The holidays are a time to relax, kick back and eat to your heart’s content. Whether you want to keep your kitchen clean, hate cooking for the in-laws or just want to enjoy your time off, some Austin restaurants are opening their hearts and doors to locals for Christmas.
Stay out of the kitchen for your holiday dinner this year by trying out some of these carefully-curated holiday meals.
Aba, 1011 S. Congress Ave.
The grilled chicken kebab includes a side of basmati rice. (Aba Austin)
Music Lane’s Mediterranean restaurant, Aba, is including some of its menu favorites for its carryout feast: wild mushroom hummus, whipped feta with persimmon, thyme roasted carrots with labneh, braised short rib, grilled chicken kebab, brussels sprouts and honey pie to finish. For vino lovers, you can add on a specialty sommelier-selected bottle of wine to pair with the feast.
Place your order for two, four or six people by Dec. 21 at 9 a.m., at $56.95 per person. Pickup will be available on Christmas Eve from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The dinner will be picked up cold with reheating instructions.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen, 2110 S. Lamar Blvd.
(Aviary Wine & Kitchen)
There’s no reason to pace the grocery store’s spirits aisle picking out the perfect wine when you could have it curated for you. This holiday season, Aviary is offering a six-pack of wine bottles for $156 so you’ll never show up to a party empty-handed again. Each pack will contain two of the following bottles: Redolent Wine Co. ‘Brother from Another Mother’ Pinot Noir & Nebbiolo Blend, Cave des Vignerons de Mancey Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, and Rouge-Bleu 'Méditerranée Dentelle' Blanc Magnum. If wine is a year-round indulgence for you, Aviary also offers its “Steady Sippers” subscription program.
Buenos Aires Cafe, 1201 E. 6th St.
(Buenos Aires Cafe)
Beef wellington, mashed potatoes and empanadas, oh my! Grab an Argentinian Christmas treat this year from Buenos Aires Cafe, which is offering some bougie options. Grab your choice of prime beef wellington with sides of organic spinach salad and maple panna cotta for dessert from $150-270; lamb and butternut squash empanadas from $28-55, pan dulce for $25, a holiday mesa dulce with a variety of sweets for $52 or the holiday wine box for $145, with your choice of six wines to keep the party going all night long.
Place your orders by Dec. 21.
Chicken Salad Shoppe, 12901 N. Interstate Hwy 35 Building 3
(Chicken Salad Shoppe)
Though chicken salad is the primary focus of the aptly-named shop, this holiday season the restaurant is offering The Sixer: six of its half-pound stuffed cookies fit for Saint Nick for $43. Choose any six cookies for the bundle, from the limited edition “Almond Joy” with cranberry sauce filling to “The Nutty Professor” with Nutella filling to “The Tortoise,” which is filled with salted caramel. The cookies come in a clear box with twinkle lights and a bow for gifting. You can also order the whole menu for delivery or takeout!
Dai Due, 2406 Manor Road
The stuffed quail is a new menu addition for the holidays. (Dai Due)
Bringing the native foods of our region to the table since 2006, Dai Due’s holiday menu is guaranteed to be fresh. Choose from a variety of proteins: smoked wild boar ham starting at $95, brined cotechino sausage-stuffed quail starting at $14, and charcuterie boards starting from $5-15. As far as sides and desserts, you can grab some mashed potatoes with wild game dirty rice, breakfast casseroles, basque cakes and pie dough to make your own treats.
Pick up your dinners, which come with at-home heating instructions, between Dec. 22-23 from noon to 4:20 p.m.
Intero, 2612 E. Cesar Chavez Street
The holidays are here in the form of a lavish gluten-free banquet at Intero. Starting with the main course, customers have a choice of the whole roasted cauliflower feast with pine nut relish for $150.00, the braised pork osso buco feast with marinated fennel for $200, or the smoked wagyu beef shoulder feast with horseradish gremolata for $200. Each meal serves four-to-six people and comes with sides of scalloped potatoes, kale salad and mushroom soup.
As the sweetest time of year, Intero is commemorating the holidays with chocolates and truffles. Pick your favorite from the salted toffee bark, winter box with warm flavors or the Texas choco boots.
Intero will be open for dinner and order pickup from Dec. 22- Dec. 24. Intero will be closed from Christmas Day until Dec. 28.
Lou’s, 1900 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Local watering hole Lou’s is dealing Christmas dinner for pickup this year. Pick your choice of porchetta for $60, rotisserie prime rib for $90 or chicken for $22 for protein; for sides, which range from $21-28, try the cheesy cauliflower gratin, rotisserie potatoes, brown butter roasted carrots, brussels sprouts or a crunchy kale salad. Desserts are classic: pumpkin pie or chocolate bourbon pecan pie for $40-45 for a 10-inch pie. For a little extra spice, add on Lou’s special spiced sangria for an extra $34.
Place your orders by Dec. 21 at the latest.
Old Thousand, 4805 Burnet Rd. and 1000 E. 11th St.
Open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Old Thousand is here to make sure everyone is well-fed during the holiday season. The 11th Street location will be open for dine-in on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, you can pick up a holiday-inspired Ho-Ho-Hotpot Old Thousand’s Burnet location. Made with your choice of Mala beef tallow broth or smoked veggie umami broth, the hotpot comes with noodles, meats, veggies, sides and a dessert to top it off.
Reserve your Christmas Eve dinner and hotpot by calling 737-222-6637. Each hotpot will cost $110, with the option to add a hotpot kit for $40, and will be ready to pick up between 4-8 p.m. on Christmas Day. The restaurant is holding different specials at each location, so double check before you head out!
Sala & Betty, 5201 Airport Blvd.
(Sala & Betty)
Not the biggest fan of the traditional American Christmas dinner? Sala & Betty has you covered with the classics and the not-so-classics on the holiday takeout menu this year. Try the Mexican meal, which will get you tamales, chicken pozole, braised pork shoulder, cilantro rice and hot chocolate mix for $225. Or you can get a turkey, small or full-size, with garlic green beans, roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and rice from $240-$340. If you’re spending the holidays alone this year, the restaurant has individual plates so you can still eat well.
Place your orders by Dec. 21 and pick them up on Dec. 24 from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
TLC Austin, 1100 S. Lamar Blvd.
(The Velox Standard)
Feeding the entire family this holiday season, seafood restaurant TLC Austin’s Christmas dinner will have you covered from supper to dessert to cookies with Santa. For dinner, the package includes a 6-7 lb Nueske’s applewood smoked bone-in ham, rosemary fingerling potatoes, green beans and honey glazed carrots. For dessert, nosh on some chocolate pecan pie and whtie chocolate peppermint bark. When it is time to gather around the tree, the package includes a hot cocoa kit, a cookie decorating kit and carrots for Santa’s reindeer.
You can preorder the holiday kit online for $299. Pickup is on Dec. 23 at noon.
Walton's Fancy and Staple, 609 W. 6th St.
Enjoy the classic holiday smorgasbord courtesy of Walton’s Fancy and Staple, starting the holiday menu with maple bourbon-glazed ham for $90, balsamic brussel sprouts and prosciutto, white cheddar and gruyere mac and cheese, brown butter rosemary carrots and brown gravy to top it all off. Sides range from $18-48. The dessert options, $25-30, are vast with apple streusel, pecan pie, buttermilk pie and vanilla cherry cheesecake. Each item is available in individual and family-sized portions.Order by calling 512-391-9966 or emailing email@example.com. The restaurant is accepting orders until Dec. 20 and will be available for pickup between Dec. 23-24.
Have a joyous holiday season!
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A theory that’s been swirling around lately is that the web as we know it is on its way out and something called Web3 will take over.
It’s hard to know what Web3 is without first understanding the original versions. The first web is the 90s Internet where people had their own random websites that didn’t link together, making it decentralized. In Web2, we saw the rise of Google, Facebook and other major players who configured standard ways for people to share and receive information.
Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood and other blockchain developers say a decentralized version of the Internet, Web3, is on the way. Web3 can be thought of as synonymous with cryptocurrency, meaning it is based on the blockchain. Platforms and apps built on Web3 won’t be owned by a central gatekeeper, but rather by users. Those in the Austin crypto community believe to see a growing presence of Web3 in Austin.
Pujaa Rajan, an engineer at financial software company Stripe and adviser for startups, describes herself as a “digital nomad.” She has traveled all over from Hawaii to New York and San Francisco, looking for the crypto community in each place.
Having been in Austin for the past month, Rajan organized a Web3 meetup this week at Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden in South Austin open to folks working in crypto or the crypto-curious. About 30 people showed up. "Compared to a lot of other cities that I went to, it is a lot more open and community-oriented here, which is what Web3 is all about,” she said.
Pujaa Rajan, an engineer at financial software company Stripe, organized a Web3 meetup in Austin during a visit. (Andrea Guzman/Austonia)
ATX DAO member Roberto Talamas, who stopped by the event, talked about the crypto group’s expansion. Web3, in Talamas’ view, expands on the previous versions which allowed people to read, then read and write. Now, he says, people can read, write and own. To Talamas, blockchain technology has powered that ownership aspect, and it can be utilized through groups like a DAO, a group that pools together capital and goes on to make investments or take on blockchain-based projects.
“The ecosystem of work with (Web3) companies here in Austin is still relatively small,” Talamas said. “And that’s one of those things that we’re trying to deal with at ATX DAO is to do all the advocacy work needed to make Austin the best Web3 city.”
Part of that community, however, has gotten a bad rep for being “crypto bros.” Rajan acknowledged that Web3 involves both finance and technology, which are fields women have historically been excluded from. But, she says the decentralization aspect creates a clean slate and a new means to form groups. “I feel like we can kind of take back the power or create a world for ourselves,” Rajan said.
The meetup at Cosmic brought together crypto users to talk about the prospects of Web3. (Andrea Guzmán/Austonia)
Meetup attendee Jonathan Hillis also talked about the idea that Web3 creates an opportunity to start over and how this could be something that grows in Austin. Born and raised in the capital city, Hills has left his Bay Area Web2 Instacart job behind to live in a cabin outside Dripping Springs last year. He and his wife, along with a group of internet friends formed a DAO called Cabin, and he's now writing on the Web3 version of Medium, known as Mirror.
When it comes to the state of Web3, four cities stand out. “The dam broke in Covid,” Hillis said. “Everybody no longer had to live in the Bay Area for tech.”
San Francisco is still rooted in Web2 traits with Big Tech and software as a service venture. New York is financial technology. Miami is another major player. But with Austin, Hillis sees a lot of potential.
“Austin is great at being a place for independent online creators of many types—musicians, but also artists,” Hillis said. “What excites me about Web3 is the opportunities for putting creators at more of the center of the value capture.”
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Once a bargain-hunter's paradise, Austin's reputation as a cheaper California seems to be dissipating. But does money have more value in Austin when compared to other U.S. metros?
For Carson Stanch, who moved to Austin from Brooklyn, New York, to be near family, Austin's lower cost of living was just an added bonus. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a $100 bill is worth $98.20 in Austin when compared to the national average in 2020, while it's worth just $84.53 in New York.
Houston native Carson Stanch moved from Brooklyn, New York to Austin just before the pandemic. (Carson Stanch)
Stanch soon realized she was a trendsetter—or perhaps a fortune teller—as the pandemic hit a few months after her move. No longer willing to spend extra money on their more expensive apartments, Stanch said many of her friends and other New Yorkers left the city amid COVID lockdowns.
"It's so expensive to live there (and) all of the reasons why you live in New York, you couldn't really do anymore," Stanch said.
Garrett Watson, a senior policy analyst with the Tax Foundation who wrote a 2018 report on the value of $100 in U.S. metros, told Austonia the report factors in the costs of goods and services with residents' incomes and compares them to the national average. The result is price parity, a number that varies drastically across the country—for instance, a $100 bill won't get you near as far in Austin as it would in more rural parts of the Hill Country.
While a Ben Franklin note was worth $4 more in New York in 2020 when compared to 2018, a $100 bill decreased by $1.60 in value in Austin. Austin's cost of living also saw the 12th-highest increase among U.S. metros from the 2010 to 2020 census.
And as the pandemic's nationwide housing boom gained extra momentum in Austin, peaking at a median home price of $575,000 in June 2021, Watson said the value of $100 could have dropped even further.
"There's just been a chronic hunger for building houses on the coasts and in certain cities in the heartland," Watson said. "Especially this year, we're seeing more and more discussion about that in Austin, and so that is a big, big factor."
Price parity bleeds into other factors as well—in San Francisco, where the value of $100 sits at $82.63, residents are nearly 18% poorer than their higher incomes suggest. But with higher incomes than the U.S. average, they may find themselves more flush with cash when moving to a cheaper city like Austin.
Many out-of-towners have used that extra change to make housing offers much higher than the asking price, Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather told Fox7 Austin.
"All those migrants are bringing with them high-paying jobs who are used to much more expensive housing and they’re willing to pull out all the stops to win these homes and move to Austin," Fairweather said.
But Austin is catching up to those traditional hotspots: the area was predicted to be the most expensive metro outside of the Golden State by the end of 2021.
In just two years, Stanch said she's seen some signs.
"I feel like I look around certain areas of Austin (and) they do feel more similar to downtown Brooklyn," Stanch said. "Some businesses I see might tend to cater to folks who have a little more income."
I cannot believe there’s a Hermès (an Hermès?) store opening around the corner from where I live. Oy vey. The scrappy, cheap, charmingly dusty locals-only South Congress of yore is receding into the past so very quickly. 😭 pic.twitter.com/sUHxI4pX8F
— Cari Marshall (@CariMarshallTX) August 3, 2021
So why not move to, say, Florence, Alabama, where money is almost 20% more valuable?
Watson said the difference comes down to the value of amenities—something the study can't track.
"Part of the value in New York City is all the amenities that you're near, the value of Broadway, the value of being able to get food delivered to your door," Watson said. "So that may be reflected in people's willingness to pay higher prices... there's a lot of really great reasons why people may want to be in Austin from an identity perspective that you can't get in other parts of Texas."
In Austin, tech salaries rose 5% from 2020-2021 as big-name corporations like Oracle and Tesla—alongside Tesla's billionaire owner Elon Musk—flocked to the nation's new "boomtown." With an ever-increasing job market, eclectic culture and reputation as one of the world's best cities for move-ins, Austin's appeal might still offset its price.
But for Stanch and many others, there may still come a time when price wins over location.
"If I was to the point where homebuying was more important than being near friends and family, then I would move to get the home," Stanch said. "I think that's kind of part of my plan."