Generally speaking, Austin is often seen as one of a handful of true culinary destinations across the U.S., alongside other major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Given that unique status, there are always plenty of news across the capital city’s multitude of diners, cafes, eateries and other lively spots. As such, it’s easy to miss when a new restaurant opens or a fresh dish is introduced. To keep you in the loop, here are just some of the happenings in Austin’s hottest kitchens for October 2015:
No. 1 in the school
Time Out magazine has assembled its annual list of the country’s best sushi restaurants. This year, Austin’s own Uchi and Uchiko, two sister restaurants, took home the top prize. In its write-up, the publication praised the two restaurants – run by award-winning chef Tyson Cole – for achieving the rare treat of a modern, exciting aesthetic while remaining committed to traditional Japanese sushi techniques and methods. The magazine also commended Cole for removing some of the pretentiousness from sushi dining, opening up the experience to rookies and seasoned experts alike. Finally, Time Out applauded Cole for not only continually developing his own skills but also changing the menu with some frequency to generate renewed interest.
The Uchi Restaurant Group also has locations in Dallas and Houston, in addition to running yet another Austin favorite, the St. Philip Pizza Parlor. Cole was previously was previosuly given the illustrious James Beard Award, making him the first American Japanese-style chef to ever win.
Grand slam opening
Austin is home to a bevy of award-winning chefs and other experts in the greater food and restaurant industry. Now, as CultureMap Austin reported, three of these culinary all-stars have joined forces for a brand-new sports bar in Downtown Austin. BaseCamp is the brain child of Executive Chef Eric Kuypers – who previously worked at both Uchi and The Peached Tortilla – manager Dan Wyman, who also helped run Parkside Projects and Uchi, and Chad Barrett, the founder of both Summit Rooftop Lounge and the Aquila Commercial real-estate firm. BaseCamp is touting itself as a traditional pub – with plenty of craft beers and cocktails – that serves “elevated bar food.” The restaurant is setting up shop in a rather lively spot, the same West Fifth Street nightclub that also houses Barrett’s Summit Rooftop Lounge. BaseCamp will start slinging beers and nachos in late 2015, and will be open seven days a week 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
A string of successes
Inspections are a routine part of the restaurant industry. By ensuring that all chefs met certain safety standards and health protocols, inspectors are ensuring the diners’ well-being. Though it’s not unusual for some restaurants to fail these exams, The Austin restaurant scene excelled during 2015 inspections. As the Austin Business Journal reported, there was only one restaurant that failed citywide for all of August and September. According to city inspectors, a restaurant fails if it earns under a score of 70; the city’s one failing restaurant, Four Seasons Chinese in North Austin, earned a 65 overall. Of the 150 or so restaurants that were inspected between August and September, the majority earned a score of 90 or higher.
As the ABJ explained, this is the lowest number of failing restaurants in the year that the newspaper has compiled monthly scores. In July and August, a total of seven Austin-area restaurants failed inspection, the ABJ noted. For context, it’s important to look at the condition of some other city’s restaurant scene. As WRIC-TV reported, 150 restaurants failed in Richmond, Virginia failed inspection. In all, Richmond has just over 1,100 licensed restaurants.