Austin loves a party. Whether you’re marking a birthday, professional achievement, a victory in your fantasy league, or even your pup’s adoptaversary, Bat City offers a special setting for every toast.
There’s a swanky new steakhouse downtown, complete with caviar service. Other restaurants are celebration-worthy for their transportive powers: an hacienda-style retreat in North Loop serves regional Mexican fare or an Ethiopian place in North Central offers the ultimate family-style experience.
Special occasions are as varied as the people who honor them in Austin. So book a table at one of these 12 hotspots to celebrate now.
Intero (East Austin)
Husband and wife team, chef Ian Thurwachter and pastry chef and chocolatier Krystal Craig, chose the Italian word for “whole” when they opened their East Austin trattoria. The name reflects their sustainable, zero-waste cooking philosophy: A celebration here is truly an ethical one. Showcasing whole-animal butchery, the duo’s approach to farm-to-table Italian cuisine is simple, clean, and incredibly delicious. Although the seasonal menu constantly changes, expect handmade pastas and breads, vegetables, and meats from Texas farms and ranches. Sweeten any evening with housemade confections including truffles, barks, and sipping chocolate. Visit for happy hour and enjoy craft cocktails plus a superb selection of wines, sure to make any occasion extra special.
Fonda San Miguel (North Loop)
If you were hoping to celebrate your special occasion in Mexico but couldn’t make the trip, here is the next best thing. This Austin institution, open since 1975, offers a transportive meal. Step into the plant-filled courtyard, reminiscent of San Miguel de Allende, while you sip on a freshly squeezed lime margarita. Admire the hand-painted murals and owner Tom Gilliland’s impressive art collection on the walls. Co-chefs Carlos Monroy and Blanca Zesati’s regional Mexican menu include classics such as chicken with mole poblano and pescado tikin xic (broiled fish filet in an achiote marinade). Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free mains make this restaurant the ultimate crowd pleaser.
ATX Cocina (Downtown)
Featuring aguachile and carne asada, the menu at this popular restaurant is not Tex Mex, but deeply Mexican. Chef Kevin Taylor’s parents owned a Mexican restaurant for decades, and he pays homage to them at this festive and contemporary spot. Opened in 2017 by Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso (the same team who launched other beloved Austin restaurants including Red Ash and Eddie V’s), ATX Cocina prioritizes quality, importing the corn for its housemade tortillas from Oaxaca. Even if there’s nothing specific to celebrate, every day is a party during happy hour, when margaritas are three dollars off.
Lutie’s (North Central)
To step into the Ken Fulk-designed Lutie’s is to enter a luxurious alternate reality decked with chandeliers and plants growing from the ceiling. The signature restaurant at the Commodore Perry Estate Hotel (a restored mansion from the original Roaring Twenties) dazzles with impeccable service and a choice wine list. The locally inspired, chef-driven menu is made up of dishes such as roasted lettuce salad with pumpkin seeds and charcoal-grilled chicken with leeks and hominy. Though dining indoors is celebration worthy, Lutie’s patio is even more impressive. Up the ante on an anniversary or birthday by booking a table that overlooks the lush estate grounds.
Dean’s Italian Steakhouse (Downtown)
When you want to impress, look no further than this Italian-accented steakhouse at the JW Marriott Downtown. The low-lit, swanky space exudes a Rat Pack vibe that makes it well suited for celebrating anniversaries and business deals. The menu focuses on old-school steakhouse fare including prime cuts of Texas and Japanese beef and classic sides such as creamed spinach and oven-roasted Marsala mushrooms. The raw bar serves seafood plateaus and oysters Rockefeller, plus caviar service for that extra-special occasion. If you fancy an outdoor space, the plant-filled veranda is just as lovely as the dining room.
Centered around a grand, 20-foot hearth in the open kitchen, this live-fire restaurant was an instant success after opening in 2019. Its other distinguishing features, including picture windows framing the cityscape and top-shelf ingredients (wagyu ribeye, lion’s mane mushrooms), elevate any celebration. Exposed brick and ductwork lend the space an industrial-chic feel, perfect for photo ops. Executive chef Kevin Fink and partner and executive pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph preside over a mini restaurant empire that now features five popular restaurants, including the acclaimed Emmer & Rye. But Hestia’s uniqueness and stylishness make it a special occasion gem.
Mattie’s at Green Pastures (Bouldin Creek)
The historic farmhouse on 23 acres, known for decades as Green Pastures, found new life as Mattie’s in 2017. While the menu still boasts a heavy Southern accent, it was infused with global flavors, local ingredients, and modern techniques. Yes, you can still get fried-green tomatoes, but they’re now accompanied by a crab and grilled corn salad, espelette aioli, micro cilantro, lemon, and cotija cheese. Whether inside the beautifully restored interiors or outside under the heritage oaks, Mattie’s offers a lovely setting for a special dinner or brunch. Toast your occasion with a milk punch, made from the founder’s original recipe.
Uchiko Austin (Central Austin)
James Beard Award-winner Tyson Cole, among the most famous sushi chefs in Texas, opened Uchiko (sibling to the acclaimed Uchi) in 2010. Natural materials, such as walnut and wood, dress the dapper space, accented by steel and brass, creating a sophisticated ambiance. To that, add an excellent omakase lineup and some of the most inventive sushi and sashimi in Austin—Scottish salmon with preserved lemon and Icelandic yogurt, anyone?—making Uchiko one of the most refreshing special occasion spots in town.
Red Ash Italia (Downtown)
For elegant, wood-fired cuisine, book a table at this industrial-chic downtown space, known for expertly plated homemade pasta. Red Ash fuses the ambiance of a trendy steakhouse with an inviting Italian kitchen. Mark a birthday or a promotion with lobster tails hot off the wood-burning grill or pappardelle alla bolognese. And don’t skip the olive oil cake and limoncello combo for dessert.
Sway Thai (West Lake Hills)
Since this sleek Thai restaurant landed on Bon Appétit’s 2013 “50 Best New Restaurants In America” list, it’s remained a local favorite. The pandemic knocked out the original Bouldin Creek location, but chef/partner Charles Schlienger and operating partner Peter D’Souza still serve their greatest hits on Bee Caves Road. Take a group and celebrate practically anything over modern Thai plates such as braised pork shoulder with a crispy egg, rice, and pineapple. Sway is a sophisticated and convivial special-occasion spot with communal dining tables, macrame wall art, and a stunning rooftop bar.
Arlo Grey by Kristen Kish (Downtown)
Top Chef winner Kristen Kish opened this festive, fine-dining restaurant in The LINE Hotel in 2018. The menu fuses her French and Italian training with the Midwestern flavors of her childhood, Texan swagger, and global influences. The results are eclectic and playful plates: fried dumplings with Calabrian chile; duck egg carbonara; and grilled sourdough bread with crushed green olives, Texas olive oil, charred scallions, red vinegar, Aleppo pepper, and feta. Celebrate al fresco by the lake or inside with an air-conditioned view.
Habesha (North Central)
For a special-occasion restaurant that’s utterly unique, Austinites gravitate to this family-owned Ethiopian restaurant. Habesha is where diners forgo silverware for the tastiest injera (spongy flatbread used for pinching and scooping) in the city. Husband-wife team Yidnekachew Fantu and head chef Selam Abebe serve up shiro wat (chickpeas simmered in onion and garlic), perfectly seasoned kitfo (finely minced extra-lean beef), and lega tibs (cubes of lamb) in a simple space with exposed brick walls and a fully stocked bar. Plenty of delicious meatless options also make this spot a favorite among vegans. Between the family-style dining and the finger food, be prepared for an intimate and memorable experience.
Claudia Alarcón is a Mexico City-born writer based in Austin, Texas covering dining, drinking, and travel since 1999.
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