Taco Xpress reborn; Burnet blossoms; Jack Gilmore gets chile with it

Driving up South Lamar last week, I discovered what South Austin taco lovers had already figured out: The new incarnation of Taco Xpress (2529 S. Lamar, 444-0261) is open for business! Though the building is new and the space is bigger (15 tables inside, 10 extra tables on the deck, a comfortable porch for waiting), it's obvious proprietor Maria Corbalan has worked very hard to maintain the funk factor. The new spot exudes the same kitschy charm as the original, rusted signs and all. The front of the restaurant now faces east, with the patio situated on the back and the recently repaired statue of the Taco Queen herself welcoming folks in from Lamar. For the time being, however, it's necessary to enter the parking lot on Bluebonnet to access the restaurant and plenty of paved parking. There was only a week of downtime between the old and new restaurants, but Corbalan tells us she's very happy to be back in business... Several friends joined me for dinner at Eddie Bernal's hot new Blue Star Cafeteria (4800 Burnet Rd., 454-7827) last week, and we couldn't help but notice that stretch of lower Burnet Road has become a diverse Rosedale Restaurant Row. In the first block, grab some pastries at Upper Crust Bakery (4508 Burnet Rd., 467-0102), and then drop into the new Cocina de Consuelo (4516 Burnet Rd., 524-4740) where you can purchase food to take home, dine on their little patio, or arrange for catering services. Move on up the street a bit and drop into Rosedale's new Japanese restaurant and sushi bar, Maru (4636 Burnet Rd., 458-6200), or indulge in some seductively aromatic fresh pitas at Phoenicia Bakery & Deli (4701 Burnet Rd., 323-6770). The snazzy new Rosedale Center is home to the delightful Sampaio's (4800 Burnet Rd., 469-9988), so popular with soccer-loving Brazilians during the recent World Cup, and the aforementioned Blue Star, a family comfort-food spot, for sure. Rosedale neighbors have bought their barbecue at the Pit (4707 Burnet Rd., 453-6464) since 1971 and their pancakes and omelettes at the Omelettry (4811 Burnet Rd., 453-5062) since 1978. And though Billy's on Burnet (2105 Hancock Dr., 407-9305) actually faces Hancock Drive, the laid-back hangout tops the "row" and fits the neighborhood like an old shoe... Not to be outdone by chile-festers at other stores and restaurants, Executive Chef Jack Gilmore of both Z'Tejas Grills (1110 W. Sixth, 476-5355; 9400 Arboretum Blvd., 346-3506) has several spicy new items on his Chile Bash menu, available from now until Sept. 24. During that time, $1 from each of the special menu items sold will benefit the Sustainable Food Center (, and Gilmore himself will perform a cooking demonstration at the SFC's Downtown Farmers' Market (Fourth & Guadalupe) on Saturday morning, Sept. 23.

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Burnet Restaurant Row, Jack Gilmore, Taco XPress, Z'Tejas Grill, Maria Corbalan

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