Austin, Texas might be better known for its wide array of barbecue and taco joints, but the food truck-friendly city also has a number of fine dining restaurants worth paying a visit.
Bar, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, American, Steakhouse
The Driskill Grill is a Zagat-rated old-school steakhouse located in the hotel of the same name | Courtesy of Driskill Grill
The Driskill Grill lives inside the boutique hotel of the same name, which was opened in 1887 by cattle baron Jesse Driskill. The Zagat-rated old-school steakhouse is the type of classically glamorous establishment that could serve as backdrop for the romantic denouement of a Hollywood movie. Handcut steaks – including a to-die-for wagyu beef ribeye cut – are grilled to perfection and served with banyuls chimichurri, aged sherry demi-glace and maldon sea salt. Steamed mussels and a divinely inspired cheese and charcuterie plate serve as perfect intros for the meal, and a robust wine menu will satisfy even the most particular drinker in your party.
Jeffrey’s was founded in 1975 and recently renovated by Austin chef Larry McGuire. It sits in Austin’s historic Clarksville neighborhood and serves American cuisine and fine wines in a classy setting. Dinner at Jeffrey’s ranges from caviar priced at $90 to a locally sourced porterhouse steak for $160. Even the bar fare is high-end and can be pricey. However, Jeffrey’s does offer a daily happy hour on bar fare, cocktails, and wine, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
From Chef Tyson Cole comes Uchi, a sophisticated sushi restaurant located on South Lamar near Zilker Park. Uchi has a daily menu featuring daily specials, an everyday sushi and sashimi menu, and a hot and cold tasting menu comprised of creative and innovative Japanese dishes. Prices are on the high side, but don’t let that deter you; Uchi’s food is truly fantastic and worth every cent. Uchiko, an offshoot of Uchi on N Lamar, offers similar fare.
Odd Duck first opened as a food truck in 2009 intending to serve only local Austin ingredients | Courtesy of Odd Duck
Originally a ‘Farm-to-Trailer’ food truck, Odd Duck is admirably eco-conscious. Odd Duck topped off the Growers Alliance of Central Texas list as one of the most frequent buyers for local farm foods. Odd Duck has also partnered with a local elementary school, providing funds and resources for the school’s garden. Odd Duck’s owner hopes to take lessons from this project and envisions an Austin where every school has a garden of its own.
Try regionally diverse cuisine at Olamaie | Courtesy of Olamaie
Digging into a meal at Olamaie is like taking a tour through the American South. From classics like the Gulf white shrimp and Jefferson red rice of Louisiana to the gold rice hush puppies of the Carolinas and the Charleston-inspired pork chop, Olamie’s flavorful and regionally diverse menu embodies a little bit of everywhere that calls itself the south. For a little of bit of Texas charm, look no further than the Peeler Ranch 16 oz wagyu strip steak – after all, everything is bigger here. Make sure to ask for the biscuits and honey butter – the off-menu item has become so popular you’re practically expected to add it to your order.
Husband-and-wife co-founders Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher label Lenoir a “Hot Weather Food” restaurant. By keeping the food light (with little butter, cream or gluten) and specific to the environment (with citrusy, acidic, brothy and spicy flavors), they’ve created the perfect recipe for a night out with no regrets. Like all the hot spots on this list, Lenoir uses locally sourced ingredients and features a frequently rotating menu. It’s the perfect spot for those of us who can never make up our minds about what to get – the prix fixe menu (divided into Field, Sea, Land and Dream) lets you sample everything while leaving plenty of budget open for wine tasting.
Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese
You'll find Otoko in the South Congress Hotel | Courtesy of Otoko
Few experiences can rival the kaiseki-style meal presented by Chef Yoshi at Otoko, which to describe as a “sushi restaurant” feels far too pedestrian. “Kaiseki” essentially refers to a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, prepared using select seasonal ingredients. The establishment itself inside the South Congress Hotel is gorgeous, and features only 12 seats for a truly intimate dining experience. Prepare for a three-digit price tag and wear comfortable pants.