Editor’s note: Austin’s hospitality scene was dealt an impossible blow that year, resulting in the heartbreaking loss of dozens of restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes. An interesting trend emerged when we put together our 10 most-read bar and restaurant stories. Unlike previous years, when closing stories dominated the most popular year-end story list, in 2020 we wanted mostly good news. Our 10 most popular stories of the year ranged from local brands taking big strides to popular grill drive-thrus.
1. The Austin-born taco chain is getting a hell of a good investment of $ 400 million for major expansion. Fourteen years after starting out as a grocery trailer in South Austin, Torchy’s Tacos has received a hell of a good investment: $ 400 million to kickstart a nationwide expansion. For the record, that’s enough money to buy roughly 75 million orders of chips and queso.
2. The prestigious downtown Austin restaurant was named Texas Monthly’s Best New Restaurant for 2020. Pat Sharpe, food editor for Texas Monthly, gave her annual rating of the state’s best new restaurants, and for the first time since 2011, an Austin restaurant took first place. A lot has changed since Comedor took over the crown in February, including the chef’s surprise departure.
3. The oldest grill joint in Texas opens a drive-through restaurant in suburban Austin. What’s the only thing more Texan than grilling? A grill passage. Southside Market & Barbeque, the 134-year-old meat supplier, opened its fourth store near Austin with a takeaway window this fall.
4th The decadent all-day brunch in Austin is closing for good after 3 years. In October, Austin lost another local gem with the departure of Holy Roller due to the financial impact of the pandemic. The restaurant’s closure means Austin is losing not only a brunch favorite, but also one of the few female-run kitchens in town.
5. The legendary wood-fired pizza restaurant in Austin closes its last location after 38 years. Brick Oven, the homemade, wood-burning pizza place that has been a staple in Austin since 1982, closed its last remaining location in late November – but not for the usual reasons.
6th Texas’ beloved Whataburger swaps iconic A-frame design for a new look. What a story! The news that Texas’ beloved Whataburger is swapping its iconic A-frame design for a sleek, modern look has wowed fans. How really, really cheered. People loved or hated the design (mostly hated), and boy, did they let us know. You don’t mess with Texas and you don’t mess with Whataburger fans.
7th The no-frills Tex-Mex spot in North Austin ends after 26 years. The pandemic caused the retired owners of Enchiladas Y Mas to close earlier than expected. After 20 years of giving out no-frills Tex-Mex in north Austin, the owners announced the news in April when COVID-19 began to take off.
8th. Shuttered North Austin Tex-Mex favorite is cooking up reopening plans. Change of plot! In July, two nieces of the Enchiladas Y Mas owners announced that they would revive the beloved brand. One of the few heartwarming stories from a devastating year.
9. HEB announces the opening date for its new South Austin store and grilling drive through. HEB’s new South Austin store opened in early June and people loved it. It has, among other things, a grill street, an indoor children’s playground and a selection of mega beers and wines.
10. The Austin suburb announces a massive new dining and entertainment hub. Party in Leander! Northline, an $ 800 million development currently under construction in Austin, made a big announcement this fall. The HUB, a food, beverage and entertainment venue, is set to be the project’s main tenant. It will have restaurants, bars, shops, terraces and even an event stage.