Multitudes flock to Red, Hot and Soul plus Austin Book Awards

The flowers. Good heavens, the flowers.

This represents only a fraction of David Kurio’s cascading floral arrangements at Red, Hot and Soul for Zach Theatre. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

David Kurio‘s cascading floral arrangements filled the eye at every angle during the Red, Hot and Soul gala, staged in the Bobbi Tent at Zach Theatre‘s South Austin complex. The splashy arrays matched the evening’s theme, “Saturday in the Park,” an idea hitched to the theater’s first full-blown take on Stephen Sondheim, “Sunday in the Park with George,” which opens later this month.

Naturally, Artistic Director Dave Steakley opened the dinner/auction with the show’s extraordinarily difficult but ultimately gratifying first-act choral finale. The performance — indeed the whole run of the show — was dedicated to Managing Director Elisbeth Challener to salute her 10th anniversary in the job.

MORE ZACH: New season blazes ahead with new and rekindled shows.

Zach Theatre’s youth company performs “I Am Me” from “The Greatest Showman” during Red, Hot and Soul. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

The performers never rested during the 12 auction-item “scenes.” This sizzling entertainment took the place of the musical numbers customarily presented later on the stage of the Topfer Theatre, which was instead dedicated to late-night dancing. The highlight during this tent show was a triumphant version of “I Am Me” from the movie, “The Greatest Showman,” from Zach’s youth troupe.

While this plan concentrated the joy around the superb Four Seasons Hotel Austin dinner — keep serving that buttery cod! — a dozen is still a lot of auction items and guests began to melt away by No. 9.

This is a crowd you want to keep close by. I’d wager that more of Austin’s “top socials” were gathered here than at any other Austin gala this season. I’d name a few, but the list would go on and on.

Jacqué Ayoub and Haley Drobena with a “living Degas” at Red, Hot and Soul for Zach Theatre. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

AUSTIN BOOK AWARDS

The evening began with a magnificent meal.

Led by Linda Ball and Forrest Preece, a merry band assembled in a private dining room at Fixe, where we feasted on Southern fare and riveting repartee. Discussing arts, books and civics were Annette DiMeo CarlozziDan BullockBarbara Chisholm FairesRobert FairesPei-San BrownDaniel Brown and my husband, Kip Keller.

You absolutely want to be stuck with this lively group on a rainy Austin evening. Luckily, though, the skies cleared and we walked a few short blocks to the stunning new Austin Central Library for the Austin Book Awards ceremony, which benefits the Austin Public Library Foundation. This was my first social outing inside this building’s special events space. Tall and wide, it worked well enough for the foundation’s understated fundraiser.

MORE LIBRARY: Downtown Austin gains a completely new gathering spot.

Not unlike the First Edition Literary Gala for the Texas Book Festival — but on a much smaller scale — these awards bring to the dais some of the best storytellers around. Speaking at breakneck speed, author Owen Egerton served as an especially witty and energizing emcee. The winners: Elizabeth Crook (Fiction); Varian Johnson (Young Adult Literature); and Nate Blakeslee (Nonfiction). What a group! And they were introduced by literary leaders such as Stephen Harrigan and Tim Staley.

One of the foundation’s most effective programs, Badgerdog, encourages young people to write, not just read. We heard two lovely poems from the 2018 Forrest Preece Young Authors Award Honorees, Brandee Benson and Angie Hu.

 

Best Austin coffee shops near Airport Boulevard

Airport Boulevard is fast changing into a cultural magnet. Austin Community College anchors a remake of Highland Mall and numerous new hot spots pop up on the boulevard. Yet some of the nearby coffee shops not far away are among Austin’s oldest and most revered.

Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery. 411 E. 43rd St. 512-453-3399. quacksbakery.com. 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun. Shared onsite parking, plus plenty of street parking on wide East 43rd Street. Decaf, teas, chai. Wifi. Quiet atmosphere most of the day.

Quack’s Bakery offers a lot. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

No Austin coffeehouse trails a longer or more storied pedigree than Quack’s. Born as Captain Quackenbush’s Intergalactic Dessert Company and Espresso Cafe on the Drag — at a time during the 1980s when such places were extremely rare in Austin — this Hyde Park scratch bakery and beverage staple fits into an intimate retail node that includes complementary post-hippe outfits such as Mother’s Cafe, Hyde Park Cafe, Dolce Vita, Julio’s Cafe, Fresh Plus, Antonelli’s Cheese House and Asti Trattoria. Two interior rooms are almost always full. Any time the weather is fine, customers gather around small tables under an awning outside, or they might take advantage of communal lawn furniture just down the sidewalk. The bakery selections, along with deli items, are almost overwhelming in number and almost always satisfying. And while the city has nurtured a much more serious coffee culture in since the ’80s, Quack’s still makes a darn good cup from locally roasted beans.

Flightpath Coffeehouse since 1992. Contributed by Flightpathcoffeehouse.com

Flightpath Coffeehouse. 5011 Duval St. 512-458-4472. flightpathcoffeehouse.com. 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Very little onsite parking, restricted street parking. Decaf, teas, chai. Strong wifi. Plenty of niches for quiet time.

Let’s remind relative newcomers to Austin that, until 1999, this location stood directly in the deafening flightpath for planes descending into the old Mueller Airport, now the new urbanist Mueller development. It might not be as old as nearby Quack’s, but anything in our city that has thrived since 1992 is almost antiquarian. The place has grown enormously in what feels like a narrow, old residential structure on the edge of the Hyde Park area. A covered patio and spacious backroom handle the overflow from the front parlor and central food-and-drink service area. Flightpath has gotten serious about snacks, too, including a wall of ready-to-go treats. A lot of laptoppers land here, but it’s not so quiet that a friendly meeting is out of place. Although University of Texas students still wander this far north, today’s crowd seems a little older and more settled.

Contributed

Kick Butt Coffee. 5775 Airport Blvd. 512-454-5425. kickbuttcoffee.com. 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs.,  6 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri., 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.* Plenty of surface parking on site. Some of the music is live. Decaf, teas, chai. Some quiet spots in this big space.

We’ve always liked owner Thomas Gohring and his ambitions to create a singular community around coffee, booze, entertainment and, yes, martial arts. Gohring brings to the game a flair for showmanship, an element almost absent from any other coffee shop in town. He has expanded the size of his original location on Airport Boulevard while retracting his attempts to go global. A small stage, backed by his signature graphics, takes pride of place, but the long coffee bar attests to the original impulse to serve rigorously prepared espresso drinks along with food, beer and wine. As the ACC Highland project, as well as the Linc and other area redevelopments fire up, expect Kick Butt to thrive and retain its inimitable character. *The place opens and closes at odd times; we rounded up or down.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

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MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Central East Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Southeast Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Northwest Austin.

Throngs uplifted by Hope Awards and Taste of Mexico

Interfaith is very Austin. The city is open to ideas. And to faith. It is no wonder that Austin hosts multiple interfaith groups, which not only encourage dialogue among religionists but also action based on shared convictions.

Ali Kahn and Rizwana Bano
at the Hope Awards for iACT. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

One of those groups, iAct, helps refugees, fixes up homes and provides other opportunities for talking and doing good together. Most years, they work very closely with the American-Stateman’s Season for Caring program. More than one recipient from that annual campaign to help the neediest were present for the Hope Awards, iACT’s annual tribute to interfaith leaders at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

SEASON: Blinded by bomb, Iraqi refugee seeks to counsel others.

After some unavoidable fluff, the ceremony picked speed and gravity when Executive Director Simone Talma Flowers used her not insubstantial oratorical skills to lay out the group’s mission. Then Rev. Stephen W. Kinney, iACT’s board president, introduced the first Hope recipient, Imam Mohamed-Umer Esmail, whose pastoral humility and dignity reach far beyond his Nueces Mosque.

SEASON: Family escaped war in Syria to start over.

The remainder of the program was given over to a conversation between another Hope honoree, Luci Baines Johnson, and Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith. There isn’t a better public interviewer in town and Smith pushed Johnson to reflect on sad state of civic life today. Yet Johnson focused instead on the inspiration of her parents and her own guarded but urgent optimism for her children and grandchildren. At any rate, she is an increasingly disciplined speaker who struck just the right chord for the evening.

SEASON: Caring for others keeps senior going.

TASTE OF MEXICO

Mexic-Arte Museum first staged Taste of Mexico on the street. Then the sample-and-sip fiesta moved indoors and slipped into a more traditional a gala format. The benefit, which attracts a wide range of ages and cultures, now seems to have hits its stride at Brazos Hall.

Chris Gonzales, Sara Palma and Paul Chavarria during an absolutely packed and festive Taste of Mexico benefit for Mexic-Arte Museum at Brazos Hall. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

A dizzying array of food and drink could be had on the first floor, while the open-sided deck upstairs was set up more like a crafts market. The sheer number of culinary options was overwhelming. And the copious crowd love it, swirling from one table to another just enough abandon, given the generous sips of tequila and other potent potables. At times, it felt like a pop-up nightclub, but with better food than any nightclub has ever assembled.

The program was miraculously short. And a good thing, because the speakers could not be heard beyond the front rows. I like this event. It think you would, too.

Two dozen Austin parties you don’t want to miss

It’s been a while since we previewed key upcoming Austin parties. Sorry. SXSW intervened. As well as some Austin news that made it hard to celebrate.

But we are back with some prize-winning dates, including the last hurrahs for 2018 Rodeo Austin.

March 23: Rodeo Austin Youth Livestock Auction. ACL Live.

March 23-May 12: Performance Park. The Vortex.

March 24: Fab Five Event for Seedling Foundation. Westin at the Domain.

March 25: Ignite for Shalom Austin. JW Marriott.

March 31: Texas Whiskey Festival. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

April 3: Lift a Fork for Forklift Danceworks. Springdale Station.

April 5: Generosi-Tea for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Hotel Ella.

April 5: Quest for the Summit for Explore Austin. Fair Market.

April 6: Storybook Heroes Luncheon for BookSpring. Renaissance Austin Hotel.

April 7: Partnerships for Children Gala. Cover 3 Downtown.

April 7: Manos de Cristo 30th Anniversary Gala. ACL Live.

April 7: Tailwaggers Neo-Gala for Austin Pets Alive. 7Co.

April 7: Bandana Ball for Ronald McDonald House. Wild Onion Ranch.

April 10: Breakthrough Champions Celebration. Austin Central Public Library.

April 12-13: Mack, Jack & McConaughey. ACL Live and other venues.

April 14: Capital Area Dental Foundation Gala. JW Marriott.

April 14: I Am Art for Women & Their Work. Private home.

April 11: DSACT Cocktail Bash. 800 Congress Ave.

April 13-14: Art City Austin for Austin Art Alliance. Palmer Events Center.

April 21: Andy Roddick Foundation Luncheon. Hilton Austin.

April 26: Women of Distinction for Girl Scouts. AT&T Center.

April 26: Umlauf Garden Party. Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.

April 28: Putting on the Ritz Gala for Sam Bass Theatre. Marriott La Frontera.

April 27-29: Austin Food + Wine Festival. Auditorium Shores and Fair Market.

April 29: An Afternoon in Neverland for Ballet Austin Guild. Driskill Hotel.

 

Best Austin coffee shops near Northwest Austin

We are discovering little coffee gems in Northwest Austin.

These days, we build our coffee district reports one shop at a time. (See older district reports below.) And we’ll start in the Great Northwest with …

Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Nelo’s Cycles & Coffee. 8108 Mesa St. 512-338-0505. neloscycles.com. 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-noon Sun. Lots of surface parking in shared shopping center lot. Coffee nook is small but comfortable.

David Wyatt introduced us to this little winner that’s near his new offices on Spicewood Lane at Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, which recently absorbed Wyatt Brand. Lance Armstrong long ago proved that coffee and bicycles go together with his Juan Pelota Cafe inside Mellow Johnny’s. We were the only customers at Nelo’s on a very rainy day, but that made the warm coffee nook in the back of the shop all the more inviting. The cycle services look very serious, but so is the coffee, made with Grimpeur Brothers Specialty Coffee. Add a few tempting snacks and some comfortable seats around small tables and you have a perfect place to meet up.

Epoch Coffee @ Far West. 3900 Far West Blvd. 512-436-8594. epochcoffee.com. 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Decaf espresso drinks, tea and chai. Limited surface parking, but plenty of street options on Chimney Corners. Don’t park in nearby lots. Outside, this shop is quiet; inside it is very quiet.

Austin’s Epoch Coffee has proven that it can reinvent itself in countless ways. While the funky flagship @ North Loop remains the overwhelming public favorite, this one might be mine. The first thing one notices is the huge windows that look like overhead doors associated with auto garages. Inside, there’s a incongruous central stairwell that leads to a close-off basement. Both features are clues that this structure formerly served as a Jiffy Lube — and perhaps another such business before that. The remaining layout required some creative arrangements, with long, shared tables in the central area and a calm, narrow, darker room to the west of that. (Warning: You won’t hear your order come up back there.) The main event, of course, is the counter, which is bright, brisk and efficient. The coffee products are predictably good and the pastry fresh. There for an early afternoon meeting, I was struck by the fact that almost everyone else was lost in laptop land. Nobody, however, was tempted by the patio out front this very hot day.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Central East Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Southeast Austin.

Best Austin coffee shops near Southeast Austin

Southeast Austin’s coffee culture percolates slowly.

We trying something fresh here by building up our coffee district reports one shop at a time. (See older district reports below.) And we’ll start with …

Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Café Crème. 1834 E. Oltorf St. 512-710-9473. cafecremeaustin.com. 7 a.m.-6p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Decaf, teas, chai, beer, wine. Plentiful surface parking. Lots of quiet niches.

I remember this space as an arts center. Can’t remember the name. The S-shaped room is located in a nondescript office-like building that’s easy to miss along busy East Oltorf Street. Yet plenty of people from the Travis Heights East, Riverside and Pleasant Valley hoods have found it and deem Café Crème, which blends French, Vietnamese and other influences, the best coffee spot in Southeast Austin. The counter is front and center. Multiple rooms with tables and chairs — including conference rooms with doors — extend to the left and right. The crowd includes a healthy mix of silent laptappers and quiet chatters. The espresso-based drinks can be quite good, but the owners are also quite proud of their bakery that turns out pastries, kolaches, breakfast tacos and crêpes.

We’ll seek out more Southeast Austin coffee shops soon.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Central East Austin.

Best Austin coffee shops near Central East Austin

Central East Austin is home quite a few excellent coffeehouses.

We are going to try something new here by building up our coffee district reports one shop at a time. (See older district reports below.) And we’ll start with …

The Houndstooth Coffee shop on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard extends the Henry brothers’ take on updated modernism. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Houndstooth Coffee. 2823 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 512-243-8902. houndstoothcoffee.com. 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-7 pm. Sat.-Sun. Very little street parking. Decaf, teas, chai, beer, wine, cocktails, food. Carefully calibrated music. Some outdoor seating.

We recently profiled Houndstooth brothers Sean and Paul Henry. Here’s what we said about their third Austin spot: “It anchors the Platform residence complex near the MLK stop on the MetroRail line. It’s also tall, angular and welcoming. The long counter is backed by a food preparation area that will provide more food to go along with the coffee, beer, wine and cocktails as the shop matures. Several features, inspired by trends in the hospitality industry, stand out: One can order from anywhere in the shop as baristas make their way to one’s location; also, one can open a tab during a longer stay. “We want to bridge the a.m.-p.m. divide,” Paul says. “People think coffee shop in the morning and bar in the evening. Why not both?” The music slightly elevates the energy in the place depending on the time of day, while sound panels help keep down the echo in a room where more than 50 people can gather and still hold a conversation.”

Iced coffee with laptops at Cuvée. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Cuvée Coffee. 2000 E. Sixth St. 512-368-5636. cuveecoffee.com. 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Limited onsite parking with the option to park next door when indicated. Some outdoor seating available on the former loading dock. Wifi now on!

Few Austin makers of coffee are as serious about their craft as the folks at Cuvée, who have been roasting their own beans since 1998. They also introduced nitro black coffee cold brew to Austin, which they pour from a tap at their main spot and when they cater. Even if you’ve never been to their remodeled warehouse on rapidly evolving East Sixth Street, you’ve likely savored their products, since several other Austin coffee houses employ their beans (look for the icy blue bags). At the East Austin outlet, a central triangular well offers coffee on one side, beer on the other. It’s one of the most inviting counters in town, but you can also choose from tables large and small, as well as a few well-shaded outdoor sit-downs. But here’s the big news: They now offer wifi. Valiantly, the owners had tried to encourage a sense of community by keeping the laptopping to a minimum, but they have relented and at least a few customers were taking advantage during our most recent visit. Cuvée still keeps on staff some of the most engaging baristas around and that cold brew is so inviting, this reporter defies his heart doctor to skip the decaf for a refreshing cup.

Cenote. 1010 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-1311. cenoteaustin.com. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. Street parking available, but you might have to walk a bit. Teas, chai, decaf. Strong WiFi. Many quiet niches.

One of the first coffee shops of this type in East Austin, Cenote takes full advantage of its 19th-century Victorian house with its ultra-tall ceilings as well as the rich alluvial soil of its surrounding gardens. Seating is divided roughly in thirds, one part inside, one part along tables on a shaded east patio, one part among scattered tables in the south garden, which includes a small performance stage. One orders from the counter to the back. Drinks are listed on customary boards, but for food, pick up a menu by the register. Besides the hot and cold beverages, Cenote serves beer and wine as well as a copious selection of food, including tacos, pastries, sandwiches and veggies, all carefully sourced. The place is popular with laptoppers, but if you are there to meet someone, your conversation won’t disturb them.  In fact, Cenote is so well-liked, you might have trouble locating a free table during certain stretches of the days and nights. Note: Be kind to neighbors by watching where you park in the residential neighborhood to the north.

Thunderbird Cafe. 2200 Manor Road. 512-472-9900. thunderbirduaustin.com. 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Very little onsite parking. Street parking backs up quickly. Decaf, teas, chai. Generally quiet.

I always plan to arrive early when I meet a friend at Thunderbird Cafe, the longstanding stop on Manor Road close by a half dozen established eateries and walking distance from the University of Texas campus. So popular is this Greater Cherrywood outfit, there’s rarely two seats open together at the high tables, low tables, small tables or picnic tables. Laptoppers rule this domain. Happily, the baristas are accomplished so the line at the central counter near the south door is rarely long. Snacks, some light, some substantial, are available there. The coffee is good and the beer is welcome, especially on hot days when the western sun beats down on the well-worn patio. The feel is very local and the owners have opened a second location in the Crestview/Brentwood area. Does anyone else have trouble with their website?

Flat Track Coffee. 1619 Cesar Chavez St. 512-540-6040. flattrackcoffee.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week. Limited onsite parking. Decaf. Quiet spots.

Three makes a trend. First there was Lance Armstrong’s breakthrough Juan Pelota Cafe downtown. Then Nelo’s Cycles & Coffee in Northwest Hills. Flat Track Coffee, which has been hidden from my scrutiny since it opened some three years ago (according to my barista), makes it a trend to put a coffee shop into your cycling spot. (There could be more in town. We’ll report.) Here, the customer really feels like a part of the action because the repairs are done right in front of you while you take in the wonderful aroma of tires and oils. Wonderful to me at least. There’s a generous upfront patio outside, then mostly counter space near the windows, and more tables in the back, all kind of chic without trying too hard to be so. The coffee is good, too, and my barista was particularly helpful with the decaf options. The menu is minimalist, which seems to be another Austin trend. Anyway, now that I’ve found it, I’ll return to Fast Track soon.

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Bennu Coffee. 2002 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 512-478-4700. bennucoffee.com. Open 24 hours seven days a week. Decaf, teas, chai. Onsite and nearby street parking. Strong Wifi. Plenty of quiet spots.

We got to know this coffee group when it took over the venerable Dominican Joe spot at South Congress Avenue and Riverside Drive. We were impressed with the concept. It takes just a few variations to make an Austin coffee shop feel special. Open 24 hours a day? That’s clearly a winning strategy. Pack the place with a lot of mismatched old furniture? Also a natural choice for Austin. Both locations can get quite crowded, mostly with sprawling, intensely focused laptoppers. Yet the East Austin spot benefits from its long, low-ish, somewhat dark space in an older commercial structure as well as its extra-large counter area, where one can find snacks as well as beverages. Does anyone know the previous history of the space?

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Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors. 1111 Chicon St. 512-953-1061. figure8coffeepurveyors.com. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sun. Wifi. Side street parking. Fairly quiet. There’s a tiny patio out back that is shady most of the day.

This small shop is smart. It focuses on freshly roasted coffee in a demure location across Chicon Street from Huston-Tillotson University. The furniture, arranged in a variety of manner, looks like postindustrial art. The interactions between baristas and regulars seem warm and genuine. The afternoon sun could be a problem for this west-facing spot, but the chairs are generally placed to avoid direct light and heat. Did we like the coffee? Very much. But we liked the relaxed atmosphere even more on our second visit. It’s going to become a regular meeting spot.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Northwest Austin.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Southeast Austin.

 

 

Best coffee shops near North Austin

We extended our coffee search to Near North Austin recently and, although we got a good start on this sector in late 2017, we need your help in filling out the candidates. We’d gladly add to this list.

Contributed

Kick Butt Coffee. 5775 Airport Blvd. 512-454-5425. kickbuttcoffee.com. 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs.,  6 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri., 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.* Plenty of surface parking on site. Some of the music is live. Decaf, teas, chai. Some quiet spots in this big space.

We’ve always liked owner Thomas Gohring and his ambitions to create a singular community around coffee, booze, entertainment and, yes, martial arts. Gohring brings to the game a flair for showmanship, an element almost absent from any other coffee shop in town. He has expanded the size of his original location on Airport Boulevard while retracting his attempts to go global. A small stage, backed by his signature graphics, takes pride of place, but the long coffee bar attests to the original impulse to serve rigorously prepared espresso drinks along with food, beer and wine. As the ACC Highland project, as well as the Linc and other area redevelopments fire up, expect Kick Butt to thrive and retain its inimitable character. *The place opens and closes at odd times; we rounded up or down.

 

Contributed

Fat Cats Organic Coffee & Desserts. 7020 Easy Wind Dr. #140. 512-296-2960. fatcatsaustin.com. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Tues., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Shared surface parking. Decaff, teas, chai. Moderate music.

If you aren’t familiar with the moderately dense developments at North Lamar and Airport boulevards near the MetroRail Crestview Station, you might have a hard time locating Fat Cats. Here’s a clue: Turn west off North Lamar onto W. St. Johns Avenue, then left on the interior lane, Easy Wind Dr., and park just about anywhere. Then wander around the other local magnets, such as Vigalante Gastropub, Black Star Co-op and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. The bright, narrow, deep coffee shop attracts an assorted crowd, including very focused laptoppers. The owners, however, have gone a long way to ensure the taste and quality of the fair trade coffee drinks and vegan desserts and, oh, the ice cream. It’s worth looking up and paying attention.

Contributed

Brentwood Social House. 1601 W. Koenig Lane. 512-362-8656. brendwoodsocial.com.  7 a.m.-6 pm. Monday-Sunday. Surface parking off Arroyo Seco. Decaf, teas, chai. Very quiet.

We were quite surprised to learn about this comforting and popular Brentwood spot from a source for a completely unrelated story. The smallish house on busy Koenig probably started in the 1930s when this was on the edge of town, then was renovated in the 1950s or ’60s to give it a whimsical modernist twist. The owners, Suzanne Daniels and Sarah Olano, have made it all their own with well chosen colors and decor, including a capacious dog-friendly patio out back. Olano specializes in English pastries as well as French-inspired food — all worth trying. Daniels, among other things, makes sure service at the bar and elsewhere is prompt, courteous and knowledgeable. This was sort of a coffee house desert for a while, so we welcome the Social House with open arms. (We’ll also add it to our Burnet Road list.)

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lavaca Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

Best Austin coffee shops near Lavaca Street

For whatever reason, the western side of downtown is fertile ground for good coffee shops.

Jo’s Downtown. Laura Skelding/American-Statesman

Jo’s on Second. 242 W. Second St. 512-469-9003. josecoffee.com. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon-Fri., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Decaf, teas, chai. Garage parking nearby, almost no street parking. Despite the crowds, quiet corners.

How to improve on one of the city’s most innovative and persistently popular coffee shops — Jo’s on South Congress Avenue? Add very good comfort food and indoor seating at a second location downtown. For those who complain that the upscale Second Street District feels a little alien to Austin, Jo’s is the perfect antidote: Friendly, local and just funky enough. And a pioneer of downtown’s Great Streets program with its expanded sidewalks. At times the double line to the cashiers can get long, especially when a flock of tourists arrives wearing dazed but happy looks, but they’ve made a wise decision to try the salads, burgers, sandwiches and other offerings at this Jo’s, also a favorite of the City Hall crowd. The espresso-based drinks, with beans roasted by Stumptown, are well above average, but there are other options, including wine and beer.

Austin Java at City Hall. Alberto Martinez/American-Statesman

Austin Java. 301 W. Second St. 512-481-9400. austinjava.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Thurs. 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. Garage parking nearby, almost no street parking. Decaf, teas, chai. Despite the whirling foot traffic, one can get work done here.

Jo’s or Java? That’s the luxurious choice at West Second and Lavaca streets: Two proven Austin coffee dispensers that double as cafés. This one juts out from the irregularly shaped Austin City Hall and counts a couple of dozen tables outside and inside. The counter is located just to the right of the main entrance — you can’t miss it. This iteration of the comforting local eatery group is a little less about the food, however, more about the beverages and the chance to sit down and cool your feet in the growing downtown hubbub. Outdoor seats, surrounded by regional geology and botany, are at a premium. As always, fairly good coffee, too.

Halcyon from West Forth Street. Contributed by Michael Knox

Halcyon. 218 W. Fourth St. 512-472-9637. hacyoncoffeebar.com. 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat.-Sun. Garage parking nearby, almost no street parking. Decaf, teas, chai. Quieter during the day, although even then the music can interfere with thinking or talking.

Many Austin coffee shops nowadays offer adult beverages, but few actually operate as bars and thrive as part of a busy nightclub district. Halcycon, which took the place of Ruta Maya at Lavaca and West Fourth streets, is there for you morning, noon or night. We sometimes run into trouble gaining the attention of the baristas/bartenders, but no wonder with the constant stream of guests seeking places at tables, on sofas or out on the seating raised above the street level. And luckily, almost anything one orders here is worth consuming. Compared to some of the newcomers to this district, Halcyon hangs onto its original funkiness, handed down in part by its predecessor Ruta Maya.

Contributed by Juan Pelota’s Cafe

Juan Pelota Café. 400 Nueces St. 512-473-0222. juanpelotacafe.com. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m. -6 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Garage parking nearby, some street parking on good days. Decaf, teas, chai. Not really a workspace, more about food, drink and community.

Bear with me as we go back in history to when Lance Armstrong was the city’s second most famous celebrity after Willie Nelson and a busy downtown bike shop that included a small, but very popular coffee spot with a jokey name (look it up). The passage of time has altered Armstrong’s constellation in Austin’s social skies, but Mellow Johnny’s and Juan Pelota Café still anchor a robust cycling community. The café has expanded its footprint to include not only outdoor seating, but also a greater share of the interior space. Coffee was the original lure, but it’s now a place to bulk up on an expanded menu of healthy cuisine as well. The clientele is forbiddingly fit. Even folks clearly my age sport the tight figures, burnished skin and clear eyes of ridiculously good health. More power to ’em.

As always, if we missed your favorite spot in this district, let us know.

 

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South Congress Avenue.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near South First Street.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Upper South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Lower South Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Burnet Road.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near North Lamar Boulevard.

MORE COFFEE SHOPS: Near Congress Avenue.

BACKGROUND: Original 2007 Austin coffee shop series.

COMING IN 2018: Near North Austin, Central East Austin, Guadalupe Street, Manchaca Road, Northwest Austin, Far North Austin, Far East Austin, Far West Austin, Far South Austin, Hays County, Williamson County.

Best parties for this rapturous Austin weather

What could go better with this glorious late October weather than unfettered socializing with fellow Austinites?

Oct. 26-Nov. 3: Austin Film Festival. Various locations.

Oct. 26: Fall Fundraiser for Pease Park Conservancy. Ella Hotel.

Oct. 26: Future Luncheon for Austin Ed Fund. Fairmont Hotel.

Oct. 26: Amazon in Austin for Rainforest Partnership. 800 Congress Ave.

Oct. 27: Tito’s Prize Winner Zack Ingram show reception. Big Medium Gallery.

Oct. 27: Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon for TAMACC. Four Seasons Hotel.

Oct. 28: Spooktacular. Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Oct. 28: Bulltober Fest. Rodeo Austin HQ, 9100 Decker Lake Road.

Oct. 28: Viva La Vida for Day of the Dead. Mexic-Arte Museum.

Oct. 28: Eye Ball for Rude Mechs. Springdale Station.

Oct. 28: Austin Central Library Grand Opening. 710 West Cesar Chavez St.

Oct. 28: Zach Costume Bash. Bobbi Pavilion.

Oct. 28: Austin Sunshine Camps Carnival. Zilker Lodge & Pavilion.

Oct. 28: Barbecue on the Pedernales for Friends of the LBJ National Historical Park. LBJ Ranch

Oct. 29: All ATX for HAAM, SIMS, Black Fret and Austin Music Foundation. Auditorium Shores.

Oct. 29: Empty Bowls Project. Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center.

Oct. 30: Andy Roddick Foundation Gala. ACL Live.