It’s Mac & Cheese Festival Time, Jester King Goes BBQ, Tso Expands, Smash Hearts the Service Industry, Eberly Does Brunch, 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, 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, right before Thanksgiving Week in 2021.

Mmmmm, the Ginger Festival is making sure the spice will flow at Fareground this fall

Variety is the spice of life, as Paul Atreides once said. And spice adds variety to life, so you do know about the Ginger Festival going on at Fareground right now, yes? And, speaking of variety, how many ways do you like your mac & cheese? As many ways as will be available at this Sunday’s Mac & Cheese Festival?

So, ah, Jester King Brewery is getting its barbecue on – but not with just another pop-up party featuring some local ’cuemaster’s brief visit to the premises. No, they’ve introduced a full, ongoing barbecue menu (in addition to their wood-fired pizzas, naturally), all courtesy of the Jester’s brand new 1,000-gallon smoker situated right there on-site. Chef Mason Huffman and his canny kitchen crew are using this apparatus to craft a menu that’ll wow the most discerning palates: Whether it's the brisket, the ribs, or that juicy pulled pork – or any of their specialty sandwiches – reckon you’ll be tasting the pride of Texas in every bite. Also: mac & cheese, smoked-meat beans, coleslaw, and potato salad … and, of course, bread pudding for dessert. (Just in time for Thanksgiving, you might say, while also noting the seasonally appropriate surname of Jester King co-founder Jeff Stuffings.) Tell you what: Between this place and Treaty Oak Distilling just down the way, we’re seriously considering moving out to Fitzhugh Road

Meanwhile, closer to home: Jackie Letelier and Emily Stengel’s Casero, right? That’s the local company that brought its worldclass charcuterie and catering skills to the Mueller community (at 2100 Robert Browning) back in July, for easy curbside pickup and delivery? Well, now (as of Fri., Nov. 19) you can walk right up to the window on a whim and order cheese, charcuterie, baguettes, crackers, and more – and beer, wine, and cider, too …

[Note: Rather amazing, what a little proper vaccinatin’ can do for a population, isn’t it? Of course, there are those holdouts among us who, it seems, prefer to get, like, polio and measles and COVID and so on – chacun son goût, we suppose – but, for the rest of us: Ahhhhhh, a sort of normalcy begins to return.]

Tso Chinese Delivery’s made it through the pandemic with their vehicles running and their colors flying, and they’ve been giving back to the community all the while, and their food is, well, it’s that classic Chinese food you’ve been craving since you were a kiddo, right? Glad to report that Tso will soon open a new location at the corner of Oltorf and Congress (2407 S. Congress), the better to serve an even greater area with their tasty dumplings and chickens and crab rangoons and – oh, you know. We'll keep you posted …

The Downtown Austin Alliance is hosting a free music series at Republic Square (422 Guadalupe) through Dec. 15: Wine Down Wednesdays, featuring local musicians performing in the greenish urban heart of our fair city – right near Salt & Time Cafe, the casual, all-day, Texan farm-to-table eatery that features a large selection of wines, beer, food and more. Yes, that’s every other Wednesday, 5-7pm

Smash ATX, that recently opened restaurant, ping-pong bar, and event space Downtown (213 W. Fifth) debuted two Sunday staples last week, and, sure, their brunch game is pretty decent … but what we’re even happier about is the fried chicken dinner for service industry workers: buttermilk fried chicken, “Smash mac,” creamy jalapeño green onion coleslaw, housemade pickles, and a garlic-cheese biscuit, for $14 each Sunday, 5-9pm

Those sumptuous weekend brunches we've been missing at Eberly? They're back!

When we categorized the above news of Smash ATX brunch as "pretty decent," we didn't mean to damn with faint praise. But, see, Eberly is now offering brunch service, too, for the first time since March of 2020 – and what chef Jo Chan and pastry chef Sarah Seghi do with food of any kind is ... it's nigh on incomparable, really. And, listen, the new Eberly brunch features avocado toast (with cranberry chutney, arugula, pumpkin seed brittle, and a poached egg), breakfast burgers (with speck, griddled red onions, and fries), Pullman loaf French toast (with huckleberry jam, oat crumble, and whipped mascarpone), milk rolls with apple butter, and more …

Trudy’s Tex-Mex celebrates its 44th year this Sat., Nov. 20, 7-10pm, with both the South Star and North Star locations providing birthday cake shots, live mariachis, an ice luge, 1977 Mexican martinis, and their belly-busting combo plates priced at $19.77 …

Oh, Thanksgiving’s coming? Yes, and RancH2O, that Dallas-based canned cocktail company, is adding to their current array of adult beverages with a Vodka Soda with Cranberry – available pretty much everywhere fine imbibables are sold. So maybe don’t bother messing with the jelly, cause here’s your favorite crannies in liquid form …

Yeah, come to think, we did round up a few other canned cocktails for your media-scattered attentions recently …

WUXTRY! From now until Thanksgiving, Hopdoddy’s classic sweet potato fries can be topped with candied pecans, marshmallows, fried rosemary, and drizzled in a maple glaze. We daresay: omg, omg, yessssss

WUXTRY! Max Kunik, that irrepressible honcho of Taster’s Table fame has fomented up a new subscription deal called Bakery Box ATX – and we’ll be telling you more about it ASAP …

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

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