Watch: Recap of Rock Your Taco at Austin Food & Wine Festival

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More than a dozen chefs from around the country competed for taco supremacy at Austin Food &Wine Festival’s Rock Your Taco event Saturday night at Fair Market. Check out the highlights in the video.

Chef Amanda Freitag poses with her lechon de coco taco during the Austin Food and Wine Festival’s Rock Your Taco celebrity chef showdown on Saturday April 28, 2018, in Austin. (Rodolfo Gonzalez FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)


Austin Food & Wine Festival: Chatting with C3 Presents partner Charlie Jones

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Noted foodie and partner of festival producer C3 Presents Charlie Jones talks about this year’s fest and his favorite event at the festival.

Racks of ribs grill over a fire pit during the Austin Food & Wine Festival. (Nick Wagner AMERICAN-STATESMAN)


Austin Food & Wine Festival: Chatting with Brooklyn’s Billy Durney about Texas and barbecue

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We headed up to Brooklyn last year to check in on their much-discussed barbecue scene. The only place we visited that would’ve cracked the Top 10 in Austin? Billy Durney’s Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook. We chatted with the barbecue cook at the Austin Food & Wine Festival.

A pig cooks on a rotisserie during the Austin Food & Wine Festival. (Nick Wagner AMERICAN-STATESMAN)


Austin Food & Wine Festival: A chat with Poke-Poke owner Jason McVeary

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Austin’s Poke-Poke made its first appearance at the Austin Food & Wine Festival this year. We caught up with restaurant co-owner Jason McVeary.

Poke Poke



John Mueller Black Box BBQ celebrates anniversary Sunday with free barbecue

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The Dark Prince of Texas barbecue has a soft side, it seems. John Mueller is getting nostalgic this weekend and hosting Tonto Fest, a party to celebrate his Black Box BBQ trailer’s first year in business in Georgetown (and his love for his new metal tomahawk). Following the conclusion of regular service at 2 p.m., Mueller will smoke a half cow with Jim Buchanan of Buck’s BBQ in Houston. The event takes place during the weekend-long Red Poppy Festival in downtown Georgetown.

John Mueller loading the pit at his old trailer on South First Street in 2012. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The men, who will be joined by special guests like Bill Kerlin of Kerlin BBQ, John Brotherton of Black Iron Eats and some other unannounced barbecue stars from Central Texas, will hand out the smoked meat, along with St. Arnold’s Beer and Tito’s Vodka. Mueller will also be mic’d up for some color(ful) commentary and a taping of the Tales from the Pits podcast. John Mueller’s Black Box BBQ is located at 201 E. 9th St. in downtown Georgetown.


New restaurants: 15 of the most notable openings of 2018

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With the new year has come a spate of new restaurants in Austin. Dozens have debuted in the first quarter, offering everything from tacos to Italian. Here are 15 of the most notable openings so far.

Le Bleu. 9070 Research Blvd. #303. 512-770-1100, Chef Tebi Nguyen already made the best bánh mì in Austin at his Saigon Le Vendeur trailer; now he has a brick-and-mortar location to expand his menu to include more Vietnamese sandwiches, noodle bowls, chicken wings and more.

The Brewer’s Table in East Austin opened April 19. (Contributed by Robert J. Lerma)

Better Half. 406 Walsh St. 512-645-0786, The owners of the Brew & Brew have created an all-day restaurant that pays homage to some of their American favorites like the ham biscuit, hush puppies and a cheeseburger.

Brewer’s Table. 4715 E. Fifth St. 512-520-8199, The restaurant founded by longtime beer veteran Jake Maddux focuses equally on food and craft brewing, exploring the duo’s essential similarities and the ways in which wood influences both.

Il Brutto. 1601 E. Sixth St. 512-580-8779, The East Austin Italian restaurant from the New Waterloo group (Sway, La Condesa, South Congress Hotel) serves a menu that includes house-made pastas (ravioli, pappardelle, lasagna), pizzas baked in a Neapolitan wood-burning oven and entrees such as squid ink tagliolini with mussels and clams, beef tenderloin slow-cooked in Nebbiolo, and baby octopus with olives and capers

Cruzteca. 5207 Brodie Lane #125. 512-291-7726, The owners of popular Melizzo’s Tacos truck opened this restaurant in Sunset Valley that serves an assortment of tortas (fried avocado, pulled pork and blackened tilapia among them) as well as the tacos from the truck’s menu, including the Slowrider (braised beef), Bowman (roasted chicken) and Old School (one of the best crispy beef tacos in town).

Darna Mediterranean Cuisine. 408 W. 11th St. Unit 100. 512-220-9705, Hummus, lamb and eggplant are a few of the staples at this Capitol-area Mediterranean restaurant that specializes in the flavors of Morocco.

Guild. 3800 N. Lamar Blvd. #170. 512-975-2626, The seafood-centric restaurant from the Chameleon Group (Wu Chow, Swift’s Attic) is helmed by former Uchiko executive chef Sterling Ridings.

Hank’s. 5811 Berkman Drive #100. 512-609-8077, An evolution of the owners’ former wine bar, Henri’s, the casual Hank’s serves a selection of burgers, sandwiches (turkey and gruyere, prosciutto and brie) and salads (charred kale, trout and avocado), along with house-made pastas and entrees like fried chicken and wood-grilled salmon.

Hudson’s Hill Country. 3509 RM 620 N. 512-266-5644, This reboot of the Central Texas icon Hudson’s on the Bend serves a menu that includes Hudson’s wild and exotic game classics, original Hill Country-inspired dishes and vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Intero. 2612 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-599-4052, This Italian restaurant features Texas ingredients, housemade pastas and handcrafted chocolates. Quite the trio.

Loro. 2115 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-916-4858, Uchi founding chef-owner Tyson Cole enters the world of Japanese smokehouse cuisine with an assist from partner Aaron Franklin.

Mandala Kitchen & Bar. 1100 S. Lamar Blvd. #1125. 512-386-1038, This restaurant located in the mixed-use development that is home to the Alamo Drafthouse serves a menu that bridges Vietnam and Thailand, with dishes like Viet-Cajun crawfish and a variety of curries.

Polvo’s. 310 Nueces St. The downtown location of this South Austin favorite serves dinner nightly, with a menu that includes a roster of enchiladas, fajitas and seafood dishes for which the original Polvos on South First Street is known

Suerte. 1800 E. Sixth St. 512-953-0092, The hip Mexican restaurant from Odd Duck co-founder chef Sam Hellman-Mass sources heirloom Central Texas corn, which it nixtamalizes in-house for a menu that includes tlacoyos, tacos and tostadas.

Yoshi Ramen. 3320 Harmon Ave. 512-243-6161, Veggie Heaven owner Stacy Chen’s second concept was inspired by her grandmother’s ramen shop in Osaka and serves vegetarian, vegan and meat-based ramens.

Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine owner purchases recently closed Krua Urban Thai

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Longtime Austin restaurant owner Sap Apisaksiri has purchased the recently shuttered Krua Urban Thai at 2024 S. Lamar Blvd. The Bangkok native who has two eponymous restaurants in Austin plans to re-open the small restaurant in the first week of May.

Credit: Krua’s Facebook page.

Apisaksiri will initially operate the restaurant under the name Krua, though he says he will eventually change the name. The restaurant will be remain an upmarket spot with a modern take on Thai cuisine, offering dishes with a wider range of proteins than Sap’s, as well as more seafood dishes. The revamped Krua will serve lunch and dinner daily. Krua closed recently after fewer than six months in business.  

Dine out at these restaurants today to benefit AIDS Services of Austin

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You can dine out and benefit a great cause today in Austin. When you eat at select Austin restaurants today during the Dining Out for Life event, a portion of the proceeds will go directly toward AIDS Services of Austin.

El Alma is one of a few dozen restaurants participating in Dining Out for Life. (Thao Nguyen/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

More than three dozen Austin establishments are participating, with 15-50 percent of the restaurant’s proceeds (depending on the restaurant) going to benefit the non-profit dedicated to enhancing the health and well-being of the community and people affected by HIV and AIDS. For more information, visit

The list of restaurants and shops participating today:


El Chile


El Alma

Cherrywood Coffee House


Swift’s Attic

Wu Chow

Holy Roller





Lick (Burnet)

Lick (S. Lamar)

Lick (Meuller)


Fabi + Rosi

Amy’s Ice Creams (1000 Research Blvd)

Amy’s Ice Creams (5624 Burnet Rd)

Amy’s Ice Creams (3500 Guadalupe St)

Amy’s Ice Creams (1012 W 6th St)

Amy’s Ice Creams (1301 S Congress)

Amy’s Ice Creams (2805 Bee Cave Rd)

Amy’s Ice Creams (2901 S Lamar)

Amy’s Ice Creams (4477 S Lamar)

Amy’s Ice Creams (13420 Galleria Circle)

Amy’s Ice Creams (9600 S IH 35 Frontage)

Galaxy Café (West Lynn)

Galaxy Café (South Brodie)

Galaxy Café (North at Mesa)

Zocalo Café

Maudie’s Café off Lake Austin Blvd

Maudie’s Hacienda

Maudie’s Hill Country

Maudie’s Milagro

Maudie’s North Lamar

Maudie’s Too

Maudie’s Triangle

Magnolia Café (Lake Austin Blvd)

Magnolia Café(S. Congress)

Ranch 616

Texas Chili Queens (Food Truck)

Via 313 (Oak Hill)

Via 313 (North Campus)

Via 313 (East 6th)

California Pizza Kitchen (Domain)

California Pizza Kitchen (Barton Creek Square)

Emmer & Rye

Hecho en Mexico (South)

Hyde Park Bar & Grill (Westgate)

Cenote (Caesar Chazez)

Cenote (Cameron Rd)

Mother’s Café

Roppolo’s Pizzeria

Enchiladas y Mas

Noble Sandwich

Hoover’s Cooking

Brick Oven (Red River)

TLC Austin

Hideout Theater & Coffee House


Saigon Le Vendeur opens Le Bleu in North Austin, serving expanded bánh mì and more

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The makers of the best bánh mì in the city now have more space to ply their trade. Chef Tebi Nguyen has been making the Vietnamese sandwiches out of his East Austin trailer Saigon Le Vendeur for several years and now has a brick-and-mortar restaurant space at 9070 Research Blvd. (at the southwest corner of Burnet Road).

Tebi Nguyen is owner of the food trailer Saigon le Vendeur on E. 7th St., making his signature banh mi sandwiches and other delights. Nguyen deconstructs the popular grilled pork banh mi sandwich.

The restaurant is called Le Bleu and it serves an extended menu of bánh mì, including cured ribeye, lamb belly and garlic shrimp, in addition to those served at the trailer. The counter-service Vietnamese restaurant also served a variety of vermicelli noodle bowls with proteins and starters like chicken wings and mango and papaya salad.

Le Bleu is celebrating its grand opening Monday with complimentary beer and one appetizer per guest.

Le Bleu is open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saigon Le Vendeur will continue normal operating hours.


The best places to eat bánh mì in Austin

Rainey Street Mexican restaurant El Naranjo now serving lunch

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Chef Iliana de la Vega’s El Naranjo on Rainey Street has been one of the best options for a Mexican dinner in Austin for years. It’s now one of the best choices for lunch.

Traditional Mexican food restaurant, El Naranjo, on Rainey Street in Austin, Texas.

The restaurant from the chef who previously ran a restaurant of the same name in Oaxaca serves lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The current menu (which can be seen here) includes empanadas with huitlacoche, a trio of tortas, several tlayudas and entrees like duck enchiladas with mole negro.


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