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Food-o-File

Austin's food scene expands ... and contracts

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Aug. 22, 2014

Moses Vasquez
Moses Vasquez

After some years in San Diego, native Texan Seth Baas is back in the Lone Star State, working on a restaurant project in East Austin. Plans call for tearing down the existing structure on the lot to make way for a stylish, contemporary A-frame that will be home to Pitchfork Pretty (2708 E. Cesar Chavez) in 2015. He's already secured a lease on a contiguous lot for parking and is navigating the city permit phase now. Baas bought in one of the hottest restaurant development areas in town, with the new brick-and-mortar Veracruz All Natural slated for the 2300 block, Monger's Market + Kitchen (2401 E. Cesar Chavez) in the next block, and Friends & Neighbors (2614 E. Cesar Chavez) a couple of doors down. Not to mention Jacoby's (3235 E. Cesar Chavez) and the eagerly anticipated Sawyer & Co. (4827 E. Cesar Chavez) just a few blocks to the east.

Now that there's an extended-stay hotel just across the street and more residential development in the area south of the UT campus, El Mercado (1702 Lavaca) has applied for a late-night-hours TABC permit. Co-owner Tony Villegas also reports they've just completed a dog-friendly patio at the 21-year-old campus-area eatery and plan to add live music to the menu sometime soon. On the other end of the Drag, Tom's Tabooley (2928 Guadalupe) has added an all-vegetarian and vegan breakfast menu of wraps and bowls that are a mash-up of Mediterranean and Thai ingredients.

The sixth Kerbey Lane Cafe (701 Capital of TX Hwy. S.) is now open in the Village at Westlake along with other homegrown brands P. Terry's, JuiceLand, and Tacodeli.

Both Wu Chow and Fixe restaurants have applied for their TABC permits and expect to begin interior construction soon on the ground floor of the new IBC Tower at 500 W. Fifth.

The much-loved El Taco Rico trailer (Anthony Bourdain was a fan) has closed, as has the second trailer outlet of Ms. P's Electric Cock. While Ms. P's original trailer (1101 S. Congress) is still going strong, owner Perry Ray has brick-and-mortar aspirations and hopes to sell the second trailer for a whopping $149,000 to help finance them.

Downtown, the Whole Foods Culinary Center (525 N. Lamar) has closed and now individual stores will present demos and cooking classes instead. After a long run as one of Austin's premier socializing spots, Kenichi (419 Colorado) closed quietly last week and word on the street is that Ft. Worth celebrity chef Tim Love will bring his meat-centric Lonesome Dove Western Bistro concept to the space. In anticipation of Love's arrival, we checked out Josh Ozersky's hilarious post about celebrity chef behavior on his "Eat Like a Man" blog at Esquire.com.

We learned a lot about the long, fascinating life of Tamale House co-founder Moses Vasquez in all the obituaries and tributes published after his passing last week at age 90. Like many Austin musicians after him, Vasquez's full life was intertwined with the local restaurant and bar business and he made significant contributions in both areas. Our sincere condolences to the Vasquez family.

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