New Fortune's Kaput, There's an Otoko x Nixta, Bento Picnic's A-Grillin', Mudbugs are Back, and More

All the news that's fit to get your taste buds quivering

Here’s your weekly Food News Buffet with some of what’s happening in Austin’s culinary scene during this fourth week of March, as wrangled from numerous PR releases, official posts, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings …

Mmmmm, that Passover Seder To-Go from Launderette ...

Aaaaaaaaah, NO! But, damnit, yeah: That ne plus ultra of weekend dim sum indulgence, New Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown Center near North Lamar & Braker, is closing on April 4. Even as the pandemic starts to begin to recede, those ’ronas are claiming economic victims where they can, and so this warehouse-sized and carpeted scene of many a gut-distending good time, where a person might recover from a well-earned hangover among the rolling carts and clever displays of an unnerving diversity of noms … it’s shuttering forever. But: Their sister store, Jade Restaurant in Davenport Village, will carry on the tradition. And even New Fortune itself will sort of continue – as a catering company.

Wicky’s Walkup, a “swamp tiki” walkup bodega is now open at 2400 Webberville Road in the ATX, serving muffalettas, frozen daiquiris to go, shrimp rolls, breakfast biscuits, bodega essentials … and notary public services. Suggestion: Get you a fine sammich, grab a frosty daiquiri to wash it down with, and have your new divorce decree notarized all professional-like. Love may stink, citizen, but there’s nothing beats a good muffaletta for curing heartbreak, tell you what.

Otoko x Nixta!? Yeah, that’s some exciting news, alright: Otoko’s Yoshi Okai and Nixta’s Edgar Rico are collaborating on a pair of dinners! And even if you can’t make tonight’s Taco Pop-Up at Nixta – it’s probably long sold out by now – surely the fates will allow your presence at the Vegetarian Omakase event at Otoko on Mon., April 19. That latter, with seatings at 5:30 & 7:30pm, is where the acclaimed culinary wizards will serve up a 10-course dinner that includes aguachile with avocado, kiwi, cucumber, fresh onion, yuzu, shiso, smoked olive oil, and hichimi, and tofu tamales with miso – to name just two of the dishes. (Check the Otoko website for availability.) Bonus: Chef Yoshi’s new Mochurro Sando, which you can also get at Watertrade, is a mochi-churro “cookie" ice-cream sandwich that ’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Aviary Wine & Kitchen, that oenophile paradise on South Lamar, is “pulling the curtain back surrounding the mystery of wine purchasing and what goes into selecting the perfect bottle” with an online presentation by Vinota Selections’ head honcho Michel Abood, who’ll make sure you know what’s what in the world of international wine imports. That’s on Sat., March 27, and here’s the reservation link for you now.

Speaking of imported wine, here’s a happy heads-up: H-E-B will be featuring wines from Veramonte, located in Chile’s Casablanca Valley, starting in April. Reckon we’ll have a review for you real soon, too, so keep your eyes (if not your grapes) peeled this-a-way in the weeks to come … And what about … beer? Well, Austin’s own Black Pumas have again teamed up with the innovative 4th Tap Brewing for a second collaboration. Created to celebrate the deluxe version of the Grammy-nominated band’s debut album, the new Stay Gold Deluxe Double IPA is a callback to classic West Coast style. Cheers!

We’re already big fans of Bento Picnic, so hearing that their menu has expanded makes us grin real big. Chef Leanne Valenti, inspired by the grilling traditions of Texas and Japan, now offers additional protein options – and you can customize your own bento box. Lest you think Valenti’s just tossing any old thing in Austin’s dining path, listen: barbecued akaushi tri-tip, smoked miso-ginger chicken sausage, handmade tamari-braised tofu, and grilled & pulled king salmon. Yeah – we know, we know; get in line behind us, maybe, tho. And, just in time for spring gatherings, the eatery’s activated a Picnic-by-the-Pound deal, too – with all options available all day, 11am-6pm, Tue.-Sat. Which is to say, basically, yum.

Been a while since we checked in with Jessica Alonso and her Wander/Gather enterprise of posh dinner parties and social entertainments, so we figured we’d take a peek and see how things were going in these COVID times. Would you believe, a pivot toward in-your-own-home experiences as fun and elegant as the bigger shindigs of the recent past? Alonso and her W/G company will do you & your friends up right, booking and coordinating chefs and bartenders, managing invitations, handling the whole damn set-up and breakdown for your partying pleasure. You want some upscale feasting and finery within your own familiar walls? Especially now, with everybody and their sister getting those sweet, sweet vaccinations? And maybe a stimulus check, too? Suggestion: Click on over.

In more pedestrian (but arguably almost as delicious) news, it’s no joke that National Burrito Day is coming up on Thursday, April 1. And who, precisely, is offering free delivery from Freebirds World Burrito on the day before? Answer: Favor is offering free delivery from Freebirds on that day. (March 31, duh.) And, reminder: You can sub that (tasty AF) Beyond Meat on any of their burritos, bowls, or salads, if you want to – and they’ve got that new seasoned cauliflower rice, too …

Also: Mudbugs are back on the menu everywhere now, y’hear? Whatever you call ‘em – crayfish, crawdads, lobsterettes, Hardshell Cajun Chow™ – it’s that time of year again, and so your Austin Chronicle friends, ever glad to nom a succulent arthropod, have joined forces with those bowling-alley cats at Austin’s High 5 on West Anderson for a big ol’ crawfish boil this Saturday afternoon (2-8pm), and – oh, here’s the event info now

But: We did say “everywhere,” right? For those mudbugs? Like, on this same Saturday, there’s another crawfish boil going on at the estimable William Chris Vineyards out in Hye – with plenty of noms and (need we mention) wine, and live music by Pike & Sutton. Tickets are available right here

And: Gabriela’s, that Mexican place on East Seventh that’s owned by siblings Gabriela and Arturo Bucio, is opening a second, even bigger and fancier iteration of their Michoacán-inflected eatery – at Southpark Meadows. This Sunday’s celebration boasts an array of food and drink specials and DJs and mariachi bands and – oh, here’s the link to that event listing

And we did mention Aba’s special Passover menu in last week’s Food News Buffet, and by now we’ve got Launderette’s Passover feast in our Food Events, too, and so, um … there you go.

Now y’all be safe out there, eat as well and tip as big as you can, and watch out for those ‘ronas!

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