Texas Dining, The 10 Best Restaurants In Austin’s North Loop

Richard Tulis

Nestled just north of the charming University of Texas in Austin, the North Loop neighborhood is host to bicycle repair shops, CD and vinyl stores, and vintage resale hubs overflowing with trinkets of every kind. But these features aren’t all the North Loop has to offer, this corner of town boasts several authentic restaurants that are sure to surpass your expectations.

Austin, Texas

1. Quality Seafood Market

Bar, Restaurant, Seafood

Quality Seafood
© JD Hancock/Flickr
This premier restaurant has accommodated Austin with fresh seafood for 77 years. Its menu is replete with everything from Maryland style crab cakes to Mahi Mahi tacos, reminiscent of the Austin style. Be sure not to miss Lobsterfest Saturdays, where live Maine lobsters are delivered by airplane and boiled to perfection, served from ’noon to 9 pm. Quality Seafood also doubles as an in-house oyster bar, and its food-truck is now open for breakfast. With no signs of slowing, Quality Seafood continues to supply several of Austin’s best restaurants with wholesale seafood

2. Fonda San Miguel

Restaurant, Mexican

2. Fonda San Miguel
© Tracey Maurer
Fonda San Miguel features a hacienda style superstructure, and the dishes served inside are just as inspiring. Lauded for its spectacular Sunday brunch selection and genuine Mexican-style cuisine, Fonda San Miguel had no trouble securing a feature in The Daily Meal’s ‘America’s 50 Best Mexican Restaurants’ last year. This North Loop Boulevard restaurant further complements its own colorful interior design with amazing handcrafted margaritas and special cocktails.

3. Komé Sushi Kitchen

Bar, Market, Restaurant, Sushi

If you’re looking for some good sushi, make your way to Komé Sushi Kitchen, located on Airport Boulevard. This casual and comfortable restaurant and its Japanese-style interior will surely add to the overall dining experience. As for the food, Komé’s Hakata Ramen enjoyed a gleaming endorsement from Top Chefcontestant Paul QuiUchiko in a 2011 article by Condé Nast Traveler. Try another Komé favorite off the lunch menu: Chirashi sushi, complete with tuna, salmon, and striped bass, complemented with wasabi and rolled to perfection at the hands of Komé’s experienced chefs.

4. drink.well.

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Gastropub, Restaurant, Contemporary

In a city as hot and humid as Austin, it’s often necessary to quench your thirst. Why not do so with a craft cocktail from North Loop favorite drink.well.? This contemporary restaurant and cocktail bar has become a local favorite. Sample their spicy kimchi Reuben with melted Swiss cheese, an electrifying Russian dressing, and corned beef cooked to perfection; just make sure to follow it with a lazy dog (complete with bourbon, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, and hopped grapefruit bitters) if you’re feeling the need to indulge.

5. House Pizzeria

Restaurant, Italian

It’s impossible to dislike House Pizzeria. Whether it’s their eggplant, blue cheese, or sausage and mushroom pizza, House Pizzeria offers ‘simplicity and Italian authenticity at its best’ (Texas Monthly). The Austin Eater also praised this restaurant for having the ‘best wood-fired pizza in town.’ Drop by any day of the week (except Monday when they’re closed) for one of their 12-inch, six piece works of art. Pizza with tomatoes | © jefferyw/WikiCommons

6. Titaya's Thai Cuisine

Restaurant, Thai

Calling all who have passed North Lamar Boulevard in the North Loop, visitors and residents alike; rejoice in the spices and flavors at Titaya’s. As this culinary depot continues to serve its patrons as one of Austin’s most reliable sources for quality Thai dishes, Titaya’s classics maintain their tantalizing allure. Experience the treasure island stir fry, a curry based shrimp dish with Titaya’s special homemade sauce, or kick off your meal with an original sweet corn fritter, topped off with a savory, sweet chili plum drizzle sauce.

Price: Budget

Opening hours: 11 am to 2:30 pm (12 to 3:30pm Sat-Sun) 5 pm to 10 pm

Watch out for: Homemade sauces

7. Workhorse Bar

Bar, Vegetarian, Pub Grub

For killer burgers, a vast array of local drafts, and a hearty wine selection, call off the search and head to Workhorse Bar. Located smack in the middle of North Loop, Workhorse Bar caters to meat lovers, vegetarians, and draft connoisseurs alike. Pick out one of their grass-fed buffalo Bastrop burgers, topped with wing sauce and blue cheese, and tell your vegetarian friend to try a black bean and mushroom veggie burger on a toasted bun. Meanwhile, you can both unwind over one of Workhorse’s seasonal taps. Oh, and pop a quarter or two in the jukebox for some local tunes while you’re at it.

8. Foreign & Domestic

Restaurant, Italian, American

Chef Ned Elliot’s small neighborhood restaurant has reached reviewed acclaim in nearly every Austin publication there is and it’s no surprise why. Also featured by Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio sources as one of Texas’s top 10 new restaurants, Foreign & Domestic never plays down its adventurous aims. Fried pig’s ear with barbecue pickles, beef tongue, octopus and scallops; they’ve got it all. In a rush? No problem, make a reservation from your smartphone.

9. El Caribe

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican

El Caribe, a mom and pop, authentic, Mexican-style Austin restaurant, draws many of its ingredients from either its own garden or local farms. With very reasonable prices and a dazzling salsa bar, El Caribe doles out some of the best nacho plates in the city. Once you’ve finished one of these appetizers, treat yourself to a margarita and come to terms with the overwhelming portion size of an El Caribe combination plate. Whether it be a burrito, quesadilla, or enchilada plate, you may very well may need a to-go box.

10. Phara’s Mediterranean Restaurant

Restaurant, Mediterranean

Belly Dancer at Pharas, Austin
© Nan Palmero/Flickr
At Phara’s, the excitement does not stop at the Egyptian stylized interior design. No, Phara’s also features a full hookah lounge, an open air courtyard and gazebo, live music, and belly dancing performances for entertainment Tuesday through Sunday. The cuisine is entirely gourmet, and it shows. Don’t limit yourself; Phara’s menu boasts creamy hummus with roasted pine nuts, lamb shish kebabs marinated in mango garlic sauce, or the shwarma dish and its delicately sliced lamb accompanied by basmati rice and hummus, and dozens of other delectable choices, each basking in succulent Mediterranean flavor.
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