Austin welcomes Fareground, its first modern food hall

Jan 26, 2018
American-Statesman Staff
The lemongrass shrimp bowl is on the menu at Henbit, Emmer & Rye’s all-day cafe located at Fareground downtown. Contributed by Giant Noise/Julia Keim

You may have heard friends in Los Angeles and New York and Chicago rave about their cool food halls. Now Austinites finally get to have a voice in that conversation. Fareground, Austin’s first modern food hall, opened last week at 111 Congress Ave. between Cesar Chavez and Second streets.

The sleek operation curated by ELM Restaurant Group (Italic, Easy Tiger) features six local operators offering a new spin on their popular brands: Locavores Dai Due have created Dai Due Taquería; Henbit is an all-day cafe from award-winning Emmer & Rye; Contigo and Easy Tiger deliver ranch fare, sandwiches and baked goods; Antonelli’s Cheese is serving up grilled cheese sandwiches and more; and the owners of Komé and Daruma Ramen combine their two loves of sushi and ramen for Ni-Komé.

Fareground is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and weekends from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Contigo, Dai Due Taquería, Easy Tiger and Henbit all open with breakfast service, while Antonelli’s Cheese and Ni-Komé open at lunchtime.

As seen on TV

Austin chef Amanda Rockman beat Bobby Flay. The native Texan who serves as the corporate executive pastry chef for New Waterloo (Sway, Le Politique, South Congress Hotel, et al) took it to the celebrity chef on Thursday night’s episode of the 14th season of the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Rockman, a former James Beard award semifinalist who previously worked in top Chicago restaurants L2O and Nico Osteria, disposed of chef Vicki Wells before taking down the Iron Chef. Following show rules, Rockman created a signature dessert of her choice and conquered Flay with her tiramisu. The Italian dessert, made with caramel crémeux, marsala mousse, lady finger coffee streusel and white coffee foam, appears on the menu at Café No Sé in the South Congress Hotel.

“It was an honor to have the opportunity to go up against an Iron Chef, but it was a real challenge to keep composure at times — sometimes I wanted to freak out, and other times I just wanted to die laughing,” Rockman said. “Really a great experience overall.”

Closed

Takoba, an East Austin Mexican restaurant and popular spot for international soccer matches, closed last week. The restaurant posted on its Facebook page that it would be closing “indefinitely” to revamp its menu and space. There is no word on how long the restaurant at 1411 E. Seventh St. will be closed or what changes are expected.

Now open

JuiceLand, the locally owned purveyors of fresh-juice smoothies, cold-pressed juices and plant-based grab-and-go meals, opened at 5521 Balcones Drive, Suite B. It is the company’s 20th Austin-area location. The store, located at the intersection of RM 2222 and Balcones, has the same hours as the other locations and serves the same menu, including the recently introduced Beyond Burrito, a Creole-spiced Beyond Burger with coleslaw, romaine, remoulade, house quick pickles and hot sauce served in a gluten free wrap.

“For 60 years, fast food meant bad food. We’re trying to change that one neighborhood at a time,” JuiceLand owner Matt Shook said.

Looking ahead

Tumble 22 is spreading its wings. (Yeah, I said it.) The popular downtown food truck currently sitting behind Star Bar will open a brick-and-mortar location next month at 7211 Burnet Road in the space formerly occupied by Twisted Root Burger Co. The restaurant will include tableside service and be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on weekends; it will also include a full bar. There is no specific date set for opening.