Food Pantry Phased Out?

Though there is never a lack of community-service opportunities in Austin these days, I've come across a new one. Oscar Lopez, Coordinator of an operation called Project PHASE (a program of education, health care, and street outreach servicing the needs of Austin's homeless teens), informed me that they recently lost the portion of the financial support that funded their food pantry. The food is used to provide meals twice a week to about 100 homeless teenagers, most of whom stay around the Drag area. Project PHASE can use donations of personal hygiene items, staples, dry goods, canned goods, pasta, rice, etc. Both businesses and individuals are invited to donate food or "adopt" an entire meal once a month. To arrange donations or discuss volunteer opportunities, contact Lopez at 482-9474.

Takeout Taxi Delivers

The newest entry into the local dinner delivery business is a national franchise outfit called Takeout Taxi. Owners Mike Smither and Chris Marrus opened the new company in mid-December with plans to service the greater Austin area. Currently, Takeout Taxi is being marketed downtown and in the west and northwestern areas of the city, though they assured me they will take orders from other zip codes. The company's Restaurant Dining Guide features menus from Aussie's, Black-eyed Pea, Bourbon Street Cafe, Cafe Chino, Chez Zee, Coyote Cafe (limited menu only), El Arroyo, El Rinconcito, Frank & Angie's Pizzeria, Hudson's Grill, Kyoto, Mangia Pizza, On the Border, Pok-E-Jo's Smoke-house, Satay, Sfuzzi, Spaghetti Western, and ZuZu. They require a $10 minimum food order, and sales tax and a $3.50 delivery fee will be added on to your order. Those charges are exclusive of any gratuity you might want to bestow on the driver, who works solely for tips. My first experience with Takeout Taxi was positive; I got exactly what I ordered, delivered reasonably hot in just about an hour.

Diners, Take Note

Caterer, chef, and salsa mogul John Randall has returned to Green Pastures and is dividing kitchen duties with Chris Buslett. Salsa aficionados will recognize Randall from his fre-quent successes in the annual Chronicle Hot Sauce Challenge. In other chef moves around the city, Central Market Executive chef Ron Brannon will be taking over the newly remodeled kitchen at the historic downtown Driskill Hotel on Feb. 22 and Jona-than Bennett, former chef of the University Club and the Austin Country Club, is a new restaurant reviewer in rotation at the Austin American-Statesman... My new favorite lunch/take-out spot is Bottega della Pasta at 4201 S. Congress #101, just south of Ben White. Stop by Chef Rino Lanzalotti's little shop and enjoy a thick slice of beef lasagna ($5.50) napped with a delicate bechamel or a satisfying plate of divine gnocchi ($4.50) covered in a rich bolognese sauce studded with carrots. You can eat on a stool at the lunch counter or choose to take home some of the great selection of fresh pasta.

Artful Eats

The registration deadline has been extended for the Edible Art Feast, a one-day juried exhibition and feast on Sunday, February 25, 2-4pm at the Austin Museum of Art (formerly Laguna Gloria). The registration deadline has been extended to February 15 and entrants will be notified of acceptance by February 19. Judges will be Austin artist Judy Jensen and Tarry House chef Emil Vogely. Cash awards in the amount of $200 will be given on the basis of creativity, aesthetics, and taste. Contact the Museum at 458-8191 for application information.

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