It used to be that nothing much happened in the Austin food business between the Fourth of July and the annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Contest at the end of August. Those days appear to be gone. There are restaurants opening left and right, and the schedule is packed with events. Hyde Park is embracing ASTI Trattoria & Wine Bar (408-C E. 43rd, 451-1218), the first personal venture from talented chef couple Wm. Emmett Fox and Lisa Fox. We think it's to chef Fox's credit that so many of his former employees sought him out looking for jobs and were willing to take a chance on a new venture in order to work with him again. The food we've had so far at ASTI has been fabulous, especially the risottos and soft polenta bowls... Restaurateur John Watson has returned to Austin and is collaborating with the Mendoza family, owners of the two Antonio's Mexican restaurants, on their newest production, Antonio's Tex-Mex (7522 N. I-35, 419-7070). Look for the new location to open Monday, August 14, with the same Tex-Mex menu that has served their original location for 28 years, a selection of over 100 tequilas, neon signs by Todd Sanders, live music several nights, and landscaping that includes blue agave cactus inside and out... The busy intersection of Hwy. 360 and RR 2222 just got busier with the opening of 22 (6203 Capitol of Texas Hwy., 346-4411), the newest offering from former Guiltless Gourmet mogul Doug Foreman and partner Frank Obregon. The new eatery will feature a Continental menu with Southwestern and Asian influences under the direction of chef Casey Lloyd... Partners Ted Moll and Vespaio alumnus Allen Somers celebrate the opening of Kaya Blue (621-A E. Sixth, 478-8788) this week. Chef Somers describes his dinner menu as "high-end fusion cuisine," and his lunch offerings will be wraps, soups, and salads to get the downtown business crowd back to the office in a timely fashion... The Fourth Annual SIMS Supper happens this Friday, August 11, with a selection of Austin restaurants donating a portion of their lunch and dinner proceeds to the SIMS Foundation, an organization devoted to the mental health and well-being of Austin musicians. Several of the restaurants will feature live music during the dinner hour. For a list of participating restaurants, check www.sims-foundation.org... As part of Austin's "India Month" celebrations, the Austin chapter of the Network of Indian Professionals is sponsoring Asha-Spice Week 2000, a food festival featuring Indian cuisine. During the week of August 13-19, local Indian restaurants will donate a portion of their proceed to benefit Asha, a nonprofit organization that supports basic education for underprivileged children in India. When visiting Indian restaurants during Spice Week, diners are encouraged to tell their hosts "we're here for Asha," which means "hope" in several Indian dialects. Organizers of this event hope to promote the diversity of fine Indian cuisine in Austin while furthering the cause of education in their native India. For a list of participating restaurants, visit www.netip-austin.org or call 891-7403.
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