WHERE THERE'S SMOKE
Austin pastrami powerhouse says howdy to Pearl's food hall
For locals who crave food variety, there's arguably no greater spot than the ever-rotating stalls at Pearl's Bottling Department. Already the home to Caribbean street food, New York-style pizza, and traditional tacos, the food hall recently added gourmet burgers via the Henbit pop-up. Now, it's completing its crave-able lineup with barbecue and sandwiches.
The new addition comes from a familiar Pearl face — Three Six General, a farmers' market favorite that has been quietly operating at Bottling Department since late February. In mid-June, owner Matti Bills rebranded to Howdy Child, rolling out a menu of sandwiches and fried chicken tenders.
Bills tells CultureMap that smoked meats are the star of the show. Made in-house at the Three Six General butcher shop in San Marcos, the selections include meat by the pound sold on Saturday and Sunday and an every day sandwich selection of pulled pork, chopped brisket, oak-smoked chicken, and hot pastrami.
The latter is the business' calling card. Bills is also the co-founder of Austin's Mum Foods, whose pastrami was named best in the state by Texas Monthly.
The bread is carefully sourced too. Keeping with the eatery's locavore ethos, Howdy Child uses sourdough from Dripping Springs-based Abby Jane Bakeshop, which exclusively uses Texas-grown wheat from Barton Springs Mills.
Bills says the leap from farmers' market vendor to food hall staple was a natural move for the business, which, unlike Henbit, plans to stick around for a while.
"When presented with the opportunity, it was a no-brainer," Bills shares via email.
The playful name, however, came about by happenstance.
"[I] Just wanted it to be something unique and playful that worked for a barbecue and fried chicken concept!" says Bills. "[I] was literally just greeting a friend one day, and we decided it would be a good name."
Though the branding may be a lark, Bills is serious about the San Antonio food scene. She promises that the food hall concept is just the start of things to come.
"I love San Antonio and definitely want to make it my home base," says the talented pitmaster. "[I'm] already working on developing another concept in the area."