The Austin Chronicle

Thunderbird is Closing, Mr. Black Espresso Martini Fest Is Spiking Your Weekend, the Meteor Lands Its Fourth Year, Picnik Gets Hempy with Free Earlybird, and What’s This About Some Karen?

By Wayne Alan Brenner, October 11, 2023, 4:20pm, On the Range

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, citizen, it’s your “Food News Buffet” for the second week of October.

Ah, no, caffeinated sorrow! After 17 years of business, Thunderbird Coffee (2200 Manor Rd.) is closing. “The biggest factor,” said Ryan McElroy, the founder and longtime owner, “is for sure the pandemic. We tried and tried, but things have changed so much. Work from home has been a blessing for most, but very hard on Austin’s coffee shops. Sadly, the business has never really bounced back and now is in a position where it can’t sustainably move forward.” The beloved shop’s last day will be December 17

Better news: The second annual Mr. Black Espresso Martini Fest is up and running through Oct. 15, showcasing the most innovative versions of the popular cocktail, tastying up the joint with spirited java at Drop Kick, Equipment Room, Half Step, Swift’s Attic, and more …

The Meteor (2110 S. Congress), that excellent all-day cafe (and natural wine and boutique bike shop) is celebrating their fourth anniversary with specials every Friday in October. Up next, on Friday the 13th: Pizza is half-price all day long …

Picnik and Earlybird are partnering to provide Picnik patrons with a special treat for the spooky season: With the purchase of any zero-proof cocktail at Picnic, customers will get a free four-pack of full-spectrum, hemp-infused Earlybird gummies to enjoy after their meal. This’ll be going on at both Picnik locations – 1600 S. First and 4801 Burnet Rd – Oct. 17-30 …

We may be biased, because these guys have been winners at the annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival since they started, but we reckon you need to know that Yellowbird’s Small Batch flavors – featuring “unique hot pepper blends and choice ingredients accentuate the fiery fresh fruits of the land” – are back in stock for the season and ready to spike whatever you’ve got that’s good enough to eat …

Let’s see – what else, what else? It's the Drinks issue this week, of course, and Eric Puga ranks Austin’s top 10 breweriesTaylor Tobin looks beyond the Instagrammability of Proud MaryJames Scott highlights local queer women-owned coffee roaster SightseerHannah Uebele checks out the coffee innovations of the Eastside’s popular DesnudoMexic-Arte Museum’s Catrina Dinner brings the arty elegance to Fonda San Miguel this Sunday … and Radio/East, the second location for Radio Coffee & Beer, is opening on Wednesday

WUXTRY! A nationally touring food-centric show, designed around the meme of the bitchy I-Want-to-Talk-to-the-Manager customer that the internets have named Karen, is coming to Austin in January. Except here – oooh, switcheroo! – Karen is the one serving the food. Listen: “Customers can expect plenty of sass, great food, and a hefty sprinkle of bad attitude. As Karen's Diner goes, the food is great, the service ungrateful, but your experience will be unforgettable.” [Note: Your journo had to correct the promotional material's punctuation and would like to speak to the PR team’s editor. Haw-haw!]

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and remember that 171 days is not all that long.

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