Texas’s Biggest Barbecue City Is Attracting a New Crop of Exciting Restaurants

Central Texas is considered an iconic barbecue destination for good reason, but when it comes to specific communities upholding all things smoked meats, the town of Lockhart — located just 30 miles from Austin — commands particular respect. Known as the “barbecue capital of Texas,” the superlative feels well-earned given that Lockhart is home to decades-old staples like Kreuz Market (which opened in 1900), Black’s BBQ (1932), and Smitty’s Market (1948). But, in recent years, Lockhart has proven that it doesn’t want to rest on its smokehouse laurels. Due to rising costs in Texas’s large cities (*cough* Austin *cough*), people reevaluating their priorities during the pandemic, and the allure of a small town with serious charm, Lockhart is growing in size and its food scene is following suit. There’s been a remarkable rise in new food and beverage businesses in Lockhart’s downtown business district — with exciting spots like Commerce Cafe, Old Pal Texas Tavern, Little Trouble, Best Little Wine & Books, and Barbs B Q all emerging since the start of the pandemic — and trends show no sign of slowing.

The New Key West Cocktail Scene

In many ways, Key West is a barfly’s paradise. It features lax open-container policies, very late last calls, a rich history of high-profile bar regulars, including Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and an impressive bars-per-capita count. But because of Key West’s tropical-island vibe and popularity as a day-trip stop for cruise ships, the city’s cocktail scene is often associated with the sugar-bombed frozen piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris sold in huge plastic novelty glasses on Duval Street. In more recent years, however, local bartenders and craft distillers have made it their mission to give Key West imbibers higher-quality drink options without sacrificing the laidback energy that defines the region.

Meet Flor Xakali, Nixta Taqueria's Tasting Menu Dinner Series

Austinites who love delicious, inventive, and homegrown food already tend to be huge fans of Nixta Taqueria, the casual East Austin restaurant where executive chef (and James Beard Award winner) Edgar Rico and his wife and co-owner Sara Mardanbigi serve lively and contemporary spins on classic Mexican dishes in a charmingly quirky space. Nixta has proudly operated under a no-reservations policy since it first opened, but they’ve now launched a dining activation for those who don’t mind planning ahead: Flor Xakali, a tasting menu experience guided by Chef Rico which features dishes inspired by Rico’s heritage and childhood.

We Asked 10 Pitmasters: What Are You Drinking While Grilling This 4th of July?

For many Americans, cookouts and the 4th of July are linked in a totally unshakeable way. These outdoor events offer amateur pitmasters and pro barbecue chefs alike a prime opportunity to show off their grilling skills by serving up celebratory platters of burgers, hot dogs, ribs, and more to their hungry guests. That’s a big job with a lot of responsibility, so it seems logical that barbecuers will need a cold and refreshing beverage to keep them going throughout the festivities.

Why Natural Wine Is the Biggest Drink Trend in Austin Right Now

What exactly is "natural" wine? It's a question that I've grappled with while enjoying a glass of natural Grenache on the huge outdoor patio of LoLo wine bar and bottle shop in East Austin or a bottle of pét-nat (short for "pétillant naturel") at the sleek bar of Golden Hour in far South Austin. My wish to better understand these quirky wines led me to ask experts from all over Austin what we're really talking about when we talk about "natural wine."

The Finger Lakes Are About More Than Riesling

Nestled in central New York between the Catskill Mountains and Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes AVA (American viticultural area) takes its name from a collection of eleven spindly bodies of water that affect the area’s climate and terroir, turning it into a prime location for prestige winemaking. Fans of Riesling (a light and fragrant white wine originating in Germany’s Rhine Valley ) already know that the Finger Lakes is a famous hotspot for New World Riesling growth and production, but winemakers from this region have no intention of resting on that grape alone.

Milk Punch Is Eggnog's Lighter, More Flavorful, Southern Cousin

During the holiday cocktail season, eggnog—a "punch" made with heavy cream, milk, egg yolks, and bourbon or brandy—tends to show up everywhere, much to the delight of partygoers and barflies who love its rich texture and indulgent flavors. But if eggnog's heaviness doesn't suit your palate (or the warmer outdoor temperatures that define the holiday season in the American South), then we have a lighter alternative that's widely beloved and features many of the flavors that make eggnog so iconic: New Orleans Milk Punch.

6 Vineyards And Wineries That Make Texas Hill Country A Must-Visit Wine Destination

When many wine drinkers think about top-quality American wine regions, an elite group of West Coast destinations comes to mind, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and the Central Coast in California, along with the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Walla Walla Valley in Washington. But savvy American wine enthusiasts know that excellent grapes can be grown and excellent bottles can be produced throughout the United States, including the dry climate of the Southwest. One less-obvious American wine region that deserves serious appreciation is the Hill Country of Central Texas.

What Makes A Casserole A Casserole?

Few dishes have a closer link to Southern home-cooking traditions than the casserole. Recipes, ingredients, and methods vary from kitchen to kitchen, but the idea of mixing different food items, baking in a deep and sturdy dish, and serving to friends and family is near and dear to many Southerners' hearts. Although casseroles are common and well-loved in American kitchens, it can be challenging to define exactly what constitutes a "casserole."

Hemingway Daiquiri

Ernest Hemingway may be renowned in the literary world for works like The Old Man and the Sea and The Sun Also Rises, but barkeepers in Havana and Key West once knew him better as an avid cocktail aficionado. His barhopping habits (and strong beverage opinions) eventually led to the creation of the Hemingway Daiquiri, a variation on the classic daiquiri that better suited Hemingway's particular tastes—and one that remains popular among fans of rum cocktails who prefer their drinks on the stiffer side.

An Eater’s Guide to the Connecticut Shoreline

A peaceful, warm-weather getaway still exists in Connecticut, on a 100-mile stretch of shoreline running from Greenwich in the west to Mystic in the east. Compared to other seaside retreats, the crowds are a little thinner, the air a little clearer, and the fresh-caught clams a little, well, fresher. Just an hour or two on MetroNorth from Grand Central Station, or the same by car from Boston or Providence, the Connecticut shore does draw in its fair share of visitors for public beaches, golf courses, vineyards and breweries, and B&Bs. Growing up in the beachfront town of Madison, I’d roll my eyes in typical teenage fashion when the “summer people” would start trickling into town after Memorial Day. But the return of these seasonal invaders also signaled a season of fun, from Good Humor ice cream trucks to roasting clams over beach bonfires — and there were never so many visitors that they killed the humble beach town vibe.

How I Learned To Love My Insulin Pump

By any objective standards, the insulin pump is an amazing invention. A mechanical device that can pump insulin directly into a diabetic’s body in place of a properly-working pancreas, it provides many diabetic users with a sense of normalcy. It's incredible, it's miraculous…but for much of my own experience as a diabetic, it felt like a neon sign drawing unwanted attention (and sympathy) to a disease I didn’t know how to accept.

If You Love the Wines of Bordeaux, It’s Time to Give The Texas Hill Country a Try

American drinkers who love the flavors and textures of southern French wines but also want to support domestic wineries — and save a bit of cash in the process — just might find their new favorites in the Texas Hill Country, a rapidly growing group of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) producing bottles that bear many appealing similarities to Bordeaux and Rhône wines, while still embracing and showcasing their own unique characteristics.
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