Topsy-turvy South Austin restaurant scene
While spending a couple of Saturdays checking out the action at the new La Barbecue "Cuisine Texicana" (1502 S. First), I gathered some intel about the goings-on up and down the street. In the Bouldin Creek Food Park (1209 S. First), SoCo To Go has closed both its trailer and food delivery business. There's talk that the Ruta Maya folks are looking at the trailer as a potential interim location, but no confirmation at this point... The best news for South Austin pie lovers is that pie queen Jaynie Buckingham has ended her hiatus, and the Cutie Pies trailer is up and running again, with her old favorites and some new flavors in the works... Just up the street, the long-awaited opening date of Sway (1417 S. First) has finally been announced. The new Thai restaurant from the La Condesa team of Jesse Herman, Rene Ortiz, and Laura Sawicki will debut Dec. 9. After checking out the menu at www.swayaustin.com, I can't wait for the media preview dinner!... A bit farther south, the Macias brothers continue work on the La Reyna building (1816 S. First) and plan to have the restaurant reopened in December. "When we bought the restaurant from the Hernandez family, none of us realized the building was in such bad shape. Every time we would fix something – plumbing, wiring, rats – something else would go wrong," Atticus Macias reports. Now that the building has been rejuvenated, maybe the longtime South Austin Tex-Mex stalwart can have a shot at another 30 years in business... Austin's first shipping container pastry shops, La Boite (1700 S. Lamar, 1006 Congress) closed this week. Owner Victoria Davies says that after losing two sources of baked goods in less than a year, they decided to close down their beloved, but kitchenless, operation. The containers will remain in place for now, waiting for Foreign & Domestic's Jodi Elliot to begin daily bake sales sometime in December.... Nov. 17 was the last night at the HighBall (1142 S. Lamar). That popular pleasure palace is closed for the redevelopment of the entire shopping center. It will reopen in 2013 next to the current Alamo South Lamar, without the bowling lanes.
Speaking of the Alamo Drafthouse brings me to some incomprehensible news. For the past eight years, chef John Bullington has been the culinary face of the Alamo, overseeing multiple local kitchen operations, helping design kitchens for the company's new properties, creating myriad feast menus to complement dozens of themed film dinners and Iron Chef battles, and overseeing food preparation for everything from charity events to Fantastic Fest live fire cookouts to Oscar parties. A press release from the Alamo's corporate offices announced Bullington's departure from the company last week, saying that regional concept chefs will be hired in each Alamo market to carry out many of his duties. "When we hired John Bullington to be a part of the Alamo eight years ago, he elevated the potential of what we thought was possible in terms of food in a movie theater. He will be sorely missed by many at the Alamo," says Drafthouse CEO Tim League. "I have no need to wish him luck on his next endeavor, as I am positive it will be a phenomenal success."