More delectable hot dogs in Austin, several businesses that cater wedding receptions, and updates on chefs' changes in Austin.

Delicious Dogs

A few weeks back I was searching for good hot dogs and managed to overlook some hiding in plain sight! A tip from music columnist Ken Lieck sent me to Sixth Street for the dogs at Casino El Camino (517 E. Sixth, 469-9330). Turns out that in addition to great burgers, wings, and sandwiches, the Casino menu also features dynamite dogs made with quarter-pound, all-beef Hebrew National kosher wieners and served on fresh, New World bakery buns buttered and grilled to perfection. Dress 'em with sauerkraut, sweet relish, and spicy brown mustard or lean, fiery homemade chili, cheddar cheese, and chopped onion. Big eaters go for the Double Dog Texas Tommy, two grilled wieners, crisp bacon, and melted cheddar cheese. This is bar food at its finest: The quality of ingredients and great care in preparation are obvious. Casino's kitchen man, Justin McCoy, is one serious cook.

South Austin Treasure

Local caterers are promoting themselves to brides and potential corporate clients these days with tasting parties. Folks who own their own party venue, such as Melanie and Mark McAfee of the Barr Mansion (10463 Sprinkle Road, 926-6907), are ahead of the game when they want to showcase the inviting creations of chef Kevin Quinn and pastry chef Alain Braux. Other caterers, however, are faced with the task of finding an interesting space in which to debut their food and presentation ideas. Prairie Rock Catering (441-0111) chef/owner Deborah DeWitt found the perfect setting to feature her inspired Tuscan Fall Tasting Menu, Mercury Hall (615 Cardinal Lane, 236-1226), located off South First near Ben White. Owners Ann and Clark Walker are movie producers/ screenwriters in their real lives but discovered a talent for restoring old buildings. The Clarks purchased a white frame church in Mercury, Texas, to preserve it from the wrecking ball and relocated it to a beautiful three-acre lot in South Austin. Nestled under the oaks amid very attractive natural landscaping, the 17,000-sq.-foot, turn-of-the-century building offers central AC, stained glass windows, polished hardwood floors, a 400-sq.-foot catering kitchen, and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. The facility can accommodate several hundred guests when indoor and outdoor spaces are utilized, and has a large parking lot.


Kudos to Denny and Sarah Bolton of Pure Luck Dairy (512/858-7034) for bringing home more blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society's annual competition in August. Their Basil Pesto Spread was the big winner and it's available at Whole Foods, the Westlake Farmer's Market, and Boggy Creek Farm... Look for fajitas under the big top at Barnum's Kaleidoscape (Highland Mall parking lot) during their October 12-31 local run. Ninfa's on 6th (612 W. Sixth, 476-0612) is selling beef and chicken fajitas with all the trimmings plus beer, wine, mixed drinks, and frozen margaritas in the reception tent. P.T. Barnum never had it so good... After several years at Zoot (509 Hearn, 477-6535), Mary Perna has recently joined the staff at Vespaio (1610 S. Congress, 441-6100) as pastry chef... Chef James Fischer and sous-chef Ray Wheat have left Mars (1610 San Antonio, 472-3901) for new positions at Mezzaluna Gateway (Hwy. 183 & 360, 372-8030).

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