Food-O-File

The last Sunday in April finds local chefs, artists, and select small businesses coming together to raise money for hunger relief. The 1998 Share Our Strength (SOS) Taste of the Nation Gala Dinner and Silent Auction will be held Sunday, April 26, 6:30pm, at Bertram's by Miguel (1601 Guadalupe, 476-2743). As always, 100% of the ticket proceeds will benefit hunger relief agencies on the local, regional, and national levels. This year's local beneficiaries are Caritas and the Sustainable Food Center. Sixteen creative chefs and more than 25 artists are donating their talents to the annual gala event. Patrons will enjoy a cocktail reception followed by a multiple-course dinner and silent auction at which specially designed chairs and platters will be presented for bids. Both the food and art at this event are always fabulous and reservations for the $150 per plate gala are limited. Contact chef/organizer David Garrido at Jeffrey's (1204 West Lynn, 477-5584) for tickets. Garrido is also responsible for a subsequent SOS fundraiser to be held Tuesday, April 28, at the chef's Fresh Planet Cafe (601 N. Lamar, 476-0902). From 5-6:30pm, Garrido and writer Robb Walsh will sign copies of the new cookbook they have co-authored, Nuevo Tex-Mex (Chronicle Books, $19.95 paper). A three-course benefit dinner will follow at 7pm for the modest price of $15. Reservations are necessary, and all proceeds will be donated to SOS.

The owners of Manuel's (310 Congress, 472-7555) opted for a soft opening (no fanfare) for their new venue, Chango's Taqueria (3023 Guadalupe, 480-TACO), a couple of weeks ago. The snazzy new eatery - open daily, 11am-10pm - offers a fresh, light menu of botanas, tacos, burritos, tostadas, and salads, complemented by a tantalizing list of sauces. The menu also includes beer, wine, and batidos, Mexican fruit drinks very similar to smoothies.

One of Austin's favorite watering holes reaches a milestone in the coming week. Wylie's (400 E. Sixth, 472-3712) celebrates its 20th birthday on Tuesday, April 28. Housed in a historic native limestone building that dates back to 1860, Wylie's is the oldest bar and grill in operation in the modern incarnation of Sixth Street. It was highly regarded for good food, drinks, and famous desserts long before the area became known as an "entertainment district." Owner Jerry Creagh invites old and new customers alike to join in the festivities, which will include selected $0.20 appetizers and drink specials.

The popular dim sum eatery Rainbow Chinese & Seafood Restaurant (4454 S. Lamar) disappeared without a trace in the last few weeks. Rumor has it that renowned dim sum chef William Wong, part owner in the Rainbow location, is now affiliated with a small North Austin dim sum operation, but that's unverified at press time. On the other end of town, hungry diners found a "Closed, Building for Sale or Lease" sign posted on El Mirador (10201 Jollyville Road) last week. The word is that the transition late last fall from Xena to El Mirador was not particularly successful, and the plug was pulled. Local fans of the El Mirador in San Antonio were unable to figure out why the food and service at the Austin outlet never approached the quality of the popular Alamo city eatery. Unconfirmed rumors abound about which homegrown Mexican restaurant outfit will take over the stylish Northwest location.

Organic farming advocate Steve Sprinkel is making a run in the statewide race for Commissioner of Agriculture. Citizens concerned about the state of agriculture in our fair state can contact Sprinkel at 328-7922 or http://www.sprinkel.com to inquire about signing the petition to get his name placed on the November ballot.

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