Austin was once just the land of barbecue, tacos and Tex-Mex. While the city still offers top-notch options in those categories, the city’s growth over the last decade has brought in a new, world-class restaurant scene, with many great culinary minds opening up shop and sharing their creations with the community. Here are the 10 best restaurants in Austin, Texas.
Bistro, Mexican, $$$
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Suerte puts its own twist on Mexican dishes | Courtesy of Suerte
Suerte came onto the Austin restaurant scene in 2018 and has since taken the city by storm, racking up favorable review after favorable review. Executive Chef Fermin Nunez has created a menu that highlights the taste of Mexico. The atmosphere inside the restaurant offers a warm, soulful experience. Dishes are made to be shared so guests can taste the gamut. The octopus tostada, ceviche suerte, and the Suadero tacos are a good place to start. Top it off with the mezcal infused, Nada Paloma, one of several handcrafted cocktails.
Operating out of the old Hillside Drugstore from the 1950s, Hillside Farmacy has become the premiere brunch spot in Austin. Although renovated with sleek interior design, the restaurant has kept some of the aesthetic of a 1950s pharmacy to give patrons a vintage yet modern feel. The brunch menu is simple but perfectly executed. The mouth-watering brulee grapefruit works as a perfect segway from coffee and juice to the main course, which is often the Big Brekkie or the blueberry pancakes.
A clean, sharply designed restaurant complemented by brunch, lunch and dinner menus that will leave you full but wanting more is the aptest description for Launderette. The East Austin restaurant tucked away in the mostly residential Holly neighborhood is still a little bit of a hidden gem but word is quickly getting out. For brunch, try the pork shoulder hash with a side of zucchini bread. For dinner, go for the Bucatini.
The Tatsuya name is famous in Austin for its ramen establishments, but Kemuri Tatsuya takes the best of Texas (barbecue) and combines it with the best of Japan (ramen and sushi) to make an undeniably memorable meal in an energetic atmosphere that makes you want to stay there all night. The food is served on small plates so guests can try a variety of dishes. Favorites include the Tokyo street corn, the guaca-poke and the BBQ Tsukemen ramen. If you’re drinking, make sure to taste the Matcha Pain Killer, which comes in an adorable porcelain kitten mug.
With a take on meat like you’ve never seen before, Executive Chef Harold Marmulstein’s menu at Salty Sow has become an Austin favorite. A common journey through the menu looks like this: Triple fried duck fat fries topped with a 110-minute egg, an order of chicken liver mousse and a side of the crispy brussels sprout leaves for an appetizer; the candied pork belly or the milk-braised pork butt for dinner; and the bananas foster beignets for dessert. As a bonus, all of the food comes from local farms and food suppliers.
Located just 15 minutes away from the Texas capital, Franklin Barbecue always has a line out the door with customers waiting for their #1 Texas barbecue. Even in the middle of Austin, Franklin Barbecue’s shop has the atmosphere of a roadside diner and features southern-style favorites like brisket and pulled pork, both by the pound and on sandwiches. They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11am until they run out. But don’t worry – you can always order online too.
This Vietnamese-French cafe south of the Colorado River promises a unique menu and atmosphere that has become beloved in its South Austin neighborhood. You can’t go wrong with any of the five options for rice paper and vermicelli spring rolls, nor the 10 bahn mi choices, although, the house-made spicy pork meatball bahn mi is a crowd favorite. The pho is flavorful, and the red curry dan noodle entree will never leave you disappointed. The interior atmosphere of the restaurant is energetic, but try to sit outside under the pink lights coupled with the sounds of French electronic music if the weather is nice.
Contigo provides a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere to enjoy farm-fresh Texas dishes. The restaurant is modeled after Contigo Ranch in South Texas, but on this ranch model in Austin, there’s no work, just good eating. On long picnic tables, you can enjoy Rabbit & Dumplings or Ox Tongue Sliders accompanied with a seasonal cocktail on a quiet evening in East Austin. Contigo accepts reservations, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for a table.
At Blue Dahlia Bistro, you can get the vibe of eating at a European countryside while in the heart of Austin. Blue Dahlia Bistro serves local, organic, and simple dishes at both private and communal tables. You can even enjoy your Mushroom crepes with bleu cheese or brie and walnut tartines with a homemade jam in the elegant ambience of their outdoor patio. Paired with a glass of wine, any of Blue Dahlia Bistro’s dishes will ease you into the Austin food scene. Make sure to buy a homemade baguette before you go.
La Condesa is a tasty and trendy modern Mexican restaurant with bright colors, a lovely wooden bar, and outdoor dining. They feature a plethora of contemporary Mexican cuisine, including sopas, ceviche, and extra-special guacamole topped with crab, apple, and coconut vinegar. You can even rent La Condesa’s private indoor and outdoor space that provides a beautiful view of downtown Austin and Austin City Limits. The restaurant’s overall atmosphere makes you feel like you’re drinking their craft cocktails and artisanal beers at a chic garden party.