Mediterranean fast-casual Cava giving away free meals Thursday on Congress Avenue

D.C.-based Mediterranean fast-casual concept Cava opened to big crowds in Westlake earlier this summer, and this week it brings its customizable bowl and wrap concept to downtown. The restaurant will open at 51 Congress Ave. on Friday, but in advance of its opening, it will be giving away lunch and dinner on Thursday.

Cava is giving away free lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday as part of its Community Day. (I recommend the spicy lamb meatballs.) During this time, Cava will accept donations to benefit local non-profit partner Urban Roots, and will also donate the value of meals provided during their friends-and-family preview services to further support Urban Roots.

Cava, a fast-casual Mediterranean concept from Washington D.C., has big plans for the Austin market. (Contributed)

Founded in 2011 as a modern, fast-casual version of their Mediterranean restaurant, the ownership group, which includes three friends who are all first-generation Greek-Americans, serves a variety of salad and grain bowls and pitas topped and filled with popular Mediterranean-inspired proteins and mezzes like lamb, falafel, hummus, feta, cucumber, mint, olives and more. The restaurant builds relationships with regional vendors and will source beef for its Austin store from 44 Farms in Cameron, TX.

Lucy’s Fried Chicken now open in Cedar Park

James Holmes’ fried chicken empire has expanded to the suburbs. Lucy’s Fried Chicken recently opened at 401 E. Whitestone Blvd. in Cedar Park. In addition to the fried chicken, sandwiches and architectural slices of homemade pie for which the local restaurant is known, Lucy’s Cedar Park is following in the footsteps of Lucy’s Lake Travis with a half-pound burger. The new location also features an oyster bar and, along with the other three locations, is shucking East Coast oysters in addition to the big boys from the Gulf.

Lucy’s Friend Chicken. (Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Lucy’s Cedar Park is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Sunday, with brunch served until 3 p.m.

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Ramen Tatsu-Ya on East Sixth Street now open

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Ramen Tatsu-Ya has opened its location at 1600 E. Sixth St. The new East Austin shop, the fourth Ramen Tatsu-Ya, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant serves the same menu as its other locations, along with an expanded craft cocktail menu. 
#1 Original at Ramen Tatsu-Ya (Jay Janner AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Community Pizza and Beer Garden now open in Wimberley

When a town only has about 3,000 residents, a new restaurant opening is pretty big news. When the restaurant is as good as Community Pizza and Beer Garden, the latest addition to Wimberley’s dining scene, it’s pretty great news, as well.

A pizza from Community Pizza and Beer Garden. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The husband-and-wife team of Michael and Morgan Mekuly opened the restaurant and bar about eight weeks ago in the Lumberyard Office and Retail Space at 111 Old Kyle Road, just steps from the main town square.

The restaurant from the two longtime service industry veterans and Austin transplants specializes in pizza pies with puffed edges and supple centers (more Neapolitan than New York style) with exciting flavor combinations like salami, goat ricotta, serrano peppers and fontina cheese ($13); and roasted mushroom, curly kale and caramelized onions ($12). In addition to the pies, the restaurant also serves almost a half-dozen salads and appetizers like meatballs and spinach dip.

The bar, a clean space backed by subway tiles, serves craft cocktails and an impressive rotating roster of local and imported beers, with offerings from Real Ale Brewing Company, Live Oak Brewing Company, Austin Beerworks and more.

The relaxed, family-friendly restaurant, which features indoor and plenty of outdoor seating as well as a children’s playscape, is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

Community joins a dining community that includes stalwarts Leaning Pear and Linda’s Fine Foods and adds to the draw of the town self-described as a little peace of heaven on the Blanco River.

The bar at Community Pizza and Beer Garden. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

All-day New American-meets-Mediterranean restaurant Kicked Up Grub now open on South Lamar

Kicked Up Grub, an all-day restaurant serving a mix of Mediterranean-influenced dishes and New American food, has opened in the space at 3403 S. Lamar Blvd. in the space previously occupied by Manin Pasta.

Atx Omelette filled with avocado, grilled corn, crispy bacon, gruyere cheese, topped with cilantro cream, chives and cotija cheese at Kicked Up Grub. (Credit: Facebook.com/kickedupgrub)

The kitchen is helmed by some chefs that appear new to the Austin scene, with a wide-ranging menu that stretches from a selection of toasts, French toasts, sandwiches and pancakes at breakfast to Mediterranean-influenced pasta and vegetable dishes, and an array of burgers. The owners state on the website that the restaurant was born of one partner’s desire for whiskey and meat and the other’s longing for healthier fare.

The short-lived Manin Pasta opened at the end of last year, taking the place of Aroma Italian Kitchen.

Kicked Up Grub is open Tuesday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Bird Bird Biscuit opens Thursday in East Austin

The unofficial breakfast food of the South and Instagram will get some serious spotlight this week, as biscuit-centric cafe Bird Bird Biscuit opens Thursday at 2701 Manor Road.

(Contributed by Chelsea Francis)
The restaurant, which will specialize in biscuits, biscuit sandwiches and doughnuts, was founded by Thunderbird Coffee’s co-owner Ryan McElroy and that popular coffee shop’s former general manager Brian Batch.
Bird Bird will serve breakfast and lunch, with a menu that includes the Bird BirdBacon (bacon, over-medium egg, cheddar and bacon-infused chipotle mayo) and the Queen Beak (spiced and breaded chicken thigh, cayenne black pepper honey and bacon-infused chipotle mayo).
Bird Bird Biscuit’s will be open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Houston import Becks Prime opening first Austin-area location

One of my favorite burgers from my childhood in Houston is coming to the Austin area. Sadly, for residents of Central Austin, it’s not coming into the city proper. Becks Prime is opening its first area location at 19024 Heatherwilde Boulevard in Pflugerville. That location, which opens Monday, is connected to a furniture store called Living Spaces. Sure, ok. 

Becks Prime, founded by Becks Prime was founded Win Campbell, Mike Knapp and John Storms, opened on Kirby Lane in Houston in 1985 and has since expanded to include 12 restaurants in Houston, one in Dallas and now one at a furniture store in Pflugerville. In addition to the Black Angus burgers cooked over mesquite coals and their trademark rich milkshakes, the two-story restaurant will also feature a full bar. While the partnership may seem a little odd, according to a release,  Living Space president Grover Geiselman grew up in Houston loving Becks Prime.