Maria Maria brings Roberto Santibañez to Austin, renovations continue in local eateries, and more delicious news
There's a veritable lightning round of news this week. You may have already seen this first item on my blog (Virginia's On the Range, austinchronicle.com/ontherange) last weekend; I was so excited when I found out Friday, I just couldn't keep it to myself! Popular chef Roberto Santibañez will be back in town the first week in October for the opening of Maria Maria (415 Colorado, 687-6800, www.mariamariarestaurants.com), a company owned by musician Carlos Santana. Santibañez is culinary director of the venture, and we're told the menu reflects his innovative interpretations of Interior Mexican classics. The opening is scheduled for Oct. 6; more details as they become available... Two campus-area businesses have been undergoing remodeling lately. The ongoing renovations at Wheatsville Co-op (3101 Guadalupe, 478-2667) have already created much-needed office and employee break-room space; the next phase will increase shopping area. Tom's Tabooley (2928 Guadalupe, 479-7337) has taken over two adjacent spaces, expanding both counter and seating spaces and adding a stage for live music. How about a tune with that hummus? Two more Jersey Mike's Subs shops (9500 S. I-35, 233-6333; 4404 W. William Cannon, 891-0222; www.jerseymikes.com) have opened in South and Southwest Austin, bringing the total in the area to five. Look for custom-made East Coast-style subs, salads, chips, and soft drinks... After several months of travel, Ike Johnson is back in town and has teamed up with Bill Boyer at Tapas Catering (797-6027, www.tapasaustin.com). They're available for tapas parties, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and catering... The half-price lunch deal continues at Stortini (1917 Manor Rd., 391-9500, www.stortini-austin.com) through this month, but don't despair if you don't make it. The Italian eatery now serves lunch seven days a week, and prices are lower across the board. Chef Kristine Kittrell and pastry chef Alex Manley have pared down the menu to keep it in harmony with the seasons and will be designing more specials based on seasonal availability of local ingredients. The full Stortini menu is also now available at the Red House Lounge around back... Casa Brasil (407-9887, www.casabrasil.us) owner Joel Shuler has been named a certified cupping judge by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Contact Shuler for info on Casa Brasil's new farm-direct service... And speaking of coffee, friends in SoCo alerted us to the new coffee happy hour at Fair Bean Coffee (2210 S. First, 444-2326, www.fairbeancoffee.com) on Thursday and Friday from 5:30 to 7:30pm, when all coffee and tea drinks are half price... Driving in South Austin recently, I noticed two new bakeries I'm eager to try: Moonlight Bakery (2300 S. Lamar, 462-1302) and Eva B's Bakery & Cafe (2407-A S. Congress, 383-9050). I'll let you know what I discover. And I still haven't had one of the lemon meringue cupcakes from Sugar Mama's Bake-shop (1905-A S. First, 448-3727, www.sugarmamasbakeshop.com), but I'm told they are fabulous, and you know how I am about lemon!