North and Northwest

These days, driving north on Highway 183 is like an Easter egg hunt for foodies. Sure, it's a slow march to the suburbs during rush hour, but just about every exit from Lamar Boulevard and parts north holds a gem, usually hidden in a strip mall. The emphasis here is primarily on ethnic cuisines, particularly from Asia, a compelling mirror of Austin demographics. You'll see, too, humble spots turning out simple, iconic American fare. Truly, our neighbors to the north provide an honest, delicious representation of what we mean when we say "melting pot." – Melanie Haupt

Asia Cafe

Asia Cafe

The dizzying menu of authentic Chinese cuisine, served family-style at reasonable prices in a boisterous atmosphere, draws a dedicated patronage. Fan favorites include Spicy Fish and Szechuan Style Cucumber, but with a list of new items, there is always plenty to discover. Asia Cafe is proof Austin does have legit – and very tasty – Chinese food. – Jessi Cape

Asia Cafe (location page)
8650 Spicewood Springs Rd. #115, 512/331-5788
www.asiamarketaustin.com/restaurantHome.html
Chinatown

Chinatown

Ronald Cheng's restaurant is one of Austin's most venerable Chinese restaurants. The place has long lines for dim sum on the weekends, but it is definitely worth the wait. This is also one of the few Asian restaurants in Austin to have won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. – Wes Marshall

Chinatown (location page)
3407 Greystone, 512/343-9307
www.chinatown-mopac.com
New Awlins Cafe

John Anderson

New Awlins Cafe

Step inside New Orleans and relish the dark roux, house-made po'boy bread, and festive murals at this family-owned cafe from Big Easy native Aaron Hegger. A simple menu of authentic Cajun fare includes their beloved crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, and pies by the Famous Cajun Pie Man himself. – Jessi Cape

New Awlins Cafe (location page)
8650 Spicewood Springs Rd. #111, 512/394-7200
Phil's Icehouse

John Anderson

Phil's Icehouse

This family-friendly, multiple-location Austin favorite features burgers as robust as their namesake neighborhoods, plus a blue-ribbon celebration of all things fried and piled, the Texas State Fair Burger. Throw in a Frito pie, grilled footlong hot dog, hand-cut onion rings, and tons of games, and you'll want to dedicate a weeknight meal to Phil's. Easy access to Amy's Ice Creams on one side and Baked by Amy's on the other only sweetens the deal. – Jessi Cape

Phil's Icehouse (location page)
13265 US Hwy 183 N, 512/257-8750
www.philsicehouse.com
Ramen Tatsu-Ya

John Anderson

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

Tucked away in a strip mall, this hot spot spearheaded Austin's ramen revolution with its simple, dine-in-only menu of pure excellence: four glorious flavors, plus a Sunday vegan dinner offering, and bonus sides like the insane katsu sliders and sweet-and-sour yodas (brussels sprouts). Communal seating, gorgeous contemporary murals, and sake round it out. One slurp and you're hooked. – Jessi Cape

Ramen Tatsu-Ya (location page)
8557 Research #126, 512/339-0855
www.ramen-tatsuya.com
Siena

Siena

This is hands down one of Austin's prettiest restaurants; it's as though you've stepped out of a dream into a Tuscan villa. Indeed, the excellent menu is inspired by chef Harvey Harris' culinary education in Tuscany. Siena's servers are well-trained and cordial. The wine list here is brilliant, though some bottles are sufficiently obscure that you should ask if the wine buyer is in the house. A great place to impress a date. – Wes Marshall

Siena (location page)
6203 Capital of Texas Hwy. N., Bldg. B, 512/349-7667
www.sienaaustin.com
Soto

John Anderson

Soto

The Okamoto family makes a drive to the 'burbs for casual, well-priced contemporary Japanese cuisine and fresh, reasonably priced sushi well worth the effort. Sit at the sushi bar for delectable bites or venture into the world of uni pasta, mushroom soup, and green tea tiramisu. Either way, you'll start making excuses to return. – Jessi Cape

Soto (location page)
11066 Pecan Park Blvd., Suite 402, Cedar Park, 512/257-0788
sotoaustin.com/
Taco More

John Anderson

Taco More

A salsa bar including six sauces and escabeche, hearty posole and cabrito consomme, crave-worthy carnitas and pastor, plus a list of well-executed staple items from tacos to chile rellenos make this hole-in-the-wall a fiercely defended neighborhood favorite. Mexican street food for the win! – Jessi Cape

Taco More (location page)
9414 Parkfield Dr., 512/821-1561
Tâm Deli & Cafe

Tâm Deli & Cafe

The báhn mì sandwiches on wonderful baguettes and custard-style crème puffs consistently top lists of local favorites, but the examples of Tam Bui and Tran Ngoc's Vietnamese fare done well don't stop there. Stop in for a lunch visit and try the stuffed egg crepe, shrimp-and-yam fritters, papaya salad, and of course, a warm bowl of fix-what-ails-ya pho. – Jessi Cape

Tâm Deli & Cafe (location page)
8222 N. Lamar Ste. D-33, 512/834-6458
Voss Fish & Grill

John Anderson

Voss Fish & Grill

A successful spin-off from the Houston family-owned original, this tiny Bangladeshi restaurant boasts Austin Chronicle food writer Mick Vann's favorite affordable fish "taco" dish – a lofty award, indeed. The small menu, with familiar standards such as comforting golden samosas, specializes in a variety of authentic Bangladeshi sea fare, such as shrimp kata kat and masala-coated mahi fillets. – Jessi Cape

Voss Fish & Grill (location page)
9717 N. Lamar, 512/833-0005