The Scrumptious Chef crew straight up ran the pop up restaurant scene when we lived in Austin, Texas. Our feasts were legendary and we regularly sold out every venue we appeared in but we never had the wherewithal to try and pull off a liquor bar pop up.

An alcohol license was too high dollar.

SXSW Frida Kahlo Pop Up

SXSW Frida Kahlo Pop Up

The entrepreneurs behind Tamale House East are now segueing into the world of liquor with Austin’s first ever alcohol-based pop up: a new concept called Bar Frida, an homage to Frida Kahlo who legendarily loved a good tipple now and again.

And they’ve got the liquor license to do it.

Expect daily tequila-based punches using fresh squeezed fruit juices, craft beer from heavyweights like Saint Arnold, Hops and Grain and Austin Beer Works as well as crazy shot and a beer specials for the blue collar workers who frequent Tamale House East.

Alcohol is all well and good but a top flight Mexican bar will always offer food.

Yani Diaz Smith, head cook at the Tamale House #3 on Airport Blvd will be preparing a special menu for the SXSW crowds that grew accustomed to visiting Bobby Vasquez’s (RIP) legendary, now-closed restaurant.

Does this mean that Diaz Smith will be bringing back some of the iconic Tamale House #3 menu items like brisket tacos, barbacoa and carnitas?

If so we may have to pile in the Econoline and roll back over to Austin for a day or two to soak in some old 1970s style Tex Mex and daydream about the groover’s paradise that no longer exists.

Bar Frida will take over the back bar that abuts the rear patio at Tamale House East during SXSW. Opening day is Saturday March 14th 2015 at noon and the bar will be open noon til Midnight each day through the 21st.

Bar Frida inside Tamale House East
1707 E 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78702

Madisonville, Tenn. “It’s not the dollar that motivates me so much as the compliment.”

It’s a long haul from Austin, Texas to Madisonville, Tennessee (2000 mile round trip) but when you’ve got a charcuterie pop up restaurant planned, it’s a pilgrimage that must be made.

And one I happily took as the new year began a few months back. In the world of USA cured meats, Allan Benton is king. His ham and bacon is served at high dollar eateries like French Laundry, Commander’s Palace and Momofuku. Chefs who generally take a 100% hands-on approach to cooking their own food, hand the ball off to Benton when it’s time to put country ham on the menu.

Benton’s little smokehouse in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains is the epicenter of cured heritage pork in USA.

“I don’t sell to greasy spoons or big chains–I just sell to high-quality establishments. I have zero marketing skills. Word spread from chef to chef, and I count my blessings every day that these chefs like what I do”

Since Madisonville is just two hours from my family’s farm in Kentucky, I was fortunate to grow up on Benton’s aged ham. There is none finer.

“Allan Benton is the rock star of American bacon,” says writer John T. Edge.

And Benton’s bacon is fine, but the 18 month process (including 84 hours bathed in hickory smoke) it takes to get a country ham out the door of the old roadside meat house is where the man demonstrates his real mastery.

“I call it country ham, but I’m lying through my teeth. It’s just a curing process they’ve been doing for a thousand years in Europe. The way I see it, just because they live in Parma, or in Germany, or anywhere else, doesn’t mean that they can produce a better ham than a bunch of farm boys from Tennessee can.”

Of course premium ham producers in Spain or France would have a hard time getting a hold of East Tennessee Hickory and Apple wood, and that’s where Benton has the drop on them.

Those are the only woods he uses in the lengthy smoking process.

It doesn’t matter what kind of wood you’re burning in your smokehouse if you’re using commercial feedlot meat, and Benton doesn’t waver in his determination to only use heritage pork; breeds like Berkshire, Duroc, Tamworth and Large Black are the only types that the man has any truck with.

That’s why he’s been called “the Mother Teresa of meat”

We’re proud of all of the purveyors we’ve used since we started our Scrumptious Chef pop up restaurant series almost two years ago, but at the end of the day we’re only in it for the meat.

Come on out on Saturday April 5th 2014 and get a big plate of Benton’s Country Ham and see for yourself why this man’s smoked pork has turned into a religion in USA.



ibm food truck

It’s gratifying to see mainstream local media providing some coverage for pop up restaurants in Austin. Of course, for it to happen, a bunch of entrepreneurs had to come in from New York City and Beverly Hills but still.

Baby steps.

Tomorrow night, March 6th 2014, a Beverly Hills outfit called Scratch Bar pops up once at ArtProm (430 w. 2nd st.) before settling in for a ten night run at a place called Collective Status (516 e.6th st).. As is the custom with many pop ups, the team behind the venture is going high dollar for night one at $150 per person. Let’s hope the ArtProm folks are well heeled. Chef Philip Frankland will be on the skillets. Reservations at

Humble little burger joint Shake Shack invades Austin in a food truck starting Saturday March 8th 2014. We picture Danny Meyer hunched over the steering wheel, pulling out of New York City wondering just what in the Hell he’s gotten himself into as he slowly realizes it’s a long ass drive to Austin. Continue Reading

Name the location of this brand new East Austin barbecue food truck and win two complimentary tickets to the Scrumptious Chef Exotic Meats Pop Up Restaurant at Tamale House East Saturday February 8th.

Scrumptious Chef Restaurant Pop Up #14


The Scrumptious Chef cooking crew has gained another guest chef. William Ankeney formerly of Michelin-starred Chez TJ out in Mountain View, California will be preparing a big pan of Bourbon Pecan Cobbler for our Exotic Meats Feast.

Ankeney runs the ovens at Micklethwait Craft Meats, the wunderkind of Central Texas barbecue. Anybody who eats at Tom Micklethwait’s food truck knows to save room for bread and desserts as Ankeney is one of the top young guns in Austin.



Up in Parker County Texas, near Weatherford, Bob Payne has a 300 acre spread off Peaster Hwy devoted to the care and nurturing of a herd of Tibetan yaks. Payne is also a board member of The International Yak Association, a concern devoted to the history, breeding, exhibition, publicity, sale and improvements of the breed.

Yaks are magnificent creatures. They also happen to be delicious. One of our best friends, a chef and world traveler, upon returning from a visit to Tibet, claimed that a plate of yak dumplings he ate in Nepal was the best food he’d ever eaten.

A decade later he still stands by that claim.

While healthful cooking is not our raison d’etre, yak meat is undeniably good for you. The flesh is dark red, and higher in protein, minerals, and vitamins than beef. It’s also much lower in saturated fats.

Most citizens of the Himalayas eat it as jerky, air dried at that staggering altitude

Yaks make incredible dairy creatures. Their butter is used to fuel lamps and is used as a cold cream on Tibetan faces as a moisturizer. The cheese, when smoked, can last for a hundred years! Yak milk has twice the fat of cow’s milk.

For the last 13 years, Bob Payne of Texas Yaks has been quietly building his herd, and spreading the gospel of the breed. Here in Austin you can find the meat on the menu at Hudson’s On The Bend, the most famous fine dining source of exotic meats in the state of Texas.

When we began planning our Feast On Exotic Meats pop up we were determined to feature yak meat. We just had no idea that we’d find it in Weatherford Texas.

Scrumptious Chef Restaurant Pop Up #14


Hank Shaw, woodsman, hunter, cook, writer-bon vivant, is set to pop up this Monday January 27th at Foreign and Domestic in North Austin.

Shaw’s cookbooks: Hunt, Gather, Cook, and Duck, Duck Goose are indispensable for anyone interested in wild game cookery.

His blog: Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook is a wild ride through the mind of a former newspaperman who threw off the yoke of the industry and struck out on his own, and with great success.

Here’s a gem off Shaw’s website: Speaking on the value of hunting and fishing guides “if you are an inexperienced shot, let the guide know. I have no problem with a 250- to 300-yard shot with my Remington 700, provided I can get a decent rest. But that’s a quite the poke for some people, a chip shot for others.”

Quite the poke.

Hope to see y’all out this Monday.

Foreign And Domestic

306 E 53rd St, Austin, TX 78751

(512) 459-1010

Scrumptious Chef Restaurant Pop Up #14