La Condesa’s Lucky 13; Graeme Little Goes Big; Lucy’s Loses a Leg; Pasta | Bar Opens on East Sixth; Indie Chefs Community Is On Its Way to Town; and the Hajimaleki Bros Step Up Like Champions

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 your man Brenner has wrangled it from numerous PR releases, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings.

La Condesa's Torta of the Month for Girls Empowerment Network

Yes, it’s your Food News Buffet for the second week of March, as the years-long pandemic situation continues to unharshen, more or less, here in the money-riddled metrop of Austin, Texas.

So, ah, here comes South by Southwest again, trying to roar back into its previous Before Times glory of international impact, flaunting the sort of ongoing spectacle that both overwhelms the local service industry and fills the coffers of its many venues, enabling bars and restaurants across the city and beyond to survive throughout the subsequent, less-crowded months. We’d be real happy if that happened again this year and in the years to follow, wouldn’t you? Meanwhile, there’s a lot of foodie programming that’s SouthBy-specific – some revelatory, some celebrity-packed, some a combination of both or neither – and we wish it well … while looking more closely at what else is happening in this big ol’ town of ours:

Congrats to La Condesa (400 W. Second), that Downtown bastion of interior Mexican culinary goodness, on reaching their 13th anniversary – and cheers to them, for donating a portion of their Torta of the Month proceeds to Girls Empowerment Network in March. That torta is green chilaquiles with toasted corn chips, tomatillo, black beans, guacamole, salsa verde, and creama cotija. (Mmmmm, who doesn’t want to nom something like that, especially while simultaneously helping empower girls?) La Condesa’s donated more than $3500 to local nonprofits since they began this program last year; they keep the tortas this tasty, they’re probably on track to double that before 2023 gets here …

Executive chef Graeme Little is gonna rock the Fairmont

Congrats as well to Graeme Little, who’s the new executive chef of Fairmont Austin. He’s been cheffing at this Fairmont since 2017 (the native Canadian’s also worked for Fairmonts in Toronto and Vancouver) and now he’s totally in charge of the fancy place’s Fulton, Garrison, Good Things, Revue, and Rules & Regs venues – and the culinary offerings for Fairmont-hosted banquets and events. Listen: When he’s not in a kitchen, this Little builds custom furniture pieces from native Texas trees and plays hockey in a local league. Canadians, you know, are said to be exceedingly polite; doesn’t mean they don’t make bold statements, though. Says the chef: “I look forward to changing the landscape of hotel dining in Austin.” Dude.

Condolences, on the other hand, to Lucy’s Fried Chicken – because we hear that their Burnet Road location has been permanently shuttered due to circumstances resulting from, um, staffing problems. Luckily for those of us who love their succulent birds (and those deep-fried deviled eggs), the South Congress and Cedar Park venues are still going strong ...

What’s opening all new and fresh, though, is Pasta | Bar, the intimate, pasta-as-omakase concept from Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee, whose original location in California recently garnered a Michelin star. You want your dining experience to be as elevated as possible? Outside of booking a meal in the International Space Station, this new venue (1017 E. Sixth) from the Lees’ Scratch Restaurant Group is about as elevated as noodles can be. The elegant place opens on March 13 ...

Much sadder to relate is how, oh, what’s the term? How fucked, maybe? How botched, let’s say, that Austin Crawfish Festival we shouted-out last week turned out to be. At least according to this report, the thing was a rather mismanaged disappointment. Maybe they’ll do better next time, if there is a next time? You can hope, but – caveat emptor, baby …

Hey, it’s Pi Day on March 14! Our recommendation: Get your favorite mathematician a Pi Day Gift Box from Austin’s Tiny Pies – a 12-pack of their tiny pies with the pi symbol cut out of their famous crust. That delicious dozen’s an assortment of four coconut cream pies, four rocky road pies, and four chocolate cream pies, and you can find ’em among the ones and zeros at tinypies.com ...

What tastes amazing and helps support Ukraine on Monday, March 14? Ask the Hajimaleki Brothers.

Local restaurateurs Amir and Ali Hajimaleki know firsthand the perils of war from their childhood in a war-torn Iran – and knew they had to support humanitarian efforts for the people of Ukraine. “Our hearts are with all of those who have been affected by this war,” says chef Amir. “We feel as fellow humans we must do our part to support those in need. May peace prevail!” And so, on Mon. March 14, all the proceeds from their five restaurants – both locations of District Kitchen + Cocktails, both locations of Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar, and Keepers Coastal Kitchen – will go to World Central Kitchen, United for Ukraine by United Way Worldwide, and IFAW. Listen, that’s all the proceeds. Dear Austinite, do you know how awesome that is? And are you aware of how ridiculously good the food is in those places? And, since their Shorties Pizza + Grinders concept is closed on Mondays, the Hajimalekis will be donating $1 of every pizza ordered during the week of March 14 to those charitable efforts …

And – on St. Patrick’s Day? Well, begorrah, y’all – there’s B.D. Riley’s in Mueller throwing two separate shindigs for the holiday, and of course the Cork & Barrel pub & microbrewery in Round Rock is going all out with their music-fueled Celtic spectacular, and the ubiquitous-as-they-are-local-and-delicious Hopdoddy is offering Shepherd’s Pie Poutine – hand-cut fries loaded with Jameson-braised pot roast vegetables and white cheddar cheese curds, all topped with an egg and fried rosemary – on March 16-20, while supplies last …

But maybe what you're really looking for right now, modern urban citizen, is some tasty tripe?

Hot Tacos from Veracruz All Natural

We swear this isn’t reporting on SXSW, but everyone needs to know that Hot Tacos, the new “fast taco” concept from Veracruz All Natural owners Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, will be debuting in a pop-up (75 Rainey Street) during the festival, daily from 11am-2am. And they’ll continue to carry on with their deliciousness, but maybe elsewhere, once all the tourists have fled …

Hans Schrei and Luis Gramajo of the Wunderkeks cookie company are thrilled to tell us that their brownies were chosen to be one of the products included in the “Everyone Wins” Nominee Gift Bags that are independently given to all acting and directing Oscar® nominees. Hollywood, amirite? Reckon they could avoid the hassle years from now and just start sending a monthly batch to Austin’s own Lee Eddy and Macon Blair

These are the days of mycology and wonders. And now Central Market is growing its own exotic mushrooms, so you can purchase blue oyster, king oyster, and lion’s mane mushrooms that’ll be grown on-site, in temperature-and-humidity-controlled cases that mimic a damp and shaded forest floor. Ah, there are few things more exquisitely umami-rich than the sautéed fruiting bodies of certain fungi ...

You know we already love Jack Allen’s Kitchen for innumerable reasons, and here’s another one – even though it’s relevant to just the Anderson Lane location: Only there, throughout March and only for dinner, they're bringing back the beloved bacon-wrapped quail dish. Bonus: They've also got chicken-fried meatloaf and the pomegranate basil martini on the menu this week …

And, as if their world-class cuisine weren’t attractive enough, Suerte (1800 E. Sixth) is bringing back the drink specials of “Lucky Hour” – Sunday-Thursday, 5-6pm. Which includes, among other things, 50% off all mezcal and tequila pours. Also, you hate Mondays? You (and perhaps Garfield) should definitely check out Suerte – because those half-price pours are in effect all day long on that day

But is any of that enough to tempt us away from 4th Tap Brewing Co-op at 10615 Metric, where they’ve got those incredible beers – their Sun Eater, a rosemary gruit, is a brilliant springtime swig – and Bob Somsith’s SXSE food truck and such a welcoming patio? Oh, damn you, cursed freedom of choice!

We’ve told you about Nolan Ryan’s Goodstock meat market and kitchenware emporium up there in Round Rock before. Because the combination of name recognition and high-quality food and merch is nigh on irresistible, tbh, and the Rock’s really not that far away. So please note that Goodstock has launched a Curbside Market, making their meat cases available for pre-order and easy pickup. Yes, that means Angus and Black Label steaks, ground beef, briskets, and chicken and pork products as available – with max convenience …

Too many chefs? Nah – and there won't be any spoiled broth at all, when the Indie Chefs Community brings their Road To COMMUNE series to Austin

WUXTRY! The national Indie Chefs Community is coming to Austin for a one-time-only collaborative Road to COMMUNE dinner series from March 23-27, featuring five days of collaborative culinary events, which will offer dishes (and wine pairings) from more than 25 nationally acclaimed chefs (with Austin's own Ariana Quant and Brandon Silva and Christina Currier and Jo Chan and Fiore Tedesco and Philip Speer and Mia Li and more among this company of glory), and they’re well-aligned with the Good Work Austin people, and most of the mouthwatering action will be hosted by Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley at their Foreign & Domestic on North Loop, and – yeah, we’ll be telling you more about all this, but it’s one of the biggest deals ever (and SXSW will be gone by then, tyvm), so you might wanna look into getting tickets while they’re still available

WUXTRY! Nearly eight years after the debut of that Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Downtown Austin, chef Tim Love and his team have reopened the restaurant at 123 W. Sixth, just steps away from the original location. Tell you what: You don't need to be lonesome or a dove to enjoy the amazing, beef-forward cuisine found in this upscale eatery …

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and don’t ditch those COVID masks just yet.


The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, July 18, at midnight. Vote now at vote.austinchronicle.com.

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