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Food-o-File

The once and future pit master returns?

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Sept. 23, 2011

The Austin food scene continues to attract national media attention. How cool was it to see homegrown Beanitos chips on The Today Show last week, as well as the Salt Lick prominently featured on the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate – Bar-B-Que, and what about that segment on 24 Diner's distinctive fried chicken and waffles on the new Food Network show Crave? Add to those the mention of Salt & Time in the October issue of Bon Appétit, and Austin food is everywhere!

On the benefit front, William Pearce, owner of the Way South Philly food truck, has recruited other members of the Austin Food Trailer Alli­ance to participate in a donation drive for the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LiveStrong campaign. All participating trailers will be accepting donations in exchange for LiveStrong wristbands until Oct. 2. See a list of participating trailers at www.foodtrailersaustin.com/austin-trailers-for-livestrong.

Northwest Austin foodies will be interested to know that the second local franchise outlet of the Savory Spice Shop opened last week right next door to Con' Olio Olive Oils & Vinegars in the Arboretum. Also, the second location of authentic Brazilian steakhouse Estância Churrascaria is set to open by the end of the month in the Arboretum space formerly occupied by Serrano's. The larger space will enable Estância's owners to expand their remarkable salad bar, offer a wider selection of Brazilian side dishes, and serve more delicious cuts of skewered meats, all complemented by a full bar and an extensive wine list. And a few miles down the highway at Davenport Village, the newest eatery is Eleven Plates & Wine (3801 Capital of TX Hwy. Ste. C-200), a casual, upscale restaurant and wine bar concept from Mike and Kelly Swartz, owners of Austin's two Melting Pot restaurants. Chef Kevin Dee, formerly of the Hyatt Regency, is on the range here, preparing an innovative selection of wine-friendly small plates and entrées for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. The new spot is scheduled to open Sunday, Sept. 25, for brunch.

South Austin's venerable Tex-Mex mile is scheduled to get three new eateries this fall. The team behind Perla's is working on a Vietnamese-inspired cafe and bakery in the former Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse space at the corner of South First and Elizabeth streets that should be open in the late fall... The Twitterverse was abuzz last week with the news that Trio chef de cuisine Todd Duple­chan is leaving the Four Seasons in early October to concentrate on opening a restaurant with his wife, pastry chef Jessica Maher. The talented culinary couple has announced plans for Lenoir (1807 S. First) in the refurbished Somnio's space later this December... And the last time we talked to third-generation pit master John Mueller, he was planning to open a barbecue joint in the Govalle neighborhood. Recently, a blog post from the Scrump­tious Chef announced that Mueller's plans had changed and he would be setting up shop at 1502 S. First on Sept. 26. A recon mission at that address revealed a vacant lot sporting a sign that says "Future Home of JMueller BBQ," but no dining facilities and no pit are evident. We'll keep you posted as things develop.

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