The Digest: Hat Creek opens in Westlake; ‘Lights On’ report

 
Hat Creek Burger Co. opens in flamingo country
 
“It’s surreal, having grown up out here and going to Westlake and driving by there a million times.” Westlake and Longhorm alumnus Drew Gressett was talking about the opening of his second Hat Creek Burger Co. at the iconic corner of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road where a field of plastic flamingos used to mark the home of the Pots & Plants nursery. “I never would have imagined there’d be a Hat Creek there.”
 
The shop at 5902 Bee Cave Road opened quietly to the public Thursday morning as part of a soft-opening rollout, with the same menu as the Burnet Road location: burgers formed daily from fresh beef, hand-cut fries, house-made cherry limeade and hand-dipped Blue Bell shakes. The flamingos are gone, replaced by a sweeping wooden deck and a meandering playscape. The building is painted a deep barnwood red, part of a decor designed by Joel Mozersky of Uchi and La Condesa renown. Crosscut circles of tree trunks form a rustic mosaic on one wall, reflecting the site’s oak-shaded character. Gressett is quick to say that none of the corner’s trees were cut down for the renovation, and that an entryway on Bee Cave was widened to accommodate cars making right turns onto and from Bee Cave Road as they head west. The easiest access to the restaurant’s drive-through and parking will come along the Loop 360 frontage road headed north.
 
The drive-through itself won't open until the restaurant gets a full head of steam, possibly sometime next week, Gressett said, but the dining room is open in the meantime as the crew gets accustomed to the new site.
 
The opening comes as the Westlake area also prepares for a new P. Terry’s Burger Stand location across Bee Cave Road in the H-E-B shopping center. A Carl’s Jr. franchise opened at Walsh Tarlton Road earlier this year, joining a nearby McDonald’s. Gressett said that in an area underserved by quick-service burger options, there’s plenty of room for all of them.
 
Hat Creek Westlake will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. During Westlake High School and UT home games, they’ll stay open until midnight.
 
‘Lights On’ report
 
► Coming soon: John Mueller, the grandson of Taylor barbecue legend Louie Mueller, announced on Twitter that he’ll open his new J. Mueller BBQ at 1502 S. First St. on Sept. 26 at 10 a.m.
 
► Open: Graze, an upscale East Austin restaurant that arose from a catering operation. The menu includes duck confit tostadas ($10), shrimp and crab salad ($11), a Wagyu burger with fries ($10), roasted chicken ($14) and Wagyu strip steak  ($33). 1707 E. Sixth St. 391-1850, www.grazeaustin.com. Open 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, until midnight Thursday-Saturday. Closed Monday.
 
► Open: Mai Thai, a Thai restaurant next to Max’s Wine Dive at 207 San Jacinto Blvd. 482-8244, www.maithaiaustin.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
 
► Set to open Thursday (9/8): Coal Vines, a Dallas-based Italian bistro with pizza, pasta and wine, at 314 W. Second St. 473-274, www.coalvines.com.
 
Opening Friday (9/9): Bacon, at 900 W. 10th St. 322-9777, www.baconaustin.com. Open 7 a.m. daily, open until 10 p.m., later on weekends. The menus includes BLTs, a burger ground 50/50 with bacon, chicken and waffles, breakfast tacos and more bacon-oriented dishes. (Bacon logo by M. Brady Clark.)
 
► On the horizon: Another Broken Egg Cafe, part of the southeastern U.S. chain of breakfast and lunch cafes, at 3026 Guadalupe St. www.anotherbrokenegg.com.
 
► Closed (and open): Bella Sera, the Italian restaurant at 11905 Bee Cave Road, has closed. Another Italian restaurant called Napoli’s has opened in its place. www.napolisbeecave.com.
 
► Closed: Triumph Cafe, the Vietnamese restaurant at 3808 Spicewood Springs Road.
 
► Closed: Wyland’s Ocean Blue at the Hill Country Galleria.
 
► Off the radar: Guy Harvey’s Island Grill at the Hill Country Galleria. I don’t know if this restaurant ever opened, but the signage that was there earlier this year is long gone.
 
► Open: Snap Pod, a trailer version of the ready-made takeout shops called Snap Kitchen. The street version sells refrigerated or ready-to-heat foods (they'll heat them onsite) from a converted storage container. At Congress Avenue and Second Street. www.snapkitchen.com.
 
Craft Brewers Festival
 
The Texas Craft Brewers Festival is coming to Fiesta Gardens ( 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St.) from 2 to 8 p.m. Sept. 24. The event will include more than 75 beers from 18 Texas brewers, plus music, food and beer education sessions. Ages 21 and over only. Tickets at www.texascraftbrewersfestival.org. General admission is $8. VIP tickets are $58 and include noon entry, a T-shirt, a meet-and-greet with brewers and a festival pint glass. Neither price includes beer sampling tokens, which are $12 for eight.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)