New Mexican restaurant coming to downtown Austin from veteran team

Some of Austin’s most successful a restaurateurs have their sights set on a new restaurant. The team that founded Eddie V’s, and has since opened Salty Sow and, most recently, Red Ash plan to open ATX Cocina in downtown.

The restaurant will be located in the Northshore Tower (110 San Antonio St.), the building that will also house the new French bistro and bakery Le Politique from the New Waterloo group.

There’s no scheduled opening date for the restaurant that bills itself as Modern Mexican, but ATX Cocina has already started hiring for all positions.


Review: Veterans behind Red Ash take an old concept for a new spin



Fareground food hall will include taqueria from Dai Due, concepts from Emmer & Rye, Contigo, Kome and more

The downtown food hall Fareground, which will be located on Congress Avenue between Cesar Chavez and Second streets, will feature some of the biggest names in Austin dining.

The space will include Easy Tiger, a taqueria from Dai Due, an all-day concept from Emmer & Rye and more, it was announced today.

The operation is being helmed by Easy Tiger owners Elm Restaurant Group and will have an outpost of Easy Tiger at the space that will also include Antonelli’s Cheese Shop’s second location and Contigo Fareground, which will find chef Andrew Wiseheart serving his ranch-inspired restaurant’s brand of Texas comfort food, including burgers and rotisserie chicken.

Jesse Griffith’s Dai Due Taquería will source hyper locally for its tacos, as part of a collaboration with chef Gabe Erales. Options will include tacos like venison suadero, wild boar chorizo, wild catfish and more. Easy Tiger will serve its trademark pretzels and sandwiches, along with offering two bars.

Henbit, the new cafe concept from Emmer & Rye, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Honeybit will be a cart from Emmer & Rye partner and pastry chef Tavel Bristol that serves ice cream and sweets.

The team behind Kome and Daruma Ramen will roll out Ni-Kome, a hybrid ramen and sushi bar.

There is no set date for the opening. Follow progress at

Fine Foods takes over old Snack Bar space at Austin Motel; opening party Friday

Burgers from Jo’s Burger Box will be available to patrons of Fine Foods at the Austin Motel. (Credit: Nick Simonite)

Hotelier Liz Lambert’s Bunkhouse has taken over operations of the newly revamped Austin Motel, and with it the dining and drinking destination, re-branded as Fine Foods.

Fine Foods will serve a roster of cocktails and retro punches that include The Dean (vodka, cranberry, cherry syrup, lemon lime soda), the Ann Richard’s Revenge (rums, apricot syrup, pineapple juice, and lime juice), Playboys Punch (bourbon, Earl Gray tea, orange, lemon, citrus, simple syrup, bitters), and the Cold Fashioned, a frozen old fashioned. Check the Fine Foods drink menu here.

“Like the Austin Motel itself, this menu is fun, new, fresh, and a little bit weird,” Fine Foods and Austin Motel bar manager Breezy Mayo said. “Yet, it still maintains the understanding of the importance of the city’s history and the culture of never taking itself too seriously.”

Food is sold from the adjacent Jo’s Burger Box, with a menu of burgers (including a veggie burger), fries and onion rings designed by Lambert’s brother and Lamberts Downtown Barbecue co-founder Lou Lambert.

Fine Foods celebrates its grand opening Friday with a free party open to the public, featuring frozen drinks, vintage-themed punches, live music from John Powell and a DJ. Following the grand opening, Fine Foods will be open 11 a.m. to midnight Friday to Sunday 3 p.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday.

Jo’s Burger Box is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. starting Friday.






Pollo Tropical closes all Austin, Dallas locations


Pollo Tropical has closed 30 restaurants nationwide, including all of its locations in the Austin area.

The chicken chain said Monday that it is also pulling out of the Dallas/Fort Worth and Nashville, Tenn., markets.
There were three locations in Central Texas:
  • 211 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin
  • 20471 S. Interstate 35, Kyle
  • 1439 N. I-35, San Marcos
It had initially announced plans to also open restaurants in Cedar Park, Lakeway and near the Mueller redevelopment project in East Austin.
The closures are part of parent company Fiesta Restaurant Group’s “strategic renewal plan.” Fiesta also owns the Taco Cabana chain.
“Fiesta’s recent growth initiatives diverted resources from our core markets and some amount of renewal is required to restore momentum in these markets,” Fiesta president and CEO Richard Stockinger said in a written statement. “While the decision to close restaurants is never easy, we believe it is vital to focus the company’s resources and efforts on markets and locations that have proven successful for our brands.”
Some of the closed Pollo Tropicals may reopen at a later date as Taco Cabana locations, Fiesta said.

New Veggie Heaven will open in May

Mei Wang (left), with daughter Stacy Chen, closed Veggie Heaven in December, after 16 years in business. The new Veggie Heaven will reopen May 3.
Matthew Odam/American-Statesman

Veggie lovers, the wait is almost over. Stacy Chen says she plans to open the new Veggie Heaven on May 3, as long as she can be fully staffed by then.

The restaurant is the continuation of the legacy Mei Wang began on the Drag in 1998. In addition the the original menu, Veggie Heaven will also serve veggie ramen and add a veggie burger to the list of offerings. The restaurant will be open daily at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

In addition to Veggie Heaven, Chen is also working to open Yoshi Kitchen, a meat-friendly restaurant. The Asian-fusion restaurant will be located at 3318 Harmon Ave. near I-35 and serve a variety of dishes, like teriyaki, ramen, Asian barbecue, Asian burgers and more. Chen hopes to have that restaurant open in the coming months.

John Mueller returning with new barbecue trailer and plans for restaurant

Like a phoenix rising from the barbecue ashes, John Mueller has another rebirth in store. The longtime Texas barbecue boss and grandson of Taylor barbecue scion Louie Mueller will soon be cooking again, this time at the Black Box Barbecue trailer in historic Georgetown. Owners Gary Brown and Justin Bohls will soft open the trailer at 201 E. Ninth St. next weekend during the town’s Red Poppy Festival.

The black trailer will serve Mueller’s famous brisket and beef rib, along with pork ribs, pulled pork, chicken and his various side dishes. The trailer is intended to be just the first step in Mueller’s reintroduction to the Central Texas market. His partners, with whom Mueller has been friends for decades, plan to open Black Box barbecue on the adjacent property, with construction to begin soon.

A tray full of meat and sides at John Mueller Meat Co. barbecue trailer on E. 6th Street at Pedernales. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

“It feels frickin awesome,” Mueller said of his return to professional cooking.

John Mueller at his John Mueller Meat Co. barbecue trailer on E. 6th Street at Pedernales. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Black Box Barbecue will be the third barbecue business the enigmatic pit masters has been associated with in the past six years in Central Texas. He opened J Mueller Barbecue on South First Street in 2011, but his involvement came to an end in 2012 following a fiscal dispute with his sister, LeAnn Mueller, who transformed the business into La Barbecue. Mueller then headed to East Austin, where he operated John Mueller Meat Co. at East Sixth and Pedernales streets from 2013 until last August, when the State of Texas closed that business, citing Mueller’s unpaid taxes.

Mueller says that those who may wonder about his business acumen and relationships this time around shouldn’t worry.

“I’m going to cook for people who’ve known me all my life, who’ve read everything there is to read about me and still want to work with me,” Mueller said. “We’re gonna have a really sound business and cook really good food.”

Mueller first came to recognition in Austin, almost as much for his surly attitude as his stunning brisket, while running John Mueller BBQ on Manor Road from 2001 to ’06, during which time a young Aaron Franklin cut onions and worked the register. Following that shutter, Mueller took a hiatus from Austin before returning for his tumultuous run of the last seven years.

As for any doubters or haters, Mueller laughs at the idea.

John Mueller at his restaurant on Manor Road in 2004. (Deborah Lykins AMERICAN STATESMAN)

“Are there still any out there?” asked Mueller. “I don’t think anyone remembers who I am.”




John Mueller in 1999 working at the restaurant started by his grandfather, Louie Mueller. (John Kelso AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

John Mueller timeline in Austin

  • 2001-2006: John Mueller Barbecue on Manor Road
  • 2011-2012: J. Mueller BBQ on South First Street
  • 2013-2016: John Mueller Meat Co. on East Sixth Street
  • 2017-?: John Muller Black Box Barbecue

GQ names an Austin restaurant one of 10 Best New Restaurants in America

GQ correspondent and restaurant critic Brett Martin debuted his 10 Best New Restaurants in America list today, his second for the magazine, and Austin izakaya-smokehouse hybrid Kemuri Tatsu-ya made the list. Martin loved the “surreal pastiche of Japanese-Texan kitsch, a saloon out of a Quentin Tarantino fever dream.” Among the food he praised, the chili-cheese takoyaki, which perfectly captures the spirit of the Texas-Japanese mash-up.

Brisket at Kemuri. (Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Martin’s piece isn’t just a rote list. It offers a narrative about the state of dining in America right now (as well as the state of America).  One of my favorite anecdotes from Martin is about the hive-mindedness of restaurants:

My brother, who is a doctor but also an expert backyard smoker, has long mused about leaving medicine behind to open a combination pastrami/ice cream stand. This year a pop-up serving exactly that opened. Two blocks from his house. In the back of a sex shop.

For the complete list, head to

For my recent review of Kemuri Tatsu-ya, head here.