January: Cedar Park restaurateur brings Texas twist to Tuscano Italian Kitchen
Formerly Gino’s Italian Cuisine, a Cedar Park restaurant has a new owner, menu and name—Tuscano Italian Kitchen.
Owner Jay Roush is not new to the Cedar Park restaurant scene. In 2014, he purchased Moonies Burger House, where he oversaw renovations and reworked the menu. When Gino’s was up for sale, he saw an opportunity to do the same.
Roush refined the menu with a focus on upscale Italian cuisine with a Texas twist. Patrons will find items, such as the brisket Bolognese—a traditional meat sauce with brisket slow braised in Chianti and marina sauce topped with shaved parmigiana tossed with fettuccini; or the “cowboy meatballs,” made with jalapenos, cheddar cheese and chipotle barbecue sauce.
March: HappyRito Seafood offers a Vietnamese-Cajun twist on shellfish
Ethan Huynh, a south Louisiana native turned chef and restaurateur, opened HappyRito Seafood in November 2021 after years of seafood cooking experience.
HappyRito Seafood, which is named after Huynh’s son, who is nicknamed Rito, has a variety of fried and boiled seafood offerings, including shrimp, blue crab, oysters, fish, gumbo and po’boys. The restaurant’s bread and butter dish is crawfish, Huynh said.
April: Leander food truck Pacific Flame Island Grill serves tropical cuisine cooked over lava rocks
With the goal of fusing cuisines from multiple island cultures together, owner Tami Kaauamo opened Leander-based food truck Pacific Flame Island Grill in December 2021.
Pacific Flame offers island barbecue grilled over lava rocks, which sets the restaurant apart, Kaauamo said.
Plates are made up of rice or mixed greens, customers’ choice of meat and veggies or fruit. Meat options include shoyu chicken—made with a Japanese-style soy sauce—teriyaki beef, adobo-seasoned salmon or grilled shrimp.
April: Angela Ronzoni’s Pizzeria uses custom recipes to hand-make meals
It took more than a decade for Angie and Ron Diaz to see their idea come to fruition, but finally the couple has a space to show off Ron Diaz’s recipes.
Angela Ronzoni’s offers sharable pizzas, several pasta dishes with sauces made in-house, sandwiches and chicken wings.
“Food and drink is kind of a passion of ours,” Angie Diaz said. “It’s a great way for people to come together and to bring the community together.”
May: Cedar Park food truck Libby's Lunchbox serves meals ‘made with love’
Liberty Broussard always desired to own a restaurant, and when the opportunity to open a food truck presented itself, she established Libby’s Lunchbox in the parking lot of Toyota of Cedar Park last November.
Broussard’s husband, Shane, works at Toyota of Cedar Park, and she originally started cooking and serving meals for the employees. She said she wanted to continue to serve the employees as well as the Leander and Cedar Park communities.
Libby’s Lunchbox serves an assortment of breakfast and lunch meals such as sandwiches, tacos, burgers, po'boys and French toast, with altering daily specials.
June: Laidback, family-friendly restaurant Agape BBQ whipping up Central Texas craft barbecue
Owners Jeremy Archer, Lonnie Wendling and Brandon Reinoehl came together and established Agape BBQ following the closing of Archer’s barbecue shack due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agape BBQ serves staples such as brisket, ribs, sausage, pulled pork, turkey and chicken with sides such as beans, mac and cheese, potato salad, corn casserole, and green beans. The restaurant recently added barbacoa tacos, salads and spuds to the menu.
August: Leander family-run Tex-Mex restaurant La Tapatia known for consistency, authenticity
The menu at La Tapatia combines traditional dishes from Jalisco, Mexico, such as pozole—a maize-based stew—with Tex-Mex favorites, such as soft tacos, fajitas and chimichangas.
The restaurant’s name stems from the demonym for residents of Jalisco, who are known as tapatios.
September: Liberty Tavern brings London pub experience to Liberty Hill
German city-dweller Giuseppe Gazzana said he never guessed his decadelong career as a restaurateur would land him in a small Texas town like Liberty Hill. But when Gazzana and his Dallas-born wife, Amy, moved from the U.K. in 2016, they decided to bring the London pub experience with them.
In 2022, the Gazzanas opened Liberty Tavern, a gastropub that serves elevated comfort food, local brews and craft cocktails.
November: Lali Son serves authentic Nepalese dishes inside a gas station
Instead of taking on the cost of running a traditional dining space, Lali Son owner Surya Sah decided to serve his authentic Nepalese dishes in a gas station.
Located inside of Leander Quick Mart on Hero Way, Lali Son is a fast food pickup and to-go counter offering a mix of Indo-Chinese and Indian cuisines.
December: Super Sap’s brings taste of Thailand to Cedar Park
After opening two other Thai restaurants in Austin, Znooker Apidate Thipala said the team was ready to “lift [their] restaurant game to the next level by creating the 78th Thailand province in Cedar Park.”
To do this, Vara Suksawad uses family recipes to create scratch-made dishes derived from regions throughout Thailand. For example, the Northern Thai herbed sausage recipe, served with Thai chili paste, fried pork skins and sticky rice, comes from Thipala’s mother out of Nan Province in Northern Thailand.
Additionally, Thipala said Super Sap’s achieves authenticity by omitting fusion-style cooking and using Thai mixology to create signature cocktails with ingredients such as lemongrass, lychee and Thai basil.