Catch the Holiday Hullaballoo, Win Free Home Slice Pizza for a Year, Check Out the Newest Cambria Hotel, Know That Counter Culture Will Return, 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.

The annual Miracle on Fifth holiday-themed booze-a-rama returns to The Eleanor

Yes, it’s your “Food News Buffet” for the first week of December.

Well, the overwrought and ever-fraught family-reunion gobblepalooza of Thanksgiving’s come and gone for another year, citizen, and fare thee well to all the still-living turkeys that survived. Yes, even your uncle Bob.

But now here comes Christmas and Chanukah and Kwanzaa and Festivus and all the other end-of-the-annum holidays that brighten a winter. People setting out their trees and menorahs and all, decking the halls and preparing to celebrate in style. For instance, Top Chef alumni Amanda Rockman (New Waterloo) and Jo Chan (Bureau de Poste) will bring Midnight in the Garden (7700 Manassas) two evenings of multicourse dining on Sat.-Sun., Dec. 9-10, to share the heritage, heart, and hope that Chanukah carries – via dishes of smoked fish, chicken liver, latkes, matzo ball soup, wagyu short ribs, kugel, sufganiyot, rugelach, and more … and the Driskill Hotel (604 Brazos), that renowned bastion of hospitality (and, some say, a g-g-ghost) will be lighting their iconic 16-foot Douglas fir Christmas tree on Fri., Dec. 1, 5-7pm. This annual tree-lighting ceremony will include live music and other entertainment, and is free for the public to enjoy … and The Eleanor (307-A W. Fifth) gets all kitschy-cool with their annual Miracle on Fifth Christmas installations, although some might argue that Rudolph’s Road House is more to the taste of Texas-born good ol’ boys and gladtime gals … and Mandola’s Italian Kitchen, whence come pasta and pastries to cavort downright Sicilianly about, is offering a scrumptious Holiday Cookie Tray (25 cookies for $50) with which to sweeten your yuletide gatherings, available Dec. 4-24 and featuring some of the family’s favorite Italian Christmas treats: cuccidatos, giuggiulena, pignoli, florentines, snickerdoodles, sand tarts, and a snowman sugar cookie. They’re available at all Mandola’s locations, and you can reserve ‘em through the website

Home Slice Pizza has begun a monthlong charity fundraiser to benefit two Texas-owned and operated nonprofits: Foundation Communities in Austin and Southern Smoke in Houston. Until Christmas Eve, Home Slice’s South Congress and North Loop locations will (in partnership with Tito’s, no less) bring back their beloved Vodka Pie, offer two natural wines, and hold a prize drawing for free pizza for a year

Y’all, Austin’s Downtown culinary scene is lousy. Lousy with great hotels, we mean. And, on Tue., Dec. 5, 4-7pm, the city's newest node of upscale hostelry, Cambria Hotel Austin Downtown (68 East), adjacent to the Rainey Street district, will mark its long-awaited debut with a grand opening celebration. Enjoy “incredible sunset views and cocktails, a live art installation, live music, tastings from our restaurants Graffiti and Limestone Rooftop, and much more.” Might wanna check it out, get yourself some posh nosh, by gosh …

Starting on Nov. 30, that popular boulangerie, bistro, and bar called épicerie (2307 Hancock) is launching a new raw oyster and bubbles service every Thursday, 5-9pm. Expect an amazing array of East Coast oysters along with delicious champagne pairings …

Let’s see – what else, what else? Kitchen United Mix (8023 Burnet Rd.), that once-hoppin’ ghost kitchen, has closed shop, though it hung on scrappily for a while with just Fuddruckers, Hawaiian Bros, and Mix Snax … and Sue Davis’s Counter Culture trailer, recently parked outside Tweedy’s (2908 Fruth), is shuttered as Davis focuses on re-establishing a true brick-and-mortar presence … and, speaking of going from trailer to brick, Haris Qureshi reports on the new Saigon Le Vendeur at 2601 E. Seventh … and peripatetic culinary provocateur Taylor Holland brings us a “Foodie’s Guide to One of North Austin’s Strip Malls.” Note: This is the first in a planned series that Holland’s doing for the Chronicle, reader, so keep your eyes peeled and your appetite whetted …

WUXTRY! It is, as we noted above, beginning to look a lot like (Texafied) Christmas. And so it’s little surprise that Mozart’s Coffee Roasters (3825 Lake Austin), in the midst of blazing up their annual photo-opp-fantastic holiday light show, has partnered with The Corndog Company – “Home of the Honeydog” – to provide Texas State Fair-style deliciousness-on-a-stick to their weekend festivities this year …

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and hang in there, friend – springtime’s not that far away.

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