So, you only have a day or two...
So, you only have a day or two...and you want to know where to eat in Austin? This list of the best 33 restaurants in Austin is exactly what you need.
While there are SO many amazing restaurants in Austin, there’s a finite amount of time to eat your way through the city. What are the *actual* best restaurants in Austin?
Well, for starters, you need to hit the major Austin food categories: farm-to-table, BBQ, Tex Mex, food trucks... This isn't a list of the newest and flashiest restaurants, but rather the tried-and-true places that both locals and tourists should try at least once.
It’s no small task to start with a list of 4,000+ restaurants and whittle it down to 33, but we’re pretty confident that we’re sharing the best ones.
If you only eat at a few of these restaurants, you’ll get a birds eye view of the food scene here in Austin. From $2 street tacos to $200 locally-sourced fine dining menus, this is exactly where you need to eat in Austin, Texas.
33 Best Austin Restaurants
1. Lutie’s Garden Restaurant
Best for an upscale date night
While there are plenty of beautiful restaurants in Austin (and Lutie’s certainly is a showstopper with the dozens of plants hanging from the ceiling!), that’s not why it’s on this list. Lutie’s Garden Restaurant, despite the simple, casual name, is an impressive culinary player in the Austin dining scene.
Executive chef Bradley Nicholson worked at three-Michelin-starred restaurant Benu in San Francisco, and executive pastry chef Susana Querejazu worked at Quince Restaurant and Saison, both three-Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco.
The wait staff at Lutie’s is educated on the food - where it’s sourced, how it’s prepared, which wine pairs best with which dish - to ensure that you’ll be treated like absolute royalty during your meal. The hospitality at this Austin restaurant is top notch.
This contemporary restaurant overlooks the gardens at the Commodore Perry Estate, so every seat, both indoor and outdoor, offers a beautiful view. The outdoor patio with bistro lights is the sweetest place to enjoy a late-night dinner and cocktail, and the lovely dining room, with the black-and-white marble floors and dozens of plants hanging from the ceiling, truly feels like a “garden” restaurant.
Best For A Chic Weeknight Dinner With Friends
One of the best wine bars in Austin (and an absolute charmer!!), Birdie’s is this adorable wine garden and kitchen in far east Austin. Eat here if you want to show off on Instagram that you totally are a foodie and you know what’s hot in the food world. (Birdie’s recently received some national recognition, so food lovers all over the country are aware of this place.)
It’s a small walk-in restaurant that’s run by a wife/husband team. They serve American food that’s inspired by France and Italy…but think of that as a loose concept. The small menu changes daily based on what they can get; they print it up or post a new version online so you can see what’s available.
If you love trying fun new bottles of wine, Birdie’s curated list of (mostly) natural wines will be a fun treat. Talk to the staff about the styles you like, and they can help you choose a bottle.
Since Birdie’s doesn't take reservations, there’s typically a long line. But while you’re standing on the sidewalk waiting to order at the counter, ask for a bottle of wine. They’ll bring you a few glasses so you can sip them while you’re perusing the menu. One of the delightful things about dining at Birdie’s is how it makes you slow down and enjoy the moment.
3. Dai Due
Best for brunch or a date night dinner
This might be the most one-of-a-kind restaurant in Austin...or in the entire state of Texas, for that matter. James Beard Award-winning chef Jesse Griffiths not only owns and operates Dai Due restaurant, but also a hunting school and butchery classes. Everything in this farm-to-table restaurant is Texas raised, and some of the meat and game you find on the menu is quite unique!
But we'll get to that in a moment. For starters, here's the ambiance: it’s a lovely, open-kitchen concept Austin restaurant on Manor Rd. Walk in and you'll instantly smell the smoky umami wafts paired with yeasty bread. The vibe is a cozy, bustling kitchen with a rustic and sophisticated Texas feel.
Dai Due only uses ingredients that are present in our region. That means everything (everything!) is locally sourced, from the beer and wine all the way to the seasonal fruits and vegetables. Since Texas has short growing seasons for a lot of ingredients, they pickle, smoke, and ferment often.
And since the chef is a true hunter, you might see things like confit rabbit, antelope leg, and sausage stuffed quail on the menu. Of course, if you're not feeling that adventurous, the steak and pork chops stick to the same local standards.
By the way, the butcher shop is an excellent place to purchase some meat to grill at home for a special occasion.
4. Franklin BBQ
Best for a weekend lunch
Even if you’re not familiar with the Austin dining scene, you’ve heard of Franklin Barbecue. It’s been called the best barbecue in the world by Bon Appetit, and Aaron Franklin won a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Southwest. Franklin Barbecue started as a small bbq trailer in 2009, and it has turned into one of the most famous barbecue pits in the world.
The question everyone always asks: is Franklin barbecue worth it? Is it actually that good?
Well, that’s up to each individual to decide, but after eating at every major barbecue restaurant in Austin, we can wholeheartedly say that you’ll have trouble finding brisket better than this.
Do you need to stand in the line at Franklin Barbecue? No, you can order ahead. But you’ll need to order at least 5 pounds (that’s a lot.) So if you’re going to order online, it’s best to buy it for a crowd of about 5-10 people. By the way, the line at Franklin Barbecue is kind of part of the experience…
5. Nixta Taqueria
Best for unique tacos
James Beard Award-winning chef Edgar Rico opened this no-frills counter service taqueria in East Austin where he creates some of the best tacos you’ll try in your life.
Nixta’s corn has been prepared throughout the ancient painstaking process of nixtamalization, and it shows. If you’ve only ever tasted a generic dry, tasteless corn tortilla, prepare to have your mind blown. The tostadas and tortillas at Nixta have a rich depth of flavor, made with colorful heirloom corn that hasn’t been mass-produced or stripped of its character.
Don’t expect to find your typical “barbacoa, carnitas, etc.” taco offerings here. Nope, at Nixta they’re getting creative with the taco fillings and tostada toppings. Try the beet “tartare” tostada, a vegan option with delicate roasted beets, tangy avocado cream, and micro greens. The enchilada potosina taco with potato & chorizo puree and salty duck fat refried beans is a must-try as well.
Be sure to get an Agua Fresca and some chips n’ dips, too. Oh, and happy hour is a great time to stop by for a discount on your alcoholic beverages to pair with those tacos.
6. Spicy Boys
Best for food truck + brewery
This is Austin after all, so you can expect to see just a few food trucks on this guide to the best Austin restaurants. And while Spicy Boys isn’t a new/trendy food truck in Austin, it has withstood the test of time, opened multiple locations, and consistently serves the BEST fried chicken sandwiches you can find in Austin. Full stop.
This isn’t your typically southern fried chicken truck, though. Spicy Boys draws inspiration from Pan-Asian flavors, incorporating tongue-tingling sichuan peppercorns, thai basil ranch, and papaya relish. The side of tots can be made with that tingly sichuan, but if you’re only going to get one side, go for the flaky roti flatbread + curry dipping sauce. You can choose your own level of heat in the curry, and you might be surprised how well curry and roti pairs with fried chicken sandwiches.
There are four locations, parked at 1) St Elmo Brewing, 2) Zilker Brewing, 3) Fairweather Cider, and 4) Rainey Street.
7. June’s All Day
Best for a glass of wine and a burger at the bar
After an afternoon on South Congress, stop by this neighborhood cafe and wine bar for what is probably the best plate of bone marrow bolognese you’ve ever tasted. Pair it with a bottle of red wine (that their sommelier will help you choose!) and put your feet up after all of that shopping. You deserve it.
June’s All Day has a quant, Parisian feel to it with the checkered floors and small sidewalk bistro. The wine list is of utmost importance here, curated carefully, and always impressive. Whether you want to dress up and enjoy a night out or you’re in a casual pair of clothes and need a delicious burger with frites and some cold white wine at an air-conditioned bar, June’s will deliver.
8. Barley Swine
Best for a tasting menu
Chef Bryce Gilmore of Odd Duck was at the forefront of the farm to table movement in Austin way back in 2009, and his two restaurants are still considered the gold standard for locally-sourced, farm-fresh cuisine in Austin, Texas. In fact, their focus on sustainability inspired them to work with ZeroFoodprint to reduce their carbon footprint and become a carbon neutral restaurant while inspiring other Texas restaurants to source locally.
While Odd Duck in South Austin focuses on small, shareable plates, Barley Swine has a sophisticated tasting menu with optional beverage pairings. The continually changing menu highlights what is available and seasonal, paired with creativity and the celebration of food and drinks shared with loved ones.
9. Bird Bird Biscuit
Best for breakfast
Go for breakfast, go for brunch, go for lunch, but just be sure you try one of those delicious biscuit sandwiches at Bird Bird Biscuit! The team here worked endlessly to craft the perfect “sandwich biscuit,” which is one that is sturdy enough to hold up to the yummy filling while also being soft and fluffy. Too fluffy and it falls apart under the fried chicken, and too sturdy and it tastes dry and bland.
One bite and you’ll agree that they absolutely perfected it. Those biscuits are soft and salty and buttery, and they juxtapose perfectly with the sweet jam, spicy chipotle mayo, and salty bacon.
The Queen Beak is a best seller, and for a good reason. It’s a spiced and breaded chicken breast, spiced black pepper honey sauce, and bacon-infused chipotle mayo on their classic handmade buttermilk biscuit. One biscuit is quite filling!
This is THE place to go in Austin for a classic biscuit and gravy. Not feeling like a huge meal? Just stop by for a biscuit + homemade jam and a cup of coffee. It’s always a great start to the day.
10. Jewboy Burgers
Best for burgers
These are just your great, classic burgers. Not a lot of frills or expensive/fancy plates here; instead, you can expect a perfect diner-style beef burger on a Martin's potato bun that's prepared quickly and perfectly every time.
Jewboy Burgers' menu is a mixture of the US/Mexico border culture paired with the owner's Reform Jewish upbringing. The result? Latkes dipped in "border-style queso," giant carne asada burritos, and a bunch of burgers that have folks lining up out the door on a daily basis.
11. Better Half Bar
Best for Saturday morning breakfast
At first glance, it just looks like any other coffee shop and bar (and there are many in Austin), but Better Half has earned its place on this list for a few reasons.
First off, Better Half has homemade everything. That superb lunch burger is served on a homemade bun. The breakfast sandwich with crispy hash brown and bacon and smoked paprika aioli is on a homemade English muffin. That Basque burnt cheesecake on a cake stand near the register is homemade.
And speaking of the menu, it’s an all-day affair. You can get a great cappuccino in the morning, or a beer during happy hour, or a late-night cocktail. Whenever Better Half fits into your travel agenda, it will be there. Just waiting.
The completely casual ambiance is totally unpretentious. After all of the care and work they put into their food, they could have a long, ostentatious menu stating where they source their meat and how they grind their flour. Rather, their Instagram account just announces that they are an “all-day spot.” Simple.
Better Half is located downtown, yet they have a parking lot! (AMAZING.) There's tons of parking behind the building, too, if the front lot is full. Enjoy the large, shaded back patio. And everyone who dines in Austin wants to know where to find the good patios. This place has all the Austin vibes.
Bonus: better half opened a brewery called Hold Out Brewing. It’s located on the other side of the patio, so if you want to check out a fantastic Austin craft brewery while you’re here, this one is excellent.
12. LeRoy and Lewis
Best for a BBQ food truck
Evan LeRoy and Sawyer Lewis, two Austin restaurant and hospitality vets, decided to start their own barbecue venture in 2017. It quickly became one of the THE places for barbecue in Austin, but not necessarily for the same reasons as all the other Central Texas bbq joints.
LeRoy and Lewis coined the term “New School BBQ” to represent their menu. Rather than serving the expected options (sliced brisket, homemade sausage, ribs), they decided to mix it up. By sourcing their meat from nearby ranchers and crafting new takes on Texas bbq, like beef cheeks from nearby 44 Farms, and the “barbacado,” a ½ avocado stuffed with barbacoa, queso, cilantro, and jalapeno salsa.
LeRoy and Lewis is a food truck parked at Cosmic Coffee on deep South Lamar. It’s a great spot to meet up with a big group because everyone can order their own entrees, grab a beverage from inside Cosmic, and enjoy it on one of the outdoor picnic tables.
13. Underdog Wine Bar
Best for a wine bar with food
It’s marketed as a wine bar and definitely looks like a wine bar when you walk in, but do yourself a favor and make a reservation for a full dinner at Underdog. This Korean-inspired restaurant serves “food you want to eat with wine you want to drink.”
The menu isn’t strictly Korean food per se, but it is heavily influenced. For instance, the Mama Bear’s Kimchi is obvious, but the Parker Rolls are just subtly tweaked with a miso honey butter. The binchotan galbi with spinach na-mul and Korean pea is a must-try menu item, served with a pair of kitchen shears so each guest can cut her own piece of the short ribs.
And while many wine bars in Austin have a distinct theme, like only serving natural wine, or emphasizing certain regions or producers, Underdog simply focuses on “good wine made by good people.” The bottle selection is pretty vast, and if you want a low-cost entry point, stop by for happy hour for a $7 glass of the day.
14. Homeslice Pizza
Yes, Homeslice is iconic, memorable, and (borderline) touristy. But before South Congress was the national tourist destination that it is with every mainstream national shopping chain showcased here, Homeslice was an Austin favorite. And it still is, to this day, an Austin institution that locals adore.
The NY-style pizza is cooked in their hot brick oven, creating that perfect char on the bottom in big, soft, foldable slices.
And what every local knows is that their meatball sub is superior to the pizzas and should be eaten on a regular basis. The thick, chewy, homemade bread is stuffed with salty meatballs and tangy red sauce, and it is on par with the pizza in every way.
15. Ramen Tatsu-ya
Best for a ramen weekday lunch
The Austin ramen scene has gotten a bit noisy, but Ramen Tatsu-ya is still the champion. It’s a true ramen experience, with long bars for solo diners to quickly stop in, order a bowl of noodles, and noisily slurp them back before paying the tab and heading back out the door 15 minutes later.
Local chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto wanted to bring the type of ramen to Austin that you could previously only find in Japan or L.A. So they started perfecting the recipe, simmering the pork fat broth and finding the perfect dense, chewy noodles that you need for this authentic Japanese soul food. If you want to know where to eat lunch in Austin, the correct answer is Ramen Tatsu-ya.
Best for sushi
Both Uchi and Uchiko will show up on almost every “best Austin restaurants” and “best Austin sushi” lists. But which one is better? Well, they’re both phenomenal (chef Tyson Cole didn’t win his James Beard Award for nothing!) but here’s a solid vote for Uchiko. And here’s why.
While Uchi is the original in the now NATIONAL chain of sushi restaurants, and it’s pretty cool to dine in that little renovated bungalow house (Uchi translates to “home” in Japanese) on South Lamar, the vibe at Uchiko is just a little, tiny bit cooler, hipper, and more laid back.
And don’t get me wrong - both restaurants are going to blow you away in terms of the freshest sushi-grade fish available on the planet, a phenomenal journey of textures and unique flavor profiles mixed together, and the kindest hospitality in Austin. But if you want an easier time getting a dinner reservation, a very slightly lower cost at the end of your meal, and a more casual (again, slightly more casual) dining experience, go for Uchi.
Note: both Uchi and Uchiko have a famous happy hour that is OUT OF THIS WORLD amazing! We’re talking $7 glasses of sake and ridiculously inexpensive rotating sushi bites. If you’re willing to dine early, you can easily create a dinner out of the happy hour menu, especially if you opt for their omakase tasting menu, which is designed to be shared for two.
17. Cuantos Tacos
Best for late-night tacos
Food trucks in Austin and tacos in Austin…you know you’re supposed to try both. And if it seems like there are hundreds of options, it’s because there are. Here’s our suggestion: go to Cuantos Tacos. It’s a new(ish) food truck on the east side that has quickly earned Austin’s love and support. There are more locals here than tourists (unlike Torchy’s Tacos, which is always swarming with visitors.)
Cuantos Tacos makes two-bite tacos, similar to the type you would find in Mexico City. They start with soft, tiny Nixtamal tortillas, which are warmed and filled with your choice of meat, chopped fresh cilantro and onions, and a slice of lime for you to squeeze on top. Our top pick? The Suadero, is a soft, drippy confit brisket. So delicious.
Best for a special occasion dinner
Sure, there are lots of fine dining establishments in Austin (which is why it’s so hard to narrow down this list to the best Austin restaurants!), so let’s go with something that is so unique, chef Kevin Fink and his team had to install a special exhaust system just to keep the diners from being smoked out of the restaurant: a live fire restaurant.
Named after the goddess of the hearth, Hestia (from the same restaurant group that brought us the phenomenal Emmer & Rye, Canje, and Ezov) is a downtown Austin restaurant that prepares food on a 20-foot open hearth. Hestia is the first of its kind in Austin and the perfect place to celebrate a special anniversary or another special occasion.
The dessert menu reads like a science experiment; ask your server to explain the sourdough ice cream, mushroom miso cream, and rosemary apple kakogori. Between the Basque cocktail bar in the lobby (arrive 45 minutes early to enjoy a drink before you’re seated) and the memorable desserts, you can expect your dinner tab to run well into 3-figures per person. But this is a well-deserving restaurant for whenever your next special dining occasion comes up.
Best for pizza + wine night with the girls
The new east side location has now been re-opened, and the north Austin Bufalina Due location is still thriving…and they’re both excellent options for the best Neapolitan pizza in Austin! Most tourists in Austin will head to Home Slice for their pizza fix…and while Home Slice is good (great, even!) for a New York pizza-style slice, the ambiance and finesse at Bufalina Due make for a more sophisticated dining experience. (Psst: if you're dining with kids in Austin, the Home Slice north location has a playground. Go there!)
These little neapolitan pies are authentically prepared and flash-cooked in their flaming hot oven for a soft middle and charred, leopard-spotted crust. Although you can order specialty pies (roasted mushroom, vodka arrabiatta), Bufalina is known for the classics (marinara, Margherita, calabrese.)
They’re also widely regarded as an Austin restaurant with one of the best wine selections in town. They even started a wine club, where members can have a few bottles shipped to their homes each month.
Best for special occasions
This darling and tiny (I mean REALLY tiny!) house-turned-restaurant on South First Street in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood of Austin, Texas only seats about 30 people inside, so make your reservations ahead of time! Chef Todd Duplechan (you also saw his name under Vixen’s Wedding on this list of best Austin restaurants) coined the term “hot weather food” to represent what he serves here: cuisine that grows well and tastes great in hot climates, like Spain, Greece, and…Austin, TX.
So while much of the cuisine has Mediterranean influences, there’s also a lot of it that’s locally sourced right here near Austin. So you can taste grilled eggplant with king trumpet mushrooms as well as spaghetti alla chitarra with garlic caramel.
The natural wine list is carefully sourced to provide an enticing, unique peek into the natty wine world. Ask your server for a recommendation of a bottle to pair with your meal or go with the optional wine pairings.
The back garden at Lenoir is one of the best hidden gems for outdoor dining in Austin. The giant Live Oak trees are decorated with hanging lanterns, and on a cool breezy night, there’s no more romantic spot in Austin for an impeccable meal and a shared bottle of wine.
21. Fonda San Miguel
Best for Mexican food
The doors at the entrance are kind of iconic. Take a picture in front of them if you wish, and then step into the grand entry, flooded with art, bright colors, and textiles that will only add to your fantastic culinary experience.
One of the oldest restaurants you’ll see on this list, Fonda San Miguel has been open in Austin since 1975 and remains at the very top of the list for exceptional interior Mexican cuisine.
Note that this is quite different from the Tex Mex restaurants that you’ll see in Austin. Rather than yellow cheese, flour tortillas, and sizzling fajitas, Fonda San Miguel specializes in the cuisine that you would enjoy at fine dining establishments in central Mexico: fresh seafood, cochinita pibil, tiny fresh-made corn tortillas heaped with soft and crispy carnitas, and a sprawling selection of upscale mezcals and tequilas.
22. Odd Duck
Best for farm-to-table shareable plates
While it’s not the newest or flashiest restaurant in Austin, Odd Duck is easily on the list of the best Austin restaurants. This farm-to-table gem has proven itself time and time again since its food truck days back in 2009. From the quality of the local products to the creativity of the chef, you will absolutely get to experience the best of Austin while dining at Odd Duck.
They specialize in farm-to-table fare served in small plates, so everything can be shared with the table. The draft cocktails are always popular, but don’t forget about their wine list (25% off bottles during hh) with some fun reds to go with the Texas fare.
The menu moves around too fast for us to try to keep up with it, but that means that even if you’ve dined here previously, you’ll find something new. The food will show up on mismatched vintage plate ware and cutlery, and you’ll feel a little bit like you’re dining on a farm…if that farm had an expert wait staff, serving you seared scallops with masa butter and fried kale beignets with shitake dressing…
Best for upscale southern cuisine
If you’re going for sophisticated southern cuisine in Austin, your two best bets are Diner Bar (the modern restaurant at the base of The Thompson hotel) or Olamaie, an Austin institution with multiple James Beard Awards.
This renovated home has a true southern feel: you enter the restaurant through the back porch, which puts you directly at the sophisticated bar. Tip: arrive early for your reservation so you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail at one of the bar stools.
From there, you’ll be led to your table in one of the rooms within the restaurant. The “southern” influence will be apparent (Hopi blue corn hushpuppies, butter beans, and heirloom tomato) but don’t expect to see anything very heavy or deep fried. Some of the best choices here are the gulf seafood entrees.
The team at Olamaie works very hard to source hyper locally. In fact, Olamaie used to be one of the only true farm-to-table restaurants in Austin. (Thankfully, this has grown a lot in the last decade and there are now many restaurants that work to source locally.)
From the unique dining experience inside a renovated downtown home to attention to food sourcing and preparation to the servers’ utmost care and attention to every guest, Olamaie is a fine dining restaurant that everyone should experience in Austin.
24. Little Deli & Pizzeria
Best for thin crust pizza
This little neighborhood deli is the “local hidden gem” to Homelice Pizza’s tourist crowds. (Although both of them are quite exceptional and adored by Austinites.) But while Homeslice is a bit more commonly known, Little Deli is tucked into the Crestview neighborhood of Austin, serving thin crust New Jersey-style pies and delicious hot and cold deli sandwiches and Italian subs to (mostly) locals.
The classic deli options here are some of the best, like the cup of soup of the day, the pizza by the slice, and the Italian sub. However, if you’re starving and you’re up for one of the best pastrami sandwiches of your life, go for Harry’s Perfect Pastrami. It’s served with your choice of top round pastrami or turkey, fresh housemade coleslaw, and thousand island dressing. It’s served on griddle rye bread, which is light and crunchy. The whole thing is a bit drippy and messy and incredibly satisfying.
The desserts shouldn’t be missed. They rotate, so you’ll have to see what’s available. But the Italian cream cake, black & white cookies, and cinnamon crumb cake are all perfect.
25. Clark’s Oyster Bar
Best for oysters and martinis
The fastest way to transport yourself from Austin to a breezy coastal town on the east coast is to book a table at Clark’s Oyster Bar, the tiny Clarksville oyster counter with a big local following. Austinites adore this spot for its charm, excellent martinis, fresh oysters, shady patio, and amazing happy hour deals.
From the MML hospitality group (which also owns more than a dozen other Austin restaurants), Clark’s oozes charm and sophistication. It’s where you want to go for a fancy birthday lunch with girlfriends, a pre-dinner drink, or a lazy weekend brunch.
Raw oyster, lobster rolls, and cocktails…those are all obvious choices. But have you tried their pan roasted black angus hamburger? It’s served with delicate shoestring fries, gruyere, and tastes delicious with an ice cold martini. Oh, and it’s on the happy hour menu.
26. Lin Asian Bar
Best for Dim Sum and soup dumplings
Ask nearly anyone in Austin where to go for the best Shanghai soup dumplings, and they’ll direct you to Lin Asian Bar. This Chinese restaurant specializes in Asian home cooking, so everything is hearty and comforting. Chef Ling has an impressive array of restaurants in her repertoire, but her inspiration ultimately draws from her grandmother’s cooking, nutrition, and organic cooking.
Nearly everything on the menu is locally sourced, and the lunch and dinner menus don’t necessarily feel healthy. But you can rest assured that everything is made using the freshest and healthiest ingredients available.
Start with plenty of the soup dumplings, char sui, and bao, and then venture on to the noodles and rice, fresh vegetables, and larger meat and seafood entrees.
Best for upscale tacos and margaritas
It’s pretty hard to narrow down our top picks for dinner restaurants in Austin, but Suerte was a shoe-in. This contemporary Mexican restaurant opened in Austin with several local accolades and then quickly won a spot on Food and Wine’s Best New Restaurants list in 2019.
Here’s what to expect when you dine at a Suerte: a wooden door with a custom pink sunburst design (yes, please stop to take a picture in front of it!), a lively cocktail list of mezcal and tequila-based drinks, and a locally-sourced Mexican menu of mostly small, shareable plates. Your server will walk you through it, but you’ll probably want to try a little bit of everything, so arrive very hungry.
28. Via 313
Best for Detroit-style pizza
Sure, it’s pizza…but this is pizza like you’ve never experienced! Ha, even folks from Detroit are sometimes a bit confused about “Detroit style pizza.” It’s not quite as common as something like NY-style, Neapolitan pies, or just classic deep dish.
Via 313, which started in Austin in 2011, now serves their famous Detroit-style pizza all over the country. Imagine a deep crust that’s light, airy, and yeasty, with the perfect caramelized-crispy edges and a soft, doughy middle. Then it’s heaped with lots of melty cheese, followed by toppings (their classic pepperoni is where it's at), and finally finished with the tangy red sauce drizzled on the very top of the rectangle pie.
It’s best enjoyed fresh from one of their restaurants or food trucks. Getting it to-go decreases some of that amazing texture around the edges, and the corner pieces are truly the best part of these pizzas. Plan on indulging in a pie, a few beers, and a great time out with friends and family.
Best for modern Mexican in downtown Austin
Comedor is a modern Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin. While most downtown Austin restaurants are inside high-rise buildings, Comedor is unique in that it’s one of the only modern free-standing restaurant buildings, and the architecture is immaculate.
From the outside, it appears a bit dark and closed off. Walk in, though, and you’ll be greeted by a stunning courtyard and a light-filled high-ceiling restaurant with a striking bar and a bustling air of importance.
Chef Philip Speer has crafted a menu that’s served family style to share. Everything rotates based on seasonality. After securing your cocktail, plan on trying at least one item from the cold bar, like tuna aguachile with Texas citrus, or a snapper tostada with gulf crab.
The menu isn’t very descriptive (typically just 4 ingredients listed per item) so don’t be afraid to ask your server what’s what. The bone marrow tacos have been famous since the day Comedor opened in 2019, and they’re unlike anything you’ve tried in Austin. The dish comes with two large bones with a lot of marrow. There’s kale underneath, which you’ll use to fill the tortilla, topping it with that fatty, flavorful bone marrow.
This is a classy and sophisticated downtown restaurant that deserves a place on your “special occasions” list in Austin.
30. Emmer and Rye
Best for fancy farm-to-table
Emmer & Rye has received a plethora of awards, including a James Beard nomination and being called one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit the year it opened in 2015. And as those awards continue to accumulate, the quality and experience seem to just get better and better.
A farm-to-table, nose-to-tail, root-to-tip restaurant with a focus on ancient heirloom grains, Emmer & Rye rotates their menu constantly to serve whatever is seasonal and fresh.
Some of the unique practices include using un-edible parts of the vegetables, turning them into a fine char, and using that char as a dusting on top of a cocktail or entree. Oh, and since the emphasis here is on heirloom grains, the answer is always going to be YES to any bread items on the menu.
31. Interstellar BBQ
Best for BBQ in north Austin
One of the new kids on the block (compared to OG classics like Franklin or La Barbecue), but their bbq is SO good! Interstellar BBQ (from the team behind Noble Sandwich,) has some of the very best brisket in Austin. Just ask Texas Monthly, which listed them on their “50 best BBQ in Texas” list.
The line will be decent, but since it’s not in a touristy part of Austin (it’s in really far other Austin), you won’t have the same crowds that you’ll find at La Barbecue or LeRoy and Lewis.
They smoke their meats low and slow on clean Post Oak smoke. Interstellar honors its commitment to always start with the best products and then treat them carefully (no shortcuts here!) to create the very best bbq in Austin. And it shows! That brisket is delightfully delicate and literally melts in your mouth with a rich, smoky, salty flavor. The pulled pork is excellent. Try it on a sandwich and be sure to smother it in their yummy bbq sauce.
Interstellar also offers a few unique types of meat, like their St Louis ribs: they use a housemaid dry rub and the result is a slightly spicy rib that falls off the bone. And the peached tea pork belly is SO decadent, you might just want to call it dessert.
But don’t do that, because the dessert is too good to miss!
32. Diner Bar
Best for dining at the bar
One of the newest members on this guide to the best restaurants in Austin (yet possibly one of THE best places to eat in downtown Austin!), Diner Bar is the southern-inspired restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey.
Diner Bar, despite the casual name, is a sophisticated, light-filled modern restaurant at the base of the stunning Thompson Hotel in downtown Austin. The floor-to-ceiling windows and central horseshoe-shaped bar give off the air of a special occasion, which is exactly what this place is.
Some of the unique practices include using un-edible parts of the vegetables, turning them into a fine char, and using that char as a dusting on top of a cocktail or entree. Oh, and since the emphasis here is on heirloom grains, the answer is always going to be YES to any bread items on the menu.
Best for gluten-free
Bulevar is a Mexican restaurant and grill that is the sister restaurant to ATX Cocina. While both Bulevar (north Austin) and ATX Cocina (downtown Austin) could have earned a spot on this list of the best restaurants in Austin, Bulevar is being mentioned here because it happens to be in a spot in Austin where there are very few exceptional, locally-owned Austin restaurants. So if you live in north Austin, this one's for you.
Start with something from their raw bar, like the red chile marinated shrimp and octopus, or the borracho snapper. An order of the chips and jumbo lump crab guacamole is a must, as well as their mezcal cocktails. Get there for happy hour if you just want a drink and apps!
And if you’re planning to indulge in a full meal, the premium wood-grilled meats are the place to splurge, and the carne asada with wagyu beef picanha is a must.
Another thing worth mentioning about Bulevar is their jaw-dropping view of the Texas Hill Country from the back patio. It faces the sunset and can be too hot in the summer months, but if you’re dining in the spring or fall, make your reservations in advance to secure one of those coveted seats with a view of the sunset. Cheers!