East Austin is at the forefront of Austin’s explosive growth, and that includes the bar and restaurant scene. Residents, startups and long time neighborhood businesses are coming together in an effort to try to control and plan the somewhat chaotic development.
This is a list of new east Austin restaurants and a trailblazing brewery that have recently opened or are about to open in early 2015. Prepare your palettes, ladies and gentlemen. Here’s what’s on the menu for late winter/early spring in east Austin.
You may have heard about the Japanese-influenced café that opened up on Springdale in September last year. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a visit on a lazy afternoon. The unique menu feature here is Japanese-style toast. Sa-Ten takes thickly-sliced Hokkaido bread or Japanese milk toast and tops it with ingredients like Japanese curry, miso butter, nori, teriyaki eggplant and cheese.
The most delicious and popular item is the Sriracha smoked salmon toast. It’s kind of like your favorite sushi roll got together with a grilled cheese, and they’ve done a great job of making it work.
The place has an inviting atmosphere, conducive to creative thought. It’s surrounded by art galleries with lots of windows, a fish tank inside of an old television set, squirrel wallpaper and light jazz playing in the background. There’s covered outdoor seating in the breezeway that faces the art galleries, perfect for a day with temperate weather. Although it’s a great place to while away the afternoon, it’s also a good place to get some work done or have meetings, as it’s not too loud or overly crowded.
Sa-Ten serves Casa Brasil coffee and delicious hot tea blends as well as baked goods from local bakeries like Red Rabbit. The latest news is they will be starting dinner service on February 4, 2015 and it will be BYOB.
916 Springdale Road, Bldg 3, Suite 101 – Website
#2 Casa Colombia
Many Austinites were sad to hear about the fire at Casa Colombia, Austin’s only Colombian restaurant, at the end of 2013. People openly expressed their grief both online and with sorrowful comments scrawled on the sign that relayed the unfortunate news on Casa Colombia’s door. Last year, the location shut down for good with news that they are preparing to open a new, larger location.
It’s been a long time coming. A multitude of Austin fans, including myself, are looking forward to Casa Colombia’s re-opening early this year. We haven’t been able to get our Colombian fix for months now, and a few of us are starting to get antsy. Lunch just isn’t the same without their sopa de Ajiaco, a creamy chicken soup with potatoes, corn and avocado. And no one has forgotten the patacones rellenos – plantains mashed into the shape of a small cup, deep fried and filled with chicken or beef and topped with melted cheese.
The new location is also on 7th Street, but much further east near the Pedernales Street intersection. Casa Colombia told me their doors should be open by the end of March.
2409 East 7th Street – Website
#3 Blue Owl Brewing
Austin’s own Blue Owl Brewing is going to be the nation’s, and most likely the world’s, first sour mash brewery. The brewery, still under construction, is located in a former warehouse at the corner of East Cesar Chavez and Pedernales Street, a site that is quickly becoming home to many creative Austin startups.
Owner Jeff Young says the brewery will have a bar and taproom where visitors can sample the different sour beers and buy beer to take home. They will also have a patio out front where people can relax and enjoy a novelty beverage. They won’t, however, be able to buy beer to consume on the premises.
What exactly is sour mash beer? When I think of sour mash, whiskey is the first thing that comes to mind. Sour mash whiskey is made by adding the fermented grains from a previous batch into the new batch. This helps the growth process of the new “good” bacteria and yeast, and controls the growth of unwanted bacteria. It also lowers the pH and adds a tart flavor to the brew. This is how sour mash beer works. The type of bacteria that naturally grows on these grains and produces a sour taste, turns out, is lactobacillus. Those of you who enjoy your yogurt know what I’m talking about. These bacteria convert both lactose and sugars to lactic acid.
Blue Owl Brewing is expected to be open to the public in spring of this year, the perfect time to sit outside and enjoy a cold one in Austin
2400 East Cesar Chavez – Website
#4 Monger’s Market + Kitchen
Listen up, Quality Seafood fans! You’ll now have a new place to enjoy market fresh seafood without heading up north (not that you should totally forsake Quality Seafood). The East Cesar Chavez neighborhood is anticipating the opening of Monger’s Market + Kitchen, due to open at the end of February next to Counter Culture, the neighborhood vegan cafe.
Area residents are delighted when any business besides a bar or restaurant can serve their needs, and Monger’s Market will be a great neighborhood stop to pick up fresh fish and seafood to cook for dinner at home.
Monger’s Market + Kitchen will provide fresh catches from the Gulf of Mexico for the Austin area. Currently, only the wholesale market is open and supplies popular Austin restaurants like Café Jose and Hillside Farmacy.
They are expecting to open their kitchen and neighborhood market at the end of March 2015. The restaurant side will include a raw bar, and I expect to meander over there at least once a week for a half dozen oysters on the half shell to conclude a hard day’s work.
2401 East Cesar Chavez – Website
#5 Launderette & Angry Bear
The Holly Street neighborhood is anxiously awaiting the opening of Launderette, a former laundromat that will become a café with delicious homestyle food by Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki (former chefs at La Condesa). This new establishment is actually going to be three businesses in one: in addition to the cafe, there will be a corner store and a Chinese takeout joint called Angry Bear.
The staff expects to begin serving dinner on February 19th, with a few lunch and brunch options by March 9th in time for SXSW. Breakfast, lunch and dinner service will be in full swing by the end of March.
2115 Holly Street – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which of the new east Austin restaurants are you most excited about?
From the mountains of Jalisco to the snowdrifts of Milwaukee, Natalie Parra-Novosad is once again an Austinite and loving how the view changes with new eyes. She’s first and foremost a writer, then a translator and lastly a chef by domestic standards. What makes her happy? Variety, debate, discovery, yoga, spices, travel, music, and sharing life with her Tapatío husband and their beagle-child.