When Qui opened last year, it did so to a seemingly endless amount of hype. One year in, the bar at Qui is at the top of its game, having won the 2014 Official Drink of Austin competition (presented by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance and yours truly) with a boozed-up tepache, a fermented-pineapple beverage popular in Mexico.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—unless it’s on a Greyhound bus.
It was the winter of 2012, and 34-year-old Michael Fojtasek had some time between jobs. He and his partner, Grae Nonas, 28, also a chef, badly wanted to open a restaurant in Austin, their adopted home. Fojtasek had grown up in Dallas in a family with Southern roots, and his enthusiasm had rubbed off on Nonas, who is from New England.
Because of the macular degeneration, his eyes don’t work like they used to. He doesn’t talk about his vision much, so it’s hard to know exactly how much he sees. But if you linger long enough on a Tuesday evening at Austin’s El Gallo restaurant, chances are good he’ll make out that you’re there and swing by your table for a serenade. Perhaps he’ll sing “Guantanamera.” Or a romantic ballad. Or a bolero, perhaps in Spanish, perhaps in English.
The finishing touch on each of Matt Mowat’s bicycles is a badge on the frame that reads “Made With ♥ in ATX”—and it’s clear he really means it. After a career in advertising and graphic design (including stints at GSD&M and Wired) and several moves back and forth between Austin and San Francisco, Mowat finally settled in Texas in 2007 with the idea of opening a bike shop.
A little piece of the past is still alive in Austin, immune to fads and marching to the beat of its own drum. Little Andiamo occupies a spot in a modest Austin shopping center, decked in starchy white tablecloths with Italian travel scenes on the walls.