FIRST PLATES

South Lamar and
Barton Springs

Driving down South Lamar in the last year and one of Guy Fieri's annoying alliterations could easily pop to mind. Triple C – construction, congestion, and condos! The 2.8-mile stretch from Barton Springs Road to the Highway 290 West/360 interchange is changing at a breakneck pace with new restaurants, bars, and food stores already open or in the works to meet the needs of what will be thousands of new residents. Restaurants are betting ground-floor retail space will work as well as the instantly popular Barlata did beneath the Post South Lamar apartment building. Other new faces include the smash-hit Wheatsville Co-op South, the first brick-and-mortar East Side King, a Verts Kebap shop, and Bryce Gilmore's powerhouse Odd Duck, a counterpoint to Barley Swine humming along nicely down the street. When the Lamar Union development opens later this year, the neighborhood will not only be home to an expanded Alamo Drafthouse and HighBall Lounge, but also Cantine from Emmett and Lisa Fox, Fixe from chef Joe Anguiano, and a Shake Shack from NYC phenom Danny Meyer. And nearby, we're looking forward to A-OK Chinese, plus barbecue from Lockhart's Black twins, as well as a new venture from the owners of Stubb's. Exciting times, indeed.  – Gracie Salem

John Anderson

Barlata Tapas Bar

Barlata stands out from the rest by staying faithful to the Spanish love of seafood, emphasizing the paella, squid, mussels, shrimp, fish, and scallops that dominate Iberian cuisine, while also delivering the de rigueur roasted vegetables, olives, cured ham, fried potatoes, and chorizo tapas. – Kate Thornberry

1500 S. Lamar, 512/473-2211

Barley Swine

Chef Bryce Gilmore has always been at the vanguard of fresh and local sourcing and has made a career of inventing intriguing dishes that highlight the natural flavors of real food. Barley Swine is a gastronomist's delight; it's also graced with an array of the very finest craft beers as well. – Kate Thornberry

2024 S. Lamar, 512/394-8150

John Anderson

East Side King

World-famous chef Paul Qui and his partners invented the dishes sold at the East Side King trailers, and this newest addition to the fleet has all the Qui hallmarks of his sublime, heartrending Japanese/Thai/Texan fusion cuisine in a bright shop accented with Peelander Yellow murals. – Kate Thornberry

2310 S. Lamar #101, 512/383-8382

El Alma Cafe y Cantina

The multi-tiered patio, brightly colored decor, and rock waterfall would be reason enough to come to El Alma, if it weren't for the fact that the food is even more spectacular. Chef Alma Alcocer-Thomas brings her Mexico City roots and personal style into play, transforming classic dishes into a bold, fresh take on Mexican cuisine. – Kate Thornberry

1025 Barton Springs Rd., 512/609-8923

El Mesón

Aside from signature dishes like the ancho relleno with goat cheese and tomatillo relish, this authentic SoLa spot now serves the best, most affordable Interior Mexican brunch south of the river – which includes healthy breakfast items, homemade pozole and paella, and an outstanding smoky Bloody Mary made with mezcal. – Claudia Alarcón

2038 S. Lamar, 512/442-4441

John Anderson

Henri's Cheese & Wine

This micro cheese and charcuterie shop also serves sandwiches and salads for every taste, affordable wine by the glass or bottle, and craft beers with a local slant. Eat a hearty lunch or an early evening bite in the cozy quarters, or take out for a fine picnic or party. – Claudia Alarcón

2026 S. Lamar, 512/442-3373

Luke's Inside Out

This tiny trailer is the definition of culinary fun. Empanadas, French bread sandwiches, pho, puffy tacos, handmade sausage – you name it, remarkable chef Luke Bibby is ecstatic to be cooking it up for his ardent fanbase. – Kate Thornberry

1109 S. Lamar, 512/589-8883

John Anderson

Odd Duck

It lives! Bryce Gilmore's first foray into Austin's culinary world is back, in a shiny, ultramodern brick-and-mortar to match the adventurous, farm-to-table cuisine that made his eponymous truck a national sensation. As expected, the wine, beer, and cocktail list are superlative, designed to match the whims of Gilmore's daily changing menu. – Claudia Alarcón

1201 S. Lamar, 512/433-6521

John Anderson

Olivia

Chef James Holmes continues serving outstanding fare while strongly supporting local farmers, ranchers, and producers. Happy hours are easy on the wallet, with specials on some of their excellent wines. Sit on the patio for a lovely view of where many of the veggies on your plate grow. – Claudia Alarcón

2043 S. Lamar, 512/804-2700

Papalote Taco House

This tiny taqueria from the owners of Azul Tequila serves inexpensive Mexican street fare – tacos, tortas, tostadas, and other simple yet delicious antojitos – with plenty of vegetarian options. Try the Tortas de Coliflor with guajillo sauce, avocado, and queso fresco for a taco that combines traditional flavors with trendy aesthetic. – Claudia Alarcón

2803 S. Lamar, 512/804-2474

Sazón

Interior Mexican gem, owned by graduates of Le Cordon Bleu Austin, who serve flawless renditions of dishes from Puebla, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Veracruz, and Mexico City. Try the silky cream of corn soup and the earthy puerco en chile cascabel, washed down with a fresh lime margarita or refreshing michelada on the patio. – Claudia Alarcón

1816 S. Lamar, 512/326-4395

John Anderson

Tacodeli

The granddaddy of the "unusual" taco trend, these guys manage to keep prices reasonable and an evolving menu with lots of vegetarian options without compromising tradition. Their ceviche, only available on Fridays, is one of the tastiest in town, and the puerco verde taco is not to be missed . – Claudia Alarcón

1500 Spyglass, 512/732-0303

John Anderson

Uchi

Despite fierce competition from sibling Uchiko, Tyson Cole's first restaurant remains the standard for sushi, sashimi, and other Japanese-inspired fare, blending traditional and modern techniques to perfection. Artful presentations, exotic flavors, excellent service, and lovely surroundings make for a special evening. Be sure to make a reservation to avoid a long wait. – Claudia Alarcón

801 S. Lamar, 512/916-4808
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