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Austin Restaurant Guide

Our Austin Restaurant Guide features 25 top dining experiences based on atmosphere, originality, menu quality, and overall style in Austin, Texas.

Angela Hall Last updated on Jun 19, 2021 by

1. Parkside on 6th Street

Inside view of the dining room at Parkside on 6th Street in Austin

You know Parkside is a heavy hitter being the only restaurant on our list located on historic 6th street...Austin's most casual nightlife district. They're known for one of the best happy hours in Austin that features 1/2 off all "bar food" that includes oysters from 5-6pm. Outside of happy hour, their menu features a solid raw bar and a brief 5 item entrée list with prices ranging from $27 to $39. Their located in an older building that features some elements of historic 6th street, but remains a polished and stylish décor. The bar is packed most nights and the second story patio follows suit in cooler weather.

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2. Wu Chow on West 5th

Inside view of the dining room at Wu Chow restaurant in Austin, Texas

The only Chinese restaurant to make our list, Wu Chow offers a very modern take on farm to table Chinese with a menu that offers "dishes representative of all eight styles of Chinese cuisine" with dim sum service on Sunday evenings. The blend of stylish interior, reasonable menu prices, and prime location in Austin's West 6th entertainment district help make it a hit with the successful 20 something crowd looking for something unique.

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3. Barlata on South Lamar

Inside view of the dining room at Barlata Austin

The name Barlata translates into can bar. A staple of the Spanish culture is snacking on tapas, many of which come from small tins of gourmet vegetables, meat, and seafood preserved in brine. We could eat aceitas con anchovas with jamon serrano and queso manchego every day. While Barlata doesn't serve canned food, you can bet they have jamon serrano and queso manchego on the tapas list alongside upwards of 40 tapas options that give Barlata the title of most authentic tapas restaurant in Austin.

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4. Uchi on South Lamar

Inside view of the dining room and sushi bar at Uchi on South Lamar

For years, Uchi reigned supreme as Austin's best restaurant. Many of those working under chef Tyson Cole have gone on to open their own restaurants over the years, making Uchi a bit of a training ground for high end kitchens around Austin and the country. Fresh fish is flown in from Japan daily for the best sashimi in town, while creative hot stone dishes like our favorite Bacon Steakies fill out the cooked side of the menu with flair. There's a reason Uchi's sister location Uchiko does equally well with locations now in Houston, Dallas, and Denver. Uchi is easily Austin's answer to Nobu.

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5. Truluck's Downtown

View from outside Truluck's restaurant in downtown Austin

One of Austin's first upscale seafood and steak locations, Truluck's anchored the Warehouse District as it became Austin's top spot for upscale dining and cocktail lounge. Known for the pinnacle of service and elegant dining, Truluck's is a top destination for graduations, important client dinners, and marriage proposals. The building was remodeled in 2014 to add a second story with floor to ceiling glass walls that overlook the bustling downtown area. They require proper attire and deliver prime steaks "broiled at 1,600 degrees and served on a sizzling 500-degree plate with a roasted head of garlic". The menu features standout seafood entrees like a 2-lb Alaskan King Crab Cluster and South African Lobster Tail (8-10 oz). There's also a North Austin location.

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6. Buenos Aires on East 6th

Inside view of the dining room at Buenos Aires Cafe in Austin, Texas

Located on East 6th street just a few short blocks from IH35, Buenos Aires was an east side dining option that opened 2005 and before the entertainment zone developed around it. That staying power is a testament to their menu and the style of the restaurant. Known for their empanadas, they offer 6 to chose from and many customers try a few of these as appetizer options. They also features a brief tapas list, a few platos de la casa, and some pastas in addition to a grilled section they describe as the "the holy trinity of Argentine cuisines: meat, fire & seasonal ingredients. A small floor plan gives Buenos Aires a super cozy vibe, but also leads to feeling busier than normal on busy nights.

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7. Vinaigerette off South Congress

View of the outside dining patio at Vinaigerette off South Congress

Located off South Congress a few blocks south of the Soco Shopping district, Vinaigrette is a sustainable salad bistro where those who know go in Austin for not-your-average-salad entrees. It hails from New Mexico with locations in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Featuring a stylish décor with modern interior and furnishings, the highlight of Vinaigrette's Austin location is its exceptional outdoor dining beneath a giant Live Oak tree. Their trick to delivering the freshest veggies around? Vinaigrette owns a farm just outside of Austin where it lovingly grows its own ingredients. This is our favorite lunch or dinner spot for large, entrée-sized salads that will leave you full. Protein options include locally sourced free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. Salads typically arrive pre-tossed with their highly guarded formulas for the perfect dressings so every bite is just right. The black bean and kale nachos are a special treat every time.

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8. Jeffrey's on West Lynn

Indoor dining room of Jeffrey's restaurant in Austin, Texas

Possibly the first fine dining restaurant in Austin, Jeffrey's opened in 1975 and has served Austin's (and the world's) elite with regulars that included George Bush, Lance Armstrong, and Andy Roddick. It changed hands in 2011 and is now owned by esteemed restaurant entrepreneur Larry McGuire who also owns Perla's and Lambert's. It's location off the beaten path on West Lynn in Clarksville keeps this gem hidden from typical modern Austinites dining in the entertainment districts. The restaurant is small, cozy, and pricey with most entrees near the $50 range and nearly the entire aged beef steak and chops sections above that. If you've got a hot date or clients to impress, Jeffrey's will definitely deliver.

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9. Justine's in East Austin

View of the inside of Justine's Restaurant dining room in East Austin

Known for packing an edge, Justine's website showcases some girls sharing a bath in a grainy video that has been known to rile up some prospective customers. The crew at Justine's says "the film you see playing is footage that Justine, the owner (who is also an artist), created at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco years ago. To us, it's beautiful, racy, sensual, risqué, edgy, nostalgic, evocative, referential, playful, counter intuitive, rebellious, sweet and provocative---but not pornographic." If you love that description, then you'll love Justine's. We do.

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10. Clay Pit in the Bertram Building

Inside view of the downstairs dining room at The Clay Pit restaurant in Austin, Texas

Our favorite Indian restaurant in Austin, the Clay Pit features one the more affordable menus on this list with a solid dose of stylish ambiance to boot. It's inside the Bertram building, one of Austin's oldest historical buildings, and the property has a lot of history that is worth asking your server about. The place is packed at lunch due to well loved buffet, but evenings can get pretty busy too...even on weeknights. We should also mention the private dining options are very notable as well.

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11. Gourdough's Public House on South Lamar

Gourdough's on South Lamar

There are legendary restaurants that have withstood the test of time. Then there's newcomers to the scene that spawn legends so quickly, they're woven into stories of that make us wish we were back in college. Gourdough's donut burgers began as a food truck outside of a bar. It's dive into the brick and mortar location on South Lamar has taken it from a worthy late night adventure to a staple in the hang over cure brunch department. We feel it deserves at least one visit per year for locals and is a solid fit for entertaining any friends in town.

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12. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden

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Considered a staple of causal dining scene in Austin's unique and trendy Rainey Street District, Banger's Sausage House delivers gourmet sausages in a variety of flavors and one of the best beer selections on tap the city has to offer. The outdoor community seating is energetic and fun, creating worthwhile experience at a reasonable price.

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13. Bar Chi in the Second Street District

View Bar Chi Sushi listing

Located in the Warehouse District, Bar Chi Sushi features one of Austin's best sushi happy hour options. On weekend nights the energy level amps up to give it sort of a club like feel that caters to well dressed customers gearing up for a night on the town.

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14. La Taverna in the Second Street Districxt

View La Taveran in the Second Street District

The first restaurant to open in the 2nd Street District, La Taverna has staying power by adhering to a simple formula of authentic quality food at reasonable prices. It's proximity to the ACL theater several Austin condos can fill this place up early.

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15. Juniper in East Austin

Indoor dining room of Juinper Restaurant in East Austin

Another Italian hot spot on our list, Juniper is a relatively new Austin restaurant opening in 2018 that features Northern Italian cuisine in one of the most modern and stylish decors on the East side. They offer a regular dinner menu with anti pastas, pastas, secondis, and vegetables a la carte. They also feature a chef's tasting menu that changes monthly available at the chef's counter Thursday through Saturday for $65 per person and wine pairing available for $35. If you're aiming for the chef's menu, make sure you book in advance.

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16. Fixe Southern House

View of the inside dining room at Fixe Southern House in Austin, Texas

Located on the corner of 5th and Nueces, Fixe features southern cooking prepared with a chef's touch of modern style. The ambiance is modern but also somehow rustic at the same time with lots of wood and string lighting to compliment the southern theme. A brief menu features appetizers like their famous biscuits, deviled eggs, and trout dip. The entrees range from $21 for the fried chicken that we recommend at least one person order to $48 for a dry aged ribeye that is off the charts.

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17. Odd Duck on South Lamar

Outside view of Odd Duck restaurant off South Lamar in Austin, Texas

One of Austin's first food trailers to convert to brick and mortar, the Odd Duck exploded on the culinary scene in 2009 with the strategy of taking an entire hog and using it from nose to tail in various entrees throughout the week. Eventually outgrowing it's trailer footprint, the Gilmore Brothers built a full scale restaurant around the corner. Also one of the first restaurants to source all local ingredients, Odd Duck maintains a list of gardens under the Friends section of their website that showcase just how committed they are to growing and buying local.

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18. Wine Belly in South Austin

Empty dining table at Austin Wine Belly in South Austin

The second tapas restaurant to make our list, Wine Belly features an internationally curated wine list that is ranked highly on top wine bars in America lists by various wine related magazines. Located on Oltorf just East of South 1st, they're a little off the beaten path. That combined with a snazzy tapas list and some reasonable prices shows they consistently deliver a fun and vibrant dining experience. They feature a tiny interior and a decent sized outdoor patio that is awesome when the weather is nice. Their menu features "bar snacks" mostly under $10 that ring true to the history of tapas as well as well as 10 small plates in the $10 - $20 range designed to share.

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19. ATX Cocina Downtown

Inside dining room of ATX cocina in downtown Austin

A relative newcomer to the Austin downtown scene, ATX Cocina is a rare Mexican restaurant to make our list. It's known for it's beautiful decor, hip clientele, and a tableside guacamole that is out of this world. This is not your typical Tex Mex with dinner menu items like Halibut en Pozole Verde with pork belly, shaved brussels, radish, charred avocado, and hominy and Lamb al Carbon featuring a lamb porterhouse, charro beans, and lemon yogurt both for $38. ATX Cocina is always a lively scene great for groups of all sizes. We love to gather the gang for guacamole and shared plates on special occasions. The 8-page drink menu boasts more specialty tequilas, mezcal, and red wine selections than we can count. The Austin Hope Cabernet is always a winner.

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20. Barley Swine on Burnet Road

Inside dining room full of people at Barley Swin Restaurant in Austin, Texas

Another farm to table leader in the Austin market, Barley Swine is a sister restaurant to Odd Duck from the Gilmore Brothers. Like Odd Duck, their seasonal menu changes frequently to feature ingredients from their local farming friends. Barely Swine is located off Burnet in North Central Austin and known for their $95 tasting menu. An a la carte dinner menu is also available.

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21. Cucina on 35th near Bull Creek Blvd

Cucina 35

Located at 35th and Bull Creek, Cucina features brick oven fired pizzas, appetizers, entrees, as well as a variety of simple, yet complete, pasta dishes. Different than most of the places on this list, Cucina makes the cut based on simplicity, heart, and reasonable prices. While some aim for the fanciest ambiance and meals packed with rare ingredients, others like something classic and reasonably priced. You get both at Cucina with a dose of charming personality and relaxing décor.

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22. Quattro Gatti on Congress Avenue

View Quattro Gatti Ristorante e Pizzeria

Nestled into what turns into a remote part of downtown during the night, is a cool Italian spot called Quattro Gatti Ristorante y Pizzeria. Hidden from typical night life crowds, it's unique charm and location combine to create a quaint, low profile menu with a downtown city feel reminiscent of true Italian family owned fare.

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23. Launderette on Holly Street

View of the bar at the Launderette restaurant on Holly Street

Formerly the Holly neighborhood laundromat, Launderette quickly became an East Austin staple of fine food in a comfortable setting. The laundromat turned stylish boutique diner provides an upscale eating experience in a uniquely East Austin neighborhood setting. They offer indoor and outdoor seating with a fun lounge area that makes waiting more palatable when the weather's nice. The menu features classics like a Plancha burger as well as items from the wood grill like pulpo, branzino, and ribeye.

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24. Salty Sow in East Austin

Outdoor patio of Salty Sow in Austin, Texas

An American Gastro Pub located a few miles east of IH-35 off Manor Road, Salty Sow is known for its unique savory menu, featuring appetizers like Triple Fried Duck Fat Fries with a 110 minute egg and cold béarnaise. The egg is spun for 110 minutes perfectly cooking it by centrifugal force. This Eastside location brings an interesting edge and sophistication while keeping prices a little lower than other elite Austin dining options with high profile chefs.

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25. Red Ash Italia Downtown

Indoor dining room at Red Ash Italia in downtown Austin

Named after the hot ash from burning wood, Red Ash's namesake is its standout feature. A wood burning grill, oven and plancha give a deep, complex flavor to the its craft Italian menu. Owner and chef John Carver runs a tight ship that manages a bustling crowd that will endure a small wait even on weekday nights. Decor is modern and simplistic with graffiti style art on the walls. The upstairs area seats just a few and is worth the wait for its stylish ambience and first-class service. One of our favorite spots for pulpo, Red Ash offers some well prepared fish entrees, small plates, pastas, and 3 cuts of beef perfectly grilled to your liking and available by the ounce ($2.95).

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