Another of Austin’s Top 25 restaurants has closed unexpectedly

In a sign of the shifting landscape of the Austin dining scene, Shawn Cirkiel announced tonight the immediate closure of his modernist Spanish restaurant, Bullfight. The restaurant, which opened in September 2015, landed the number 25 spot in our annual Austin360 Dining Guide in 2017 based on the strength of the execution of seasonal dishes inspired by the chef’s trips to Spain.

Paella at Bullfight. (Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Dishes like branzino crudo with peach and corn, grilled octopus with squid ink bourride and roasted mushrooms topped with a Jamon Iberico-cured egg displayed the kitchen’s appreciation for ingredients and its touch with building flavors.

Shawn Cirkiel at Parkside. (Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Though Bullfight is closing, Cirkiel said he still has plans for the space built on the spot next door to where his grandfather, Gene Johnson, once owned a service station.

Many diners likely saw the upmarket Bullfight, which on weekends was often crowded with nice cars parked outside, as a destination location. Cirkiel said he intends to rebrand the spot as a neighborhood restaurant with a menu better suited for daily and weekly dining. He is partnering with a friend, whose name he did not disclose, for the new venture but has not announced a name or an estimated opening date for the new restaurant.

“Bullfight is an emotional and romantic project for me, but we had a unique opportunity to do something that fit in with the neighborhood,” Cirkiel said. “I continue to be excited about the Austin restaurant scene and what it all means. And what I’m most excited about is introducing something new that will work well with the neighborhood.”

Following the closure, Cirkiel said he will place former Bullfight staff at one of his other concepts around town, with Bullfight general manager Tara Davies and many of her crew headed downtown to Parkside. A native Austinite, Cirkiel also owns and operates the restaurants Backspace and Olive & June, as well as downtown juice bar Jugo.

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