Our top 25 Austin Restaurant Guide is hand curated by a group of 8 dining "judges." If you want to recommend a particular restaurant just send us an email using the contact link at the bottom of this page.
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 bearnaise. 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.
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.
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).
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 McQuire 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.
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.
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.
7. Eden East Austin - Temporarily Closed
Located on Springdale Farm in East Austin, Eden East is as unique in its location as in its model. They grow most of the items on their 5 course prix fixe menu that is served outside on community tables for what is possibly the most authentic Farm to Table experience in Austin. Eden East is more than a meal out, it's a full fresh food experience. We loved being able to tour the farm after dinner and the BYOB feature with minimal $5 corkage fee helps keep the bill (relatively) light. Dinner is currently being offered from 6-10pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and brunch served from 9am - 1pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thursday features an a la carte menu.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A small, stylish Austin restaurant on West 6th street, Clarke's Oyster Bar in located (appropriately) in the Clarksville neighborhood. Known as the top raw bar in Austin, Clarke's features a lenghty list of oysters and clams by the piece, some outstanding raw platters, and one of Austin's strongest seafood menus. The bright white decor offers a beachy feel and that combined with the well dressed clientele may remind you of a summer in the Hamptons.
Widely reviewed as a top Austin dining destination, Suerte on East 6th Street caters to fans of interior Mexican cuisine with a colorful menu and trendy decor. Chef Fermin Nunez believes "homemade masa reigns and every day can be an occasion to celebrate" with a section of the dinner menu dedicated to masas y mas and a playful appetizer area named SNACKCIDENTS that suggests the kitchen enjoys experimenting with flavors.
16. Sway on South First - Temporarily Closed
A smash hit on the Austin restaurant scene since its arrival in 2016, Sway serves modern thai cuisine in a contemporary setting with an eye for detail. The original location on South 1st Street features an elegant decor, modern communal dining tables, and a menu that sizzles. Sway's thoughtful menu includes Thai classics like Tom Kha and Green Curry offered alongside adventurous dishes like Jungle Curry with Texas Wagyu Brisket and Pad Thai Kung with blue prawn. It's so popular they have opened new locations in the Domain and Westlake.
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.
A Larry Mcguire hit and the third seafood focused restaurant to make our list, Perla's has one the most happening patio scenes in Austin that nestles up to the main drag of the hip South Congress Avenue area. The interior is polished and charismatic in style reminiscent of beach restaurants that pepper the Mediterranean coasts. The dinner menu features a solid fresh oyster list, several cuts of fish all over $30, a few steaks, plus surf and turf combos. They offer separate lunch and brunch menus as well.
With chef Kevin Fink being a James Beard semi finalist in 2018 and a finalist in 2019, Emmer and Rye has may have more awards stacked up on their website than you'll have plates on your table after samping their small plates and dim sum menus that change throughout the year based on available ingredients. The restaurant interior is fairly small, but the outdoor seating may be perfect with the right weather. The location on Rainy Street stands out on our list as the only restaurant in this hot nighlthlife area to make the list.
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 entree 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 decor. The bar is packed most nights and the second story patio follows suit in cooler weather.
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.
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 decor 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, entree-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.
Our favorite Indian restaurant in Austin, the Clay Pit features one the more affordable menus on this list with a solid dose of stylish decor 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.
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 decor, resonable 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.
Located on the corner of 5th and Nueces, Fixe features southern cooking prepared with a chef's touch of modern style. The decor 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.
Other Nominated Restaurants: Mushashino, Comedor, and Dai Dui