Booze To-Go Is Here To Stay, APL’s Cookbook Reopens, Pinthouse Goes Large, Fancy Greek Noms In the Littlefield, and More

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

Here’s some of what’s happening in Austin’s culinary scene in this first week of May. Yes, it’s your latest Food News Buffet, as wrangled from numerous PR releases, official posts, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings …

Chef Diego Sanchez's salmon at the new Simi Estiatorio

Ahoy, bibliophiles! Cookbook Cafe, the convenient eatery located in the Austin Public Library (710 W. Cesar Chavez) will reopen for dine-in and takeout on May 10, offering grab-and-go sandwiches, kid-friendly lunches, assorted pastries, and full coffee service. Head pastry chef, Mary Catherine Curren, who also leads the pastry program at Irene’s and 24 Diner, is curating a seasonal bakery menu that’s focused on fresh ingredients and customer favorites. New hours of operation: Mon.-Sat., 10am-6pm.

This is #TeacherAppreciationWeek (through May 7), wherein local businesses across the city have partnered with Austin Ed Fund to provide some tangible appreciation to educators who show their AISD badge. Easy Tiger and Epoch and Revival will provide free coffees, for instance, and there’ll be solid discounts at Cisco’s and Hillside Farmacy and Juan in a Million and Colleen’s Kitchen and – oh, look, here’s a complete list.

Speaking of philanthropy in the food-and-beverage community … on Wednesday, May 5, for every LALO tequila cocktail sold at Kitty Cohen’s, LALO will donate a dollar to the Central Texas Food Bank. “Yeah, well,” a snobnoxious fiend might comment, “I’d only help out if this so-called LALO was, like, some new blanco tequila made by the grandson of Don Julio himself.” Spoiler alert: IT IS.

Say, did you enjoy getting your beer, wine, and booze to-go during the pandemic? Are you sad that, as we seem to be exiting most coronavirus-based restrictions, such a sweet deal is about to vanish? Citizen, turn that liquor-loving frown upside down: The Texas Senate has approved HB 1024, which means that Gov. Abbott’s emergency waiver allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine, and cocktails with pickup and delivery food orders is now and forevermore the law of the land. Well, well, well. Can we get a gin-soaked hallelujah here, please?

At last, more Pinthouse Brewing than we could have dreamed

Odd Austin fact: All you have to do is say "Electric Jellyfish" around these parts and beer-lovers start a-swooning. That’s from Pinthouse, of course, that ’Fish, as is the mouthwatering array of pizzas and other noms (and other craft brews) available at their three Pinthouse Pizza locations. And now the company’s hosting a grand opening celebration (through May 8) at their biggest, newest incarnation: Pinthouse Brewing (2201 E. Ben White), a four-vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse staffed by brewing veterans from all three locations, a venue that will continue to supercharge the brand’s usual goodness with Sunday brunch service, dog-focused merchandise, live music, and a series of Brewers’ Panels. (Yeah, we were already kind of in love with Pinthouse; after this news, we might have to look into buying a ring.) Bonus: On Thursday, May 6, there’ll be a silent auction with big-ticket items, with all proceeds benefiting Austin Pets Alive.

You know those Garrison Brothers out in Hye, the ones who make whiskeys that impress palates the world over and are the perfect pairing to any Texas sunset? Then you probably also know about their annual Bourbon Brawl, where they invite bartenders from all over the Lone Star State to compete in crafting the BB-COAT (that is: Best Bourbon Cocktail Of All Time) for money and fame? Well, here it comes again, as co-presented by the tipple-talented journos of Texas Monthly. Except that, for 2021, the Brawl has expanded to include mixologists from California, Illinois, New York, and Florida, too. The ultimate winner of this spirited throwdown is gonna walk (or, perhaps, strut) with $10,000 and a whole barrel of their own bourbon – and their winning drink will be available as a cocktail kit for purchase via Cocktail Courier. This whole thing’s getting underway nowcheck the details here – but also mark the date for the live broadcast of this year’s Finals: July, 29, 7:30pm.

New Greek restaurant Downtown? No, it’s not the return of legendary diner Ted’s Greek Corner, it’s the upscale Simi Estiatorio: Located near Sixth and Congress, run by service industry longtimer George Theodosiou (he’s helmed eateries in Greece and New York City), with Diego Sanchez (former head chef of Bahamian resort Baha Mar) in charge of the kitchen, the fancy sit-down’s promising a program of fresh seafood and modern interpretations of Greek and Mediterranean flavors. “I had a dream to combine the best Greek dishes and wines of my homeland with exceptional and attentive service in a vibrant, Greek-island like atmosphere,” says Theodosiou. “Simi is truly where this all comes together.” We’ve previously been been wowed by the Mediterranean offerings of Devil May Care and Aba in our river city, and are hopeful that this newcomer to the Littlefield Building will be of similar calibre. Note: They're taking reservations now, and will be open for service on Friday, May 7. So, ah, έχουν καλή όρεξη!

Mylk Labs' finest, now at Central Market

This is May already, you might have noticed. And May is National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And so Central Market is hosting a monthlong celebration of 24 different American Asian- and Pacific Islander-owned businesses as a part of their ongoing Be the Change campaign. Yummi Sushi. Mylk Labs. Saongwon Korean Pancakes. NOH Foods of Hawaii. Sinto Gourmet Kimchi. Kenzo Estate Winery. Yes, and 18 more, all brightly repped in the aisles of both Central Market locations in Austin … although, tbh, how can we mention this at all without also talking about Hana World Market and Asahi Imports – to say nothing of H Mart and 99 Ranch

Meanwhile, at Geraldine’s in the ever-welcoming Hotel Van Zandt, executive chef Chris Schaefer has launched a new dinner menu, replete with the finest spring vegetables – a tasty complement to the venue’s new lineup of pool parties and weekly live music programming …

And who has moved “just down the street” from their previous location, to 2401 E. Cesar Chavez? Why, it’s LeAnn Mueller & Allison Clem with their la Barbecue – featuring the same great food and same convenient hours (Wed.-Sun., 11am-6pm) …

Also, speaking of East Cesar Chavez, what about Phillip Frankland Lee's Sushi | Bar inside Bento Picnic? We hear it’s a sort of omakase speakeasy that’s not to be missed – but then, we reckon Leanne Valenti wouldn’t share her Eastside dining space with anything less than wonderful …

And what’s moving into the former Taco-Mex space at 12th & Harvey? It’s Birdie’s, a casual neighborhood restaurant and wine bar from the husband-and-wife team of Arjav Ezekiel and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, set to debut sometime in June. Food Editor Jessi Cape tells you more about it right here

And, after a year of truly inspired pivots and COVID-thwarting calisthenics, the virtuosi of Kemuri Tatsu-Ya have returned to à la carte izakaya service with a new, refined menu focused on a no-waste food philosophy …

And, though we do have a separate listing for the event, let’s also note here that the Far Out Lounge will have some (adorable, eminently pettable) baby goats roaming the grounds at their Farm Out Fest on Saturday, May 8 …

Now y’all be safe out there, eat as well and tip as big as you can, and FFS don’t not get vaccinated.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle