Contemporary American cuisine in a stunning collection of historically styled spaces.
by Karen Spezia
Photographs by Reagan Taylor
If you’ve noticed an excess of empty tables and vacant barstools around Austin lately, it’s not because everyone’s honoring their get-fit new Year’s resolution; it’s because everyone’s at Eberly. Like bees to honey, this new dining and drinking hotspot has been attracting impressive crowds since its October debut. Almost nightly, the sprawling 15,000-square-foot wonderland is buzzing with happy patrons who’ve come to eat, drink and socialize.
Designers Michael Dickson (ICON Design + Build) and Mickie Spencer (Swan Dive, Hillside Farmacy, Sawyer & Co, East Side Showroom) have transformed the former warehouse into separate yet adjoining spaces: an elegant dining room, historic bar, skylit study, outdoor patio and rooftop terrace. The rambling layout represents different transitions during the day, where guests can work or read in the study, enjoy happy hour in the tavern, and finish the day with dinner in the dining room. In other words, Eberly invites you to linger, with all your entertainment under one enormous roof.
Although new and fresh, Eberly is steeped in history. It’s named after Angelina Eberly, the legendary firebrand who defended Austin in 1842 by firing a cannon at President Sam Houston and his Texas Rangers. The bar is equally historic: a massive 150-year-old mahogany beauty formerly housed in New York’s Cedar Tavern, a hangout for artists like Jackson Pollock, Jack Kerouac, Willem de Kooning and Bob Dylan. A decade ago, the bar closed and was purchased by Austin locals and Stubb’s co-founders Eddy Patterson and John Scott, who carefully relocated it to Austin. Tucked in the back of the building, the Cedar Tavern offers craft cocktails and a dedicated bar menu featuring burgers and pizza.
Bridging the tavern and dining room is the study, a stunning vaulted room inspired by circa-1800s British greenhouses and lined with vintage books and current periodicals. It serves as a dining room in the evenings, and will eventually double as a daytime coffee shop and co-working space. When the weather’s fine, there’s a ground floor patio and a rooftop terrace overlooking downtown Austin.
Appetizers are outstanding, like spicy moist cornbread topped with sweet lump crab or the platter of garden-fresh crudités served with smoky pimento cheese and crispy flatbread.
Buzzing with energy, Eberly’s dining room is a sophisticated mix of Victorian and mid-century modern, inspired by 1960s furniture designer Kent Coffey and executed by Austin sculptor Paul Oglesby, who created the tables and dazzling tile floors. The menu features contemporary American cuisine and globally-influenced desserts. Appetizers are outstanding, like spicy moist cornbread topped with sweet lump crab or the platter of garden-fresh crudités served with smoky pimento cheese and crispy flatbread. For entrees, there’s Creole-style redfish, or grilled quail and venison in huckleberry sauce. Several couples nearby happily shared the popular Pot of Goodness, a steamer pot overflowing with fresh seafood and shellfish. Duck fat fries arrive hot and crisp, served in their own cast-iron kettle. Don’t skip dessert, like dense dark chocolate budino or ethereal Basque cake. Eberly’s vibe screams for a cocktail and the Final Ward is a lip-smacking concoction of rye, cherry liquor, chartreuse and lemon. Our knowledgeable server helped us pair some delightful wines by the glass with each course.
Eberly is a sassy, stylish destination that provides an entertaining evening of good food, drink and people watching. If you’re looking for a place that’s truly unique, with a sense of occasion, just follow the crowds to Eberly.
Read more from the Community Issue | February 2017