This summer the Uchi and Uchiko team is branching out from upscale Japanese-inspired cuisine to open a casual neighborhood restaurant St. Philip in Sunset Valley. The restaurant will feature pizza, sandwiches, seasonal shared plates and baked goods for dine-in or takeout. Philip Speer, the team’s executive pastry chef and director of culinary operations, is in charge of the project, though he says the restaurant is named not after himself but after the patron saint of pastry chefs and bakers. We’re excited about eating lunch, brunch and dinner at the new spot.
The 11 Most Anticipated Openings of 2014
By Megan Giller
January 2, 2014
The next 12 months promise some big flavors from big names: the Uchi group is opening a new place, Lockhart is bringing us more barbecue, chef Rene Ortiz promises some good Sichuan, and a host of newcomers are on the horizon as well. And we thought last year was exciting.
Photo by: Rebecca Fondren
The Austin food community was a bit confused when chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki suddenly left La Condesa and Sway over the summer. But with November came the announcement that the pair is working with a new restaurant group to open Launderette, a neighborhood cafe and companion grocery featuring “real food with the notion that the offerings will not be defined by exotic pairings and gastronomical acrobatics.” A second on-site concept called Angry Bear will offer Chinese takeout. And the site of the new spots? A previous laundromat in South Austin, of course.
If the preview of this upscale East Austin restaurant at its now-shuttered trailer Say LaV is any indication, Austin is in for a treat. We couldn’t get enough of the pork belly BLT slider, though the restaurant will feature more French-Mediterranean cuisine than sandwiches. LaV will also focus heavily on wine, with a curated and buzzworthy list. Plus, all-star pastry chef Janina O’Leary (formerly of Trace) has signed on for what promises to be a stellar sweets menu.
Starting in February, the Saturdays of standing in line at Foreign and Domestic’s bake sales will be a thing of the past. F&D co-owner and pastry chef Jodi Elliott is branching out on her own to open a dessert bar on the East Side. The shop will be a bakery with a few savory lunch options during the day and a dessert bar with plated desserts and cocktails at night. Elliott is planning to open Bribery by Valentine’s Day, and we can’t think of anything sweeter.
Shawn Cirkiel, the chef and owner of Parkside, Backspace and Olive & June, is taking on the enormous project of opening a restaurant in the fomer TGI Fridays space in the Radisson in January. Famed restaurant architect Michael Hsu is on the job to transform the space, and Cirkiel is creating a menu of contemporary Southwestern cuisine with entrees and shareable plates like homemade tamales, tortas and lamb en mole. Cirkiel will also be providing food service for the hotel, including room service, banquets and events.
No longer will you have to trek northwest for chef John Bates’ amazing duck pastrami or beef-tongue sandwiches. In the first part of this year, Noble is coming to Burnet Road in Central Austin. In addition to the regular breakfast and lunch hours and supper clubs, the central location will offer a happy hour from 5-7 PM with draft beer, wine and charcuterie specials.
Modern Southern food will get a downtown spin this year at Olamaie, which will open in the old Sagra space. Chefs Michael Fojtasek (Per Se, Lincoln Ristorante) and Grae Nonas (Lenoir, Son of a Gun) will feature “a menu that focuses on farm-to-table freshness and a dining experience that combines classic Southern hospitality with modern restaurant craftsmanship.” Over the past six months, the two chefs previewed their menu with pop-up dinners around town, and the buzz is resounding.
Photo by: Jody Horton
Late in 2013, we learned that beloved East Side bar Cheer Up Charlie’s will be shuttering on January 15 to be replaced by a new hotel with a restaurant and full tiki bar. Though mum’s still the word on those projects, Bar Congress’ Jason Stevens has announced that he’s working on a “dive bar” called Wonderland for the old Cheer Up space, which will open by March for SXSW. The bar will serve classics like bourbon and Coke as well as the greatest hits from the Bar Congress menu. Plus, there will be an as-yet unnamed food trailer in back and live music.
Photo by: Alberto Martinez
Austin has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of this beloved Thai restaurant for over a year (it shuttered a while back for “renovations,” but many feared it was closed permanently). Late in 2013, the eatery announced that it plans to reopen soon, hopefully on January 11. The new menu will be bolstered by Titaya’s brother and former Spin Modern Thai chef Ek Timrerk’s recipes, a move that, along with the renovations, promises to bring a more upscale feel to the locale.
We’re calling it Black’s for the time being, but the great-grandsons of famed Lockhart barbecue location's Edgar Black may not be able to hold on to that name - technically the brothers aren’t affiliated with the original, so there may be some legal finagling to keep it. The good news? Both of Black's descendants have smoked meat at the Lockhart locale, and they’re planning to open their restaurant on Barton Springs in January. The name may be different, but we’re betting the barbecue is still legendary.
Austin is getting its fair share of Chinese this year: the team behind Swift’s Attic announced in the last days of December that it will be opening an authentic modern Chinese restaurant called Wu Chow on downtown Fifth Street in late 2014. C.K. Chin, the general manager at Swift’s and the GA and co-owner of the new concept (and one of Zagat's top power players in Austin), will be at the helm, with executive chef and co-owner Mat Clouser as well as pastry chef Callie Speer on board. The focus will be on “fresh, crisp, healthful preparations,” and the restaurant will be open for dinner as well as dim sum on the weekends.