah serves shawarma and kabobs, appetizers like hummus, falafel, and baba ghanouj, as well as more than 20 specialty pizzas and a variety of chicken wings. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.