Updated October 2021
Confession: I eat out almost every day of the week. Mostly because I need to try new restaurants that are opening (so I can give you guys recommendations through my texting service. Yes, you can text me for restaurant recommendations at 512-400-3637!) and I really just like eating out. Follow me on Instagram at @atasteofkoko for my updated picks!
[vessel-campaign id=”222″]I’ve written several “best of” Austin restaurant lists but not an ultimate guide to the best restaurants in Austin. The thing about “best” is that it’s relative to who’s writing it and when you guys ask me for recommendations, you’re really asking what’s the best according to me.
So here it is, an Austinite’s guide to the best restaurants in Austin!
IF YOU’RE VISITING AUSTIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
There are 5 things you have to eat in Austin: tacos, breakfast tacos, barbecue, queso, and margaritas. These are the main five food groups in the city and here are the best spots to go:
For barbecue – La Barbecue has the best Texas bbq in Austin (aside from Franklin Barbecue). Get brisket, pork ribs, and specifically the beef ribs, they’re the size of a dinosaur bone. If La Barbecue is closed, here are a couple of other Texas barbecue restaurants in Austin. Locals also love Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ.
For tacos & margaritas – go to La Condesa for the modern Mexican cuisine. Tacos & margaritas are each a food group if you live in Austin. See my post on the best tacos in Austin.
For queso, tacos & frozen margaritas – Fresa’s has my favorite margarita in Austin, frozen prickly pear margarita with salt. Make sure to order the queso, elotes off the cob, and steak chimichurri tacos with a colorful outdoor patio.
Breakfast tacos – go to Veracruz All Natural (food truck location on Cezar Chavez) and order the migas tacos, it’s the best breakfast taco in the city.
Sushi – Uchiko (Chef Tyson Cole is James Beard-nominated) is still the local favorite. If you don’t want to spend $$$, go during happy hour (daily from 5–6:30pm). Here’s my guide to the best happy hours in Austin.
Ramen – there are a couple of spots for ramen but my favorites are Ramen Tatsu-Ya for their pork tonkatsu and
Daruma Ramen for their chicken ramen.
For happy hour, I like June’s All-Day on South Congress.
For European food, visit Blue Dahlia Bistro and Justine’s.
Lutie’s Garden Restaurant
Lutie’s is my current obsession right now and the hottest new restaurant in Austin. It’s located on the beautiful Commodore Perry estate but you do not need a membership to dine at Lutie’s. Lutie’s is classified as a garden restaurant and when you walk in you’ll see plants that fill the entire ceiling of the restaurant.
The ever-changing, seasonal menus spotlight local farmers and ranchers and reflect the chefs’ celebration of ingredients through preparation rooted in understated simplicity. Named after the estate matriarch Nannie Lewette “Lutie” Perry, the namesake restaurant melds warm hospitality with the convivial spirit of the property’s Jazz Age legacy, transporting guests to a contemporary garden retreat overlooking lush estate grounds. Lutie’s is now open to hotel guests and private club members for dinner service to start, Wednesday through Sunday from 5-10 p.m. Intended as a multi-course experience, Lutie’s menu features dishes like Yonder Way pork with pickled cabbage and creamer peas; charcoal-grilled chicken with leeks and hominy; and royal red shrimp with daikon and celery. Highlights from the dessert menu include a kouign amann ice cream and seasonal soft-serve flavors like fresh strawberry finished with Texas olive oil.
What to order: grand aioli, whole fish, and kouign amann ice cream
4100 Red River St, luties.com
Aba has the largest and most beautiful outdoor dining space in Austin – the restaurant is located on South Congress on Music Lane with Mediterranean cuisine.
The multi-level outdoor patio and terrace accommodates up to 130 guests and lives under the canopy of a 100+ year old native Heritage Oak tree, studded with glass and metal lanterns from Morocco and the Middle East. The patio features a semi-private raised deck, with a vibrant living plant wall and a 10-seat outdoor bar with a white plaster finish to evoke a Mediterranean look and feel. The indoor dining room has seating for up to 86 guests and features a warm and earthy color palette, locally fabricated custom millwork and stone surfaces, wood beams with climbing ivy and foliage, an indoor trellis, and a curated collection of decorative lighting with influence from the Middle East, Mediterranean and Eastern European cultures.
What to order: whipped feta spread, crispy potatoes, grilled chicken kebabs
1011 S Congress Ave, abarestaurants.com/austin
Qi is the newest restaurant by Lin Asian Bar with the best soup dumplings in Austin and traditional Chinese cuisine. I personally like Qi more than Lin because the restaurant has a bigger indoor and outdoor dining area.
What to order: Shanghai soup dumplings, pan-seared chicken dumplings, salt and pepper lobster tail, Peking duck, and truffle egg fried rice.
835 W 6th St #114, qiaustin.com
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge
I love this new bar that just opened in Central Austin – it’s a VIBE.
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge, a neighborhood restaurant and cocktail lounge serving a menu of elevated comfort food and modern American share plates, craft cocktails, diverse wines, and craft beers, opens today, April 20 at 4 pm. The new concept, located just south of the Hyde Park neighborhood at 624 W 34th St., is a labor of love from Austinite couple and co-owners Reed Calhoun and Adrienne Wiggins.
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge serves playful, creative dishes by Executive Chef Manuel Rocha (previously of Hopfields, Academia, and Bonhomie). The menu features plates like Koji-Aged Steak Frites; Smoked Birria Terrine; Duck Fat Fried Seoul Hot Chicken; Vegan Barbecue Burnt Ends; Chicken Confit; Pimento Cheese; Chicken Liver Mousse; East Coast Oysters; King Crab Tarts; and a Chef’s Selection Cheese Plate. The Sweets section features a Bourbon Applejack Hand Pie; Guanaja Dark Chocolate Tart; and Toasted Marshmallow, Coconut and Chocolate Ganache. All proteins are sourced from local and independent Texas farms, as well as most produce on the menu.
Honey Moon Spirit Lounge evokes an ethereal, dreamy atmosphere; the french antique-inspired interior is designed to invoke a feeling of whimsical escapism through jewel tones and dramatic lighting, studded with thoughtfully curated antiques throughout the space. The antiques were carefully collected by Wiggins and Calhoun from all over central Texas, sourced from Round Top, La Grange, and New Braunfels. The space also features a spacious front and back, dog-friendly patio with antique chandeliers throughout the patio and interior.
The bar at Honey Moon Spirit Lounge features a stunning, early 20th century-inspired bar designed by Reed Calhoun and built by Mike Sellman (Chop), with the goal of inviting guests to stay, imbibe, and grab dinner and cocktails. The beverage program is spear-headed by bar manager Mallory Valentine, a 20 year industry vet, previously of Loca d’Oro and Bonhomie. The wine program is led by Certified Sommelier Gretchen Van Eck, previously of Olamaie and Gardner. The overall bar program is a nod to classic bar menus emphasizing fresh juices and bespoke ingredients, including an extensive and diverse wine list featuring varietals from around the world. A selection of beers and ciders, and a tap of local craft brews will also be featured. Cocktails include:
624 W 34th St, honeymoonspiritlounge.com
Located also on South Congress is Neighborhood Sushi from MMH with both lunch and dinner service and an intimate outdoor patio seating area. Excellent nigiri and sashimi.
Happy hour: Monday to Friday from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m
1716 S Congress Ave, neighborhoodsushi.com
Loro is the new Asian smokehouse created by Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko and Chef Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. I love the rice bowls, chicken karaage, corn fritters, and smoked bavette.
Happy hour: Monday – Friday from 2pm – 5pm
2115 S Lamar Blvd, loroaustin.com
Opened by the owners of Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Kemuri, and Domo Alley-Gato, Dipdipdip is not your traditional shabu-shabu dining experience. Food is displayed on custom carts presented tableside and you choose their dipping adventure from a curated selection of proteins, vegetables, broths, and dipping sauces. Meats are thinly sliced, served raw, and cooked in personal pots of boiling broth at the table during the meal. You are encouraged to DJ their own shabu-shabu experience. Additionally, there are chef-created unique menu standouts such as meatballs, pot pockets (stuffed tofu skins), fresh seafood, meat and vegetable skewers, specialty wontons, and house-made udon noodles. You can also order sakes, wine, whiskey, beer, and craft cocktails.
I’ve been to DipDipDip several times and I do like taking people here who are looking for a fine-dining shabu shabu experience. Heads up, the restaurant is small and the tables are tight. I wouldn’t recommend this for group dates as it can get really loud and there are dividers between the tables.
What to order: House omakase with the tonkatsu 5-hour pork bone broth.
7301 Burnet Rd Ste 101, dipdipdip-tatsuya.com
Comedor is a modern Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin designed by architect Tom Kundig and led by Chefs Gabe Erales and Philip Speer. Esquire Magazine named Comedor as one of the top ten Best New Restaurants in America for 2019 and Austin Monthly’s Restaurant of the Year.
Comedor just launched a new three or five-course taco tasting menu, available for $15 and $25 respectively, as well as a supplementary mezcal pairing. The daily taco tastings will continue to be a representation of unique Mexican ingredients and techniques the restaurant and its culinary team have become known for such as crisp carnitas with chile arbol, masa fried monkfish and grilled squash glazed in sikil pak miso with mole Amarillo. Guests should expect items not currently available on the dinner menu as well as a dessert taco from Pasty Chef and Owner, Philip Speer. The tasting menu will change daily to weekly based on seasonality.
What to order: Bone marrow tacos and goat barbacoa tamal.
501 Colorado St, comedortx.com
Emmer & Rye
Helmed by Owner and Executive Chef Kevin Fink, Emmer & Rye brings cuisine that is rustic and seasonally inspired to Rainey Street. Emmer & Rye is the first contemporary American restaurant in Austin to offer dim sum service as part of their meal, where guests are able to order items directly off of circulating carts, along with a weekly rotating menu using local farm-to-table ingredients.
Emmer & Rye is currently serving a 6-course tasting menu that requires reservations in advance.
51 Rainey St., Suite 110, emmerandrye.com
This fun Texan Japanese smokehouse izakaya in East Austin specializes in small bites and cocktails for sharing. I love their cute cat cocktails!
What to order: Edamame, blistered shishito, Tokyo street corn, spicy pork ribs, kurobuta pork belly, beef tongue, chicken karaage, crispy onigiri, and miso banana pudding.
2713 E 2nd St, kemuri-tatsuya.com
Clark’s Oyster Bar
I love this cute, intimate seafood restaurant in Clarksville. I even celebrated one of my birthdays here! Clark’s pan-seared burger with shoestring fries is my absolute favorite burger in Austin. I also love the Clark’s Cioppino in the fall.
The burger + fries is 1/2 off from Monday to Friday from 3 – 6pm, and it’s 1/2 off bottles of wine on the weekends from 3 – 6pm.
Happy hour: Monday to Friday from 3 – 6pm.
What to order: Pan Roasted Black Angus Hamburger
1200 W 6th St, clarksaustin.com
SEE ALSO: 13 Best Burgers In Austin, Ranked
Rosewood has rebranded as Rosewood Gulf Coast Chop House and I’m so impressed with their new menu! Love the Grilled pork chop Milanese, glazed pork ribs, and fried chicken.
Happy hour: Wednesday to Saturday from 5-7 PM.
1209 Rosewood Ave, rosewoodatx.com
La Barbecue has the best Texas bbq in Austin (aside from Franklin Barbecue). Get brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, and specifically the beef ribs, they’re the size of a dinosaur bone.
Tip: Go inside and order a beer to drink while you wait in line at La Barbecue.
2401 E Cesar Chavez St, labarbecue.com
SEE ALSO: 10 Spots For The Best BBQ In Austin
The Peached Tortilla combines bold Asian flavors with subtle southern ties to provide a truly unique dining experience. Since launching the first food truck in 2010, the brand has since expanded to multiple food trucks, a full-service catering operation, two brick-and-mortar restaurants, a sister restaurant, Bar Peached, and an event space, Peached Social House.
The hainan chicken at Peached Tortilla is one of my favorite dishes in Austin and I believe the only place that you can get hainan chicken!
What to order: Crispy Umami Chicken Wings, Hanger Steak Ssam, Hainan Chicken, and Banh Mi Bowl.
5520 Burnet Rd #100, thepeachedtortilla.com
Oseyo is a fine-dining Korean restaurant in East Austin. I think the biggest misconception because it is fine-dining that people think the food isn’t authentic and since the restaurant is beautiful, it’s not open by a Korean person but it is! While the food is a higher price point, I think it’s the best Korean food in Austin and listed in my best Asian food in Austin post (with my picks for the best Vietnamese).
I recommend coming with friends and ordering a variety of dishes to share. The jajangmyeon are savory black bean noodles and the kimchi jigae – kimchi soup is the best in town IMO. I like getting the Korean BBQ kalbi – it comes with a side of steamed rice, lettuce wraps, and dipping sauces. I crave the kalbi tang during the cold months because it’s so soothing.
What to order: Jajangmyeon, Kimchi Jigae, Kalbi, and Kalbi Tang.
1628 E Cesar Chavez St, oseyoaustin.com
Veracruz All Natural
Veracruz has the best breakfast tacos in the city, and more specifically their migas tacos are the best with avocado and lots of homemade salsa.
What to order: migas tacos
Multiple locations, veracruzallnatural.com
Suerte is my current favorite Tex-Mex weekend brunch on the East side. They make their own masa for their own homemade tortillas so their menu is very masa forward. The shrimp tostada and basket of pan dulce are so good.
1800 E 6th St, suerteatx.com
Home Slice Pizza
The pepperoni and the margherita pizza by the slice at Home Slice pizza is one of my favorite pizzas in Austin! Bufalina is also popular pick in Austin.
Tip: Ask for the Sicilian style pies if they’re not already sold out that day.
What to order: margherita pizza and the pepperoni pizza.
1415 S Congress Ave & 501 E 53rd St, homeslicepizza.com
SEE ALSO: 17 Spots For Late Night Food In Austin
Many of my afternoons have been spent on the spacious patio at Fresa’s eating queso and sipping on margaritas. Below is my go-to order.
What to order: Chimichurri skirt steak, classic queso, crispy Brussels sprouts, grilled cauliflower, Mexican street corn, and frozen prickly pear margarita.
Happy hour: Monday to Friday from 3pm – 6pm with $2 off all aguas frescas, botanas, beer, wine & margaritas.
1703 S 1st St, fresaschicken.com
Cow Tipping Creamery If traffic wasn’t so bad from Central Austin to South Austin, I’d go to Cow Tipping Creamery every week for vanilla soft serve with chocolate syrup. Treat yourself to their birthday cake stacker or shake. 4715 S Lamar Blvd #103, cowtippingcreamery.com
Odd Duck started as a food truck by Chef Bryce Gilmore and has grown into three brick-and-mortar restaurants, Odd Duck, Barley Swine, and Sour Duck Market. Locally-sourced ingredients shape the seasonal, ever-changing menu, accompanied by creative cocktails, craft beers, and approachable wines.
I like going to Odd Duck if I have a group because we can order the entire menu and try everything. It’s small plates so you can try a little bit of everything and the menu rotates every couple of months.
Odd Duck also always have a couple of veggie options if you have any vegetarian friends.
What to order: Cast iron cornbread, redfish ceviche, and cornmeal fried oyster sliders.
1201 S Lamar Blvd, oddduckaustin.com
Lick Ice Creams
Lick Honest Ice Creams has been making seasonal and sustainable artisan ice creams in Austin, Texas since 2011. All the ingredients are responsibly and locally sourced from local farmers.
Lick’s most popular flavor is the goat cheese with thyme and honey. I also like their seasonal flavors horchata and lady bird lavender crisp. Lick also has vegan/diary free flavors like the coconut with the avocado curd.
What to order: goat cheese, thyme, honey, dark chocolate, olive oil & sea salt, and the coffee with cream.
1905 Aldrich St, 6555 Burnet Road, and 1100 South Lamar Boulevard, ilikelick.com
Even though Uchiko broke my heart by taking the Brussels sprouts off the happy hour menu, I still love Uchiko’s happy hour!
Uchiko is probably the best restaurant in Austin for date night, anniversaries, and birthdays.
4200 N Lamar Blvd, uchikoaustin.com
Komé started as a food trailer called Sushi A-Go-Go and evolved into a popular brick and mortar serving contemporary home-style Japanese meals, sushi, nigiri, and ramen.
Happy hour: Monday – Thursday from 5 – 6pm with $4.5 Japanese chicken wings, $4 gyoza, $4 – $6 sushi rolls, and $5 house sake.
5301 Airport Blvd #100, kome-austin.com
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I frequent Hank’s on a monthly basis because I love taking meetings here, working out of the coffee shop, beautiful outdoor seating, and their half off burger Mondays.
What to order: cheeseburger with fries
Happy hour: Every day from 3 – 6:30pm with
- $1 Off Beer
- $5 Frozen Cocktails & Tap Cocktails
- $5 Tap Wine
- $3 Off Appetizers
5811 Berkman Dr, hanksaustin.com
Just caught up with the girlfriends at Josephine House last weekend while sipping on glasses of rosé on the patio
What to order: Josephine House burger, rice bowl with Niman Ranch steak, or lemon ricotta pancakes.
1601 Waterston Ave, josephineofaustin.com
This cute bungalow has some of the best Neapolitan pizza and wine in Austin, TX. Start with the labneh (strained yogurt with za’atar), fried cauliflower, and crispy potatoes for appetizers while you wait for the pizza. The hot honey is probably their most popular pizza but also look at their board for their current pizza collab.
I love the hot honey pizza with tomato, ricotta, coppa, parm, fresno, and Mike’s Hot Honey with a glass of Lambrusco.
What to order: farro salad, labneh, crispy potatoes, and hot honey pizza.
900 W 10th St, 40northpizza.com
Anytime a girlfriend asks me to get dinner, I try suggesting Vespiao because I love their Italian pasta and their wine list. Afterward, we can then go shopping on South Congress and walk off all the carbs.
What to order: Spaghettini con polpette di vitello and spaghetti carbonara
1610 S Congress Ave, austinvespaio.com
Steak frites with house red and the chocolate cake? I’d swipe right on that. This French restaurant is one of the most iconic restaurants in Austin.
4710 E 5th St, justines1937.com
Best Indian food in Austin – I love the tiki masala with garlic naan, batura, and Indian spiced beignets!
What to order: lamb samosas, garlic na’an, chicken tikka masala, lamb biryani, and Indian beignets.
73 Rainey St, grajmahalaustin.com
Modeled after its family’s Texas ranch, Contigo serves fresh drinks and quality New American food, all on an expansive, welcoming patio. I love snacking on their crispy green beans with a cocktail on their patio.
What to order: burger + fries and crispy green beans.
2027 Anchor Ln, contigotexas.com
Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile offers family-raised meats, locally sourced vegetables, craft cocktails, and Texas craft beers with beautiful views of the Colorado River. You can sit inside or outside on their patio that overlooks the river.
What to order: Chicken fried steak, mac & cheese, crispy brussels sprouts, steak frites, and strawberry cake.
3235 E Cesar Chavez St, jacobysaustin.com
I love the Mexican food at ATX Cocina, especially the meat dishes! Splurge on the bone-in ribeye or chuleta de cerdo (42 oz pork chop tomahawk) if you’re with a group. If you are with a group, I recommend ordering the half watermelon cocktail!
What to order: sopes, tamal, beef barbacoa enchiladas, elotes, and chuleta de cerdo.
110 San Antonio St #170, atxcocina.com
I like recommending Sway as a date night spot if you’re wanting Thai in a fine dining setting and I’ve celebrated several special occasions here. It can get pretty noisy in the restaurant and its shared seating so I wouldn’t recommend Sway if you want to have a conversation.
What to order: Chicken wings, brussels sprouts, jungle curry (very, very spicy), tiger cry, son in law, and Thai tea affogato.
3437 Bee Cave Rd, swaythai.com
This super cute Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in East Austin used to be a laundromat and now serves stellar food and cocktails. New Yorkers seem to really love this restaurant for the vibes and quality of the food.
The beluga lentil and burrata are my favorites for lunch. For dinner, the wood-grilled octopus with royal corona beans and Spanish chorizo and grilled broccolini.
What to order: burrata, charred octopus, whole branzino, and roasted chicken.
Happy hour: Monday to Friday from 5pm – 6pm
2115 Holly St, launderetteaustin.com
Olamaie is a modern Southern restaurant helmed by one of 2018 and 2019 James Beard Awards “Best Chef: Southwest” finalists and FOOD & WINE’s “Best New Chefs,” Michael Fojtasek. The menu focuses on farm-to-table freshness and a dining experience that combines classic Southern hospitality with modern restaurant craftsmanship.
What to order: biscuits (they’re not on the menu so you have to ask for them!), Dewberry Hills Farm chicken, and Ranger Cattle wagyu ribeye.
1610 San Antonio St, olamaieaustin.com
I couldn’t leave Ramen Tatsu-ya off of this list of best restaurants in Austin! My go-to is the tonkatsu original with a corn bomb or the ol’ skool with a corn bomb and a side of brussels sprouts and spicy edamame.
1600 E 6th St, 8557 Research Blvd #126, 1234 S Lamar Blvd, ramen-tatsuya.com
You can’t miss this hot pink Tex-Mex restaurant in East Austin that has an extensive margarita list.
What to order: queso fundido, pescado del dia tacos, skirt steak tacos, and bruscelas fritas.
105 Tillery St, grizzeldas.com
This hole in the wall Mexican restaurant serves comfort food entrees that I’ve been eating at since college. Cash only.
What to order: caldo des res (Saturday and Sunday only), any of the combos, migas plate with jalapenos, and gordita plate.
501 W Oltorf St, habanerocafe.com
Sadly Magnolia Cafe closed their Lake Austin blvd location from the economic effects of COVID-19 but the South Congress location is still open. Magnolia Cafe started in 1979 on Lake Austin Boulevard and then expanded to South Congress in 1988.
What to order: Love migas (eggs or tofu scrambled in spicy love butter), buttermilk banana pancakes, or go big with the Tex Mex enchiladas.
1920 S Congress Ave, magnoliacafeaustin.com
Fonda San Miguel
The nicest Mexican restaurant in Austin is Fonda San Miguel on North Burnet. Sometimes I will splurge on their Sunday brunch buffet that’s around $45 per person.
2330 W N Loop Blvd, fondasanmiguel.com
Matt’s El Rancho
If you’re with a group that wants Tex-Mex food and wants to drink margaritas, I recommend Matt’s El Rancho.
2613 S Lamar Blvd, mattselrancho.com
La Condesa has always been one of my favorite restaurants in Austin for its upscale Mexican cuisine – specifically the salsa tasting and their OG classic margarita.
What to order: salsa tasting, quesadilla, and clasica margarita.
400 W 2nd St A, lacondesa.com
This butcher shop and supper club is known for its farm-to-table menu that features locally sourced ingredients.
2406 Manor Rd, daidue.com
Everyone loves Via313 for their Detroit-style pizza (not the same as Chicago-style) – a thick crust that is somehow crispy and not heavy with flavorful toppings.
Gluten-free pizza crusts are available along with dairy-free cheese.
What to order: The Detroiter, The Cadillac, and The Carnivore.
3016 Guadalupe, Suite 100, 1802 E 6th St, 61 Rainey Street, and 6705 Hwy 290 no. 503, via313.com