- By Matthew Odam American-Statesman Staff
If you’ve wondered for months and months what was happening at the northeast block of Manchaca Road and Lamar Boulevard, wonder no more. Spanish chef Pablo Gomez will officially open his tapas and pinchos restaurant, El Chipirón , on July 1 after a week of a soft opening with limited hours.
The tapas and pinchos menus at 2717 S. Lamar Blvd. will include bites like fried calamari, shrimp, and pork meatballs. In addition to the small plates, El Chipirón will serve fixed dinner menus with dishes like griddled Gulf shrimp; creamy rice made with squid in its own ink, sautéed veggies and ali-oli sauce foam; and Cordoba-style oxtail.
“When you travel outside of Spain, you have a hard time finding proper Spanish restaurants,” Gomez said. “I feel responsible for spreading knowledge about Spanish culture and doing things the right way.”
The bar features 20 to 30 Spanish wines, several Spanish beers, and a few local labels, as well as house specialties like red vermouth to accompany the pinchos and Spanish gin and tonics
El Chipirón is currently only open for dinner and Sunday brunch, with plans to expand to include lunch hours in the near future.
A beloved name in the Austin hospitality world is returning to South Austin. Opal Divine’s Austin Grill is now open at 2200 S. Interstate 35 (at Oltorf Street), in the Best Western Plus hotel. The space once housed the Blue Moon Bar & Grill. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. daily, closing at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Opal Divine’s Austin Grill serves a menu of familiar American bar food and also features an extensive gluten-free menu.
Opal Divine’s at Penn Field closed on South Congress Avenue at the end of last year following 11 years in business, saying at the time that “Austin’s ‘Keep Austin Weird’ fascination is fading into a search for the latest and greatest new restaurant/bar/concept.”
The original Opal’s on Sixth Street closed in 2013 to make way for the outlandish Steampunk Saloon. Opal Divine’s at the Marina in North Austin (12709 N. MoPac Blvd.) is still in business.
Fast-casual Mediterranean concept Mezze Me opens at 4700 Guadalupe St. Suite 9 in the Triangle on June 30. The restaurant from Moody Ugur, a native of Turkey, will source from area farmers and producers to create a menu of customizable bowls that use pita, spring mix, brown rice with quinoa or basmati rice. Diners then choose beef and lamb doner, chicken doner, braised lamb, kofta balls or falafel and can top their dishes with a selection of Mediterranean mezze (appetizers) such as red pepper hummus, zucchini yogurt with dill and walnut, and spicy tabouli. Bowls cost less than $10.
“It’s been a longtime goal of mine to open a Mediterranean restaurant, and Austin is the perfect city and community,” said Ugur, who graduated from college in Austin before operating two restaurants in Instanbul. “Though we have an abundant amount of restaurants, an authentic, quick-casual Mediterranean restaurant was lacking. I’m very excited to be back in Austin serving the food I grew up on.”
Mezze Me is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The El Chile Group has welcomed a new member into its growing family of restaurants. El Chilito opens 4501 Manchaca Road on June 30. The day will be marked with a pig roast and pork tacos, along with chilled watermelon, limonadas and aguas frescas, and complimentary beer and sangria at a party that starts at 6 p.m. The new El Chilito will operate under the same hours (7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) and features the same menu as the other three locations.
The team behind Lucky Robot opened a new tortas and tacos spot at the Texas Union at the University of Texas. Revolución joins Chick-fil-A, Smokehouse BBQ and others in the building on campus.
The plant-based Impossible Burger has been making waves around the country. The vegan burger brought to market in 2016 by Stanford University biochemistry professor emeritus Dr. Patrick Brown has been trumpeted by some as the long-awaited vegan answer to a beef burger — a patty with the texture of meat that also “bleeds” like a burger.
Parent company Impossible Foods has teamed with chefs around the country, and the burger has landed on menus at David Chang’s Momofuku family of restaurants and on fellow James Beard winner Chris Shepherd’s Hay Merchant and Underbelly menus. Now the burger is available in Austin.
All Texas locations of Hopdoddy put the burger on their menus last week for $14. The Hopddy version will be served with Tillamook cheddar (making it decidedly non-vegan), green leaf lettuce, white onion, tomatoes and its signature “Sassy Sauce” on a brioche bun, though the burger can also be served on a whole wheat bun and without cheese for an entirely plant-based option.
So, what goes into an Impossible Burger? Well, wheat and potato proteins give the burger chew and nutrition; heme, the same molecule that carries oxygen in your blood, makes it red; and the fat comes from coconut oil.
Impossible Foods claims that when you trade out beef for an Impossible Burger, one quarter-pound burger saves the water equivalent to a 10-minute shower, 18 driving miles of greenhouse gases, and spares 75 square feet of land.
“We are proud to partner with a brand that aligns perfectly with the pillars that Hopdoddy was founded on: a unique and honest product made the right way, with the freshest and best available ingredients. These pillars allow us to serve the highest quality burger in terms of flavor, health and sustainability,” Jeff Chandler, CEO of Hopdoddy Burger Bar, said. “Impossible Burger exceeds our highest standards and makes a great addition to our menu and our brand — and we’re excited to share it with Texas’ Hopdoddy fanatics.”
Outside of town
Having conquered the world of made-for-TV home remodeling and setting the bar for being adorable, hard-working parents, “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines announced they will open a restaurant in their home base of Waco. The couple purchased the iconic Elite Cafe last year, and as they do with old homes are updating the almost-1oo-year-old institution. They plan to reopen the cafe near the end of the year under the name the Magnolia Table, with a focus on breakfast, brunch and lunch.