2014, where have you gone? Oh, that’s right, in our bellies. The year has disappeared in a frenzy of restaurant openings, chef shuffles and drama, but mainly some really delicious dishes. Here’s a brief summary of the biggest openings, trends and food happenings of the past 12 months.
1. The Black Family Brought Their Barbecue to Austin
Oh, if only it were as simple as the historic Black’s Barbecue from Lockhart finally opening a location in Austin. That happened, of course, but just to make it as confusing as possible, a different side of the family first opened Terry Black’s Barbecue on Barton Springs Road, an unaffiliated restaurant with different recipes. Then in October, the original Black’s opened its first Austin restaurant on Guadalupe and 34th Street. Now Kent Black, the pitmaster at the original location, is planning his own independent restaurants in San Marcos. Got that?
2. East Seventh Street Took Off
We predicted its rise, and now the East Seventh area is in full bloom. This year found The Hightower and Kebabalicious joining the area along with with staples like Takoba for casual evenings. Meanwhile upscale French restaurant laV moved in, raising the bar in both food and design.
3. Dai Due Opened Its Brick-and-Mortar
Austinites have long loved chef Jesse Griffith’s farmer’s market stand and supper club, and for years Griffiths has been planning a brick-and-mortar restaurant. This year his ideas came to fruition at his spot on Manor Road, where he turns out meaty dishes like venison tartare tostadas (above) and charcuterie, as well as a butcher shop in the same space.
4. Obama Skipped the Line at Franklin Barbecue
Why, yes, the leader of the free world decided not to wait over two hours for brisket, ribs and potato salad. The news shook Austin and made headlines all over the country, but in the end we’re just happy he saw the error of his Stubb’s ways and ate something truly representative of Texas barbecue.
5. In-N-Out Opened Two Austin Locations
Central Texans can now get their burgers “animal style,” because the popular California chain opened two storefronts in River City: first one in Round Rock and then one on Airport Boulevard. Coming soon in burger chains: Shake Shack.
6.Uchi Group Expanded Into Casual Eateries
Chef Tyson Cole revolutionized Austin’s food with fusion Japanese dishes like tuna sashimi and goat cheese, and this year his restaurant group moved into the more-casual arena with St. Philip. The Sunset Valley area restaurant serves pizza, small plates and a strong dessert menu, with an attached bakeshop with treats like cornflake-chocolate Pop-Tarts.
6. Allandale Became THE Place to Eat
With restaurants like Epicerie and Fonda San Miguel, Allandale was already a well-known food 'hood, but recent additions like Noble Sandwich, Peached Tortilla (pork belly pictured above) and Taco Flats made Burnet Road a destination that draws more hungry diners than its neighbors.
7. Chef Bryce Gilmore Brought Back Odd Duck and Upped the Ante at Barley Swine
Just a few steps away from its original spot, Gilmore opened a brick-and-mortar version of the beloved Odd Duck trailer that propelled him to chefdom. Since the new space serves the small plates he’s known for, he decided to change the format at upscale Barley Swine, with a prix fixe menu of many, many tiny plates.
8. Chinese Food Finally Arrived
We have Thai and Vietnamese, but the city seriously lacks good Chinese food. In 2014, local chefs came to the rescue, announcing big plans. A-OK Chinese opened but has already closed (wah-wah). Meanwhile Wu Chow, from the Swift’s Attic team, is moments away from opening, and chef Rene Ortiz is hard at work on Sichuan spot Angry Bear.
9. Manor Road Exploded With Restaurants
We may move onto Manor Road and never leave again. El Chile and El Chilito had long held down the fort, but with the addition of El Sapo (from the same owners), School House Pub, Haymaker, Sugar Mama’s and Dai Due (see above), the street’s got it going on.