Summer is almost here, which means it’s time to enjoy your adult beverage of choice next to a body of water. For those of us who prefer this experience chlorinated and free of slimy fish, there are lots of options around Austin with sparkling pools.
Looking for a party? The Wet Deck at the W Austin and Rio offer rowdy weekend places. If a mellow, feel-good vibe is what you seek, check out Kitty Cohen’s or Azul at the Westin. This update adds Fairmont,Hotel Ella, and the Four Seasons Hotel, and removes pools that are guest-only. Whatever your pool style, grab a lounge chair, put a tiny umbrella in that drink, and kick back to celebrate the season.
Odam found the raw menu a mixed bag, with high praise for the black bass crudo but unbalanced proportions in the ceviche. Oyster mushrooms with a “mayonnaisey” sabayon, octopus that was too acidic, and overcooked amberjack led Odam to comment, “When you’re paying $27 for what one assumes are great ingredients, you want clear and full expression of them.”
Odam did finally found success with the trout:
Cooked to a velvety finish, the pink fish sat on a plate with an orb of smoked beet pudding and dollop of dill buttermilk that played perfectly with one another, along with a row of pickled beets and cucumber and the rippled crunch of fish skin.
He also liked a hamachi tart that was “rich and brilliant.” While he called the sunflower porridge “a study in unbridled excess,” he called the mac and cheese “pure decadence.” Surprisingly, his favorite dish was a “juicy pink” steak. Ultimately, he admires the effort, which apparently accounts for a lot as he gave the restaurant a 7 out of 10.
In terms of atmosphere, Sharpe did find the restaurant “clamorous when it’s full,” but appreciated the “modern” dining room with nods to Mexico. She started with a cocktail, the Rosalinda, which was “a wonderfully aromatic mezcal creation,” and recommends the aguachile, shrimp crudo, or mushroom frito.
Next, Sharpe tried the tetelas (grilled packets of black bean puree) and hush-puppy-like molotes, but found both to be “stolid.” However, with the oak-grilled sweet potatoes, she asserted, “if you don’t have them, you will regret it for the rest of your life.” She also enjoyed the oak-grilled fish à la devil (with “a salty bacon salsa that have ruined me for conventional fish tacos”), but her favorite dish was the goat barbacoa tacos:
A rack of teeny goat ribs under a scandalous cap of seared fat (it’s relatively easy to remove if you’re concerned about trivial things like your arteries). Arranged alongside the epazote-and-mint-rubbed meat is a covey of condiments—creamy queso fresco, a finely chopped cross between guacamole and avocado, and piquant salsa hidalguense.
Sharpe called the desserts — churros and chocolate and duck egg flan — fun to share, and left with a promise to return.
Plus Franklin Barbecue pitmaster’s back in a new band, and more news
— The American Royal Association is adding Snow’s BBQ pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz to its Barbecue Hall of Fame. There will be a ceremony that will take place in mid-September in Kansas. She is joined by Tuffy Stone and the last Memphis chef Charlie Vergos.
— It’s not new knowledge that pitmaster Aaron Franklin was in a band before he embarked on his barbecue path, but did you know that he’s in a new unnamed band with some friends? Instead of playing drums, he’s on the guitar. “We’re very loud,” he described to the Chronicle, “extremely loud.”
— Austin students competed in a cooking competition to create the taco that will be served in school kitchens next year. The winner was the Loaded Taco, filled with chorizo, ground beef, carrots, potatoes, cilantro, avocado, and sour cream by students Macias-Lopez and Cierra Salazar.
— Wells Branch seafood restaurant Garbo’s is offering a new $6 happy hour with dishes like banh mi hot dogs, chowder fries, and smoked fish dip toast with avocado. It’s available from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
— Second Bar + Kitchen is taking over the Archer Hotel Austin’s lobby up in the Domain Northside. The new lobby lounge will include a daily happy hour, along with afternoon and late night service with drinks and snacks. It opens on Thursday, June 7. The partnership makes sense since Second Bar is the hotel’s restaurant. (The original location is in downtown Austin.)
— Austin-based protein doughnut company Elite Sweets was one of the winners of WeWorks’ Creator Awards this month. It received $180,000 which will go towards a commercial kitchen.
Even though Austin is thought of more of a messy-eating haven, where barbecue and tacos reign, the French cuisine in the city is quite good. The city has a fine variety of restaurants serving French fare to choose from.
From Chez Nous’ classic and modern fare, casual bistros like Blue Dahlia Bistro, to the boisterous vibe at Justine’s Brassiere, these places have that right je ne sais quoi quality for an evening or late night out. Look through to find traditional dishes and updated takes on pommes frites, croque madames, escargots, and of course, freshly baked baguettes. Bon appétit.
To help navigate the multi-part event, Eater thought it would be useful to offer a guide to everything you need to know, from tips to a breakdown of the events and concert suggestions.
With any festival, wear comfortable shoes, prep with sunscreen, drink a lot of water (cocktails and beers will freely flow at every event, and temperatures are going to hover in the high 90s), and be prepared to eat a lot. Parking for most events will be difficult, especially for East Side and Red River spots, so opt for ride-hailing apps or cabs. Since music is a big component of Hot Luck, it wouldn’t hurt to pack a pair of earplugs.
For those rolling high with the Whole Enchilada tickets, keep in mind there is early access offered for all events, plus there are additional parties not listed below. Remember, a portion of ticket proceeds go towards the Safe Alliance.
With that, here is Eater’s suggested itinerary for optimal Hot Luck eating and enjoyment.
Alas, only those with the all-access Whole Enchilada passes can hit up the party, which will take over Franklin Barbecue in its recently renovated post-fire digs. The alfresco event takes on a barbecue vibe, with bites from Franklin himself, along with Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, New York pitmaster Billy Durney (Hometown Bar-B-Que), North Carolina pitmaster Sam Jones, and sweets from Prohibition Creamery’s Laura Aidan. Jones will cook up a whole hog (Franklin called him “one of the two best whole hog cooks in the country”), and Durney will tackle lamb. Where: Franklin Barbecue, 900 East 11th Street, Central East Austin When: 6 to 9 p.m. Access: All-access Whole Enchilada passes only.
Robert J. Lerma/EATX
Jon Favreau talking to Daniel Vaughn at the Hi, How Are You last year
End the day with post-hardcore band Hot Snakes, paired with extra-long sausages from Olympia Provisions chef Elias Cairo of Portland (he’s referring to the dish “hot snakes”). This is the one show that Franklin is very, very excited about. Where: Mohawk, 912 Red River Street, Downtown When: Doors at 8 p.m. Access: All-access Whole Enchilada passes or advanced a la carte tickets for $27.
The event most resembling your average sip and stroll (with way better food options) is the Night Court, where the peg is 1980s mall food court of yore. Here, you’ll find a good amount of Austin chefs, including Philip Speer from the oh-so-recently closed Bonhomie (Will he preview a bite from his upcoming unnamed downtown restaurant? Perhaps.) Out-of-towners include Justin Yu of the excellent Houston restaurant Theodore Rex, Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, and Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen. Where: Fair Market, 1100 East 5th Street, East Side When: 6 to 9 p.m., with 5 p.m. access for Whole Enchilada pass holders Access: All-access Whole Enchilada passes or a la carte tickets for $125.
Of the four concerts taking place tonight, opt for Chicago indie rock band Twin Peaks (not to be confused with the television show). Why? Turkish kebab spot Kebabalicious is whipping up special lamb bites for the evening. Where: Barracuda, 611 East 7th Street, Red River When: Doors open at 8 p.m. Access: All-access Whole Enchilada passes or a la carte tickets for $20.
Portland chef Nong Poonsukwattana at last year’s Al Fuego during Hot Luck Festival
The kitchen of the beloved greasy classic Tex-Mex restaurant will be taken over by Empellon chef Alex Stupak and La Tacopedia author and chef of Mexico City restaurant Casa De Los Tacos Alejandro Escalante, with music by Tejano band Conjunto Los Pinkys. It’s safe to say that this event will be packed. Where: Cisco’s, 1511 East 6th Street, East Austin When: 10 p.m. until late Access: Sold out, but a la carte tickets were $70. Whole Enchilada passes do not give you access to the event.
While there are no shuttles provided from Austin proper to Manchaca, parking and ride-share drop-offs/pick-ups are only available at the nearby Akins High School, with free shuttle buses ferrying attendees to the grounds. Parking is not available at the ranch itself. Where: Wild Onion Ranch, 12112 Old San Antonio Road, Manchaca, Texas; parking and drop-offs: Akins High School, 10801 Old San Antonio Road, Manchaca, Texas When: 6 to 9 p.m. Access: All-access Whole Enchilada passes or a la carte tickets for $195.
Brunch is necessary after the long festival, and what better way to indulge in the Sunday meal than at an automotive car shop with food stations spread throughout the working space. On deck are Austin chefs like pitmaster Miguel Vidal of Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, Emmer & Rye chef Kevin Fink, and sushi master Yoshi Okai of Otoko. Afield chefs include Bryan Weaver of Butcher & Bee in Nashville and Peter Cho of Han Oak in Portland. Franklin himself is cooking at the event too. He’s thinking of making hash using smashed confit potatoes with brisket and hot sauce. Where: Austin Speed Shop, 3507 Chapman Lane, McKinney When: Noon to 3 p.m., with 11:30 a.m. access for Whole Enchilada pass holders Access: All-access Whole Enchilada passes or a la carte tickets for $95.
Thank you, readers, for all that you do to keep Eater up-to-date. Your rumormongering, permit-scooping, gossip, philosophizing, and rants keep the website afloat. It all leads to great stories like the shutter of Brazilian steakhouse Fumaça Gaucha and the expansion of Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery into Mueller. Here’s a quick primer for tipster newbies on how to get in on the fun:
Is an expansion-minded Austin chef eyeing up your neighborhood? Hear a rumor of a hot new craft cocktail bar in the works? Know a favorite Austin food truck who just signed a restaurant lease? See a shutter before anyone else? Or maybe you just need a good airing of grievances. All this and more is encouraged — just hit up your trusty friend firstname.lastname@example.org or head to the tipline. Photos of permits, TABC applications, shutter signage are encouraged. Anonymity is guaranteed. While you’re at it, feel free to follow Eater on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and sign up for the newsletter, too.
Hot Luck Festival, the food and music festival from Aaron Franklin, James Moody, and Mike Thelin, returns this week. Events include the fire-focused sprawling Al Fuego cookout, the backyard barbecue at Franklin, and a mall food court-inspired sip and stroll at the Fair Market, happening during Memorial Day weekend from Thursday, May 24 through Sunday, May 27.
Eater recently sat down with Franklin and Moody to discuss what they learned from last year’s inaugural festival and what to expect in 2018. Look out for Eater’s complete guide to tackling the festival sometime tomorrow.
Pulling off the first-time festival last year was a feat but it worked out well, despite the fact that the team only really started planning five months before it took place in mid-May.
“We were willing to kill it after the first year,” Moody revealed, in case the food and music festival didn’t turn out as planned. Thankfully, everything went smoothly.
“‘Holy shit, we pulled it off,’” Moody, who comes from a background of running festivals (like Fun Fun Fun Fest, RIP) remembered thinking, “and then it was, ‘Oh shit, we could have done this and that better.’” He and Franklin immediately started planning as soon as it ended.
The aim for Hot Luck is accessibility and approachability for everyone, not just those who happen to be obsessed with food or music. It’s a wholly special festival, marrying what they refer to as the high and low together, offering a “nice bit of contrast,” as Franklin explained. It’s different than, say, seemingly cookie-cutter food festivals. And that’s very intentional.
“We know that a lot of those exist,” Moody said, referring to the usual food and wine festivals throughout the country and world, “and there’s a lot of space for that. But what was happening is that there are all these people who want to get involved in food, and felt like it wasn’t for them.” Hot Luck is their answer.
Contigo’s setup at Hot Luck last year at Al Fuego
“[Franklin] always tells the chefs to leave their chef coats at home,” Moody continued. “Just do your thing, you’re cooking for your friends. So you have a Michelin-starred chef that’s going to do grilled cheese. Cool.”
That sentiment is best embodied by Hot Luck’s new event, the Cisco’s Takeover, a late-night party at the classic greasy spoon, with Empellon chef Alex Stupak and author of La Tacopedia Alejandro Escalante (Franklin called him the “godfather of tacos”). The location is intentional.
It’s about “celebrating what’s cool about Austin, which is quickly going away,” Franklin said. “I think it’s cool to just be able to focus on what little we have left of that.”
“We put a tremendous amount of firepower on our smallest event,” he continued, “which most festivals would’ve put huge names at big night fire event or whatever.” Instead, they opted for the small Tex-Mex restaurant.
Hot Luck also hosts a Night Court, where the theme is mall food courts from the 1980s. “I tell everybody they don’t have to do anything fancy,” Franklin said. “Take the stress off of coming up with something amazing or blow people’s minds, and have fun with it: ‘What do I like to eat?’” It’s about trusting the chefs and letting them do what they do well. (Even though chef David Chang was initially attached to cook at this event, he was unable to make it. In his stead is Momofuku chef Matt Rudofker.)
“It’s also the ultimate high-low,” Moody explained. “To have great chefs do the lowest of the low foods.”
Another unique event, and new to Hot Luck, is the Sunday brunch-themed Coupe de Grille, which takes place in an actual automotive car shop. “It’s the brunch version of chicken shit bingo,” Franklin said, referring to the beloved pastime. “Hot rods are being chopped, while onions are being chopped,” Moody further elaborated.
As for the music, Moody made sure there was more variety, including DJ Questlove’s dance party, post-hardcore band Hot Snakes (Franklin is particularly excited about this show), country-funk band the Texas Gentlemen, Danish punks Iceage, and indie rock band Girlpool. And because it’s a food festival, chefs will cook up special snacks for each show.
As is the Franklin way, the pitmaster wants to continue building and creating things for the festival until it’s entirely self-sufficient. He’s expanding Hot Luck’s smoker reserve, and also working on curved banquette tables. Next year, he’s thinking about making actual tents for the events.
Hot Luck will always evolve: events that are happening this year might not take place next year, or maybe they will. It’s all about keeping the food festival fun and lose. While the all-access Whole Enchilada passes are sold out, along with the welcome party at Frank and the Cisco’s Takeover, there are still tickets to Al Fuego, Night Court, Coupe de Grille, and many of the concerts.
Austin’s rotisserie chicken fixation is about to get a shot of peri-peri sauce
Tio Pepe Chicken, a Portuguese-style rotisserie, is coming to the Linc development in North Austin this September. Located at 6406 North I-35, the restaurant focuses on chicken served with peri-peri sauce.
Owner Pepe Garcia shared that the menu, which is still in flux, will feature chicken (by the quarter, half, or whole) with six options of spicy peri-peri sauce, which is a condiment made of chilies, citrus peel, onion, garlic, and, lemon juice. It will be available in extra hot, hot, medium, lemon-herb, garlic (Garcia’s favorite), and mild. Elsewhere on the menu, there are sides like wings, cilantro rice, steamed vegetables, and Portuguese desserts.
Garcia is the third generation in his family to open a restaurant — both his grandfather and his mother operate restaurants, and Juan in a Million is operated by his relative. He fell in love with peri-peri sauce while traveling through Portugal.
“My family and friends always mention that I am a great host and good cook,” Garcia told Eater, “and encouraged me to open my own restaurant.” After a bit of market research, he believed that Austinites are in need of healthy fast-casual options and open to trying new local restaurants, so he decided to bring peri-peri to the city.
— Amy’s Ice Creams’ bakery branch, Baked by Amy’s, is moving its 13265 North Highway 183 location to 2109 Northland Drive, which happens to be the ice cream shop’s production facility. The last day on 183 will be on Sunday, May 27, and it will open in its new home on Monday, June 4 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is also a second location in the works for 35th Street.
— McGuire Moorman Hospitality designed the glass bottle label for Vermont cidery Shacksbury Cider’s new offerings. The $8 MMH Bad Boy ciders are $8, available at the group’s restaurants. The design was inspired by the group’s late friend Steven Allen Ridge, who was fond of patterned socks. He died earlier this year after a heart attack. The labels feature a link to the family’s GoFundMe page for support.
— Lone Star Brewing Co. (the company behind Lone Star Beer) gave $30,000 to Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc. Lone Star donated one dollar for every beer tab or can people dropped off into designated cowboy boots at participating bars.
The restaurant group said it tried to negotiate new terms, but “staying open was simply not a viable option.” Read the full note below.
Alcomar, which opened in April 2015, was overseen by chefs Alma Alcocer-Thomas and Jeff Martinez. It was particularly known for its lengthy happy hour, which ran from 3 to 6 p.m. daily. (Alcocer-Thomas also runs the kitchen of the group’s Barton Springs Road Mexican restaurant El Alma.)
This isn’t the first time this has happened to an El Chile Group restaurant. Tex-Mex burger cantina El Sapo closed without any advance warning after operating for three months in its new West 10th Street digs last year (it moved from its original home up on Manor Road to make way for the group’s Peruvian restaurant Yuyo.)
El Chile Group also runs El Chile Cafe and the fast-casual El Chilito.