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18 restaurants that define dining in Austin

A photo of Red logo
by Diana Spechler and James Wong
Updated December 15, 2023

Whether they’re arguing over who slings the best breakfast tacos in the city or where to go for the most delicious barbecue, Austinites have strong opinions about their city’s greatest restaurants.

That’s because Austin’s got it all. A rustic spot in East Austin shakes up longstanding butcher shop traditions. In South Lamar, a James Beard Award winner serves reimagined Oaxacan dishes. Exceptionally buttery biscuits put a downtown restaurant on the map.

The Texan capital’s dining scene is as spirited as its residents. Read on for a guide to 18 restaurants that are vital to Austin.

A photo of Uchi Austin restaurant
4.9
4.9 (5326)
$50 and over
Sushi
Downtown
About the restaurant

In a stylish refurbished home (“uchi” is Japanese for “house”), founding chef and partner Tyson Cole crafts Austin’s freshest sushi. Raw fish options include extensive a la carte pieces and an omakase offering, but the menu is also filled with creative takes on traditional Japanese cuisine, plus seasonal daily specials such as wagyu striploin with cauliflower, pistachio, and koji marinade. Uchi has been an Austin treasure since 2003 and made such a splash in the national food scene that the James Beard Foundation named Cole Best Chef: Southwest in 2011. For sushi lovers in north Austin, Cole’s second restaurant in the city, Uchiko, is as delightful as his first.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Great service, great food!! Totally worth the trip.
A photo of L'Oca d'Oro restaurant
4.5
4.5 (1461)
$50 and over
Italian
North Central
About the restaurant

This beloved Italian spot is known not only for its comforting seasonal plates and hip vibe (co-owner and chef Fiore Tedesco came to the restaurant via the ultimate hipster Italian spot, Roberta’s in Brooklyn, New York), but also for its social conscience: L’Oca d’Oro continues to ensure that servers earn a living wage, and did so pre-Covid and all the way through the pandemic. Every check includes a 20 percent hospitality charge to guarantee employees access to healthcare. Indoor dining and patio seating are both available so diners can enjoy bucatini all’amatriciana and a glass of Sangiovese al fresco. Austinites also love L’Oca d’Oro for its subscriptions, including a pasta club and a wine share.


Top review
Tejasmom
Dined on Apr 4, 2024
Delicious pasta and seafood entrees. Enjoyed everything
A photo of Justine's Brasserie restaurant
4.6
4.6 (796)
$31 to $50
French
East Austin
About the restaurant

This sexy, artsy French lair makes frequent appearances on Austin’s Eater 38 list and has served raucous late-night fun since 2009. It’s one of those rare restaurant experiences that transports diners with a movie-set-like ambience. Though regulars come for the escargots and French onion soup, Justine’s seasonal oyster tent is an annual highlight, complete with velvet curtains and glass chandeliers. The welcoming space becomes a brightly lit den in the summer months. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Zooey Deschanel have been known to pop in. And everyone stays for dessert because the crème brûlée is just that good.


Top review
DixieK
Dined on Apr 6, 2024
always a great experience! We got the pork chop this time and it was amazing 🤌🏼🤌🏼🤌🏼
A photo of Olamaie restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2028)
$50 and over
Southern
Central Austin
About the restaurant

This Southern restaurant immediately won the hearts of diners and critics when it opened in 2014. Food & Wine magazine named chef Michael Fojtasek a Best New Chef in 2015, the Austin American-Statesman singled it out as the best restaurant of the year three times, and the accolades haven’t stopped: Fojtasek was a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Southeast two times, and for Best Chef: Texas in 2020. The magic unfolds inside a refurbished 90-year-old house with black shutters. Olamaie’s modern Southern cuisine is top of the line, from the Hopi blue corn hush puppies and wagyu beef tartare to the pecan pie with vanilla ice cream.


Top review
JayG
Dined 3 days ago
Excellent food and service. Had a wonderful dinner.
A photo of Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar restaurant
4.8
4.8 (3509)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Downtown
About the restaurant

Everyone’s favorite Austin patio sits smack in the middle of the action—it’s an ideal place to enjoy fresh seafood and watch pedestrians strolling down South Congress. Oak trees wrapped in string lights stretch over wooden tables and brightly colored umbrellas. Diners slurp oysters and sip cocktails, splitting oak-grilled Texas gulf redfish or an order of jalapeño-fried calamari. Part of the McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group (which owns 14 restaurants in the city, including Pecan Square Cafe), Perla’s opened in 2009 and is perpetually bustling. The patio is the coveted spot, but indoor dining is open and offers views of a giant fish tank.


Top review
leew
Dined 1 day ago
Our favorite meal in Austin!! Had the lobster roll and it was delicious! The German chocolate cake was outstanding!! Matthew our server was fantastic !!
A photo of Red Ash Italia restaurant
4.8
4.8 (3381)
$50 and over
Italian
Downtown
About the restaurant

Named for the “red ash” released from the fire of a wood-burning grill, this Italian steakhouse—a 2018 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award winner—has dazzled downtown food lovers since Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso (founders of old-school Austin favorite Eddie V’s) opened its doors in 2016. Executive chef and owner John Carver whips up recipes from northern and southern Italy, such as wood-roasted beef bone marrow with wild mushroom risotto, housemade small potato gnocchi “gratinata,” and bruschetta with wood-roasted mushrooms. Zagat named Red Ash one of the hottest restaurants in Austin the year it first opened, and nearly seven years later, its industrial-chic interiors and unique flavors maintain that elite status.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 6 days ago
Incredible food & great meat cuts. Definitely worth the wait of a reservation
A photo of Wu Chow-Downtown restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2094)
$31 to $50
Chinese
Downtown
About the restaurant

Wu Chow became one of Austin’s most popular restaurants by combining Chinese ingredients with farm-to-table cooking. The buzzy vibe, tiki cocktails, and sensational Shanghai soup dumplings quickly drew a fanbase to Stuart Thomajan and C.K. Chin’s second Austin restaurant (they also own Swift’s Attic) and spawned a spin-off counter at Fareground food hall. Wu Chow’s menu mixes and matches dishes from all eight Chinese cooking styles, featuring everything from Hunan beef to Sichuan tofu. The menu is also packed with delicious meat-free and gluten-free options, including vegetarian hot and sour soup, which tastes like the real deal. Diners who reserve a table anytime between 11 am and 3 pm on a Sunday can enjoy Wu Chow’s famous dim sum service.


Top review
kmn53
Dined 2 days ago
Food was great. Staff friendly and attentive. Will definitely go back. Honey prawns, beef with scallions, egg rolls with chicken and taro. Loved them all
A photo of Dai Due restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2182)
$31 to $50
American
East Austin
About the restaurant

Dai Due has been instrumental in turning the Texas gastronomy stereotype on its head since chef Jesse Griffiths and business partner Tamara Mayfield opened its doors in 2006. Forget white butcher paper tablecloths and nothing-but-barbecue: Dai Due’s menu includes creative dishes using only Texan ingredients—even locally sourced olive oil—serves just Texas wine and beer, and has single-handedly taken the concept of Texas cooking to haute cuisine. Griffiths and executive chef Janie Ramirez pickle, brine, and preserve, use their scraps, employ organic practices, and prioritize farm-to-table freshness. The menu changes frequently but could include pork posole verde, a killer wagyu double cheeseburger, and grilled wild boar steak. Tables on the patio are partially enclosed by an arching trellis covered in lush greenery.


Top review
AmandaD
Dined 4 days ago
Favorite restaurant in ATX. Delicious meal and amazing service every time. Get the pork chop.
A photo of Fixe restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2962)
$31 to $50
Southern
Downtown
About the restaurant

Biscuit lovers flock to this Austin favorite for classic Southern comforts—shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and lobster and crawfish pot pie. Chef James Robert, who grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother in Louisiana, opened this spot in hopes of creating a cozy “Sunday supper” setting in 2014. Fixe is equal parts homey and luxe with a beautiful open kitchen and choice ingredients. Simple deviled eggs, for example, come garnished with smoked trout roe and grated ham. But back to the biscuits: These flaky, buttery marvels are served with local honey and are undeniably the dish that put Fixe on the map.


Top review
John
Dined 1 day ago
Staff was very informed and kind, as always. Jason in particular made our experience memorable. I will always recommend fixe when friends and family visit Austin
A photo of Bar Peached restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1410)
$30 and under
Asian
Downtown
About the restaurant

In 2010, litigator Eric Silverstein ditched his law career and opened a food truck. The Peached Tortilla was such a hit that a decade later, Tokyo-born Silverstein is now a cookbook author who owns two trucks, a catering company, and three brick-and-mortar restaurants in Austin. At his most recent, Bar Peached, a bright yellow bar meets Asian-inspired snacks, including pork buns, chile crab toast, and pesto udon. The white house, with playful contemporary art on the walls, opens onto a charming patio and a century-old tree. It’s an ideal vibe for sipping a Margarita de Peached (habanero-and Thai basil-infused tequila with orange liqueur and lime).


Top review
CassandraCvip
Dined 7 days ago
The cutest restaurant with lovely decor and delicious food! Went solo but wish I could try everything on the menu. Staff was amazing and so friendly!
A photo of Intero restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1453)
$31 to $50
Italian
East Austin
About the restaurant

Go for the farm-to-table Italian recipes and stay for the artisanal chocolate. Austinite spouse team chocolatier/pastry chef Krystal Craig and chef Ian Thurwachter opened Intero’s doors in 2018, blending the sweet and savory flavors of Italy with local, seasonal ingredients. That approach instantly scored Intero a place among the best restaurants in Austin (Texas Monthly named it among the best restaurants in the state). The wood-fired oven pizzas boast innovative toppings such as wagyu beef confit and housemade sauerkraut. Diners delight in the clean complexity of the hand-crafted cocktails and an extensive amari collection that pairs beautifully with the chocolate truffles.


Top review
Live2Dinevip
Dined 7 days ago
Every single thing that we ordered from the Timballo, gluten free pasta, beet salad, to the mind blowingly delicious redfish were outstanding. For dessert we had the artisan chocolate truffles that are made in house. Terrific evening!
A photo of Hestia restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1700)
$50 and over
Contemporary American
Downtown
About the restaurant

Hestia’s name evokes the Greek goddess of the hearth, an apt mascot for a restaurant centered on a 20-foot hearth and fire-based cooking techniques. Hestia became an instant classic when it opened in 2019, and Food & Wine named pastry chef and co-owner Tavel Bristol-Joseph among the ten best new chefs in America. The ever-changing menu offers luxurious entrees such as 60-day dry-aged wagyu ribeye, small plates (kampachi crudo with pears, yaupo, an evergreen shrub, and green onion), and playful desserts (sourdough buttermilk ice cream with buckwheat shoyu caramel and a tomato-orange jam). Expert plating, an open kitchen, and booth seats strike just the right balance of stylish and cozy. Add creative cocktails and an extensive wine list and you’ve got a winner for any occasion.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 3 days ago
Incredible food and service experience. Front row seat into the kitchen with the hearth on display. Scallops, pork chop and the oysters were perfect
A photo of Sway Thai - Austin restaurant
4.6
4.6 (952)
$31 to $50
Asian
West Austin / Westlake
About the restaurant

This acclaimed Thai restaurant was named one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appétit in 2013 and continues to fulfill Austin’s growing appetite for Southeast Asian cuisine. Chef Charles Schlienger’s stylish spot is best known for the “Son in Law”—crispy farm egg, braised pork shoulder, thick soy, and a fish sauce peppered with Thai chiles—plus a vibrant selection of curries ranging from the jungle, with black Angus brisket, to the piquant peanut curry, spiked with green peppercorns. Whatever route you take, conclude with the Thai tea affogato, the greatest way you’ll ever taste condensed milk. Bonus points for Sway’s gorgeous rooftop bar with skyline views of downtown.


Top review
DebbieM
Dined 5 days ago
We had a wonderful experience and a great meal. Highly recommend sitting outside, as it is much quieter and easier to have a conversation. Our server was friendly and attentive—just right combination of helpful and attentive without being too much. All four of us loved the meal. Favorites were Crispy Pork and Shrimp Shu Mai appetizer, Son in Law, Chicken Pad Thai and Crab Fried Rice (so much crab!). Didn’t love the Carrot Cake, though it was strongly recommended. Overall, a great dining experience!
A photo of Jeffrey's Restaurant restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2000)
$50 and over
American
Central Austin
About the restaurant

Jeffrey’s has delivered fine dining with the warmth of a neighborhood joint since it opened in 1975. The restaurant specializes in dry-aged prime beef and French American classics such as Gulf snapper and lump crab en papillote, and Dover sole with dulse butter and Meyer lemon. First-timers should make a beeline for the steaks—they are aged and cut by a popular family-owned operation in Austin, then grilled and roasted over a local live oak and finished with a 1,200-degree broil. Caviar service is on offer for those who want to up the ante.


Top review
MarcCvip
Dined 2 days ago
One of our favorite celebratory spots! It was slightly louder at this time, but still just amazing as always. Definitely recommend!
A photo of wink restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2294)
$50 and over
Contemporary American
Downtown
About the restaurant

This elegant downtown restaurant has been a local favorite since 2001. wink is known for its inventive and seasonally-inspired New American dishes from chef-owners Stewart Scruggs and Mark Paul. Although it’s often chosen as a special occasion spot, it doesn’t feel overly fancy, and the neighboring wine bar offers an even more laid-back option. There’s an à la carte option and five and seven-course tasting menus, and all change daily depending on what the chefs source at local farms and farmers markets. The wine list is stellar at both locations: The bar features extensive by-the-glass options, snacks, and top-notch pub grub such as burgers and steamed mussels.


Top review
PaulT
Dined 4 days ago
One of our favorite restaurants anywhere. Always great food, wine pairings and service.
A photo of Matt's El Rancho Mexican Restaurant restaurant
$31 to $50
American
Austin
About the restaurant

In a city full of Tex-Mex, one dish at this 71-year-old Austin landmark sets it apart: Matt’s El Rancho is the go-to for anyone with a queso craving. The restaurant’s well-loved version is topped with taco meat and guacamole and named after Bob Armstrong, a local politician and environmental activist. It’s practically a whole meal with a basket of tortilla chips, sized for sharing on the patio or in the no-frills dining room where bright Mexican art adorns the walls. The menu offers up all the Tex-Mex classics—fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas—and the margaritas are a must. The stories surrounding Matt’s El Rancho can be traced to founder Matt Martinez’s childhood when he sold tamales from a cart outside the Texas Capitol.


Top review
JaynieMvip
Dined on May 14, 2019
Delish. Great margaritas. Yummy food. Good ambiance. Worth the wait!
A photo of El Naranjo - South Lamar restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1083)
$31 to $50
Traditional Mexican
South Austin
About the restaurant

James Beard Award-winning chef Iliana de la Vega serves a spectacular menu with an emphasis on Oaxacan delicacies at this South Lamar gem. Her fans flock here for fresh ceviches which change every week and renowned made-from-scratch moles, accompanied by tortillas made from Oaxacan corn ground onsite. The horseshoe-shaped bar is a popular spot to share snacks and cocktails for happy hour (try the signature Mezcaliña made with mezcal and fresh pineapple) or catch up with friends over Sunday brunch.


Top review
TobiTvip
Dined 6 days ago
Chef Iliana de la Vega is deserving of the 2022 James Beard award. The food at El Naranjo is superb & the service is excellent. Many thanks to the Dustin, the manager of El Naranjo who gave us a guided tour of the artwork after our delicious dinner. Jerry is a wonderful & attentive server.
A photo of Canje restaurant
4.9
4.9 (1767)
$31 to $50
Caribbean
East Austin
About the restaurant

Steered by acclaimed pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye, Hestia, Kalimotxo), this airy East Austin space showcases the Guyana-born chef’s modern Caribbean dishes. Bristol-Joseph’s inventive riffs won the restaurant a place on The New York Times’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2022 list. The menu is filled with classics such as jerk chicken with wild garlic chutney and the house specialty: wild boar pepper pot with cassareep (a seasoning made from cassava root and spices), orange peel, and ginger. A festive cocktail program heavy on ingredients such as mango, pineapple, and lime adds to the tropical, plant-filled atmosphere.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Thank you for everything. Such an experience. Wild boar and jerk chicken are phenomenal.
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