Much ado about Manor Road; plus, Ahmad Modoni returns from Oaxca and sadness at the Chicago Dog House

A drive down Manor Road will reveal a spiffy new sign at Mi Madre’s (2201 Manor Rd., 480-8441) along with the news the popular taco cafe is now open on Sundays. There’s a banner proclaiming the Clementine Coffee Bar is coming soon to a remodeled duplex at the corner of Manor Road and Breeze, and we spied a notice in the window at El Chilito (2219 Manor Rd., 382-3797) announcing that they’ve applied for a beer and wine license, which they hope to have in place by the end of the year... Out near the lake, the folks at Hill Country Pasta House (3519 RR 620 N., 266-9445) have just completed a remodeling project and are now open for dinner on Mondays and brunch on Sundays. They’re promoting an “Early Bird” special, which offers a three-course meal for two diners for $21.95 before 5:30pm. Check out their new fall menu at Austin restaurateur Ahmad Modoni, co-owner of Manuel’s and Changos and his partner, graphic artist Jan Heaton, have just returned from a week-long visit to the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where they observed the elaborate celebrations for Dia de los Muertos in the capital city and surrounding villages. “We hired a cab driver to take us around, and so we saw everything: museums, churches, hundreds of art galleries, restaurants,” Modoni told me when he returned. “The food was amazing everywhere we went. Whether it was some hole-in-the-wall place or a famous restaurant like El Naranjo, which is our favorite, the food was fantastic.” The couple also toured the ruins at Monte Alban and spent a day in the Oaxacan countryside visiting longtime friend Susana Trilling at her Seasons of My Heart Cooking School. Drop by the campus-area Changos (3023 Guadalupe, 480-8226) and ask Modoni for more details about his trip. And speaking of Trilling, she’ll be in Austin for her annual holiday class at Central Market in early December... Jean Zurow has announced that due to the recent untimely death of her husband, Bill Zurow, she will close their restaurant, the Chicago Dog House (formerly Lucky Dog; 4211 Spicewood Springs Rd., 343-8619) on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Fans of their great Chicago-style hot dogs will want to drop by for a final dog in Bill’s honor. We offer the Zurow family our sincerest condolences.

Event Menu :: November 17-24

Allons à Chez Nous (510 Neches, 473-2413) tonight for the annual arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau. Enjoy the young wine with the restaurant's French bistro classics for the next few weeks; Thursday, Nov. 17.

Meet some of Central Texas' most talented artisans along the Texas Hill Country Art and Wine Trail this weekend. Stop along the way to taste wines at Fall Creek Vineyards, Lost Creek Vineyards, and Spicewood Vineyards. For a complete list of artists and a map, go to; 10am-6:30pm, Saturday, Nov. 19; noon-6:30pm, Sunday, Nov. 20.

Fall Creek Vineyards chef Elizabeth Miller will demonstrate holiday dessert recipes that pair well with Fall Creek's award-winning wines. For more information and directions to the vineyard, go to; noon, 1:30pm, 3pm, Saturdays, Nov. 19, 26, and Dec. 3.

The Empty Bowl Project at ClayWays Pottery Studio (5422 Burnet Rd.) is one of the most innovative local events to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. Fifteen dollars buys a custom-made bowl from a local potter filled with delicious soup prepared by many of Austin's most talented chefs. Go early: The coolest bowls sell quickly! 11am-3pm, Sunday, Nov. 20.

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