Ranch-inspired restaurant-bar Contigo has added some heft to their menu. You will still find the burger, grilled cheese, charcuterie and some of the small plates you’ve come to expect from the restaurant founded by Ben Edgerton and chef Andrew Wiseheart in 2011. But with the release of its new menu, what was once a great place to drink and snack and share with friends now looks more of a full-scale restaurant with some bigger options to fill you for the night.
The restaurant has added a “For the Table” section, which currently features a 40-ounce bone-in ribeye with beans, green tomato casserole and more. That dish is set up to feed three or four. There is also a grilled half chicken with cucumber, carrots, fries and more. In addition to that new section, Contigo has expanded its entree section, where you can find a grain bowl, roasted sweet potato salad and bavette steak, as well as an expanded small plates section, to which was added steamed mussels and more. Those sections join a dozen bar snacks and the cocktails, wine and beer you’ve always been able to get at Contigo. Contigo has also changed their reservation system, and now allows for reservations for parties up to 50.
What happens when one of the city’s best Mexican chefs joins forces with a rising pizza star? You can find out starting next Monday, as Suerte chef Fermín Nuñez will be the next chef collaborating with 40 North Pizza.
Núñez and chef Clint Elmore of 40 North have created a Mexican-inspired “La Buena” pizza topped with mole amarillo, nduja, pickled carrots, and kale.
The pizza, along with a queso fundido baked in 40 North’s wood-fired oven and featuring avocado, oregano, pickled onions, and chile morita, will be available on the menu at 40 North.
The restaurant will host a kick-off pizza party Monday from 6 to 10 p.m., with both chefs in the kitchen collabing on the La Buena and a one-night-only mole negro pizza. The La Buena and special queso fundido will be available for the month of October. As with each of their guest chef collaborations, a small portion of proceeds benefits charity. In this cases, $1 from each pizza sale will be donated to Grassroots Leadership, Núñez’s charity of choice.
One of the coziest happy hour retreats in town has upped its offerings. Wink Wine Bar, the separate space opened in 2004 adjacent to the fine dining restaurant that opened at 1014 Lamar Blvd. in summer 2001, has long been known as a great place to sip from a collection of quality wines while noshing on snacks and sliders usually set to a tasty soundtrack. The neighborhood haunt from chefs Mark Paul and Stewart Scruggs is now giving guests an excuse to stay a little longer.
The wine bar recently rolled out an extended bar menu that includes five full-sized burgers, including the famous Wink Burger with caramelized onions and brie ($14); a bacon blue burger ($15); a burger with foie gras, a Wink staple, added ($24); and another made with a mixture of duck and mushrooms ($18). If you wanna go old-school with some sliders, those are sold for $16 for a trio, with upcharges for foie and duck.
In addition to the burger menu, Wink still offers a variety of economically priced snacks and plates like PEI mussels in vermouth ($14), deconstructed escargot with mushrooms in a burnt brandy cream ($16) and, of course, the mac and cheese with black truffles ($16). All of the bar plates and burgers, along with a trio of bruschetta, such as hamchi confit ($12) and shaved prosciutto with white bean hummus ($12), are half off during happy hour, which runs Monday-Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.
Do you ever end up at dinner and wish you could try a little bit of everything on the menu? West End staple Cafe Josie has done away with selection paralysis with its “The Experience,” an all-you-can-eat tasting menu experience that costs $45. While a la carte dishes are offered during the week, on the weekends, all diners participate in the choose-your-own-adventure dining experience.
The dishes are tapas sized, offering about four to six bites per plate. And, if you take a liking to the crispy Brussels sprouts glazed with a tangy Dijon and served with rum-soaked cherries, you can order another plate. Or two. On a recent visit, my dining companion and I selected six dishes and had them set in the middle of the table and ate directly from them. Of course, if you are not comfortable sharing, you can keep to yourself and if your friend’s sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken looks good, you can just order yourself a plate. The populist dishes are straight forward, comforting and don’t try and dazzle you with technique or plating.
The Experience is less about value than it is about options and variety. We were able to move from an umami packed farro risotto rich with parmesan and aged balsamic to a bright Texas peach salad with candied pecans and a smoky Asian-influenced meatloaf (with little binding, its texture more closely resembled a crispy burger patty) Our six dishes averaged out to $15 a plate, which is more than you’d probably normally pay for a dish the size of which is served as part of the tasting menu. If we had been hungry enough to finish eight plates, the value proposition starts to look more appealing. But the dining experience, which kind of resembled a mannered tasting session with a commendable catering outfit or a dinner party at an excitable and creative friend’s home, is a unique one that allows for an exploratory take on dining that you rarely find at this level.
Located at 1200 W. Sixth St. (just behind Clark’s Oyster Bar), the 21-year-old Cafe Josie is open Monday-Saturday for dinner and Sunday for brunch (where a $25 brunch experience is available). The dinner experience is offered for $10 off during happy hour, Monday-Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. And, though it should go without saying, no, you can’t take food to go.
It just got a whole lot easier to grab a quick slice of pizza at the Whole Foods Market flagship store at West Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard. As part of a reconfiguration of the area that is home to the salad and hot bars, Whole Foods has added a self-serve pizza bar. There are about a dozen pizzas available for self-serving on the bar, and flavors yesterday included pepperoni, prosciutto and arugula, Italian sausage, cheese pizza and more. Self-serve pizza is sold by slice ($3.50) or two slices for $6. Whole pizzas can still be ordered for pickup.
“We are excited to have our New York Style pizza and our new skillet program join the selection of self serve items in our prepared foods department at our downtown Austin store,” Tara Treffry, director of culinary in the Southwest region of Whole Foods Market said. “The addition of added food bar space has allowed us to expand offerings and bring more choices to our guests, with several other new offerings joining the current lineup soon.”
Bakery, sandwich shop, florist … you can now add “happy hour destination” to the descriptors of Walton’s Fancy & Staple, the Sandra Bullock-owned business in the historic Market District building at 609 W. Sixth St.
EveryThursday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 8L30 p.m., Walton’s is serving $5 snacks and $6 cocktails. French-inspired dishes from executive chef Phillip Anderson include items like smoked salmon tartare with apple and dill on challah toast, watermelon salad with mint and tahini vinaigrette, and petite croque monsieurs. The cocktail menu features the Peachy Green (Deep Eddy Peach, iced green tea, and mint simple syrup), the 609 Paloma (tequila, blood orange liquor, lime juice, Jarritos grapefruit soda, and simple syrup), and the Salty Melon (watermelon, gin, lime juice, jalapeño, and smoked sea salt).
Everyone knows the trick to eating on the cheap(ish) at Uchi is arriving for the famed restaurant’s social hour and the key to Franklin Barbecue is all about timing. To that end, Loro, the new Asian smokehouse from Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin has rolled out a happy hour.
The happy hour runs from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and starts today. So, what’s on the menu? The star will undoubtedly be a burger made with a mix of prime brisket and smoked bavette, and dressed with red onion brisket jam, Muenster cheese, jalapeno aioli, pickles and butter lettuce on a brioche bun ($8).
The bites list includes salmon belly tartare, served with cucumber, sesame and cilantro on puffed tapioca rice crackers ($7), brisket tostadas with chopped brisket with shishito salsa verde on fried corn tortillas ($7) and chicken karaage ($6). Drink specials include half off-Boozy Slushees, all wines and sake on tap, and Kirin Ichiban Lager.
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.
If you’ve ever been out to Jester King Brewery on a busy weekend, you’ve seen the crowds. While Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza does an admirable job of feeding the demand for food at the pastoral setting, Jester King recognizes the pizza makers could use a little help. So the brewery is reintroducing food trucks on the property indefinitely, as it works to build its dining component.
Noble Sandwich Co., which had a sandwich land on my list of the best sandwiches in Austin recently, will be on the property every Saturday and Sunday through Memorial Day, at which time the brewery will roll out a new weekend truck offering.
Popular upmarket burger restaurant Hopdoddy is making some changes to the menu at all its locations. In addition to the regular roster of burgers, beginning tomorrow, diners will also find a “shareables” section that includes Buffalo fries (topped with Buffalo sauce, blue cheese crumbles, chives, ranch) and Hot Honey and Sage Fries (sweet potato fries smothered with sweet-spicy honey and fried sage and rosemary), as well as new milkshake flavors like S’mores and Strawberry Shortbread. The bar is also adding cocktails like a pineapple daiquiri.
May also marks a new Hopdoddy happy hour special that weds the restaurant’s namesakes — hop (beer) and doddy (Scottish nickname for cows) — in a deal that pairs a monthly burger special with craft beers from across the country. The May burger is the Elvis Burger (Angus beef patty topped with American cheese, Applewood bacon, local IPA-whipped peanut butter and sliced banana on a house-baked egg bun), which will be paired with IPA specials. During happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday), the burgers and pints cost $5, as do the new shareable plates.