After DJing for the after-party at COTA's 2021 U.S. Grand Prix Race in October, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal is once again setting his sights on Austin with plans for his chicken restaurant chain Big Chicken to open a location in Austin.
The fast-casual chicken restaurant—featuring fried chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, ice cream sandwiches and more—is planning to open at the Moody Center arena this spring. The restaurant is co-owned by O'Neal, who opened the first location in Las Vegas in 2018 and broadcasted the process on a Facebook Watch series aptly titled Big Chicken Shaq.
Shaq and live music fans will get to "eat life to the fullest" at the upcoming Moody Center, the new venue that has already sold out shows before its grand opening in April.
Located on the University of Texas campus, the $338 million venue will hold 15,000 seats and host events including concerts, shows and Longhorn basketball games (replacing the Frank Erwin Center). The venue already surpassed $15 million in ticket sales for upcoming performers including George Strait, Willie Nelson and the Randy Rogers Band, who will christen the Moody Center on April 29 and 30.
- 5 reasons Austin loves Willie Nelson - austonia ›
- 5 towers and development coming to Austin in 2022 - austonia ›
- Dell becomes founding partner of Austin's new Moody Center ... ›
- UT's Moody Center celebrates topping out ahead of 2022 debut ... ›
- George Strait, Willie Nelson performing Moody Center's grand ... ›
- New Moody Center secures The Weeknd for grand opening in 2022 ... ›
- A peek inside UT's new $338 million Moody Center - austonia ›
- F1 at COTA: Verstappen wins first U.S. Grand Prix! - austonia ›
Yelp announced the 10 winners of its winterization fund in Texas, marking nine Austin businesses that will receive $10,000 each to go toward preparing for damage caused by severe weather.
Yelp gathered local nominations for businesses in Austin or San Antonio from Dec. 1-17, pledging to split a $100,000 fund between them. The money is meant to help cover costs of insulating pipes, preparing generators and prepping for future issues in the event of another storm like last February’s Winter Storm Uri.
Nine of the winning businesses included restaurants, a live music venue and a pet store, among others in Austin. One hangout in San Antonio, Comfort Cafe, also joined the ranks.
Donn's Depot | 1600 W. 5th St.
Housed in a converted 1800’s train depot by Donn Adelman, hence the name, Donn’s Depot has been providing music to generations of people for more than 50 years. After an already difficult year on the honky tonk hangout, bar manager Michelle Beebe said it was the customers that helped them through the tunnel.
“The essence of Donn’s Depot and the heart of this business is our amazing community, truly,” Beebe said. “We have an incredibly talented and dedicated ensemble of resident musicians, a bar staff that really loves our guests like family, but none of it exists without our community. It’s authentic and rare—an anomaly in a fast-changing Austin.”
Mint Salon | 4023 Guadalupe Street
The salon has now been in business for 22 years. (Mint Salon)
While both COVID-19 and the winter storm put pressure on Mint Salon to close, the woman-owned salon will celebrate over two decades of business later this year. Mint Salon owner Melissa Beckham Gass said they plan to use the funds to replace the old windows.
“Luckily, we have the most wonderful clients and they have supported us throughout the pandemic,” Gass said. “The Austin community takes care of its local businesses and we are happily celebrating our 22 year anniversary because of them.”
Paws on Chicon Pet Store | 1301 Chicon Street
The shop sells healthy food and treats for Fido, as well as supporting local shelters. (Paws on Chicon)
When the winter storm hit Paws on Chicon, owner Keith Zeiler opened his store (with the help of a customer and his four-wheel-drive car!) to sell people their much-needed pet food. Zeiler said the money will be used to purchase generators so the store can hold its annual Doggy Drag Show no matter the weather.
“It was cold. But people needed their pet food as they were running out,” Zeiler said. “People needed us and I could not let people's pets go without food so I did everything in my power to make sure they were all fed while we were out of power for seven days.”
Revival Coffee | 1405 E 7th Street
Formerly a loyal customer at all-pink Revival Coffee, owner Gabriela Bucio gave the shop its own revival when she purchased the shop to prevent it from closing due to COVID. Bucio said she’s going to continue to give back by supporting the Latin community.
“I would be nowhere without my incredible staff who have been by my side throughout the last two years in which we have all faced unprecedented circumstances,” Bucio said. “Of course, thank you to our loyal patrons, especially those who have ridden with us since day one. Without you, none of this would be possible.”
Aviator Pizza and Drafthouse | Multiple locations
Originally opened in Elgin by John McElroy and Dr. Ana Lam-McElroy in 2014, Aviator Pizza and Drafthouse uses the family’s 30-year pizza-making tradition and has opened new locations in Austin and Kyle.
Crema Bakery & Cafe | 9001 Brodie Lane
Jessica and Janessa Tomberlin used the winter storm as a way to give back. (Kristin Finan)
During the last winter storm, Crema Cafe owners Jessica and Janessa Tomberlin handed out food, baked goods and inventory to the community instead of closing their doors. And at the onset of the pandemic, the couple offered free sack lunches to those in need.
Foxhole Culinary Tavern | 13995 US-183
Opened in 2014 with the goal of bringing Downtown nightlife to the north side, Foxhole Culinary Tavern has a mission of “bringing the community closer” with Texas-inspired dishes.
Kismet Cafe | 1000 E 41st St
Kismet Cafe has since moved from its original location. (Google Maps)
A UT neighborhood favorite, Kismet Cafe was opened in 1991 and has remained family-owned and operated since. The restaurant offers meat plates over rice plates, vegetarian and vegan Plates and wraps.
Taste of Ethiopia | Multiple locations
The restaurant promises a new experience for all eaters. (Taste of Ethiopia)
Originally founded in Pflugerville in 2008 by Woinee Mariam and Solomon Hailu, Taste of Ethiopia has since expanded to Austin. The restaurant serves Mariam’s family recipes, giving everyone a taste of her home.
- Small Business Week: Bouldin Creek Café is keeping Austin local ... ›
- Austin's new biergarten is owned by a Bavarian prince - austonia ›
- The grackle is undoubtedly Austin's most controversial bird - austonia ›
- Driskill Hotel tops list of state's most haunted spots, among six other ... ›
North Carolina-based fried chicken fast food chain Bojangles could be on its way to Austin, according to a report from the Austin Business Journal, but it would be up against some steep competition.
The chain announced plans to open up 50 locations across Texas, five of which will target the North Austin area, with the rest spreading across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The company said it is looking at locations in Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Georgetown.
Though Bojangles didn’t disclose any timeline for the opening, the company has plans to expand with more than 100 Texas restaurants in the next seven to 10 years.
Aside from well-known chains like Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s, Austin already has a good share of homegrown fried chicken restaurants. Here are some of the chicken eateries Bojangles will be up against.
Tumble22 Chicken Joint, 7211 Burnet Road
The Original Chicken Sandwich at Tumble22 (Isabella Lopes)
Sometimes not straying from tradition is the perfect way to execute a classic, and Tumble22's take on a fried chicken sandwich is exactly that. A crispy chicken breast topped with coleslaw, bread-n-butter pickled and duke's mayo on a buttered bun for an ultimate bite of comfort and Southern tradition. The restaurant offers a small and original-sized sandwich and different levels of hotness from a "wimpy" to "stupid hot" scale.
Spicy Boys, 1701 E. 6th St.
The Hot Gai at Spicy Boys (Isabella Lopes)
If you haven't yet visited Spicy Boys, you're missing out on a unique blend of spices and flavor profiles that will have you wanting more. The food truck offers three different sandwich options: "The OG" with basil ranch and papaya relish, sweet chili honey, scallion and crispy shallots; "The Hot Gai" with pickles, massaman mayonnaise, Thai basil and Swiss cheese; and the "V Spicy Gai" with spicy ranch, spicy marinated cucumber on a chili toasted bun.
Thai Fresh, 909 W. Mary St.
The Chicken Sandwich at Thai Fresh (Isabella Lopes)
Besides offering deliciously curated Thai food with seasonal and local ingredients, Thai Fresh has a chicken sandwich that will fill your taste buds with unique flavors for a mouthwatering bite. Topped with lime chili mayo and spicy pickles, this runner-up for the tastiest chicken sandwich in town is not one that should be overlooked.
Dai Due, 2406 Manor Road
The Chicken Sandwich at Dai Due
Dai Due's fried chicken sandwich is no joke. With crispy, double dredged and fried chicken breast, chile morita mayonnaise and pickled watermelon on a bun toasted in ghee, this chicken sandwich will have you thinking "dang," as you devour the entire thing. Don't let the overwhelming uncertainty of flavors make you think this chicken sandwich isn't a winner, because the delicious crispness of the chicken coincides perfectly with everything else.
Lucy's Fried Chicken, multiple locations
The Chicken Sandwich at Lucy's Fried Chicken (Isabella Lopes)
As we previously stated, there's nothing wrong with tradition if it's perfectly executed. Since Lucy's Fried Chicken is known for its fried chicken, it's no surprise their chicken sandwich, made simply with lettuce, onion, tomato and mayo, is a delicious bite of crispy tradition. If you're wanting to opt for something healthier, try their grilled chicken sandwich. If you're wanting to opt for something less healthy, yet equally as tasty, add cheese.
Bird Bird Biscuit, 2701 Manor Road
The Queen Beak at Bird Bird Biscuit (Isabella Lopes)
Besides providing Austinites with delicious buttermilk biscuits, Bird Bird Biscuit has a variety of chicken sandwiches that are out of this world in crispiness and flavor. The Queen Beak, with spiced and breaded chicken, cayenne black pepper honey and bacon-infused chipotle mayo on a buttermilk biscuit is a prime example of what the local joint has to offer. The two other fried chicken sandwich options include the "Firebird," with spiced chicken breast, dill mayo, spicy-sweet pickles and cilantro, and the "Theodore" with spiced chicken breast, bacon, bbq sauce and cheddar cheese.
Little Ola's Biscuits (Olamaie), 1610 San Antonio St.
The Fried Chicken Biscuit at Little Ola's Biscuits (Isabella Lopes)
A little sister to Austin's Southern food spot Olamaie, Little Ola's Biscuits features the beloved flaky biscuits in chicken sandwich form to provide you with an ultimate food craze. The traditional fried chicken sandwich, with Texas honey on a flaky biscuit is the perfect amount of sweet, savory and crispy to indulge all your taste buds. Little Ola's Biscuits also offers a spicy fried chicken biscuit, with spicy cayenne chili-garlic oil and benne seeds on a flaky biscuit.
Project Pollo, 1401 Rosewood Ave.
The Spicy Project at Project Pollo
Plant-based food lovers, Project Pollo is perfect for you. The menu offers four different crispy plant-based chicken sandwiches: the "Original Project" topped with aioli and dill pickles; the "Deluxe," with bacon, lettuce, tomato and smoked Gouda cheese; the "Spicy Project," with spicy garlic buffalo sauce, ranch and a pickled jalapeno; and the "Pico de Pollo," with credo cashew queso and fresh pico de gallo. Whether you're in need of a traditional-tasting chicken sandwich or a more elaborate take on the dish, Project Pollo has you covered.
- Comfort food to make this cold Valentine's Day - austonia ›
- 8 comfort food recipes from around the world - austonia ›
- Comfort food recipes to try as the weather cools in Austin - austonia ›
- Brazilian food places to try in Austin - austonia ›