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Local James Beard winner is staying busy a month after award

(El Naranjo/Austin)

Now a month out from her James Beard Foundation win, chef Iliana De La Vega is back on her usual grind as she works to keep up with increased demand.


De La Vega of El Naranjo, 2717 S. Lamar Blvd., represented Austin when she won the title of Best Chef Texas alongside chef Edgar Rico of Nixta Taqueria, 2512 E. 12th St., who took home Best Emerging Chef in June.

“People are very excited when they come to the restaurant because a lot of people have been reading about it,” De La Vega told Austonia. “Everybody's very excited about it—we're crazy, crazy busy.”

Other than busier days, increased reservations and more mouths to feed, De La Vega said it’s been business as usual as she and her husband, Ernesto Torrealba, carry on the business they’ve been running since they opened in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1997.

The pair moved to the U.S. after the economy collapsed, moving from New Mexico to San Antonio to Austin, where they restarted their brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2012.

“We keep doing what we have been doing for so many years, just trying to keep up with demand,” De La Vega said.

If you come in to visit, De La Vega recommends starting with the ceviche of the week, an order of guacamole and an order of either Chuletas De Cordero or Mole Negro de Oaxaca.

“Even for the first timers or the people that have been coming to us before, they just keep on supporting us,” De La Vega said. “We're very grateful to the city and the customers.”

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway