Romantic dinner? Finger-licking ribs or honey-covered fried chicken? Outdoor patio? Or brunch with the parents? Amazing Austin pulls out all the stops with Americana staples and just enough specials to, as the city slogan goes, “Keep Austin Weird.” Whether you’re a local or a traveler, you’ll love these top Austin restaurants. Not headed to the Lone Star state capital anytime soon? Find a restaurant near you on OpenTable.
The specialty may be uncooked foods, but Uchi is one of the hottest restaurants to score a table at in Austin (some nights, the wait is up to four hours); reserving in advance is clutch. With a creative menu that changes almost daily based on fresh catches and fun, lower-priced happy hour offerings for both food and drink, it’s worth the wait. Uchi is translated from the Japanese word for “house,” and the interior of this refurbished South Austin bungalow is just as cool as the exterior, with its bamboo-reed garden and stools and chairs sprinkled throughout to enjoy the breeze and a cocktail while you wait. Can’t get in? Try grabbing a reservation at sister restaurant Uchiko instead. Make a reservation at Uchi.
Cast aside all misconceptions about hotel dining at TRACE. They’ve got one of the city’s largest downtown patios (although the funky, artsy interior is pretty cool, too) and the focus is Lone Star state cuisine. Most items sourced from local farms (think broccoli and cauliflower esquites with aged Texas cheddar and Texas redfish a la Veracruz), and it’s a come-one-come all kind of atmosphere. Those who have spent an afternoon chilling with a fourth-floor pool pass will hang out in bathing suit coverups, and there’s a DJ every Friday starting at 3 p.m. to get the weekend kicked off right in this delightfully laid-back city. In town for business? Don’t miss out on a three-course $14 lunch with complimentary valet parking. Make a reservation at TRACE.
Caroline is pretty sweet, indeed, with a variety of options in BBQ-heavy Texas for vegetarians. The satisfying quinoa chili bowl is on-point, along with wild mushroom Bolognese, several toothsome salads, and a green-broth minestrone soup with kale pesto. The chicken schnitzel is also surprisingly gratifying, with shaved fennel, green beans, and lemon vinaigrette. Make a reservation at Caroline.
Look no further for a brunch spot than Hillside, a 1950s drugstore restored with all of its original cabinetry. It’s easy to imagine potions and powders coming out of the fancy wooden doors where cocktail elixirs now sit. Most of what ends up on the plate is sourced from local farms, including Austin’s own Smokey Denmark sausage company. Make a reservation at Hillside Farmacy.
Weekends are the best at Dai Due, thanks to a Friday seafood Gulf dinner for two. Saturday you can get your fill at the Supper Club, a mixed grill for two with BBQ faves like sausages and ribs, and Sunday features tallow-fried chicken. Or, indulge in the rest of the creative menu that also features wild boar confit, curried lamb samosas, grilled mesquite pecan sourdough, and deer tartare with harissa and herbs. Make a reservation at Dai Due.
Stella San Jac
Visit Texas without grabbing a biscuit? Say it ain’t so! Check out some of the city’s finest at Stella San Jac, served on the breakfast/brunch, lunch, and dinner menus. These vegetarian-friendly, flaky delights are served with whipped honey butter, topped with sea salt, and have an indulgent butter-crusted bottom. Fear not if you’re looking for something lighter—a selection of creative salads like kale and Brussels with green apples and pear vinaigrette or baby Chioggia beets with white truffle and hazelnut vinaigrette are sure to chase some of the guilt away. Make a reservation at Stella San Jac.
Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar
The mini-city-like Domain retail and nightlife center is surely one of Austin’s newest spots, so it can be overwhelming to try and pick just one restaurant. For those craving some outdoor time, check out the patio at Doc B’s, where the massive housemade guacamole is served with sweet-potato chips just right for dipping and sharing. Make a reservation at Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar.
Brewer’s Table does “bar food” right, with elevated Texas staples like smoked pork ribs — made with black beer vinegar, of course — and a dessert menu that includes toasted barley ice cream with hop honey and a beer-grain waffle cone. No matter what you order, make sure to pair it with some brewed-in-house suds or a craft cocktail. Make a reservation at Brewer’s Table.
It’s all about dinner and a show here with live music daily. Menu hits include fried chicken with drizzled in honey and 36-hour slow-roasted pork ribs with jalapeño and molasses. Just like the tunes, desserts are meant to share — check out the pull-apart monkey bread, and an ooey, gooey peanut butter rocky road bar with fudge brownie, peanut butter pudding, and salted caramel gelato. Make a reservation at Culinary Dropout.
Café No Sé
Say yes, way to Café No Sé with brunch served daily until 3 p.m. Whether you’re in for mimosas, avo toast, or a classic Texas cowboy breakfast (two eggs, bacon, confit pork, borracho beans, and roasted jalapeño), or ready for more Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flare at night (harissa-spiced chicken, charred octopus), Café No Sé is ready to indulge. Pair it all with daily discounts of 25% off any bottle of rosé, sun up to sundown. Make a reservation at Café No Sé.
Eberly’s got soul and history, thanks to its days as a former print shop. The bar is even the historic circa-1866 Cedar Tavern of Greenwich Village (Ed. Note: This alone is reason to visit Austin!), transplanted to the heart of Texas. Luckily, the fare is much more modern, featuring green squash served with fava bean tabbouleh and chiles, and salmon poke bowls with gochujang and tamari. Make a reservation at Eberly.
Oysters in Austin? It’s a thing, along with a fully stocked raw bar and a full bar and cocktail selection. Texas bites include locally raised chicken with green plums and ginger jam or the pork chop with peach-sorghum BBQ sauce and fried cornbread. Parkside’s stretch of 6th Street is renowned more for its bars and entertainment options than the food scene, but chef/owner Shawn Cirkiel’s fare thankfully gives diners looking for something more elevated solid options with his farm-to-table cuisine. Make a reservation at Parkside.
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C. Dimiti is a true carb addict who can’t resist a good breadbasket but is just as excited about a good side of Brussels sprouts. She thinks the best restaurants and chefs are those who are inspirational, thus forcing those who keep shoes in their oven for storage to reorganize and try to re-create the magic at home. Shoutout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: Kiresten Gilliam (Uchi).