Threadgill's new Old No. 1 almost done, keep Las Manitas on you food to-do list, and take advantage of Austin's Downtown wine bars
By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., March 7, 2008
For once, Austin restaurateur/music promoter/author/raconteur Eddie Wilson was at a loss for the perfect sound bite. The scheduled reopening of the remodeled original Threadgill's (6416 N. Lamar, 451-5440) location was being sucked into the black hole of the city's building-inspection process, and he was worried. Almost nothing about the reconstruction project has gone exactly according to plan, but the inspection glitches were threatening to delay the soft opening Wilson had envisioned before a full music lineup; he's booked shows up the week of South by Southwest. The work on Old No. 1 began in the fall, addressing 20 years of accumulated structural problems and creating "the sweetest 100-seat music listening room in town," according to Wilson. The day we spoke, Wilson was looking for just the right description for the recently completed project. "It's such a huge improvement. I think we've managed to maintain a direct connection with the building's past while evolving to survive." I can't wait to see it, so I'll be checking out the new Old No. 1 as soon as the city gives the okay. And if you haven't been in town since last year, drop by Threadgill's World Headquarters (301 W. Riverside, 472-9304), and give a listen to the greatly enhanced music venue in their front-yard beer garden... I know, I know; this time last year I said your annual SXSW culinary pilgrimage to Las Manitas (211 Congress, 472-9357) for migas or enchiladas would mark the end of an era, but there they are in their original location, same as they ever were! The deal to displace some local independent businesses in favor of a mega-Marriott eyesore on our city's main thoroughfare has gone through some changes since I wrote that last spring. The most recent word was that proprietors Cynthia and Lidia Perez would move their iconic restaurant up the block to a historic two-story building they own, but no date for the move has been announced. So, put that annual culinary pilgrimage back on your Austin to-do list. And speaking of annual pilgrimages, when you're pitching washers on the patio at the Magnolia Cafe South (1920 S. Congress, 445-0000), be sure to wish them a happy 20th birthday. (Magnolia West, 2304 Lake Austin Blvd., turns 30 next year.)... If there was any doubt about this being a serious wine town, just look at how the Downtown landscape has changed in the last year. Wine bars abound – in fact, there are three within walking distance of each other: Cork & Co. (308 Congress, 474-2675, www.corkandco.com), a wine bar and retail wineshop where you can enjoy a daily $5 wine happy hour with cheeses and chocolates from 3 to 7pm; Crú (238 W. Second, 472-9463, www.cruawinebar.com), a chain outfit wine bar and restaurant with an inviting patio facing the busy Second Street shopping district; and the just-debuted Taste (202 W. Cesar Chavez, 478-2783, www.tasteselectwines.com), a restaurant, wine bar, and retail store combo offering 40 wines by the glass and a menu "inspired by the cuisines of traditional wine cultures" around the world.