Austin FC's home opener is just over a week away, and the chefs behind all of the local eats at Q2 Stadium are ready to showcase their cuisine.
From dumplings at Bao'd up to Austin FC's signature Verde Queso, Austin FC chef Sam Boisjoly said that the goal is to make anyone feel ready to grab a plate at the stadium. "If I had a friend that had a layover for three hours at Austin... if he came here, he would be able to see Austin," Boisjoly said.
Austonia's Claire Partain got a sneak peek at all the spicy, sweet and savory options soon to be offered at the stadium.
Here's what she thought:
Verde Queso: 8.5/10
Austin FC's signature Verde Queso was the winner of the club's queso contest, which featured dozens of entries from homemade cooks across the city. It'll be featured at the club's soon-to-be-famous Queso Fountain alongside a classic queso and fuego queso. The queso and salsa verde combine into a lovely Tex-Mex flavor with a kick. Topped with pickled onions and chopped pork, this is a far cry from regular stadium nachos. Prepare to come to Q2 hungry for this one.
Bao'd Up veggie bao: 9/10
I've never had bao before, so I was least prepared for what was inside these lovely, aesthetically-pleasing dough rolls. The trendy restaurant stuffs bao with anything from buffalo chicken to cheesecake, but I chose the veggie flavor to see what vegetarians may be able to try at Q2. Boisjoly said that people with any diet would enjoy food at the stadium, and he didn't disappoint: the veggie bao featured a lovely cream inside wrapped in a warm, doughy crust. Definitely a must-try for any attendee.
Valentina's Tex-Mex: 8/10
The only reason this gets below a 9.5 is because they ran out of ribs before I could try it. I survived to tell the tale, and Valentina's other selection, a sliced brisket taco, did not disappoint. Featuring thick slabs of meat covered in a green sauce and wrapped in a fresh tortilla, Valentina's provides two Texas favorites—Tex-Mex and BBQ—into a joyfully delicious taco. The supporters' section will also have easy access to the truck, which is located nearby alongside a well-placed Dos XX booth.
Easy Tiger: 8/10
Easy Tiger was given the task of providing Austin FC with a classic stadium pretzel, and they fulfilled expectations. The massive pretzels are just soft and salty enough to satisfy, and they're paired with equally yummy cheddar cheese sauce. The only drawback was the horseradish sauce, but that may just come down to personal preference.
T'Locs Sonora Dogs: 7.5/10
What a combo: T'Locs Sonoran Hot Dogs combine savory, sweet, sour and spicy to form a truly excellent ballpark dog. Covered in multiple sauces, the meat is tender and juicy, but the true star of the show is their authentic Sonoran buns shipped in from Arizona.
DoubleDave's Pizza Rolls: 7/10
DoubleDave's is featured on both ends of Q2 Stadium, and it's no surprise that stadium officials double booked Austin's signature pizza chain. As a frequent DoubleDave's customer, I was less starstruck by the rolls than other dishes, which is why it only receives a seven out of 10. Still, anyone looking for cheesy, pepperoni goodness should grab a pizza roll before any Austin FC match.
Tacodeli's frontera fundido sirloin taco was unfortunately the last I tried, which means I was only able to muscle down a bit. Still, the tender beef topped with signature salsa will be a satisfying and portable option for anyone at Q2 come game time.
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Austin's Delta 8 industry has been turned on its head after Texas health officials clarified that the cannabinoid is on the state list of illegal substances, though it was previously believed to be legal by most retailers, consumers and manufacturers.
House Bill 1325, which was signed in June 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Farm Bill, signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018, legalized any hemp product containing less than .3% THC. The same bills were thought to have made Delta 8 legal, though the Texas Department of State Health Services added a notice on its website saying it was still a controlled substance as of Friday, Oct. 15.
Both the federal and state governments keep separate lists on what is considered a controlled substance. Marijuana is considered Schedule I, a category reserved for substances with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," both statewide and federally.
Austin-based CBD retailer Grassroots Harvest CEO Kemal Whyte, like many CBD shop retailers, was blindsided by the announcement. Many small businesses rely on Delta 8 for their sales—Green Herbal Care CBD said about 90% of its sales come from Delta 8—and Whyte said he is frustrated by the inconsistencies in the drug scheduling system.
Since 87% of Texans support the legalization of marijuana, at least for medical use, per a recent poll, Whyte said he wonders who this legislation is for.
"It's gonna have a massive impact on small businesses—there's just no way around it," Whyte said. "The reality is, we don't want to push out anything bad for our customers, we want this to benefit our customers and to help them. If we can make money while doing it, that's the American dream. What are we doing, whose benefit is this for?"
Delta 8 surged in popularity after the perceived legalization—consumers enjoyed its lower psychotropic potency, decreased anxiety while using it and the peace of mind as a legal way to get high. So in order to protect their products and livelihoods, both Grassroots Harvest and Austin-based manufacturer Hometown Heroes are taking legal action.
Whyte said Grassroots Harvest is suing DSHS, saying their action is creating negative effects in the market. Meanwhile, a Hometown Heroes spokesperson said the company is in the process of filing a temporary restraining order that would pause the ban on Delta-8 in the state of Texas.
Threats against Delta 8 are not new—DSHS lost a lawsuit trying to make "smokable hemp products" illegal last year and Texas lawmakers had been considering a bill that would make Delta 8 illegal, though it was dropped after the clarification was made.
Hometown Heroes released a formal statement in response to the DSHS rule.
"I need to be clear—we love Texas, we're just choosing to fight for the will of the people in regards to cannabis in Texas," Hometown Hero CEO Lukas Gilkey said in a statement. "(Texas DSHS) are using backhanded ways to create legislation and go against the will of the people."
Whyte laments the fact that it would be easier legally to "open up a strip club that also sells guns," and said he can't post customer testimonials that mention the benefits of Delta 8 without getting hit with a cease and desist from the Food and Drug Administration. Whyte said he isn't opposed to regulation—far from it—he just wants to see it go through the correct channels.
"The fact that they're stunting our ability to communicate with our clients that want to learn about this, you're preventing us from communicating with them and teaching them, or spreading information that we know," Whyte said. "I think that that in and of itself opens up a lot of questions."
Grassroots Harvest still has Delta 8 products on its shelves for the time being but for how long, Whyte doesn't know.
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Austin Public Health and other clinics around Austin are now providing booster shots for all three vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to fully vaccinated individuals after both Pfizer and J & J were approved by the CDC on Wednesday.
APH and Austin clinics, which were already administering the approved Pfizer booster, will begin distributing shots as soon as Friday.
Those who received the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine more than six months ago are elligble to receive a booster if they are over 65 or if they are over 18 and:
- Live in a long-term care environment
- Have underlying medical conditions
- Work or live in high-risk settings, such as schools, hospitals or correctional facilities
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a media Q&A Friday that APH is encouraging boosters just as much as they have urged residents to get their first and second doses.
"Boosters are incredibly important to keeping our community protected and hospitalizations low," Walkes said. "If we can stay on top of our vaccinations, we provide protections for our most vulnerable and make it that much harder for COVID to spread in our community."
Eligible residents are free to choose the same booster as their first doses or "mix and match," per the CDC announcement.
Those looking for another dose can simply bring their vaccination card to APH centers or the dozens of Walgreens and CVS locations in the metro, which began administering doses Friday.
Additional updated guidance from the CDC allows for all eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a "mix-and-match" booster dose. It is advised to remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Card showing the original doses with you when going for booster shots.
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