Russian House Becomes Just 'The House'; Cowboy Breakfast Brings the Free Noms; Tatsu-Ya Takes Over Former Contigo Space; This Month Is All About the Women Everywhere; 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 for the first week of March, as the years-long pandemic situation begins to unharshen, more or less, here in the burgeoning burg of Austin, Texas:

Більше влади Україні!

Since we’re allowed if not precisely encouraged to use swears here in your Chronicle, let’s take a little moment to shout “Fuck You, Putin!” and simultaneously offer cheers to the good folks of Austin’s former Russian House at 307 E. Fifth, as owners Varda Salkey and Vladimir Gribkov have officially changed the name of their acclaimed eatery to simply “The House.” Mmmmmm, solidarity in the face of tyrants is almost as tasty as those bear-stuffed dumplings

Speaking of food-based solidarity, Tso Chinese Delivery is donating $4 to the Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians fund with every purchase of their Blue Crab Rangoons through the month of March. This is a fortifying bonus indeed, since we're already ordering great noms from Tso so many times a month ...

Gather 'round the chuckwagon, all you urban wranglers

And the Austin Rodeo’s back – yee-haw, amirite? – so you know it’s almost time for the annual Cowboy Breakfast at the Long Center (701 W. Riverside), with tantalizing tacos, hot biscuits, strong coffee, and more – and live country music, dance lesson, and trick roping demos. You gotta get there bright and early – it’s Fri., March 4, 6-8am – but it’s free, free, free for everyone. You wanna spend some money on food, though? Okay, then note that BBQ Austin, in which barbecue teams from all over Texas compete for the title of champion, is a delicious part of this weekend’s Rodeo (March 4-5), and you can find more info right here, pardner …

THIS JUST IN! And, boy howdy, it’s a delicious announcement: Tatsu Aikawa and his ramen-forward crew of relentless innovators are taking over the former Contigo space at 2027 Anchor Lane – yes, the building and that gorgeous expanse of chill outdoor seating. OG Contigo-er Andrew Wiseheart pitched Aikawa the prospect, and now the man who’s brought us so much Asian-inflected greatness is (to further this metaphor) set to knock this one outta the park, bringing together the two umami-packed culinary crafts of ramen and barbecue. “In Japanese, the word ‘en’ translates to ‘circle’ and means fate or karma, and this new project brings that to mind,” notes Aikawa. “It feels like coming full circle from when I cooked my brisket ramen in the Contigo kitchen for an episode of “BBQ with Franklin” that Andrew hosted seven years ago, and throwing it back to 2013 when the dish was born during a shift family meal. I’ve always wanted to pursue the idea of Texas regional ramen, and when this serendipitous opportunity presented itself, I saw the chance to make it a reality.” It’s gonna be a few months yet – the new place is supposed to debut in late summer – but we reckon it’ll be one hell of a tasty reality when it gets here …

Take a sip of The Ellsworth

In further good news, the Soup Peddler’s fundraiser-smoothie for March is inspired by the Blanton-honored artist Ellsworth Kelly, the proceeds go to Dell Children’s Medical Center, and the two-toned orange-and-red drink ($8) is 18 ounces of freshly blended mango, carrot juice, orange juice, ginger, turmeric, beet, lemon juice, and cayenne. Get ‘em at any Soup Peddler location

How do you celebrate International Women’s Day if you’re a brewery? If you’re Meanwhile Brewing Co., you craft a new beer to benefit the Pink Boots Society, but you do it like this: On March 8, female employees in every department of Meanwhile will gather in the brewhouse to craft Hard Candy, a lower-ABV IPA with fruit flavors of white peach and lychee, brewed with hops from the Yakima Chief Hops “Pink Boots Blend.” Note: That’ll be available on draft and in cans on Fri., April 8

And Watertrade, that Japanese-style bar attached to Otoko? They’re bringing in guest bartenders to collaborate with resident mixologist Nadia Hernandez in concocting new cocktails using only the woman-led breweries, wineries, and tea farms on the menu …

Here's the Holy Ground at DrinkWell, photo courtesy of Soleil Roth

And North Loop cocktail bar and neighborhood eatery DrinkWell is supercharging their 10th anniversary by featuring a specialty menu with cocktails inspired by Taylor Swift’s Red album. This creative flex will also include two cocktails available in nonalcoholic formats, but we’re especially excited about the highly spirited All Too Well: Patrón Sherry Cask Aged Añejo, Highland Park 12-Year Scotch, Madeira Rainwater, pineapple amaro, and wormwood bitters. The limited-run menu will be available until April 10, while the already elegant joint undergoes a range of renovations, beginning with a revamped outdoor patio space to fit the neighborhood …

Meanwhile, in the heart of Downtown, the excellent Ciclo at Austin’s Four Seasons Hotel is honoring honeybees with a spring “Viva Abejas! (Love Live Bees)” menu of buzz-worthy (heh) food and drink specials. Each of the featured items incorporates products that depend on bees, from the acacia honey in the Farro-Coconut Risotto and the honeycomb ice cream on the Honey Panna Cotta dessert to the agave in the spicy Bee-cante cocktail. Note: A portion of proceeds from each Viva Abejas dish and cocktail sold will be donated to the Help Save the Bees Foundation

Let’s see – what else, what else? Oh! There’s a Les Dames Bake Sale from Lutie’s chef Susana Querejazu on March 5 … and the Austin Crawfish Festival is back with all the mudbug mania you can stand … and Gumbofest is spicing up The Cavalier this Saturday … and Aaron Franklin’s nonpareil Hot Luck Fest will return in May with a mindblowing array of talented chefs … and Garrison Bothers Distillery has started accepting submissions for this year’s Bourbon Brawl … and omg the full in-person return of that paradigm-shifting SXSW *clutches pearls* is almost upon us …

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


Get ready for Best of Austin: Restaurants! Voting begins June 30 in the Readers Poll. Find out more at vote.austinchronicle.com.

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