Austin is home to culinary giants from all over the world who have come here to leave a mark on the food scene… and that they have. Here are our picks for the top restaurants in Austin, where both a global influence and an obsession with local ingredients take center stage. You can find everything from legit ramen, East and West coast oysters, the best sushi EVER and our top pick for Mexican food – which is no short order.
The cutest neighborhood Vietnamese cafe and French bakery in South Austin. If you are craving Pho, Báhn Mì, Bún, and Spring Rolls and wanting it with the classic Vietnamese Coffee, then Elizabeth Street Cafe is your place. Finish your meal with one of their fresh-made delicious macarons. Great for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and anytime in between.
Lenoir may be tiny but their flavors are huge. The founders of this gem wanted to build a strong culinary community in Austin and create a new style of dining. The space is warm and romantic and the food is almost exclusively sourced from Texas communities of farmers and food artisans.
After much hype, two ex-DJs opened Ramen Tatsu-ya in 2012, and the restaurant immediately began drawing long lines. Touted as the “soul food” of Japan, the restaurant aims to teach people what ramen truly is. I think they have succeeded! The secret? They have crafted a tonkotsu that requires three days worth of cooking time, resulting in a luscious pork bone elixir that clings to each angel-hair noodle. The restaurant’s menu lists some rules, including “Chopsticks only,” “Slurp loudly and shamelessly,” and most importantly, “Never share your ramen.” We dig it.
Visually speaking, we were in love with Clarks (think yellow and white striped awnings, pops of teal, the open kitchen, etc. etc. etc.) even before we tried the food. From a wide selection of fresh oysters and hearty lobster rolls to the best burger in Austin, we are definitely smitten. The restaurant is small, cozy and possibly one of our favorite restaurants in the world. They just opened a Aspen location. Apres ski please.
Super chill eatery (started with a food truck and now has 4 brick and mortars around Austin) with modern flair for Korean BBQ tacos, kimchi fries (TO DIE FOR) & other Korean-Mexican eats.
An Austin icon, Jeffrey’s is about as posh as you can get in Austin. Beyond its soothing bar with walnut walls, low lights and velvet seats, the dining room serves upscale New American cuisine. The food is perfection, the bar lively and the drinks …well let’s say we discovered our new favorite drink, Milk Punch here. Who doesn’t love a martini and cheese cart?
If you’re a fan of butter coffee and bone broth, this is your place. This Paleo-focused cafe specializes in accommodating dietary restrictions with a full menu of dairy-free and grain-free entrees, tacos, soups and salads. The brick and mortar dine-in restaurant has a fresh and modern vibe and the other two locations are repurposed shipping containers.
Chocolate. Chip. Cookies.
They also serve breakfast (pastry boards, avo toast and juices), lunch (BLT’s, burgers and delicious salads) and dinner (foie gras, pizzas and seafood) in this upscale garden cafe.
Did we mention their chocolate chip cookies?
Barley Swine features a seasonal menu that is always changing based on the availability of ingredients and the aspirations of the kitchen. Not to miss are the barbacoa pasta and the steak tartare. The restaurant is creative, fun and eclectic and downright passionate about food, especially those sourced from local farmers and ranchers.
This list would not be complete without a Mexican shoutout. Fonda San Miguel is where you will find authentic and sophisticated Mexican food in a colorful hacienda-styled space. Our favorite dish is the pabil cochinita. Food as good as eating in interior Mexico.
This is an Austin classic!
This famous BBQ joint only serves lunch, and only until it runs out – usually well before 2pm. In fact to avoid missing out, you should join the line – yes, there is ALWAYS a line – by 10am. Aaron Franklin’s smokey meats have become one of the country’s most talked about barbeque destinations.
The casual leaning essential Austin restaurant is one of the most pleasurable dining experiences in the city. Dishes are New American, pretzels with mushrooms and cheese, chicken fried fish heads and the best ham hash we’ve ever had. They just opened a casual sister restaurant, The Sour Duck Market, a fast-casual market, while maintaining the integrity and support of our local farm and rancher supply chain.
The best New York style pizza right in the hustle and bustle of South Congress Avenue. The owners, former New Yorkers, have locals happily sitting on the curb with their slice served up on a paper plate whether it’s 100 degrees outside or even on the rarest of cold days . How do they do it? Try a slice and you’ll find out!
Intero is a contemporary Italian restaurant focused on seasonal, sustainable farm-to-table cuisine. Reclaimed materials make up the interior design and build (fun fact: the chef, Ian Thurwachter, built all of the tables himself), while the kitchen operates via a whole-plant, whole-animal ethos. Furthermore, an artisan chocolate counter inside the restaurant offers a variety of truffles, barks and sipping chocolates in classic and Italian flavors.
Every bite is a revelation at Tyson Cole’s jewel box where extraordinary sushi made from the freshest fish and other Japanese dishes at its finest is paired with a selection of sake, wine and cocktails. We go there for sushi, but don’t miss out on the pork belly and Brussels sprouts. This setting is sophisticated, the crowd chic and the service impeccable.
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