Ruby’s BBQ will close this month after almost 30 years of smoking

Ruby’s BBQ, an Austin dining institution, will close near the end of February, according to an employee. The restaurant, once a regular haunt for musicians like Albert Collins and Maceo Parker who played at neighboring Antone’s, celebrated its 29th birthday in November.

Pat Mares and her late husband, Luke Zimmermann, opened the restaurant at 512 W. 29th St. in 1988. Mares, who owns the property according to county tax records, told the Austin Chronicle that the Ruby’s space will become a new restaurant under new owners

“I just can’t say enough nice things about Pat Mares and Ruby’s. They moved into the neighborhood and had all this great food and would stay open into the evening,” Susan Antone told the Statesman in 2013. “We had some really great times … I can’t think of too many places where I’ve had such good food and so much fun at the same time.”

Ruby’s was known for its brick pits and quality brisket, and native Nebraskan Mares took great pride in her product. Soon after opening the restaurant, she formed a relationship with deli manager Quincy Adams Erickson at Wheatsville Co-Op. Ruby’s originally purchased their all-natural, grain-fed, steroid-free Texas beef from the nearby grocer and have continued to serve the same quality beef from different providers over the past 29 years.

“Serving all-natural brisket is a commitment, not a trend,” Mares said in 2013.

The restaurant takes its name from a barbecue joint in Sidney Lumet’s 1960 movie “The Fugitive Kind,” starring Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward. But that never kept customers new and old from referring to affable redhead Mares as Ruby.

“Some people even say, ‘I know it’s not your name, but I’m gonna call you Ruby,’” Mares said. “I laugh because I said I didn’t want to call it Pat’s, and now I’ve become Ruby.”

Now open

One of my favorite hidden gems in Austin is the Sa-Tén coffee shop and cafe located in the Canopy artists complex on Springdale Road. The cafe serves a variety of tea and coffee drinks and Japanese dishes like egg toasts, katsu, grilled chicken, several curries and more. It’s also home to some of the coolest wallpaper in the city.

Sa-Tén now has a second location at 4917 Airport Blvd. in the former Komé space (which recently moved up the road). Komé co-owner Kayo Asazu is also a co-owner of Sa-Tén, which is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Chef Jodi Elliott closed the Wells Branch location of her Bribery Bakery and has put the business up for sale. Elliott closed the Mueller location of Bribery last fall.

“After a lot of thought and soul searching, I’ve made the difficult decision to close and sell Bribery Bakery,” she told the Statesman via email. “It’s been an unforgettable and invaluable life experience that I will always cherish.” Interested buyers can contact her at

Elliott says she will be doing more pastry consulting as she considers her next steps.

Looking ahead

There always seems to be something going on at Lamar Union. Cantine closed last year after a two-year run and eventually made way for Soto Japanese restaurant. Casual seafood concept TLC opened late last year next to the Alamo Drafthouse. And now two new concepts are on the way.

Mandala Kitchen & Bar, which the first-time owner describes as a Vietnamese-Thai restaurant, will take the place of the short-lived El Burro, with doors expected to open in the next month or so. And, Arista Rosso , a market, grab-and-go spot and reservations-only restaurant from the owners of Barley Bean, has hung a coming soon banner in front of the old Delicious space. No word on an opening date for that concept.

Correction and apology

In my positive review of chef Callie Speer’s diner Holy Roller last week, I made the mistake of saying that the restaurant shared a name with a defunct roller derby team. The team is not defunct, and people let me know via email and Twitter (better than an elbow to the jaw). The Holy Rollers, who participate in the Texas Roller Derby league , the city’s only banked-track roller derby league, will face off against the Rhinestone Cowgirls at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Travis County Expo Center. You can purchase tickets at the door or online at

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