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Food Matters: Hot Pot BBQ, zero-waste grocery store in East Austin

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Lago vista burger gets national nod

It's not quite Hatch chile season yet, but a reader alerted me to a burger that people who live in Lago Vista know well: the Hatch chile burger (above) from Bam's Roadhouse Grill.

And now, after a big burger spread in the Wall Street Journal in June, people outside the small lake town west of Austin know about it, too.

Toronto-based food writer Chris Nuttall-Smith called it a "beautifully trashy central Texan contender," which Bam's Roadhouse owner George "Bam" Look took as a great compliment.

"What I loved about it was the other four burgers were from Chef So-and-so from Boston, Atlanta, Vegas and New York and then there's a little old burger from Lago Vista, Texas," Look says.

(That's Michael Schlow, Linton Hopkins, Bradley Ogden and April Bloomfield, if you're keeping tabs on which so-and-so chefs he's talking about.)

Look says he'd actually forgotten that anyone with the Wall Street Journal had called until his chef called him one Saturday and said the article was in print. A regular brought in a copy as proof. "I cracked up," he says. "I couldn't believe it."

Stuffed burgers, like the cheese-chile-bacon-filled one featured in the WSJ, are a specialty, but Look says the chicken-fried steak and catfish are just as good. The 66-year-old West Texas native lives in Austin and commutes to Lago Vista to run the restaurant, his first, which he opened eight years ago.

Like many business owners in Lago Vista, Look says he's fighting the drought and the economy. "If there's no lake, it hurts. If there's a flood, it hurts."

Hopefully, some love from the Big Apple will help him out a little this summer.

- Addie Broyles

It's a backyard planter, it's a grill - it's both

If your backyard doesn't have room for a big kettle grill on wheels, that doesn't mean you can't cook outdoors. A UK company called black+blum has created a stainless steel grill that looks like a terracotta planter and includes a shallow planter that sits on top to hide the part of the grill that holds the charcoal and grill rack. The Hot Pot BBQ has an insulating ceramic coating to make it look like a pot and help hold in the heat. Only two Texas stores, Speranza Design Gallery in Plano and Kuhl-Linscomb in Houston, carry the cooker, but you can order it online ($125, black-blum.com ), and they'll ship it from New York so you don't have to pay international postage.

- A.B.

Bring your own bags, containers to bulk store

A group of Austinites is hoping to open a zero-waste grocery store in East Austin this fall that, unlike traditional stores, doesn't sell food in disposable packaging. The store, In.gredients, might just be a business plan and an active Facebook page for now, but in the past few weeks, it has gotten national media attention from ABC News, Time and Good.com.

Marketing director Brian Nunnery says that customers at In.gredients will be asked to bring in their own containers or use the store's reusable ones to buy items shipped in bulk instead of prepackaged in boxes, bags or plastic.

Nunnery says that in order to open store as planned in October, they need to meet several fundraising goals before then. They have started taking contributions through Indie GoGo, but will be hosting other fundraising events later in the year. 266-8271, in.gredients.com .

- A.B.

Openings and closings

• Open: Dickey's Barbecue Pit, the second Austin location of the Dallas-based barbecue restaurant, at 5207 Brodie Lane. 892.2283, dickeys.com .

• Open: Toastie's Sub Shop, a sandwich shop in the former Lift Cafe at 215 S. Lamar Blvd., specializing in toasted sub sandwiches. 499-8500.

• Open: Hank's Garage, a Belgian pub at 115A San Jacinto Blvd. serving duck fat French fries, burgers and dinner entrees such as roasted duck breast and seared salmon, with 32 beers on tap, including about 10 from Belgium. 520-8060, hanksgarageatx.com .

• Open: Chez Rémy, a food truck at West Fifth and Colorado streets serving croissants, sandwiches and salads. 758-9363, chezremyaustin.com .

• Open: French Quarter Grille, a Cajun restaurant at 13000 N. Interstate 35, Suite 600, in the former location of Mama Roux. Chef/co-owner Dave Gore worked for more than a decade with Mike and Yoli Amr, who founded Gumbo's restaurant and owned Mama Roux when they died earlier this year. 832-9090, frenchquartergrilleaustin.com .

• Closed: Lift Cafe, 215 S. Lamar Blvd.

- A.B.

Food Briefs

• Asti Trattoria's 11th annual LobsterFest starts Thursday and ends Saturday with a special three-course lobster dinner for two for $120. Reservations at 451-1218 or astiaustin.com . 408 E. 43rd St.

• More than 35 chefs, wineries, restaurants and caterers in the Hill Country will be offering a taste of what they do at the second annual Taste of the Hill Country food and wine festival from 2 to 6 p.m. on July 16 at the Galloway Hammond Recreation Center, 1601 S. Water St., in Burnet. Tickets ($15-$20 for anyone older than 13, $8 for children 12 and younger) are available at tasteofthehillcountrytx.com .

• Local food companies Batter Blaster and Genesis Today are teaming up with H-E-B to raise money for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians through a breakfast fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the H-E-B on Texas 71 in Bee Cave. Organizers are asking people to donate $3 per breakfast, which goes to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

• Sagra, 1610 San Antonio St., is hosting a free family-style pig roast, with salad and side and $4 house wine specials, on July 13. Chef Gabriel Pellegrini will start serving at 4 p.m. until the food runs out. Reservations for VIP tables can be made by calling 535-5988. sagraaustin.com .

• The Kiwanis Club of Northwest Austin is hosting its annual peach sale to benefit more than a dozen local charities. A 22-pound box of Texas peaches from the Pittsburg area costs $38, and you can place an order by Friday for pick-up on July 16 by emailing revmjq@gmail.com or by calling 981-9101. The group will be bringing in another round of peaches in September from Colorado.

• Adelea's Farmers' Market in Salado is hosting a pizza-making class for kids at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the market, 302 N. Main St. The class, which includes ingredients and a drink, costs $15 per child. Kids younger than 5 need to have an adult with them to take the class. Reserve a seat by calling 254-947-0018. adeleasfarmersmarket.com

- A.B.