Austin Restaurant Weeks, Triumphant Tiki Freaks, Yellowbird's Milton Speaks, Mind the Top Chef Peeks

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

Here's some of what's happening in Austin's culinary scene, as wrangled from numerous PR releases, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings.

Yes, it’s your Food News Buffet for the fourth week in September, Year Two of This Stupid Plague …

Austin Restaurant Weeks returns! That tasty and philanthropic time of year, in which participating Austin-area restaurants, bars, and breweries offer prix-fixe menus, specialty items, and drink specials with a portion of sales going to the Central Texas Food Bank? It’s back – from Oct. 1-10. Listen: The last iteration of ARW prior to the pandemic’s start raised enough to provide 893,000 meals for Central Texans in need. And this year’s event features more than 50 participating restaurants; so, if math lies less than your average politician, and if enough foodies partake of the excellent deals that are available, the results will be be *chef’s kiss* for all concerned. Find the list of eateries right here, and more details at the website, so you can make your community-boosting dining plans early …

Oh! Tiki Tatsu-ya? That long-awaited, tentatively heralded, fully immersive treasure of a tiki-lover’s paradise there on South Lamar? OMG, we have an official opening date: Monday, Oct. 4. And we’re told that reservations will be available via Resy, ah, soon

Ach du Lieber! That Oktoberfest spread at Easy Tiger …

You’d think, with a name like Oktoberfest, that it wouldn’t be celebrated until sometime during that particular month. But at Easy Tiger locations throughout Austin – and especially at our favorite Linc hangout – they’ve already got the parties going, with live music, all sorts of fun activities, and various Germanic (and, thus, germane) beer and food specials to make you shout a happy Ach du Lieber from Sept. 22-26. You already know about the Tiger’s humongous Bavarian pretzels, of course, and this weekend’s Oktoberfest Board – with smoked pork belly, housemade sausages, caraway kraut, beer-and-onion gravy, Hill Country rye bread, and more – will knock your hunger for a loop, tell you what. Prost!

JuiceLand’s done some pivots recently – not due to the COVID situation, but due to the, ah, Workers’ Awakening provoked by the COVID situation – and, while bargaining has resulted in pay increases and the hiring of Angela Shaw as Chief People Officer (to an all-female expert executive team, they tell us, to bolster a program of diversity, sustainability and holistic health), what comes of all this remains to be seen. Still, as customers, we’ve always loved what Juiceland’s sold, and so can’t help but think it’s a def win that Matt Shook’s health-forward company is opening three new locations in Central Texas: in Round Rock, Dallas, and Houston

Speaking of a somewhat different sort of juice – we mean the alcohol-based kind, yes – there’s a new kid in town who’s providing serve-it-yourself boozy creations for your own home or business or wherever, delivered when you want ‘em, as you like ‘em, and their name is Cantaloupe Island. Craft cocktails that are draft cocktails, get it? Viddy their website right here

40 North x Salty Cargo = Maximum Pizza Yum

In capsaicin-related program activities, the Emmy-nominated host of Hot Ones, Sean Evans, revealed the hot sauces that will be featured on Season 16 of the popular show – and one of them is an Austin original. It’ll come as little surprise to fans of the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival that Yellowbird founder George Milton will be presenting his Bliss & Vinegar as the season unfolds … 40 North, the much-missed wood-fired pizza joint at 10th & Lamar, has officially reopened their dining room for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. And they’re launching a new collab pizza with the Hawaii-celebrating savants of Salty Cargo. And former Pershing kitchen maestro Andrew Turner has joined their chef team … Weekend brunch is now an option at lobster-centric Garbo’s, which survived a recent fire to return even bigger and better at 12709 N. Mopac, and, listen: Lobster Avocado Toast … The husband-and-wife team of Sonny Tran and Loan Huynh open their Simply Pho House – featuring popular Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese dishes – at Hill Country Galleria (12913 Galleria Circle) on Thu., Sept. 23 … The Hotel Granduca’s Visconti Ristorante has a series of Long Table Dinners coming up in the cooler weather outside, and we’ll be telling you more about those soon; but in case you want a quick glance or reservations in advance (because these elegant culinary experiences sell out like whoa), click right here … Meanwhile, chill confectioners NadaMoo! have released a pumpkin pie variety of their tasty af vegan ice cream just in time for the fall season, and you can look for that in your grocer’s freezer …

And you know that Top Chef show on Bravo, right? So, the next season of the popular show, season 19? With a whole new array of talented chefs, but with host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio, and judge Gail Simmons returning? The competitive kitchen spectacle is being produced in Houston this year. Which fact the PR insists is “a prime example of Houston’s continuing growth into a global culinary destination.” Well, sure, of course it is. And we don’t know shit about that in Austin, do we? *rolls eyes*

Competitive eating? While the Central Texas Food Bank is still a necessary part of this world? Hmmmm. Nevertheless, way up there in Lewisville this weekend, Austin local Greg Wilson is “taking on some of the nation's greatest eaters” at the Padrino Foods World Tamale-eating Championship. Last year, Joey Chestnut, the #1-ranked eater in the world, won by eating 93 two-ounce tamales in 10 minutes. (We personally suspect Chestnut of being not precisely human but, rather, a type of land-going squalus.) But maybe this Wilson can unthrone the champion? (Now that Hungry Todd Rungy is only, like, a legend, these days?) And maybe this spectacle’s your idea of a fun daytrip … ?

WUXTRY! It seems that Trudy’s had to postpone their collab with Earlybird CBD, thus depriving all you hemp-happy hooligans of the promised weed-enhanced Loaded Queso this week, and we’ll find out what’s up with that, eventually, and tell you when you might expect to actually nom such a thing in the future, BUT: The crafty Earlybird isn’t monogamous as regards spreading-the-mellow-love dealings, which is why the company’s teamed with two local coffee shops to bring the legal amount of THC into a couple of beverages for National Coffee Day on Wed., Sept. 29: Try the Earlybird CBD Latte at Maha Coffee, or the Lavender Lee Bird (lavender iced coffee with CBD tincture) at Meteor Coffee

Yes, those are some Fierce Whiskers, alright.

What else, what else? Ah, this Saturday’s Come and Smoke It barbecue extravaganza is one of those holy-shit-don’t-miss-it events that’s a prime example of our city’s “continuing growth into a global culinary destination” … and the Fierce Whiskers Distillery is opening to the public for the first time that day, too … and El Alma is honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month with the stuffed pepper dish called Chile en Nogada … and, yes, Maris Clegg and Chris Cubas, the seemingly indefatigable duo behind Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Austin did take a single, well-deserved weekend off recently; but they’re back at their true good works again

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and watch out for those pesky Delta variants.

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