Wendy’s in the Texas Union building closing Thursday

Season those French fries with tears and don’t let your wails keep you from throwing back a chocolate Frosty. The Wendy’s in the Texas Union on the University of Texas at Austin campus is closing Thursday, according to the UT Unions social media accounts.

“We are sad to announce that today is the last day that Wendy’s will be open in the #TexasUnion,” read a tweet and an Instagram post both posted Thursday afternoon. “However, you can still visit Wendy’s at our Jester location. We apologize for the inconvenience. We are working to identify a new vendor as quickly as possible!”

Wendy’s is no longer listed as a dining option at the Texas Union on the University Unions website.

Junior (Ishmael Mohammed Jr.) strikes a familiar pose as he rings up a student in line at Wendy’s in the Student Union at UT in 2003. “This is my show, I’m the king.” Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Wendy’s has been a longtime fixture in the university’s student union. The fast food spot gained some fame in the UT community and beyond from its most famous employee, Ishmael Mohammed Jr., aka “Junior the Wendy’s Guy,” who was known for his lightning-fast order-taking skills. He was “the Rachmaninoff of the register, holding the record for taking the most orders and sales within a 30-minute span, 246 orders for $1,035 — or one order every 7.3 seconds,” according to a 2014 American-Statesman story. Mohammed, who died in 2016, was also the subject of short documentary in 2006. Nikolas Ray Eller was sentenced last year to two years in jail for delivering a punch that killed the popular fast food cashier.

Ruth Negga of ‘Loving’ shows you how to make a proper Irish coffee


If you saw last year’s “Loving,” Austin director Jeff Nichols’ film about the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case that decriminalized interracial marriage in America, you know Ruth Negga can act.

031416 SXSW film

But despite her great accent and acting performance in that film, Negga isn’t American; she’s Ethiopian and Irish. And today, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, she’s teaching everyone how to make a proper Irish coffee.

Read our review: In ‘Loving,’ love wins

In a video for Vanity Fair, a pink-dress-clad Negga demonstrates the proper technique for creating the cocktail.

“I have never done this before, and never in a pink dress, so we’ll see how this goes,” Negga says as she starts to pour some coffee.

More: Where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Austin

Negga’s recipe involves about a third glass of coffee, half a glass of whiskey (“the most important ingredient”), a heaping of sugar and a little bit of cream.

Watch the full video below.


SXSW 2017: Turns out Fred Armisen loves Mighty Cone just as much as you do

In today’s edition of “Celebrities: They’re just like us!” I present to you Fred Armisen eating Mighty Cone at a surf park in the middle of downtown Austin, which is a sentence I could only type if it was South by Southwest — oh hey, turns out it is.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 31: Actor Fred Armisen attends The 74th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)

Anyway, the “Portlandia” star and “Saturday Night Live” veteran was spotted chatting with folks at the Animal Kingdom installation on Fourth Street and Congress Avenue on Sunday while enjoying fare from one of Austin’s most beloved food trucks, Mighty Cone.

RELATED: Surf’s up and the stars are at out at TNT’s ‘Animal Kingdom’ pop-up beach

Fred Armisen eats Mighty Cone at the Animal Kingdom installation on March 12, 2017. Alyssa Vidales/American-Statesman

It’s hard to tell what he’s eating, but it looks like it could be french fries. Solid choice, but has nobody told Fred how good the hot and crunchy cones are? I mean, you’ve got chicken, you’ve got avocado, you’ve got mango-jalapeno slaw, you’ve got ancho sauce … if anybody sees Fred, advise him to go with the cone next time.

Fred Armisen eats Mighty Cone at the Animal Kingdom installation on March 12, 2017. Alyssa Vidales/American-Statesman


What a scandal: List of top fast food takes Texas favorite for granted

We Texans can get pretty defensive about our state’s homegrown fast food treasure, Whataburger. So it’s clear as day that the staff at The Ringer made a few errors in regards to its list of the “Top 50 fast food items in America.

The Corpus Christi-born chain landed in the No. 37 spot with one of the “All-Time Favorites” menu items, the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich. The Ringer left off the “strip” in its name, which is the first of many mistakes (in my opinion) made in this ranking, which include:

  1. Ranking the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich way too low at No. 37
  2. Only placing one Whataburger item on the list to begin with
  3. Placing three burgers from California’s In-N-Out ahead of Whataburger

The Ringer is based in Los Angeles, so perhaps there is a slight regional bias. Whataburger has a Texas-sized online personality and is deeply embedded into our state’s food culture. How could a list of the greatest fast food not mention the expansive menu of items like chicken strips, burgers the size of your head, milkshakes and the holy grail of breakfast food, the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit?

Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries landed in the top spot of the list. A truly eclectic ranking, somehow enough people are convinced Arby’s is worth visiting that the curly fries and roast beef sandwich ranked higher than Whataburger. Other items ranking higher than the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich:  Taco Bell’s chicken quesadilla, McDonald’s baked apple pie and Chipotle’s soft tacos. Auntie Anne’s pretzel landed in the top 20!

Since the list was decided by The Ringer’s staff, I asked my colleagues what they thought of the whole ranking. Here are some choice comments from our newsroom:

  • “HBCB in the middle of the night or bust.” – assistant online editor Gabrielle Munoz
  • “I won’t be reading any list that starts with Chick-fil-A fries. Gross. That being said, the Whataburger honey butter chicken biscuit is fast food nirvana.” – assistant features editor Emily Quigley
  • “Honey BBQ chicken is to die for.” – sports columnist Kirk Bohls
  • “I used to work at Raising Cane’s, and I’m very proud of that, so I take it very personally that their sauce didn’t get its own list item on this list. And – biggest mistake of all – they didn’t even mention the Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit. THEY DIDN’T EVEN MENTION IT. I’m pretty sure it’s scientifically proven to be the best thing to eat at 3 a.m. ever.” – Rachel Rice, reporter for the Westlake Picayune and Lake Travis View
  • “I’m disappointed that Taco Bell’s Cinnamon Twists aren’t on this list. Crunchy pieces of fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar… what’s not to love?! These treats kept my sister and I happy on plenty of family road trips during our childhood.” – multimedia producer Tina Phan
  • “Wendy’s chili is getting so screwed over here.” – online content producer Joe Harrington
  • “It is absurd to rank a Shake Shack burger under a McDonald’s burger. This is not a slight on the Big Mac: I believe that every fast food item has its relative merits. There is room for, say, a Taco Cabana taco and Taco Bell taco in all our lives, on their own terms. But when one considers the objective values assigned to each component part of the hamburger – freshness of bun, flavor and texture of meat, melt of cheese – ranking a Big Mac over a Shack Burger is a farce of the highest order and an attack on the very concept of fact-based evidence. And why even bother placing Popeyes menu items in contention if you are going to exclude red beans and rice, which are the perfect side dish? Also: Blizzards are Beyonce, McFlurrys are Rita Ora. Correct placement.” – social media and engagement editor Eric Webb
  • Another one of our multimedia producers, Alyssa Vidales, just sent me this video of someone trying to burn a Big Mac using molten copper.

If fast food is your thing, go ahead and try out everything on the list. Austin is home to every chain ranked (yes, even a Culver’s!).  And if you go a little overboard, head on over to our Fit City blog for fitness tips or Relish Austin for fresh cooking ideas.

Austin treat listed among PETA’s top 10 vegan desserts

Even those who impose strict dietary restrictions on themselves can find it hard to resist a sweet treat…

Animal rights group PETA recently released a list of their top 10 vegan desserts in the country, and it turns out if you’re looking to indulge you don’t have to go far. Austin’s vegan ice cream shop Sweet Ritual’s “Banana Split Split,” which features three different kinds of ice cream and a caramelized banana split down the middle, made the list and is reportedly a customer favorite.

LISTEN: The American-Statesman talks with Amelia Raley and Valerie Ward on Sweet Ritual

PETA also suggests trying the shop’s “Unicorn Poop” ice cream made from skittles, beet juice and rainbow sprinkles while you’re at it.

BEST: Vegetarian restaurants in Austin

Yelp users rate two Austin-area restaurants among best in U.S.

Get your restaurant reviewing muscles ready. Yelp named two Austin-area restaurants to its 2017 “Top 100 Places to Eat” list. One restaurant, Boteco, is a Brazilian food truck located in downtown Austin between Sixth and Seventh streets. The other place, Back Draft Pizzeria, is located in Bee Cave at 3595 Ranch Road 620 S.

Boteco, a Brazilian street food truck at 1403 E. Seventh St. serves yuca fries, feijoada (black bean stew with pork) and coxinha (fried chicken balls similar to a croquette). Photo by Mike Galante/@mikegalante
Boteco, a Brazilian street food truck at 1403 E. Seventh St. serves yuca fries, feijoada (black bean stew with pork) and coxinha (fried chicken balls similar to a croquette). Photo by Mike Galante/@mikegalante

Here is what Yelp reviewers had to say about Boteco:

  • “This place is amazing – my girlfriend and I had the Coxinha, Piccanha, and Yucca Fries – each dish was absolutely fantastic.” – Daniel D.
  • “This in my opinion is the best food that has ever came off a food truck.  Words cannot explain how delicious the food is here.  If you stop by I promise you it will be the best Brazilian food on planet earth.  Staff is friendly and courteous, they are second to none in my opinion.” – John R.
  • “Hands down best food truck in Austin. The food is incredible and the guys working the truck are some of the nicest we’ve met. They also gave me free snacks while we waited, which is the way to a pregnant women’s heart.” – Lauren A.

RELATED: Looking to eat out? Check Austin360Eats first

And here is what some Yelpers had to say about Back Draft Pizzeria:

  • “You know how you nurse and savor your last beer?  You will find yourself doing this with your last slice of this pizza. Just do it in private otherwise the rest of your family will scarf it down.  It is really that good.” – Steve S.
  • “The whole menu is awesome and the service is above an beyond what I would expect from a pizza food truck (better than a brick and mortar pizza place!” – Victoria W.

  • “Still my favorite pizza in Austin! When my husband goes out of town I get the twisted rita and on numerous occasions ate the whole damn pie. I can’t even feel guilty about it, everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is made fresh! Everything is also consistent, from the food to the amazing service. Scarlett and her husband Izak are always making an effort to ensure you feel taken care of. If you haven’t tried this place yet, you are missing out!” – Jenna M.

You’re probably going to need to eat at more than two restaurants in 2017, however. We’ve got a whole dining guide to make the decisions a little easier.

Austin Twitter to Trump: Don’t tax my Topo Chico

President Donald Trump announced his method Thursday for paying for that border wall he commissioned Wednesday: a 20 percent tax on all goods imported from Mexico.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the plan would generate $10 billion a year and “easily pay for the wall,” according to the Associated Press.

Later, Spicer said the 20 percent tariff was just one of several options available to the administration to pay for the wall.

The announcement set off a firestorm on Twitter. Users were quick to point out the many things imported from Mexico that would balloon in price if the tax is approved by Congress, like cars and car parts ($24 billion worth, according to CNN Money), telephones ($11.9 billion), refrigerators ($4.1 billion), tomatoes ($1.8 billion) and beer like Corona, Modelo and Dos Equis ($2.8 billion).

But you know what else comes from Mexico?

Topo Chico.


You know what Texans love?

Topo Chico.

The wonderful mineral water drink started trending on Twitter in Austin shortly after Trump’s tax announcement. Users were passionate, to say the least.

Other users were dispirited about the taxation of other alcohols such as tequila, Corona and Dos Equis. Republican South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham called the plan “mucho sad.”




What about you? Do you think the tax plan will get approved? What item would you hate to see get taxed?

Here’s a really easy way to get a free Shake Shack burger

Are you set on paying for your lunch today? Then we’ve got just the free burger for you.

Shake Shack is now open on South Lamar Boulevard. Contributed by Knox Photographics
Shake Shack is now open on South Lamar Boulevard. Contributed by Knox Photographics

Shake Shack has a new promotion that makes getting a free burger almost as easy as eating it. The restaurant is celebrating the launch of its new mobile-ordering app by gifting everyone who downloads it a free burger. You can get yours by downloading the app, creating an account and using promo code “shackappy” at checkout.

The app is intended to make getting Shake Shack when you want it that much easier. Users can order ahead of time and specify the time they’ll be ready to pick up. The app is not currently available for Android phones. So if that’s your situation, borrow a friend’s iPhone and get what’s yours.

READ: Austin’s best fried chicken sandwiches

Don’t forget that fries (even the not-free kind) go great with hamburgers.

5 weird things you should put on popcorn

Cheesy popcorn from the store can never be as hot and fresh tasting as when you make it at home with cheese powder. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Cheesy popcorn from the store can never be as hot and fresh tasting as when you make it at home with cheese powder. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
  1. Pickle juice. Selena Gomez reportedly calls this (with a little added Tabasco) “Texas-style” popcorn.
  2. Crumbled up Hot Cheetos. This is 2017. The kids who went through middle school with red fingertips are grown up, and Hot Cheetos are now considered a spice. Also try: sprinkled on mac and cheese.
  3. Ramen seasoning packet. Because most of what’s in a ramen seasoning packet is salt, this is just another way of salting your popcorn. But fun flavors like lime chili shrimp can make for interesting toppers. Instant mac and cheese powder packets are also worth a shot.
  4. Shaved coconut. Take it to another level by popping your popcorn in coconut oil. Mmm, tropical.
  5. Cinnamon sugar. Maybe not the weirdest flavor combination, but chances are cinnamon sugar isn’t what you grab after popping some corn. But now it will be.

If you’re looking for something to watch while snacking on your popcorn this National Popcorn Day (and aren’t comfortable bringing a jar of pickle juice with you to the movies), watch this video of popcorn being popped in slow, beautiful motion:

RECIPE: Buffalo ranch popcorn

Texas-based restaurant chain Bombshells is expanding, says it’s not a ‘breastaurant’

Bombshells, a military-themed restaurant chain based in Houston, intends to expand from its four Texas locations to nearly 100 locations across the country, according to the New York Post.

Image courtesy Bombshell's
Image courtesy Bombshell’s

The “breastaurant” business, which includes restaurants like Twin Peaks and Hooters where the all-female waitstaff are often scantily clad, has been booming over the last several years. But the management team behind Bombshells told the New York Post the chain “is not a so-called ‘breastaurant,'” despite the uniforms and the fact that “staff is encouraged to sidle up to customers or that they have to sign an employment contract that allows the restaurant to say what lipstick colors are acceptable and require them to wear their hair down,” the Post reported.

Bombshells is owned by RCI Hospitality, a group which operates more than 40 gentleman’s clubs and other adult-friendly nightclubs across the country. The CEO of the group told analysts on a call in December that the chain’s recent success came in part due to the election of Donald Trump, saying, “I think overall the election is turning out to be very, very positive for us so far.”

According to Business Insider, the CEO also said the company is excited about the nomination of Andy Puzder as Trump’s labor secretary. Puzder, the CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s parent company, was controversial in part due to to the burger restaurants’ frequent use of sexuality in advertising campaigns.