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Food-O-File

We've got progress reports on remodels and new openings around town

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 12, 2013

South Lamar doesn't have the market cornered where restaurant and bar activity are concerned. Manor Road's restaurant row, West Sixth, and Midtown are all busy with signs of growth as well. Flat Top Burger Shop (1900 Manor Rd.) has recently added a full bar complete with Longhorn Network TV in anticipation of the fall football season. Just up the street, progress is definitely being made at the School House Pub (2207 Manor Rd.), where the walk-in cooler and beer taps have been installed, and the rear parking lot has been poured; the long-anticipated opening shouldn't be far off. In the next block, workers are busy turning the former A-Line Auto Parts store into a restaurant and bar called Haymaker (2310 Manor Rd.), from the Black Sheep Lodge team of Troy Moore, Keith Sandel, and Brian Pacheco. Moore tells us Haymaker will feature covered patio dining in front, a menu of sandwiches and burgers, and a full bar with 40 beer taps. They're shooting for a late summer/early fall opening.

The remodel that turned the dark and clubby Haddingtons American Tavern into a naturally lit French bistro is complete and the ELM Restaurant Group's Arro (601 W. Sixth) is slated to open on July 20. Husband and wife chef/pastry chef team of Andrew and Mary Catherine Curren will be at the helm, and the breads will be from David Norman at Easy Tiger. Friends, family, and local media were invited for staff-training previews earlier this week.

Another very impressive remodel that's been revealed in the last few weeks is at La Mancha Tex-Mex Tavern (2203 Hancock). Partners Will Muntz, John Korioth, and Mike Young enlisted the help of architect Michael Hsu and builder Mark Herron to restore the 40-year-old restaurant building, replacing the HVAC, electrical systems, and plumbing. "So we could be restaurateurs instead of plumbers," Muntz quipped. The newly invigorated La Mancha is now spacious and comfortable with a colorful interior decor based on Mexican loteria cards and movie posters. The new spot offers patio dining, a big bar area, and plenty of off-street parking. The margaritas and Mexican martinis were a big hit with the drinkers at our table. Everything we tasted from consulting chef Chris Chism's menu was flavorful and well-executed, and while the plate presentation is upscale, the prices are very reasonable. La Mancha opened quietly a few weeks ago to give Chism's kitchen team time to find their groove cooking for a restaurant that can seat more than 200, but it already looks as if Rosedale neighbors will give this place a full-on embrace.

Our dinner table conversation the other evening turned to Paula Deen's colossal fall from grace, but if you're curious about my take on the situation, you'll need to check out our On the Range blog this week at austinchronicle.com/blogs/food.

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