Food-o-File

Mourn closing Austin eateries, but check out the new ones, too

It's still too early to gauge the long-term effects of the current economic crisis on Aus­tin's restaurant market, but recent weeks have seen the closings of Tony's Southern Com­fort (1201 E. Sixth), Vin Bistro (1601 W. 38th #1), and Ms. B's (1050 E. 11th, note that the outlet at 8105 Mesa remains open), as well as the delay or cancellation of a couple of other potential projects. On the other hand, several new places have opened strongly this fall: Olivia (2043 S. Lamar, 804-2700, www.olivia-austin.com), Cookie Lounge (222 Rio Grande, 478-BAKE, www.austincookielounge.com), Thai Fresh (909 W. Mary, 494-6436, www.thai-fresh.com), and the upscale local outlet of the very successful Houston-based chain Perry's Steak­house & Grille (114 W. Seventh, 474-6300, www.perrysrestaurants.com)... One way to continue eating out without breaking into the old piggy bank is a new local website called FrugalFeaster.com, the brainchild of Austinite Mitch Barnett, who launched the user-friendly and information-packed site recently with the goal of "helping people eat cheap at good restaurants any day of the week." The site is free to both the public and the restaurants it covers and offers detailed information about daily food deals all over town – the listing of half-price appetizers alone could keep you eating cheaply for weeks! Check it out, and let me know what you think... The newest player on the Austin "trailer cuisine" scene is Hat Creek Burger Co. (600 W. Sixth, 535-8711, www.hatcreekburgers.com), located facing the patio behind Star Bar on Sixth. The menu is simple and straightforward: hand-formed, 100% Angus beef hamburgers or cheeseburgers with a choice of four cheeses and all the regular fixings; hand-cut fries; sodas over crushed ice; and Blue Bell milkshakes. The burger I sampled last week was really very good – moist and flavorful with very fresh fixings and pepper-jack cheese. Hat Creek is open 11am-10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am-1am Friday and Saturday... After I grabbed the burger, I stopped to check out the snazzy new cactus patio at Ranch 616 (616 Nueces, 479-7616), and it looks to be a great place to enjoy our glorious fall weather... And speaking of dining outside to appreciate the weather, Rio Grande Mexi­can Restaurant (301 San Jacinto, 476-8300, www.rioaustin.com) recently added a Yappy Hour for guests and their dogs on the comfortable covered patio every Tuesday evening, 5-9pm. Guests can enjoy a specially priced tapas menu, $5 margaritas, and $2 draft beer, while the pups snack on dog treats... The historic Sixth Street Entertain­ment District boasts two new event venues available for rent. Long­time Downtown entrepreneur Bob Woody has reimagined an old brewpub space and turned it into the Copper Tank Events Center (504 Trinity). The space can accommodate 400-850 people, and bookings are currently being made through Woody's Old Pecan St. Cafe (310 E. Sixth, 478-2491, www.oldpecanstcafe.com). The other new spot is the Palm Door (401 Sabine, 391-1994, www.thepalmdoor.com), a complete retooling of the former City Grill location with indoor/outdoor space for 300-350 guests, a scenic deck overlooking Waller Creek, and customized menus by in-house caterers Pink Avo­cado (www.pinkavocadocatering.com). Be sure to check out my Food blog, Virginia's On the Range, at austinchronicle.com/ontherange for entry information for the upcoming holiday dessert contest at Faraday's Kitchen Store and my wrap-up of the Green Corn Project tasting party at Boggy Creek Farm last Sunday, complete with photos.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Copper Tank Events Center, Hat Creek Burger Co., Tony's Southern Comfort, Vin Bistro, Ms. B's, Olivia, Cookie Lounge, Thai Fresh, Perry's Steakhouse & Grille, FrugalFeaster.com, Ranch 616, Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, Sixth Street, Old Pecan St. Cafe, Palm Door, Pink Avocado

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