A week off reveals a gastronimical glut of foodie news from Royal Blue to barbecue

It's amazing how much food news accumulates during the week I don't have a column! So, here's what's new. Check out the newest outlet of Royal Blue Grocery (609 Con­gress, 469-5888,, which just opened in a historic Downtown building. The large new store includes a commissary kitchen that will allow the grocer to increase production of "grab and go" food items such as prepared salads, sandwiches, soups, and meals. There's also an espresso bar, on-site beer and wine service, plus a select stock of paper goods, produce, dairy items, local artisanal foods, beer, and wine – open daily from 7am to midnight.

Asleep at the Wheel frontman Ray Benson wants to be known for finger-lickin' good food as well as hot guitar licks, so he partnered up with Texas sauce-master Dan Jardine to create Ray Benson's Asleep at the Wheel BBQ Sauce. Both the roadhouse and spicy flavors of the new condiment were launched last week at an event at Ray Benson's Roadhouse inside Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Bottles of the sauce are currently available at H-E-B stores statewide, with more retail outlets soon to come, or order online at I'll report back with opinions after we've had a chance to try out the samples at the office.

ThunderCloud Subs ( has increased its sandwich empire to 30 stores with the newest outlet in Dripping Springs at 598 Hwy. 290 E. #230, in the H-E-B shopping center.

Longtime KUT contributor Cecilia Nasti has changed and expanded her signature Growing Concerns gardening segments to cover good food from the ground up. The new program is called Field and Feast ( and is featured during Folkways on Saturdays at 11:55am and at the beginning of The Splendid Table at 11am on Sunday mornings. Be sure to listen in – January is soup month.

Chef/restaurateur Parind Vora was in touch to let us know that weekday lunch service begins at Braise (2121 E. Sixth,, this Monday, Jan. 17, from 11am to 2pm.

I finally had an e-mail exchange with Ruby's Barbecue (512 W. 29th, 477-1651) owner Pat Mares, who says she and her staff have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support after the holiday fire at the beloved campus-area barbecue joint. She asked me to tell folks that the fire damage was not extensive and they were back to smokin' good barbecue again very quickly. Good news all around.

Invitations have gone out for the coolest dinner parties in town – the 14th annual Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? fundraiser to benefit Project Transitions on Saturday, Feb. 5. Seating will be limited at the 18 dinners, so make reservations as soon as possible. Tickets are $100 per person, and all of the proceeds benefit the ongoing programs of Project Transitions. If you'd like to be added to the invitation list or volunteer to host a party next year, call the PT office at 454-8646. For a detailed list of parties and for reservations, go to

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, July 18, at midnight. Vote now at

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Royal Blue Grocery, Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Benson, Dan Jardine, Asleep at the Wheel BBQ Sauce, ThunderCloud Subs, KUT, Growing Concerns, Field and Feast, Folkways, The Splendid Table, Parind Vora, Braise, Ruby's Barbecue, Pat Mares, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, Project Transitions

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