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Odam: Jack Allen’s Kitchen headlines local restaurant openings

Jack Gilmore opened his latest Jack Allen’s Kitchen at 3600 Loop 360 in the shopping center across the highway from Opal Divine’s and Maudie’s in West Lake Hills. The newest location features the same seasonally inspired Texas comfort food as the restaurant’s Oak Hill and Round Rock locations and is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Check out the restaurant’s daily menu at

Now open

Alcomar opened at 1816 S. First St. in the former El Chile space. The seafood-centric restaurant from the owners of El Chile is helmed by chefs Alma Alcocer-Thomas — of El Alma — and Jeff Martinez. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, with brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Its menu includes grilled oysters, shrimp caldo, scallops Veracruzana and beef tenderloin. For hours and menus, visit

Casa Colombia opened at its new, larger space at 2409 E. Seventh St. I recommend the Colombian specialty pechuga rellena, which sandwiches a melted mixture of spinach, mushrooms and peppers between juicy grilled slices of chicken drizzled with a sweet and tangy sauce made with vinegar and cilantro. (

Phred’s BBQ truck has moved to the food truck court at 1207 S. First St. There seems to be no online presence for the truck that was previously located on Brodie Lane in South Austin.

Looking ahead

“Salad bistro” Vinaigrette plans to open later this year in the old Treehouse Italian Grill space at 2201 College Ave. The restaurant from New Mexican chef-owner Erin Wade is slated to open in September. Wade intends to use local farms to source an all-day menu that includes about 20 salads that can be supplemented with steak, tuna and chicken.

Chef shuffle

Todd Havers is the new executive chef at Café Josie. Havers replaced Brandon Fuller, who was a partner in the restaurant with Cody Taylor, the longtime Café Josie general manager who took over the restaurant from founder Charles Mayes in 2013. Havers has already introduced a new spring menu that includes beet terrine, smoked trout salad, and fried gulf oysters. (


Defunct Austin brand Little City, which was anchored by a coffee shop on Congress Avenue that closed in 2011, is planning a comeback. Helmed by Joel Shuler, founder of Austin-based Casa Brasil, Little City Coffee Roasters plans to land its coffee in stores later this summer. The company is relying on a crowdsourcing campaign to help fund the business that will source from coffee bean growers from around the world and offer year-round and seasonal micro-lot coffees. Little City Coffee Roasters will celebrate the end of their fundraising with a party at South Austin Brewery on May 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $30. For more information, find Little City at


Parkside Projects beverage director Paul Ozbirn achieved the distinction of Advanced Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Ozbirn oversees the beverage programs for Shawn Cirkiel’s Parkside, Olive & June, Backspace and the forthcoming Bullfight. Ozbirn has worked in Austin for more than a decade, with a resume that includes times as wine buyer for farm-to-table trailblazer Wink. Ozbirn will host a wine dinner with New Zealand’s Forrest Winery at Olive & June on May 6. The four-course, wine-paired dinner, which includes dishes like Atlantic fluke crudo, gnocchi and lamb pancetta, costs $100. Tickets and more information at

New on the menu

Bess Bistro is taking advantage of the changing weather to introduce a new “terrace menu” that includes cheese and charcuterie boards and keg cocktails, like the spring thyme lemonade with vodka. The patio is open daily at 5 p.m. (

All four locations of family-friendly Waterloo Ice House are now making all of their hamburgers with Simply Essentials beef. The meat is all-natural, sustainably raised USDA-approved premium Black Angus Beef products.

New York City?

Matt’s El Rancho’s menu states that restaurants everywhere have tried to duplicate their famous Bob Armstrong queso dip. Add New York City to the list.

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere — and it seems Matt’s El Rancho’s Bob Armstrong Dip has hit the big time.

Manhattan Tex-Mex restaurant Javelina has been serving the queso dish with beef, sour cream and guacamole since the restaurant opened in March, and it has been a sensation, according to the New York Post.

The restaurant is owned by Dallas native Matt Post, who grew up eating the dip — named after the late Texas Land Commissioner — at Matt Martinez Jr.’s Dallas restaurant Mattito’s, according to the Post.

Javelina’s chef Richard Caruso seems a little nonplussed by the excitement over the South Austin staple.

“I do like it, but some of these people are just insane over it, it’s almost religious,” Caruso told the Post.

Welcome to the Texan state of mind, Chef Caruso.

Javelina isn’t the only Tex-Mex restaurant drawing attention in New York. Former Austinite and Momo’s owner Paul Oveisi recently teamed with “Homesick Texan” author Lisa Fain to open El Original in Hell’s Kitchen, and Dallas native Clay Mallow runs the popular taco joint Gueros Brooklyn.

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