Photo courtesy of Hot Luck Fest

One of Texas’ favorite backyard cookouts, helmed by meat genius Aaron Franklin, is getting all fired up for its jubilant return to Austin this Memorial Day weekend, and every ingredient of the four-day fest, from the musical entertainment to the tantalizing bites and the chefs — including several from San Antonio — is guaranteed to be red-hot.

Hot Luck Fest, the annual food and music experience that has been on hold for the past couple years because of the pandemic, will flare back up in May 26-29 at a variety of spots and with plenty of juicy offerings for festivalgoers to sink their teeth into.

Individual tickets and weekend passes for Hot Luck Fest are available for purchase at hotluckfest.com.

Founded by James Beard Award winner Aaron Franklin of in-demand Austin hot spot Franklin Barbecue, as well as Mohawk venue owner James Moody, and Mike Thelin, cofounder of Feast Portland, Hot Luck Fest is specifically designed to highlight the best chefs, cooks, and musicians from all over the country and beyond.

Hot Luck Fest is also a charitable event, with this year’s fest benefiting the Southern Smoke Foundation, which supports the food-and-beverage industry workers nationwide.

“Super stoked that we’re able to bring Hot Luck back this year. I’ve invited a whole lot of my homies to come down to Austin to cook,” Franklin says. “We’ve all been through a lot in the last year and a half, and it’s going to be fun to all get together and catch up and help our friends at Southern Smoke, who continue to serve our industry unfailingly.”

While daytime events feature all the chef-y bites every foodie craves, in the evenings, Hot Luck Fest shifts its focus to music, with live performances at some of Austin’s most iconic clubs, including Mohawk and Antone’s. And ticket prices for music shows start at only $10.

This year’s performers include Superchunk, Shannon and The Clams, DJ Jazzy Jeff with DJ Mel, Cam Cole, Joe Marcinek Band featuring George Porter Jr., and more.

Here’s the rundown of this year’s Hot Luck Fest events:

Thursday, May 26, 6-9 pm
The Giddy Up: Mohawk
The festival lights up with a Thursday night industry pizza party, which will include savory pies, as well as sweet treats from Whole Foods and Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar. Sets from DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Mel will follow the food event. The chef lineup for The Giddy Up event includes:

  • Chris Bianco, Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix)
  • Elias Cairo, Olympia Provisions (Portland, Oregon)
  • Fermin Nunez, Suerte (Austin)
  • Fiore Tedesco, L’Oca d’Oro (Austin)
  • Joe Beddia, Pizzeria Beddia (Philadelphia)
  • Mike Diaz, Oseyo (Austin)
  • Rebecca Masson, Fluff Bake Bar (Houston)
  • Reem Assil, Reem’s (Oakland, California)

Friday, May 27, 7-10 pm
Hi, How Are You?: Franklin Barbecue

This extravagant east side event is a backyard-style get-together that will feature the man himself, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, as well as other acclaimed chefs, bites and sips, and a whole lot of extravagance that culinary nerds can totally geek out to. The chef lineup for the Hi, How Are You? event includes:

  • Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
  • Amanda Shulman, Her Place (Philadelphia)
  • Andrew Taylor, Eventide Oyster Co. (Portland, Maine)
  • Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Arlin Smith, Eventide Oyster Co. (Portland, Maine)
  • Chris Shepherd, Underbelly (Houston)
  • Erin Smith, Feges BBQ (Houston)
  • Jordan Rubin, Crispy Gai (Portland, Maine)
  • Kristine Kittrell, The Diner Bar (Austin)
  • Laura Sawicki and Mei Lin, Nightshade (Los Angeles)
  • Misti Norris, Petra and the Beast (Dallas)
  • Patrick Feges, Feges BBQ (Houston)
  • Shota Nakajima, Taku (Seattle)
  • Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Canje (Austin)
  • Todd Duplechan, Lenoir (Austin)
  • Tyson Cole, Uchi (Austin)

Saturday, May 28, 7-10 pm
Al Fuego: Wild Onion Ranch

Al Fuego is Hot Luck’s celebration of live-action, flame-fueled cooking styles and features a showcase of the “most inspiring food on the planet.” As fest organizers note, if you’ve ever wondered what chefs cook for their friends in their own backyards, this fiery shindig is for you. The chef lineup for the Al Fuego event includes:

  • Alon Shaya, Saba (New Orleans)
  • Amanda Rockman, South Congress Hotel (Austin)
  • Ashleigh Shanti, Good Hot Fish (Asheville, North Carolina)
  • Brad Leone (New York City)
  • Bradley Nicholson, Lutie’s (Austin)
  • Carlo Lamagna, Magna Kusina (Portland, Oregon)
  • Casey Wilcox, Little Trouble (Lockhart)
  • Christopher Schaefer, Geraldine’s (Austin)
  • Colin Yoshimoto, Eem (Portland, Oregon)
  • Davis Turner, Huckleberry (Austin)
  • Dawn Burrell, Late August (Houston)
  • Diego Galicia and Rico Torres, Mixtli (San Antonio)
  • Donny Sirisavath, Khao Noodle Shop (Dallas)
  • Earl Ninsom, Eem (Portland, Oregon)
  • Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria (Austin)
  • Evan LeRoy, Leroy and Lewis Barbecue, (Austin)
  • Jakub Czyszczon, Garrison (Austin)
  • James Wilson, East Austin Hotel (Austin)
  • Jeremy Charles, Raymonds (St. Johns, California)
  • John Tesar, Knife (Dallas)
  • Jori Jayne and José Enrique, José Enrique (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
  • Jules Stoddart, Olamaie (Austin)
  • Kareem El-Ghayesh, KG BBQ (Austin)
  • Kevin Fink, Hestia (Austin)
  • Maneet Chauhan, Chauhan Ale & Masala House (Nashville)
  • Mason Hereford, Turkey and the Wolf (New Orleans)
  • Matt Horn, Horn Barbecue (Oakland, California)
  • Michael Fojtasek, Olamaie (Austin)
  • Nicola Blaque, The Jerk Shack (San Antonio)
  • Ravi Kapur, Liholiho Yacht Club (San Francisco)
  • Rick Lopez, La Condesa (Austin)
  • Sarah Grueneberg, Monteverde (Chicago)
  • Shane Stark, Mongers (Austin)
  • Shota Nakajima, Taku (Seattle)
  • Stuart Brioza, The Anchovy Bar (San Francisco)
  • Susana Querejazu, Lutie’s (Austin)
  • Todd Pulsenelli, Hotel Chloe (New Orleans)
  • Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel, Birdie’s (Austin)
  • Yoshi Okai, Otoko (Austin)
  • Zak Pelaccio (Hudson Valley, New York)

For more info about this year’s Hot Luck Fest, visit hotluckfest.com and follow Hot Luck on Facebook and Instagram.

Bombshell reports detail Texas fashion brand's recent 'implosion'

Oh No OV

Bombshell reports from the New York Times and BuzzFeed News are painting a dire picture of one of Texas' fastest growing retail brands. The two reports, published within a day each other, paint a portrait of a company in financial crisis, overseen by inept management, and fighting to stay afloat. They also show the cultural struggle between a female-led company and its increasingly male executive team.

For those who have never rocked a Y'all Y'all Y'all cap, attended a dog jog, or pulled on a pair of dip leggings, here is a quick primer.

Outdoor Voices is a startup athlesiure company headquartered in Austin. Its cobalt blue headquarters, situated on the corner of Chalmers and Cesar Chavez streets on the city's east side, is recognizable by its massive Doing Things HQ sign, sort of a subtle "if you know, you know" thing.

The company was started in 2014 by Tyler Haney, who, because she is young and female, is frequently grouped in the same entrepreneurial class as Glossier's Emily Weiss and Sophia Amoruso, author of Girlboss and creator of Nasty Gal. For six years, Haney led a large team of mostly women, many of whom were young and largely white, on a mission to disrupt the male-dominated world of sports apparel, according to these articles.

The six-year period was a time of immense growth for the company, including multiple brick-and-mortar stores, millions in funding, and other hallmarks of tech success. It was also, according to the NYT and BuzzFeed News, one of turmoil, overseen by a "visionary" who was also "mercurial" and lacking in management skills.

On February 25, after being ousted as CEO of Outdoor Voices just days earlier, Haney resigned from the company via a Slack message to employees. On March 10, the New York Times published its article detailing the financial and cultural cracks that had formed in the company long before Haney pressed send on her goodbye message.

According to the NYT, Outdoor Voices entered 2020 valued "at just $40 million — down from $110 million in 2018" and far away from its projected $240 million valuation. Despite hiring Mickey Drexler, formerly of Gap, Inc. and J. Crew, as chairman in 2017 (he was also an investor), the company was quickly losing money, something the NYT reporters say was due to both poor business decisions and a culture of spending.

Writes the NYT: "Mr. Drexler’s decades of experience and deep knowledge of the retail industry were expected to help Outdoor Voices make the transition from scrappy start-up to mature business. But his input was not always welcomed at a company built on the vision of its charismatic founder."

Drexler stepped down as Outdoor Voices chairman last summer.

What the NYT glaringly omits, however, is this isn't the first company Drexler has watched lose money. When Drexler stepped down from the role of CEO of J. Crew in 2019, a role he kept for nearly two decades, the retailer was more than $500 million in debt, according to the Business of Fashion.

"Drexler, who is 74, is known for his success at building brands like Ann Taylor and Gap Inc. in the 1990s. But over the last few years, he appears to have lost his magic touch," writes Fast Company in a 2019 story about Drexler's departure from J.Crew.

Despite Drexler's intervention, the NYT and BuzzFeed News paint a portrait of a company hemorrhaging money, and both outlets use Outdoor Voices' annual $36,000 Topo Chico bill as an example of the spending. On her Instagram, which was posted after the NYT published its piece, Haney indirectly disputes the characterization of the Topo bill.

"There is an eagerness to label business decisions like purchasing glass bottled water as frivolous rather than ask why this was a smart investment (because it’s part of an environmentally-minded experience that brought people to our events and retail locations which led to significant customer acquisition)."

Both the New York Times and BuzzFeed News largely rely on unnamed sources for their pieces, citing the nondisclosure agreements former Outdoor Voices employees signed after leaving. And while the NYT does categorize Haney as "mercurial" and "spoiled," it doesn't deviate into an airing of grievances the way BuzzFeed News, whose article was published March 11, does.

They both, however, illustrate how even at a women-first company, women aren't always put first. It seems apt that Haney's firing came a few months after the birth of her first child and in the aftermath of her resignation, 15 employees were fired — all of whom were women.

It's a pattern Haney herself points out in that Instagram response.

"There is an unsettling trend lately to interview ex-employees of female-founded companies and report their claims either at face value or without any context," she writes. "These are trends that will only serve to drive women back out of the board room."

Rendering courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B opens massive Austin hub with shuttle to San Antonio and more perks


H-E-B's massive new Austin office has opened less than a year after the San Antonio-based grocery chain announced plans for the innovative space, as well as hundreds of new jobs to go along with it.

The Eastside Tech Hub, located at 2416 E. Sixth St. on the city's east side, serves as an office space for the grocery chain's digital team and headquarters for Austin-based Favor, the delivery service app H-E-B acquired in February 2018.

IA Interior Architects was tasked with redesigning an existing warehouse, eventually creating an 81,000-square-foot, open-concept space, complete with more than 50 meeting rooms, state-of-the-art video and technology capabilities, events space, lounge area, and coffee bar.

H-E-B, one Texas' most famous brands, cleverly incorporated its Lone Star heritage into the design. Meeting rooms are named after H-E-B brand products and Texas landmarks and cities; decorative brick and tile were sourced from the company's hometown of San Antonio; furniture was produced in Marfa; plants were sourced from around the state; and artists, such as Will Bryant, R.F. Alvarez, and Cody Barber, created murals and original artwork for the space.

Since this is Austin, and it's 2019, and Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop empire is set to rule us all, the office also comes equipped with a "wellness center featuring a rock-climbing wall, curated fitness classes, bike parking, and showers," says a release. (Snooty asides, uh, aside, this is actually a great perk.) The release also points out that the new office is within walking distance to the East Seventh Street H-E-B, currently undergoing a major renovation to create a "world-class shopping experience."

In a previous release, the company said it would add several hundred new jobs in conjunction with the Eastside Tech facility. An H-E-B rep tells CultureMap the company "has hired hundreds" and is continuing to recruit talent in both the new Austin digital offices and the company's San Antonio headquarters.

“The Eastside Tech Hub enables us to have a strong tech presence in both Austin and San Antonio, while fostering a better connection between our teams across the two cities," says Jag Bath, H-E-B chief digital officer and Favor CEO, in a release.

To continue fostering that Austin-San Antonio connection, H-E-B is also rolling out a free, Wi-Fi-enabled shuttle service between the two cities during the work week.

H-E-B is also celebrating this connection by donating $100,000 to Austin- and San Antonio-based STEM summer camps and programs.

“As a digital retail leader, this dynamic workplace reflects our commitment to better serve our people and communities," Bath continues. "Investing in our schools and children allows us to help build the next generation of technology innovators right here in Texas.”

Texas served as the inspiration for the design.

Eastside HEB Tech Hub
Rendering courtesy of H-E-B
Texas served as the inspiration for the design.
Wayback Cafe & Cottages/Facebook

Unique new boutique hotel showcases Texas history and Hill Country views

staycation's all i ever wanted

Tucked away in the rolling greenery of West Austin are eight traditional Texan cottages. Board-and-batten in style, the one- and two-bedroom structures, set among the shade of matured trees, harken back to the early days of the Texas Hill Country.

The property, opened in December 2018 as The Wayback Cafe & Cottages by mother-daughter duo Vicki Bly and Sydney Sue, is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Austin life. In addition to the eight cottages, guests can enjoy a saltwater pool, cabana, fire pit, hillside views, and on-site cafe serving locally sourced food and wine.

Before becoming co-owners of The Wayback, Bly, a serial entrepreneur, ran the Bremond House Bed and Breakfast, while Sue dreamt of a career in event planning for professional sports teams.

The idea for Wayback, explains Sue, began in 2014. “Vicki was driving down Bee Caves Road and saw the property with a for sale sign,” her daughter recalls. “The owner wasn’t particularly interested in selling and was waiting for the right opportunity.”

While the pair weren’t exactly sure of what they would build there — they didn’t even have a business plan yet — they did know they wanted to “create a place for people to feel relaxed, happy, free-spirited, and light-hearted."

In developing plans for what would become The Wayback, which the two drew on graph paper, Sue and Bly came to discover the land's interesting history. Among the property's unique features was an oversized industrial building where the cafe currently stands, a woodshop, and a metal-forging shop that did work for the Texas Capitol.

During a meeting with Warbach Lighting, a custom light fixture company in East Austin, the duo discovered even more quirky facts about the property.

“We had a two-hour conversation with the guys and told them where our property was and they said, 'Oh The Wayback When? Families used to go out there all the time and play music,'” Sue recalls. With its rich history and important place in Austin music, the pair knew they wanted to honor the land's energy, something that continues to enchant everyone who visits.

Throughout the original design process, permitting and construction, even more discoveries were revealed. The property, once dense with overgrown, rambling trees and a thick brush, was hiding expansive hillside views.

“We were the girls that dug through the shrubs and hiked down Barton Creek a mile back to see what was there,” Sue says. “Now, off Cabin 6 and 7, you have these incredible views and can see the clay roofs of Westlake in the distance, almost like you’re looking at another village cross the canyon.”

In getting to know the property at 9601 Bee Cave Rd., one of the most important things for the pair was to respect the land, and thus every tree but two were left as is. “We placed our cottages and cafe everywhere where there was already something and tucked them under the trees. People don't take time to do that now,” Bly says.

During the four-year process building, the mother-daughter took a relaxed, organic approach. The pool came first, followed by the cabana, cottages, and the drive-thru coffee hut — organic offshoots each contributing to the magical essence.

“The last thing we thought of was the cafe,” Sue says. “What gets people together more than food and wine? Our neighbors wouldn’t come if we didn’t have that." Off the cafe used to be a shrine to the Virgin Mary. As rumor has it, Janis Joplin and other famous musicians like Willie Nelson, would jam there.

In continuing this tradition of creative, communal space, Bly and Sue will also be hosting numerous events like an art journaling class with Mint and Maple on April 8 and a men’s retreat.

Since opening just two months ago, The Wayback Cafe & Cottages has become a destination for weekend brunch, weekly pizza nights, afternoon happy hour complete with a Texas-only wine list, or for an overnight getaway. The air is still, the grounds are tranquil, and the cottages are cozy — what more could you ask for?

The Wayback Cafe & Cottages.

Wayback Cafe & Cottages hotel
Wayback Cafe & Cottages/Facebook
The Wayback Cafe & Cottages.

10 bachelorette party ideas that marry wellness and revelry in Austin

Party On

Austin has become the must-hit destination for Texas bachelorette parties. Any night of the week there are gaggles of women (the so-called “Bride Tribe) from around the state traipsing down Dirty Sixth or Rainey Street, one with a white sash encrusted with rhinestones and tiara in hand, ready to take on the night.

While going out for a drink (or two) can be quite fun, especially during a bachelorette weekend getaway, here are a few ideas if you’re looking to take a more wellness-focused approach.


Take a shot — 9 am
If flying, arrive at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and head to JuiceLand on Cesar Chavez Street for a quick stop before checking into the hotel. Order the Noni to Fear shot (includes noni, a beauty-enhancing favorite of model Miranda Kerr; apple cider vinegar; lemon; turmeric; living B vitamins; and sea salt) for a boost of energy and the fresh-pressed Recovery Punch to get rehydrated after the flight. Snack on one of JuiceLand's bowls for an energizing breakfast on-the-go.

Self-care is the best care 10 am-1 pm
Check into the JW Marriott, drop your bags, and hit the spa. There’s no better way to start off a health-conscious bachelorette weekend than with some quality self-care. The JW offers spa buyouts for bridal groups of eight to 20-plus so you’ll have total privacy as you relax. Pop a bottle of Champagne (it’s all about balance, right?), enjoy a JW classic 50-minute massage and get wedding-ready.

A light lunch 2 pm
It wouldn’t be a proper vacation without incredible food. Head to Koriente, located just off Sixth Street, where the dishes are made with minimal-to-no sugar and oil. Dig in for late lunch of shitake tofu, Koriente curry, or teriyaki chicken that will have you feeling your best all day long.

Get outdoors — 4 pm
Austin is the ideal place to get outside. Head to Lady Bird Lake for some afternoon paddleboarding, or hike up Mount Bonnell for some prime Instagram photo opportunities and watch as the sun sets over the city.

A Paleo Picnik — 7 pm
Even if no one in your group follows the paleo lifestyle, they’ll sure to love North Austin’s Picnik. The creamy queso (made with cashews) served with Siete Family Foods' almond flour tortillas is a solid way to start the meal. For entrees, order up the fish tacos, Picnik Cobb, or turmeric-crusted cauliflower steak — all of which are delicious.


Skip the fancy breakfast— 8 pm
Sleeping in is vital for optimal health so catch a few extra Zs and order room service for the ultimate lazy morning at the JW Marriott.

Hit the bar(re) — noon
Meet up for a private class at Barre Code in downtown. Sweat out any toxins from the night before and feel empowered from the full-body workout. Down some coconut water as you leave the studio to refuel.

Mix it up with healthy cocktails— 2 pm
After a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up, take a Lyft to the Squeezery at The Refinery on Brazos Street for a healthy cocktail mixology class. Order the matcha cashew or avocado vegan gelato bowl while you’re at it for the ultimate afternoon treat.

Shop local, shop well — 4 pm
After relaxing from the cocktail course, head out for some late afternoon shopping at some of Austin’s hippest wellness boutiques like Take Heart, which is now located next to Hillside Farmacy on E. 11th Street, for stunning ceramics imported from Japan, all-natural body products, and handmade candles. Walk down the block to Tiny Taiga for healthy trinkets and energy readings.

A worthy ending — 8 pm
Before heading back to reality, enjoy your last meal in town at Suerte, one of America’s best new restaurants. This east side spot's dreamy interiors are perfect for the final Instagram snap of the weekend, and the cocktails are almost as lauded as the cuisine. The carne asada, chicken roulade, and grilled sweet potatoes are a must, and top the meal with a Mexican coffee.

Photo courtesy of Pinch Boil House

Acclaimed San Antonio seafood restaurant boils up new Texas location

Catch of the Day

Following in the footsteps of San Antonio concepts like Bakery Lorraine, Merit Coffee, and Stella Public House, another Alamo City eatery is planting its flag in Austin. On November 27, Pinch Boil House and Bia Bar announced the upcoming opening of its first location in the Capital City, coming in summer 2019.

Since opening in September 2017, Pinch has become one of the most acclaimed restaurants in San Antonio with a menu of Viet-Cajun seafood boils and Southeast Asian street food. Among the many kudos it has received, the restaurant was also a finalist for CultureMap San Antonio’s 2018 Tastemaker Award for Best New Restaurant.

The new location was first teased in November 5 Instagram post which showed owners Sean Wen and Andrew Ho in front of an Austin construction site. Although the post created a mild panic among commenters thinking the restaurant was leaving San Antonio, the University of Texas at Austin graduates assured fans the original is not going anywhere.

“Being given the opportunity to tell a story about our culture has always been important to us and food just happened to be the vehicle that allowed me to best narrate that story,” said Wen via release. “We launched Pinch by hosting small crawfish and shrimp boil pop-ups in San Antonio and then in Austin from time to time and the turnout was very humbling. Making our way back to Austin seemed inevitable and we’re thrilled to bring our food, culture, and vibe into the city’s enriching food scene.”

Like the first location, the new Pinch will fuse Vietnamese and Thai flavors with ingredients popular along Texas’ Gulf Coast. The shrimp, crab, and seasonal crawfish boils, smothered in a house garlic butter, are the showpiece, but chargrilled oysters and noodle bowls will also be available. Full menu details will be revealed at a later date.

Although the release was coy about the exact address, only mentioning the locale would be in East Austin, a rep confirmed that the restaurant will be located inside Plaza Saltillo, a massive mixed-use development currently under construction.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel accolades to urban treasure hunting, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio plummets on list of best places to live in new national report. San Antonio was previously the No. 75 place to live in America in 2021, tumbling to No. 83 in 2022 and dropping even further down the list to No. 103 in 2023.

2. Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this holiday weekend. Check out Spoon or Kool and the Gang tonight, or head to UTSA for their annual Asian festival.

3. This is how big San Antonio apartments get for $1,500 a month. San Antonio renters can find apartments that span 1,010 square feet for $1,500 a month.

4. Posh Pearl hotel books top spot on best luxury hotels in U.S. list. Tripadvisor's coveted Travelers' Choice Best of Best Awards recently gave Hotel Emma top marks in two categories.

5. Texas unearths new ranking as 2nd best state for urban treasure hunting. Fun fact: Texas has the highest number of metal detecting sites in the nation.

Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at popular Grayson Street bar on Memorial Day


With new restaurants seemingly opening daily, San Antonio’s culinary scene is more exhilarating than ever. But even those with a packed reservation schedule sometimes crave something different.

Enter pop-ups — a San Antonio obsession that grows more popular each month. The latest to enter the fray is Restaurant Claudine chef Mel Cavazos, who will debut Throwback Sammies, a one-night-only concept sprouting up at Three Star Bar on May 29.

“I want to do something comforting that everyone can relate to,” explains Cavazos of the nostalgic concept. “I want the menu to read simply but totally unexpected when you eat it.”

The small menu includes a trio of dishes that evoke childhood memories. Cheese bread is reimagined with Romesco sauce, burrata, and basil, while another sandwich has all the fixings of a Sunday pot roast with potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Those desperately waiting for fall will no doubt flock to the Thanksgiving Meltdown, complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry.

One dish, however, is even more personal. In honor of a recently passed friend, Cavazos added a “secret” vegan sandwich featuring buffalo cauliflower and homemade pickled vegetables.

“He loved his vegan wings,” Cavazos remembers.

The chef tells CultureMap that Throwback Sammies is just the start of a series of pop-ups she hopes to hold monthly. As she continues developing a career at Carpenter Carpenter Hospitality’s ever-growing restaurant empire, she sees the pop-up series as a chance to keep exploring her culinary voice.

“I want to expand and explore more options,” Cavazos says, adding, “I love sandwiches, but that’s not what I like to be known for.”

Throwback Sammies starts at 8 pm and runs until supplies run out. Future pop-ups will be announced via Instagram.

Texas' best restaurants and bars reign at 2023 Tastemaker Awards


It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books, folks. Our statewide journey to recognize some of the best chefs, restaurants, and more in 2023 has finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemakers at Silver Street Studios, then we moved to Cowtown for our Fort Worth event on April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us to our Metroplex neighbors in Dallas at the Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

Nominees are brought forth by a panel of previous Tastemaker winners and CultureMap editors. While the panel choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ


K\u00fcnstler doppelbock
Künstler Brewing Instagram

Künstler Brewing is our Brewery of the Year.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day