Can't decide where to eat? Now there's an app for that.
Several new apps and search platforms from around the country are launching in Austin in time for South by Southwest. SXSW Interactive Awards finalist Stamped lets you put a virtual stamp of approval on things such as restaurants, books, movies, and music. It also follows respected critics in major markets and provides links to their recommendations, such as a list of favorite restaurants from The Austin Chronicle. Tasted Menu helps you find the best restaurant dishes by offering menus with each dish tagged by type, core ingredients, and cuisine by an expert panel of menu curators using their proprietary culinary taxonomy (think of Pandora's Music Genome Project but for food). The Austin launch includes info on almost 1,000 local restaurants. Grubwithus is a social dining site that puts together restaurant dinner outings. It will host meals at the Clay Pit, Lamberts, Piranha Killer Sushi, and La Condesa during the festival and sponsor the Grubmobile, a flatbed truck tricked out with comfortable seating and a photo booth cruising around Downtown. Trover is a free mobile app offering users fascinating local discoveries such as galleries, restaurants, and other must-visit places in various cities. These folks are also Interactive Award nominees and will host a full lineup of Austin activities, such as live graffiti parties, shot walks, and daily cool discovery challenges with restaurant dinners as prizes. Connect with them at www.trover.com. Zagat debuts its first Flavor of Austin guide this week. Download evaluations of 377 Austin and Hill Country eateries in a variety of categories, at www.zagat.com/sxsw. Plus, The Austin Chronicle Restaurant Guide has just gotten a face-lift and some new search functionality – and be sure to check our On the Range blog for info about more food-related happenings during the next 10 days.
Now for a lightning round of local restaurant news: Employees at Romeo's (1500 Barton Springs Rd.) showed up for work a couple of weeks back to find the doors padlocked and the restaurant closed. No word on who might take over that prime restaurant row location... Owners of the Melting Pot (305 E. Third) have closed the Downtown location, but the Northwest outlet remains open... Eleven Plates & Wine (3801 Capital of TX Hwy. N. Ste. C-200) has added custom cocktails, and new chef Joe Anguiano is pleasing crowds with eclectic new menu items... Chef Sonia Coté's new venture Hillside Farmacy (1209 E. 11th) is now open, offering small plates, salads, sandwiches, soups, locally sourced gourmet groceries, and a full bar... Jessica and Michael Sanders have opened Drink.Well American Pub (207 E. 53rd), offering custom cocktails, craft beers, and fine wines paired with a menu of small, sharable plates designed by chefs Roblé Ali and Aaron Zarczynski... And the hottest new drinking destination Downtown is likely to be the Midnight Cowboy Lounge (313 E. Sixth). Bill Norris and Brian Dressel are in charge of the newest concept from the Alamo Drafthouse entertainment juggernaut, a reservation-based cocktail lounge where drinks will be prepared table-side.