The hottest new restaurants and the plates & drinks you need to try this month.
OPENED DEC. 24th
500 West 5th St.
On Christmas Eve, Austin’s newest Southern comfort gem opened on the grand floor of the new IBC Bank Building on 5th and Nueces. Chef James Robert and his team are crafting “Sunday-style supper seven nights a week,” drawing on influences from Robert’s Louisiana roots and family recipes given surprising twists. The menu includes snacks like biscuits and deviled eggs, small plates like boudin with chow chow, dijon cream and onion crackers, and entrees like lobster crawfish pot pie and three variations of gussied up grits. The space exudes genteel Southern charm in its design too, with touches like a parlor and welcome bar where guests can enjoy a cocktail before dinner, a mesquite bar, three private dining spaces and a “porch” in the center of the restaurant.
OPENED JAN. 19th
1509 South LAMAR BLVD
Chi’Lantro BBQ has made the leap from a successful food truck to their first brick and mortar restaurant, located in the space previously owned by A-OK Chinese on South Lamar. The restaurant sticks to its roots and still includes popular menu items from their trucks including Kimchi fries and tacos, but with a tweaked menu featuring an abundance of new, Korean inspired options. The brick and mortar menu includes additions such as Kimchi Fried Rice Balls (cheddar + Monterey jack, nori, and gochujang), K-Pops (Korean fried chicken wings), Churro Tots for dessert (dulche de leche, cinnamon + sugar), and even breakfast bowls. With a bright atmosphere that mixes sleek, modern furniture with a natural wood ceiling and accents, it’s a great place to enjoy a quick lunch or a relaxing dinner with friends. Make sure to check out the unique wall mural, which includes little details telling the story of Chi’Lantro’s beginnings.
OPENED DEC. 4th
5520 Burnet road #100
This December also saw the highly anticipated brick and mortar debut of the popular pop-up food trailer The Peached Tortilla. In addition to their new Burnet Road space, adjacent to recently opened Tortilla Flats, they will continue to operate two trucks, which can be tracked online. Their expanded menu features the bold, flavorful kinds of creations they’ve become known for, like the Japa Jam Burger (burger with tomato jam, pepper jack cheese, fried egg, tempura onion rings and Chinese BBQ sauce). The Thai chop chop salad is a delightful blend of textures and tastes and another must-try is the Blistered Catfish Bowl (BBQ “unagi” catfish, Japanese pickles, charred wasabi Napa cabbage, 45 minute egg). Get there early for their daily Social Hour from 5-6pm– score a leather seat at the bright green bar and enjoy $5 craft beers and bar snacks.
The best breakfast pizza in Austin is covered and smothered with Italian sausage, Nueske’s bacon, egg and a spicy Calabrian pepper sauce.
There is never a shortage of new and inventive things to eat and drink in Austin. And during these colder months, we’ve found ourselves being most impressed with comfort food and elevated staples. The biggest standout for us is hands-down the breakfast pizza from Due Forni – the sixth street pizza joint that fires everything from octopus to lasagna in their dual brick pizza ovens. The generous portion is large enough for sharing but the delicious ingredients will have you wanting the whole pie to yourself. Making the dish is the fiery Calabrian pepper sauce made from the small red chiles grown in Calabria, Italy. Purchase a bottle of the sauce to take home and replace your Sriracha sauce for 2015.
Here are this month’s other favorites…
Brisket Frito Pie from Micklethwait Craft Meats
As if it isn’t hard enough to choose between the creative sausage varieties at Micklethwait Craft Meats, now they’ve thrown brisket Frito pie into the mix (and the occasion special, like short rib Frito pie). It comes intermingled with smokey chile con carne, thickly shredded cheddar, dobs of crema and perfectly briney zings of escabeche, all over a mess of crunchy Fritos.
Gazpacho from Malaga Tapas Bar
It’s hard to believe the impossibly creamy gazpacho at Malaga Tapas Bar is vegan. Chef Mario Medina tosses tomato, red onion, bell pepper, toasted bread cubes (they use vegan bread from Moonlight Bakery), garlic with sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt and lets it marinate overnight. Then he blends the ingredients at high speed for a long time to achieve the ultra creamy consistency.
Campfire S’mores Pot Au Creme at Finn & Porter
This is the next best thing to making your own s’mores in the Great Outdoors. The trio of chocolate, burnt marshmallow, and graham cracker flavored cremes are served out of hollowed egg shells, garnished with a piece of chocolate and a burnt marshmallow and scattered with smoldering oak leaves, which give the dish an authentic campfire scent.
Squash Fritters from NO VA
Though you might expect something more along the lines of shredded squash fried into a pancake shape, the squash fritters at NO VA arrive as surprisingly light, round puffs, sprinkled with sumac salt and accompanied by a hot sauce aioli. They’re perfect as either a bar snack or starter to a dinner at NO VA.
Egg Mi from Dang Banh Mi
Delightfully available all day, the Egg Mi at Dang Banh Mi starts with a baguette but, instead of tofu, beef or pate, it is layered with fried eggs, Laughing Cow cheese, green onion, white onion, cilantro, cucumber, Char Siu sauce, Japanese mayo and pickled papaya and carrots.
Take a trip to France without leaving Austin at the Providence inspired restaurant. Go for brunch for an elegant retreat that will have you sampling some of the restaurant’s best dishes.
East Indies Sour from LaV
This bitters-based cocktail packs so much flavor and spice into each sip. Angostura bitters form the base, followed by a bit of Batavia Arrack (a rum of East Indies origin), almond-sweet orgeat and Strega, an Italian herbal liqueur. Its great balance of flavors will not have you missing the alcohol content one bit.
London Steamer from SEVENth Flag Coffee
Take a break from coffee and opt instead of a London Steam from 7th Flag Coffee. This delicious latte is made with Early Grey tea in lieu of espresso, with a squirt of lavender syrup on the bottom and foamed milk on the top. Perfection in a cup!
The Kemuri from Uchiko
The bartenders at Uchiko create char applewood chips with a blowtorch and steep sake with them to create the smoky base for this cocktail. To that, they add lemon juice, maple syrup and three dashes of apple bitters for a truly magical concoction.
Raw Goji Soothsayer from Juiceland
This is the perfect drink when you need something warm and cozy but uncaffeinated. Raw goji berries pack an antioxidant punch and their typically sour profile is perfectly balanced with the addition of almonds, coconut oil, vanilla and agave. It’s creamy, nutty and just slightly sweet.
Live Oak Primus
You know cold weather is here when Primus starts appearing on taps around the city. This dark, velvety Weizenbock has notes of vanilla and bananas and goes down real easy– but beware, because it carries a hefty 8.3% ABV!
Written by: Veronica Meewes
Photography by: Chris Perez, Veronica Meewes
Photos: Courtesy of the Restaurants
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