Austin360 Dining Guide Instagram contest: Snap of Dai Due burger wins $50 Cafe No Se gift card

Jimmy Ho (@thesmokingho on Instagram) won the Austin360 Dining Guide contest for January with his glorious snap of the dry-aged Wagyu cheeseburger at Dai Due. The picture gives a good sense of the sheen and texture of the sesame seed bun, and I love the way the melting Stryk cheddar cheese clings to the thick patty that is colored with the restaurant’s “sauce especial.” The burger is available only on Tuesday nights at chef Jesse Griffith’s restaurant. For his win, Ho takes home a $50 gift card to Cafe No Se.

Want to win your own gift card to one of Austin’s best restaurants? Here’s the deal:

  1. Dine out at any of the 100 restaurants in the Austin360 Dining Guide (austin360.com/eats), either from the Top 25 or one of my 75 critic’s picks.
  2. Snap a photo one of your favorite dishes, tag the restaurant location and use the hashtag #austin360diningguide
  3. At the end of each month, I will select my favorite pick from the month. One monthly winner will receive a $50 gift card to eateries like Odd Duck, Cafe No Se,  Tacodeli and more.

That’s all there is to it.

Credit: Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Credit: Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A Day Without Immigrants: Maudie’s Tex-Mex issues statement regarding controversial letter

(Credit: Mark Matson FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
(Credit: Mark Matson FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

I heard grumblings early last week in the restaurant world that Maudie’s Tex-Mex would be paying double-time to employees who chose to work on Thursday, a day of protest and unity labeled “A Day Without Immigrants.” The Austin-based Tex-Mex restaurant launched by Joe Draker in 1992 stayed true to those rumors, but Maudie’s received backlash on the Internet when an internal memo addressing the protest surfaced. The unauthorized communique, which many found condescending and disrespectful, eventually made its way to Reddit and led to negative comments on Facebook and elsewhere.

An internal memo posted without Maudie's ownership's approval caused a stir last week.
An internal memo posted without Maudie’s ownership’s approval caused a stir last week.

While Maudie’s chose not to address the letter or verify its authenticity late last week, Draker issued a statement today addressing the restaurant’s original intent and the ensuing controversy over the memo (seen on the right). That statement is below. Maudie’s has also said that no employee has been terminated as a result of the internal memo.

“We haven’t been concerned with where the source came from, but with spending our energy raising our consciousness about and learning from the situation,” Maudie’s ownership added via email.

“Our team at Maudie’s is like a family to us and sometimes, even in the best of families, people make mistakes, especially when it comes to communication.

We are truly sorry for the internal message sent to our stores regarding the ‘A Day without Immigrants’ protest.  In retrospect, we see that the language in the letter misrepresented not only our intentions, but also what was verbally communicated to our employees about this event, and unfortunately, the core values of Maudie’s.

Prior to the event, our management, including our HR Director, held numerous face-to-face meetings with employees (in both Spanish and English). In those conversations, we shared that each individual, without fear of repercussion, could decide for themselves whether or not to come to work that day.

Being open was in no way meant to slight the demonstrations. Simply, those in our employee family who wanted to work on that day had the opportunity to do so.

At Maudie’s, we have always valued our employees, and will continue to do so. We consider each other family.  We empathize with the plight of the immigrant community, and will keep advocating for key efforts in this movement. Our leadership is committed to respecting all of our employees, and we pledge to more thoughtfully show that respect in all that we do moving forward.”

 

Coming soon: Green Pastures returns as Mattie’s in March

One of Austin’s most recognizable fine dining establishments has received a facelift. After purchasing Green Pastures last year with a group of investors, La Corsha Hospitality Group (Second Bar + Kitchen, Boiler Nine Bar + Grill) will reintroduce the South Austin restaurant on March 1 under the banner Mattie’s.

The rebranded restaurant pays homage to one of the Victorian estate’s original owners, Martha “Mattie” Miner Faulk, mother of Mary Faulk Koock, who first opened Green Pastures in 1946.

Helmed by executive chef Joshua Thomas, a veteran of New York City restaurants Le Bernardin and Devi NYC and the former proprietor of an Indian food truck in Austin called Chaat Shop, the kitchen will focus on American classics, with nods to Texas and the American South.

Mattie's at Green Pastures opens to the public on March 1. (Credit: Annie Gunn)
Mattie’s at Green Pastures opens to the public on March 1. (Credit: Annie Gunn)

Appetizers on the opening menu include Southern fixtures like pimento cheese, buttermilk biscuits and crispy okra chips, while the entrees, which average about $29 in price, include roasted chicken, pan-seared trout and flank steak. The cocktail menu, directed by Jason Stevens, will feature Southern-inspired cocktails and punches, including the beloved milk punch made with Koock’s original recipe.

Mattie’s also offers several areas for private dining and events, and the property, long home to weddings and other special occasions, will be expanded in the coming years to include a 99-room boutique hotel, the Faulk, set to open in 2018. And, yes, the famed peacocks still walk the grounds. (mattiesaustin.com)

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One of Austin’s Top 10 pizza places has closed

It always surprises me when restaurants that aren’t national chains close on the Drag by the University of Texas. I understand that brands with major name recognition, big operating budgets and inexpensive menus have an advantage with the college crowd. But I’d still think there’d be enough interest to help keep other businesses going strong. That’s not the case. Proven in the past week by the closure of Big Bite (415 W. 24th St.), popular for its big sandwiches, and Pizzeria Vetri at 2421 San Antonio St.

Pizzeria Vetri was one of the 10 best pizza places in Austin. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Pizzeria Vetri was one of the 10 best pizza places in Austin. (Credit: Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The latter closing is especially vexing, as the operation was started by James Beard award-winning chef Marc Vetri of Philadelphia, who sold his pizza operation to Urban Outfitters. The lifestyle brand opened the pizerria next to its retail store in 2015. The Neapolitan pies were some of the best of their kind in town, and the restaurant across from UT sold a couple of dozen labels of beer. Maybe the price was too much. Maybe kids today don’t share the love of food my friends and I had in college in Washington D.C. 20 years ago. Whatever the reason, two more restaurants on the Drag have bowed out of the game. At least there’s still Teji’s at the south end of the Drag, Fricano’s Deli near 24th and Guadalupe streets and, further north, beyond the Drag, Via 313 and Hopfields. Those places would be getting a lot of my money if I was still in college or teaching classes today.

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Veracruz All-Natural announces first Austin brick-and-mortar restaurant

Maritza Vazquez shows off the migas taco from Veracruz All-Natural at 1704 E. Cesar Chavez St. (RALPH BARRERA AMERICAN-STATESMAN.
Maritza Vazquez shows off the migas taco from Veracruz All-Natural at 1704 E. Cesar Chavez St. (RALPH BARRERA AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

Some of the best tacos in town are getting their own restaurant home in Austin. Veracruz All-Natural plans to open a location at 9003 Waterford Centre Blvd. (near US 183 and Burnet Road) on May 20, expanding on their mini-empire that includes trailers on Manchaca Road and East Cesar Chavez Street and a brick-and-mortar location in Round Rock.

Sisters Maritza and Reyna Vazquez, Veracruz, Mexico natives, opened their first trailer in East Austin in 2009, two years after they launched their original fruit and sno-cone stand. The trailer have made a name for themselves on the strength of homemade tortillas, excellent salsas and a variety of tacos, including my favorite migas in the city, a steaming twirl of fluffy eggs tangled with crisp tortilla strips, feathered avocado, gooey cheese and a perfect balance of salt and pepper. The migas have earned national media attention, and I know several national food writers and chefs who have made multiple visits to the original food truck during visits to Austin.

And you can taste the sisters’ fruit roots in a smooth mango aqua fresca ($3) or one of several fresh-squeezed juices such as orange, carrot, beet, pineapple or spinach ($3.25-$4.25).

In addition to their current menu, Veracruz will also offer new items, along with coffee from Machinehead Coffee. Watch this space for details in the coming weeks.

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Launderette offering free birthday cake ice cream sandwiches Sunday

It’s Launderette’s second birthday, and the East Austin restaurant is offering one of its most popular desserts for free for Sunday dinner patrons.

According to a release from the restaurant, Launderette will offer diners free birthday cake ice cream sandwiches from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. One “slice of cake” will be offered to each guest eating dinner at the restaurant Sunday.

Matthew Odam describes the dessert as “bite-size birthday cake ice cream sandwiches that taste like Mexican sheet cake ice cream wedged between soft layers of cookie dough” in his 2015 review of the restaurant.

Launderette is offering free birthday cake ice cream sandwiches Sunday for its two-year anniversary.
Launderette is offering free birthday cake ice cream sandwiches Sunday for its two-year anniversary. Contributed by Launderette

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Day Without Immigrants: Spanish note at Round Rock Chuy’s threatened firings

Update: Chuy’s human resources vice president Marsha Williams says the sign was not posted by the restaurant, and the author remains unidentified.

“We support all of our employees participating in any way they want to,” Williams said. “No one is being disciplined.”

She added that any employee who chose to take part in the boycott was allowed to participate, and all shifts were successfully covered and reiterated the official statement from Chuy’s on Twitter that no employee will lose their job if they skipped work to acknowledge A Day Without Immigrants.

Earlier:

Austin-based chain Chuy’s stirred up some controversy this morning when a threatening note posted at its Round Rock location made its way to social media.

American-Statesman file
American-Statesman file

The note, written in Spanish, was apparently posted in an employee area of the restaurant. It stated: “Chuys is a great place to work and we need your support. If you choose not to work on Thursday, we will put their names in a cap and the names that are selected will lose their work.”

chuysA photo of the note was posted on Twitter by @manvsparty and was picked up by theballastonline.com. It is unclear who posted the note or if any disciplinary action was taken. Chuy’s responded to Statesman questions via email and stated that their Tweets below are their official statement. Namely:  “The message posted at our Round Rock location has been removed.  We have covered all shifts for for any employee choosing to participate. We won’t discipline or counsel any employee who chooses to participate.”

Dozens of Austin-area restaurants have closed today, some by choice and apparently  others in the face of staff shortage.

 

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