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(Norma Mortenson/Pexels)

This year has been rough on the bar and restaurant industry, marked by the ebb and flow of businesses moving in and out of existence. With closures like Sellers Underground, Black Walnut Cafe, Full English and Threadgills this year, 2020 has done away with many Austin eateries.

But when one door closes, another one opens. After a respectful period of mourning, you might want to check out one of these new restaurants in town.


Chicken as Cluck

Coming into Austin from the Bay area, Chicken as Cluck is operating in Austin exclusively as a ghost kitchen—a restaurant that only serves delivery and takeout—for now. Located on 5610 North Interstate Highway 35, Chicken as Cluck opened its second location in Austin at the beginning of December, though the restaurant has plans to open another soon in Dallas. The restaurant has a fresh, rotating menu every week and specializes in pressure-fried chicken sandwiches and "chunks."

C.L. Butaud and Wine for the People

Two Texas small-batch wineries are joining forces to open up a joint tasting room, taking over what was previously Argus Cidery, on 12345 Pauls Valley Road. C.L. Butaud and Wine for the People opened their tasting room last week, featuring $25 wine flights, cheese boards and choice outdoor seating for COVID-19 safety. Members of the respective wine clubs get additional benefits and reservations are recommended.

Curry Up Now

From one food truck-loving city to another, San Francisco-native Indian food restaurant Curry Up Now started as a food truck and is now making a move to Austin in 2021. No date has been announced yet for a grand opening, though the restaurant is working on expanding 40 locations across the U.S. Featuring mash-up options like tikka masala burritos and tandoori fried chicken sandwiches, and naughty creations like "sexy fries" and "naughty naan," this restaurant is sure to have you wondering why you've never had food quite like it before.

Golden Castle

Paying homage to the iconic Midwestern chain White Castle, the temporary burger joint is operating inside the temporarily-closed Original Hoffbrau Steakhouse, located on 613 West 6th St. Golden Castle is selling its beef, onion and American cheese-on-a-potato-roll sliders by the half-dozen or full dozen, made complete with some crinkle-cut fries and a frosty beer. Golden Castle is only a pop-up for now—the restaurant is planning to move into a food truck by the second week of January.

Luck's Wagyu Burger Shoppe

Coming to you from the minds behind Lucky Robot and Zen Japanese Food Fast, Luck's Wagyu Burger Shop made its debut last month. The casual dining restaurant, located on 2900 West Anderson Lane, sells Asian-inspired burgers and sandwiches made with premium ingredients, like rare wagyu beef. Go for the tempura onion rings, panko-fried patties and Asian-fusion condiments. The restaurant also sells options for non-hamburger-eaters like chicken and vegan Beyond burgers.

Mama Kong

According to its website, Austin needs Cambodian soul food and Mama Kong is bringing it to the city via a pop-up kitchen, supper club, caterer, speakeasy and online cooking classes. With a rotating menu on deck, Mama Kong serves different "snackies," "soupies" and "biggies" every day. Stop by and get Puh Hut, or fried fish cakes with lemongrass, to start; a Somlar Kaw, caramelized chicken, soup; and finish with an order of Nyom Samot, or squid and shrimp salad over glass noodles. The pop-up has kept their location hush-hush, but you can place orders here.

Man vs Fries

Man vs Fries will make you rethink fries as a side dish. The french-fry centric restaurant is yet another move from the Bay area, also operating as a ghost kitchen while under COVID-19 restrictions. Bringing you the "maximum version of the french fry" and inspired by the Texas State Fair, Man vs Fries's menu puts fries in burritos, carne asada fries and plans to bring its newfound Lone Star State audience unique Texas-specific items in the spring. Man vs Fries is currently operating at 11410 Manchaca Road, but plans to open two more locations on East Cesar Chavez and South 1st before the end of the year.

Sammataro

Specializing in the classics, cheese and pepperoni, Sammataro started as a pop-up in Austin before it became a permanent fixture. The pizza truck, located on1158 Lost Creek Blvd., opened this month, after a group of former New Yorkers moved to Austin, mid-pandemic, with the goal of bringing Silician pizza to town. Using pepperoni from the famous Ezzo's, flour from Barton Springs Mill and a host of toppings, Sammataro's pizza is meant to reflect a Sicilian experience.

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