Salty Sow: Unique American Gastro Pub in East Austin
Salty Sow, located just a few miles east of IH-35 off Manor Road, is a popular American Gastro Pub known for its unique savory menu. The appetizers, such as Triple Fried Duck Fat Fries with a 110-minute egg and cold béarnaise, are a must-try. The egg is perfectly cooked by centrifugal force for 110 minutes, giving it a unique taste. While this Eastside location exudes sophistication, the prices are reasonable and lower than other elite dining options in Austin with high-profile chefs.
Bar Chi Sushi: Best Sushi Happy Hour in Downtown Austin
Located in the Warehouse District, Bar Chi Sushi is a great sushi spot with the best sushi happy hour in Austin. From 4-7 pm every day and all day on Sunday, customers can enjoy discounted sushi. Executive Chef and owner Leo Wong designed the menu that has been a favorite in Austin’s 2nd Street District since opening in 2010. On weekend nights, the energy level is high, creating a club-like feel that caters to well-dressed customers gearing up for a night on the town.
Wu Chow: Modern Chinese Cuisine on West 5th
Wu Chow is the only Chinese restaurant on our list and offers a very modern take on farm-to-table Chinese cuisine. The menu features “dishes representative of all eight styles of Chinese cuisine,” and on Sunday evenings, dim sum service is available. The stylish interior, reasonable menu prices, and prime location in Austin’s West 6th entertainment district make it a hit with the successful 20-something crowd looking for something unique.
Barlata: Most Authentic Tapas Restaurant on South Lamar
Barlata, whose name translates into can bar, is known for its tapas. A staple of Spanish culture is snacking on tapas, which come from small tins of gourmet vegetables, meat, and seafood preserved in brine. While Barlata doesn’t serve canned food, they do have jamon serrano and queso manchego on the tapas list alongside more than 40 tapas options, giving Barlata the title of the most authentic tapas restaurant in Austin.
Ten Ten: Modern Sushi and Robata Kitchen on West 6th Street
Ten Ten is a modern sushi and robata kitchen that opened in January of 2020 on West 6th street. The stylish décor, killer happy hour, and large bar area serving great drinks make it a great spot for a night out. The robata grill fires up some great flavors that pair nicely next to an extensive sushi list.
Trace: Stylish Dining Retreat at the W Hotel in Downtown Austin
Located next to the entrance of the W Hotel on 2nd street, Trace offers a stylish dining retreat in downtown Austin with a large outdoor seating area that hosts live music 2-3 nights per week. The upscale dishes and signature drinks on the easy-to-peruse menu make it a great place for a night out.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya: Upscale Ramen Concept on South Lamar
Ramen Tatsu-Ya is a newcomer to the Austin dining scene with four locations. The South Lamar location is a short block from Alamo Drafthouse and features a hip interior, some outdoor seating, and fantastic bowls of ramen. It’s a great spot for date night or a quick lunch.
Quattro Gatti Ristorante y Pizzeria on Congress Avenue
Quattro Gatti Ristorante y Pizzeria is an Italian restaurant located on Congress Avenue in a quiet corner of downtown Austin. Despite being tucked away from the nightlife scene, the restaurant’s unique charm and location provide a low-profile dining experience with a downtown feel. Its menu offers Italian cuisine with a quaint family-owned twist.
Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden
Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden is a staple in Austin’s trendy Rainey Street District and is famous for its gourmet sausages and beer selection. The outdoor community seating is energetic and fun, making it a worthwhile experience at an affordable price.
The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood Texas
The Salt Lick offers some of the best BBQ in Austin, and its location in the Texas Hill Country makes it an adventurous drive. Although it is typical to wait for a table on a warm weekend afternoon, The Salt Lick’s outdoor seating beneath oak trees, with a bottle of wine in hand, makes the wait enjoyable. Unlike standing in line at Franklin’s, the wait at The Salt Lick is waiting in style.
Dai Due on Manor Road
Dai Due, which opened in 2014 on Manor Road, has gained a cult following among Austin foodies. Owner Chef Jesse Griffiths is a James Beard Award winner and has authored “The Hog Book: A Chef’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Pigs.” Griffiths’ restaurant and hunting school, The New School of Traditional Cookery, focus on educating people about sustainable and delicious wild game. The restaurant sources all its ingredients from Texas, including the beer and wine.
Perla’s on South Congress
Perla’s is a seafood-focused restaurant located on South Congress with one of the most lively patio scenes in Austin. The interior is polished and charismatic, reminiscent of beach restaurants on the Mediterranean coast. The dinner menu features fresh oysters, several fish cuts, steaks, and surf and turf combos, all over $30. Perla’s also offers separate lunch and brunch menus.
Launderette on Holly Street
Launderette, a former laundromat in the Holly neighborhood, has become an upscale eatery in East Austin. The stylish boutique diner offers indoor and outdoor seating with a fun lounge area. The menu features a Plancha burger and items from the wood grill, such as pulpo, branzino, and ribeye.
Hillside Farmacy in Austin’s East Side
Hillside Farmacy is one of Austin’s favorite farm-to-table spots, located in a historic building that was once a drugstore in the 1950s-1970s. The restaurant juxtaposes its modern cuisine and beverage concepts with the building’s vintage architecture.
Truluck’s Downtown: The Epitome of Fine Dining
Truluck’s, one of the first upscale seafood and steak destinations in Austin, solidified the Warehouse District’s status as the top spot for elegant dining and cocktail lounges. It is known for its outstanding service and refined dining experience, and is a popular destination for important client dinners, graduations, and marriage proposals. In 2014, the building underwent renovation, adding a second story with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that offer a stunning view of the bustling downtown area. The restaurant maintains a strict dress code and serves prime steaks broiled at 1,600 degrees and sizzling on a 500-degree plate with roasted garlic. The menu is highlighted by standout seafood entrees, such as a 2-pound Alaskan King Crab Cluster and an 8-10 oz South African Lobster Tail. Truluck’s also has a location in North Austin.
La Barbecue on Ceasar Chavez: The Best Alternative to Franklin’s
La Barbecue is among the many Austin barbecue joints that rival and offer alternatives to the long lines at Franklin’s. Owned by the daughter of BBQ legend Bobby Mueller, whose family tree has been the subject of many meaty stories in local and national magazines.
Vinaigrette off South Congress: Sustainable Salads at Their Best
Vinaigrette is a sustainable salad bistro located off South Congress, a few blocks south of the Soco Shopping District. It hails from New Mexico, with locations in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Those in the know in Austin head to Vinaigrette for entree-sized salads that are anything but average. With a stylish decor featuring modern furnishings, the highlight of Vinaigrette’s Austin location is its exceptional outdoor dining experience beneath a giant Live Oak tree. The restaurant is known for the freshest veggies around, owning a farm just outside of Austin where they grow their own ingredients with love. The protein options include locally sourced free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. Salads arrive pre-tossed with highly guarded formulas for the perfect dressing so every bite is just right. Do not forget to try the black bean and kale nachos.
Buenos Aires on East 6th: A Cozy Dining Experience
Buenos Aires is an Eastside dining option on East 6th Street that opened in 2005 before the entertainment zone developed around it. The restaurant’s staying power is a testament to its menu and style. Buenos Aires is best known for its empanadas, offering six different varieties for appetizers. They also feature a brief tapas list, a few platos de la casa, and some pastas, in addition to a grilled section that they describe as “the holy trinity of Argentine cuisines: meat, fire & seasonal ingredients”. A small floor plan gives Buenos Aires a super cozy vibe, but it also feels busier than usual on busy nights.
Justine’s in East Austin: An Edgy Dining Experience
Justine’s packs an edge that is evident in its website’s portrayal of girls sharing a bath in a grainy video that has been known to stir up some prospective customers. The restaurant describes the footage as “beautiful, racy, sensual, risqué, edgy, nostalgic, evocative, referential, playful, counterintuitive, rebellious, sweet, and provocative—but not pornographic.” If you are a fan of this description, then Justine’s is the place for you. We highly recommend it.
Taverna in Second Street District
Taverna is one of the oldest restaurants in the Second Street District, known for its commitment to offering authentic, high-quality food at reasonable prices. With its close proximity to the ACL theater and several condos in Austin, it’s often packed with locals and visitors alike.
Culinary Dropout in The Domain
While downtown Austin is known for its vibrant food and entertainment scene, just a quick drive north to The Domain will lead you to Culinary Dropout. This restaurant is a perfect spot for happy hour drinks, dinner, and live music, all under one roof. Its outdoor patio is a popular hangout spot, complete with fun games like Cornhole, Ping Pong, and Foosball, ensuring a great time for everyone.
Jeffrey’s on West Lynn
Jeffrey’s, one of Austin’s most prestigious restaurants, has been serving the elite since it opened in 1975. Regulars included famous figures such as George Bush, Lance Armstrong, and Andy Roddick. In 2011, the restaurant changed hands to esteemed restaurant entrepreneur Larry McGuire, who also owns Perla’s and Lambert’s. Tucked away on West Lynn in Clarksville, Jeffrey’s is a cozy and intimate spot, perfect for impressing a hot date or important clients. The menu is on the pricier side, with most entrees hovering around $50, and the aged beef steak and chops sections can go even higher.
June’s All Day on South Congress
June’s All Day, situated on the corner of South Congress and Annie Street, offers upscale yet casual vibes, serving elevated American cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether you’re grabbing a quick pastry in the morning or settling in for a full meal, this spot has something for everyone.
Fixe Southern House
Located on the corner of 5th and Nueces, Fixe offers modern southern cuisine with a chef’s touch. The restaurant’s ambiance is a blend of modern and rustic, with plenty of wood and string lighting to complement the southern theme. The menu is brief, featuring appetizers like their famous biscuits, deviled eggs, and trout dip. For entrees, we highly recommend the fried chicken, which starts at $21, or the off-the-charts dry-aged ribeye for $48.
Odd Duck on South Lamar
One of Austin’s first food trailers to make the transition to a brick-and-mortar location, Odd Duck made waves in 2009 by using an entire hog in various entrees throughout the week. The Gilmore Brothers eventually built a full-scale restaurant around the corner. Odd Duck was also one of the first restaurants to prioritize sourcing all local ingredients, and they maintain a list of local gardens under the Friends section of their website to showcase their commitment to this philosophy.