V.B.W. dishes out the scoops

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Often, we don't have enough space for every juicy detail about all of the food items mentioned in this section, and it's time to correct a little of that. For instance, when Mick Vann wrote about meat markets a few weeks back, he didn't mention Wheatsville Co-op (3101 Guadalupe, 478-2667) because the store didn't exactly fit his article criteria. Wheatsville GM Dan Gillotte was understandably dismayed about that and wants everyone to know that Wheatsville carries certified organic, Texas-raised B3R beef from Childress, Buddy's Natural Chickens from Gonzales, and Pederson's pork products. While they don't have a full-service meat counter, if you call ahead, they will fix you up! In a recent mention of Sgt. Pepper's new line of Chocolate Pestos, we also wanted to tell you about his complete new line of designer ketchups, everything from Smoked Tomato to Roasted Garlic to Habanero Lime, which are now available at the Westlake Farmers Market (4100 Westbank Dr., 280-1976) and Tears of Joy Hot Sauce Shop (618 E. Sixth, 499-0766). Also, we found out last week that Frans Hendriks' luscious line of Roscar Chocolates are exclusively available locally at both Breed & Co. stores (718 W. 29th, 474-6679; 3663 Bee Caves Rd., 328-3960). We're told that they are so popular, they've been given their own shelves in the candy display cases.

Downtown Growth

Downtown growth indicators include the opening of several new restaurants, three eateries alone in the new Convention Center Hilton (500 E. Fourth, 482-8000). Java Coast Fine Coffees is the gift/coffee shop on the corner of East Fifth and Neches where you'll find salads and wraps, cappuccino and espresso, breakfast pastries, handmade truffles, and a line of signature desserts from pastry chef Katherine Clapner. Liberty Tavern is their family restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an American cafe menu. The fine-dining venue is Finn & Porter, an upscale steak and seafood house with a dramatic spiral staircase and Austin's only sushi bar outside an exclusively Asian restaurant. We're told that they hope to position Finn & Porter in the same echelon as the Cafe at the Four Seasons and the Driskill Grille, which is a worthy aspiration. And over on the avenue, the highly regarded Portland-based seafood chain McCormick & Schmick's (401 Congress, 236-9600) has sailed into the new Frost Bank building. These folks are nationally known for quality seafood at reasonable prices and for customizing each location to the individual market rather than popping out cookie-cutter outlets. They're serving lunch and dinner seven days a week. Frost building tenants will soon be able to satisfy their breakfast taco addiction, when the longtime local favorite Taco Shack opens there in March. Unfortunately, there's also another Smart Growth casualty to report. Austin has lost its last local and independently owned retail bagel store. Due to rent increases from $1,200 to $5,600 over a period of four years, Chris Wing was forced to close the retail outlet of Hot Jumbo Bagels on West Fifth last week. He has moved the operation to an East Austin location, where he will continue as a wholesale business only. "There was just no way to sell enough bagels to cover the rent increases. We had to lay off longtime employees. Once they built that loft project next door, things just kept getting worse." Wing wants customers devoted to his wonderful bagels to know that they will still be available at all the retail outlets around town that have carried them for years, such as most independent local coffee shops, Central Market, Fresh Plus, Whole Foods, and Starbucks.

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, August 22, at midnight. Vote now at

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