Ruby’s BBQ near the University of Texas is closing after almost 30 years

Ruby’s BBQ, an Austin dining institution, will close near the end of February, according to an employee there. The restaurant, once a regular haunt for musicians like Albert Collins and Maceo Parker who played at neighboring Antone’s, celebrated its 29th birthday in November.

Ruby’s BBQ owner Pat Mares in 2013. (Julia Robinson FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Pat Mares and her late husband, Luke Zimmerman, opened the restaurant at 512 W. 29th St. in 1988. The employee says the restaurant will close sometime in late February. Mares tels the Austin Chronicle that the Ruby’s space will become a new restaurant under new owners

“I just can’t say enough nice things about Pat Mares and Ruby’s. They moved into the neighborhood and had all this great food and would stay open into the evening,” Susan Antone told the Statesman in 2013. “We had some really great times … I can’t think of too many places where I’ve had such good food and so much fun at the same time.”

Ruby’s was known for its brick pits and quality brisket, and native Nebraskan Mares took great pride in her product. Soon after opening the restaurant, she formed a relationship with deli manager Quincy Adams Erickson at Wheatsville Co-Op. Ruby’s originally purchased their all-natural, grain-fed, steroid-free Texas beef from the nearby grocer and have continued to serve the same quality beef from different providers over the past 29 years.

“Serving all-natural brisket is a commitment, not a trend,” Mares said in 2013.

The restaurant takes its name from a barbecue joint in Sidney Lumet’s 1960 movie “The Fugitive Kind,” starring Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward. But that never kept customers new and old from referring to affable redhead Mares as Ruby.

“Some people even say, ‘I know it’s not your name, but I’m gonna call you Ruby,’” Mares said. “I laugh because I said I didn’t want to call it Pat’s, and now I’ve become Ruby.”


From 2013: Ruby’s BBQ celebrates 25 smokin’ years

Austin-area barbecue all-stars

A Texas barbecue roadtrip

Austin restaurants with dine-in and carry-out specials for Super Bowl Sunday

Are you ready for some football? And maybe some beer and queso? There might not be a Texas team in the Super Bowl, but football fans will still be celebrating in Austin-area bars and restaurants. Plenty of spots will be packed and serving their regular menus; here are a few that will be running specials for dine-in customers or for carryout on Super Bowl Sunday.

(NB: You can also get in the spirit for the Philly-New England tilt by trying the best cheesesteaks in Austin or the best lobster rolls in town.)

Super Bowl party platter at Fresa’s. (Credit: Julia Keim)

Austin Taco Project. 500 E. Fourth St. 512-682-2739, The Tex-Mex spot at the downtown Hilton will serve $4 draft beers, 75-cent Buffalo wings and offer a free chips and salsa bar with purchase of a beverage.

Backyard at Waller Creek. 701 E. 11th St. 512-478-1111, The bar and grill at the Sheraton near the Capitol will feature a special menu that includes boneless wings, pulled pork sliders, nachos and more.

Barley Swine. 6555 Burnet Road #400. 512-394-8150, One of Austin’s best restaurants gets in the spirit with a Super Bowl to-go package that includes smoked pork belly, beer can chicken, beef barbacoa, sides and the typical barbecue accoutrements. Price is $25 per person with a minimum order of six people. Guests must call the restaurant and pre-pay for the Super Bowl and pick up between 3 and 5 p.m Sunday.

Central Standard. 1603 S. Congress Ave. 512-942-0823, The swanky American bar and grill at the South Congress Hotel will have the game on at the bar and on the patio and be serving large-format cocktails and bar food for 50 percent off.

Cover 3. 2700 W. Anderson Lane. 512-374-1121; 1717 W. Sixth St. 512-982-1550; 2800 N. Interstate 35. 512-693-2393; The upmarket sports bar is selling to-go spreads that include queso, nachos, chicken wings, pie and more. There is a $300 minimum, and orders, which require 24 hours advance notice, must be placed by 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Fresa’s. 1703 S. First St. 512-992-2946, The family-friendly Mexican restaurant’s Super Bowl party starts at 3 p.m. There will be a 115-inch LED hi-def video wall showing the game outside and several TVs inside. Beer, wine and margaritas will be sold at happy hour prices, and there will be free endless queso, along with Super Bowl snacks like grilled wings for sale. Reservations are highly encouraged and can be made by emailing

Gabriel’s. 1900 University Ave. 512-404-3654, The cafe and bar at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center will serve $20 appetizer platters (brisket and carnitas quesadillas, Buffalo wings and sweet potato tots), $14 pitchers of beer and $22 buckets of bottled beer.

Guero’s Taco Bar. 1412 S. Congress Ave. 512-447-7688, The South Congress Tex-Mex joint is selling to-go packages that include two tamales, guacamole and chips and queso for $7.50.

The Park. 11601 Domain Drive. 512-478-7275; 4024 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-731-2077; The two locations of the upmarket sports bar will celebrate the two teams playing in the Super Bowl by serving $4 Samuel Adams Boston Lager and $9 Philly cheesesteaks.

Trace at the W. 200 Lavaca St. 512-542-3660, The restaurant and bar at the W not only will serve happy hour all day and show the game on a bunch of TVs but also offer some VIP group viewing experiences, with one part of the screened porch going for $3,000 for 40 people and another one selling for $1,200 for 15 people. In addition to giant screens for viewing, the experience includes multiple bottles of Don Julio Tequila and Crown Royal, Bud Light and an assortment of wings, sliders, chips, dips and more. Inquire with the hotel for specific details.

Whisler’s. 1816 E. Sixth St. 512-480-0781, The East Austin bar is firing up the grill for handcrafted sausages from B-Side sausages and offering a complimentary spread of chips and dips and football-related snacks. Hogan Sullivan & the West Texas Teardrops will perform after the game. Doors at 2 p.m.; party starts at 4 p.m.

The best lobster rolls in Austin will help get you ready to cheer the Patriots in the Super Bowl

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.

My favorite lobster roll in town comes from Garbo’s (14735 Bratton Ln. 512-350- 9814,, a Wells Branch-area restaurant that also has a couple of roving food trucks. Here’s what I wrote about Garbo’s and its lobster roll in 2016:

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, 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, 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. 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, The market-restaurant serves a lobster roll at dinner. Sold at market price.

Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291- 7300, 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, 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.


Japanese cafe Sa-Tén opens location on Airport Boulevard

One of my favorite hidden gems in Austin is the Sa-Tén coffee shop and cafe located in the Canopy artists’ complex on Springdale Road. The cafe serves a variety of tea and coffee drinks and Japanese dishes like egg toasts, katsu, grilled chicken, several curries and more. It’s also home to some of the coolest wallpaper in the city.

Sa-Tén now has a second location at 4917 Airport Blvd. in the former Komé space (which recently moved up the road). Kome co-owner Kayo Asazu is also a co-owner of Sa-Tén, which announced on social media that it is only softly open with a limited menu right now, but says the full menu will be available on February 1. The new location is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The toasts at Sa-Ten give a diners a taste of Japan.



The best cheesesteak in Austin and 11 other places to get the Philadelphia specialty

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.

With Whiz at 1776 Cheesesteak Co. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

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.

(If you’re more of a home cook, check out the Philly cheesesteak recipe offered by my colleague Addie Broyles.)

More locally owned options for Philly cheesesteaks:

Delaware Sub Shops (multiple locations)

Hoody’s Sub Shop (Round Rock)

Ken’s Tacos (Friday lunch special)  9408 Dessau Road

Mister Tramps (Austin’s Eagles bar at 8565 Research Blvd.)

NewWorld Deli (4101 Guadalupe St.)

Texadelphia (multiple locations)

Philly cheesesteaks from chains in Austin:

Baker Street Pub (3003 S. Lamar Blvd.)

Fat Sal’s (2604 Guadalupe St.)

Jersey Mike’s Subs (multiple locations)

One of the best Indian restaurants in Austin opens location on Sixth Street

Teji’s, the Round Rock-based Indian restaurant and grocer, opened its first downtown Austin location about a week ago. Teji’s on 6th is located at 616 E. Sixth St. in the old Geisha Sushi & Grill. Like its locations in Round Rock, Cedar Park and on The Drag, Teji’s on 6th serves a selection of samosas and naan, vegetarian dishes like gobi Manchurian and palak paneer, a roster of proteins from the tandoor, and more than a dozen goat and lamb entrees.




Chi’Lantro truck replaces Via 313’s original truck at Violet Crown this week

As Via 313 temporarily moves its original food truck down the street to 1802 E. Sixth St. in preparation for its first brick-and-mortar location on that spot, Chi’Lantro announced over the weekend that it would be taking the pizza truck’s place at Violet Crown Social Club (1111 E. Sixth St.).


The Korean-Mexican fusion truck from Jae Kim is getting back to its roots and says it will stay open for late-night service (2 a.m.), the first time it has done that since 2015. In addition to the new truck, Chi’Lantro will open its fifth brick-and-mortar location later this year.

P. Terry’s Taco Ranch announces new (temporary) hours after overwhelming response of first three days

[cmg_anvato video=”4303831″ autoplay=”true”]

Austintes love P. Terry’s and they definitely love tacos. So much so that Taco Ranch, the new fast-casual, drive-thru Tex-Mex concept from Patrick Terry has been completely overwhelmed with business in its first week.

Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

After selling out of food and announcing early closures the first couple of days, Terry has decided to scale back on the hours at Taco Ranch until they can get a handle on the demand.

Therefore, until further notice, the hours of Taco Ranch, which is located in a former Burger King at MoPac Boulevard and U.S. 290 (5033 U.S. 290 W.), are as follows:

6 a.m to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Update: Taco Ranch will be closed on Sundays until further notice.



Southern Living thinks this Texas restaurant should be on your barbecue bucket list

There’s no date attached to this Southern Living slideshow of the 50 barbecue restaurants in America at which you must dine before you die, but it recently came across my radar. As you probably did, when I saw the headline, I figured Texas’ entry into America’s Barbecue Bucket List would be Franklin Barbecue (Austin) or Snow’s (Lexington) or Louie Mueller BBQ (Taylor) or Pecan Lodge (Dallas) or Killen’s (Pearland). I was wrong. The one Texas barbecue restaurant the magazine says you must visit before you die is Ten50 BBQ in Richardson, the restaurant opened by Chili’s co-founder Larry Lavine. Huh.


I must admit, I’ve never been there. I’m sure it’s lovely. But, considering our state’s go-to authority on barbecue, Texas Monthly’s Daniel Vaughn, wrote about its inconsistent sliced brisket in 2014 and called the onion rings may be the best thing on the menu, I wonder how Southern Living did its research/compiled its list. Guess we have somewhere to visit next time we swing up to the Metroplex.


From 2017: Checking out the barbecue scene in Brooklyn, New York

From 2016: A barbecue tour of Texas

From 2015: The best barbecue in Central Texas

Austin chef takes down Iron Chef on ‘Beat Bobby Flay’

Austin chef Amanda Rockman beat Bobby Flay. The native Texan who serves as the corporate executive pastry chef for New Waterloo (Sway, Le Politique, South Congress Hotel, et al) took it to the celebrity chef on Thursday night’s episode of the 14th seasons of the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Chef Amanda Rockman of New Waterloo.

Rockman, a former James Beard award semifinalist who previously worked in top Chicago restaurants L2O and Nico Osteria, disposed of chef Vicki Wells before taking down the Iron Chef. Following show rules, Rockman created a signature dessert of her choice, and conquered Flay with her tiramisu. The Italian dessert, made with caramel crémeux, marsala mousse, lady finger coffee streusel, white coffee foam, appears on the menu at Café No Sé in the South Congress Hotel.

It was an honor to have the opportunity to go up against an Iron Chef, but it was a real challenge to keep composure at times – sometimes I wanted to freak out and other times I just wanted to die laughing,” Rockman said. “Really a great experience overall.”