20 Special Occasion Restaurants
We pick our favorite spots for a night out
By The Food Staff,
11:57AM, Fri. Nov. 30, 2018
Celebrating a first anniversary or landing that dream job and are ready to splurge on some upscale eats? Check out some of these posh Austin options.
How many people have been proposed to at Apis? It has to be a lot, right? Between the spectacular Hill Country setting (that deck!) and menus focused on fresh global takes on high-quality local ingredients, Apis will make your heart skip a beat.
This lakeside restaurant located in the brand-new LINE Hotel is presided over by Top Chef 10 winner Kristen Kish. Her storied culinary flair is applied to Central Texas ingredients filtered through an international lens – kanpachi crudo, fried steam buns, hearty rigatoni, fried chicken for two.
Looking for a classic steakhouse experience? Look no further than the darkly lit, elegant ambience and service of this Austin original. ALC offers first-rate steaks at quite reasonable prices and an excellent wine list.
Chef Bryce Gilmore was at the forefront of Austin’s farm-to-table movement, and he continues to cook with the same inspiration and creativity. Opt for the chef’s tasting menu experience or order à la carte from the constantly changing menu, which surprises and delights with creations like fried pig skin slaw or smoked fish salad with leek mousse and savory cereal.
If heritage grains, fermentation, and seasonal ingredients are your jam, you’ll want to discover the wonder that is Emmer & Rye. Chef Kevin Fink weds a love of forgotten flavors with a Scandinavian ethos, culminating in American-style dim sum in Austin’s Rainey District.
This European gastronomic exploration exudes taste inside and out. Here diners are treated to European classics such as escargots in garlic butter, moules marinières, and steak frites all at shamefully reasonable prices.
Jeffrey’s is a rare classic establishment where heart-stopping prices actually equate to fine dining. The centerpiece of the French American menu revolves around perfectly seasoned and seared steaks, but even those who aren’t carnivores can make a meal of the sides and salads that are just as legendary as the delectable meat.
Here you’ll find locally and thoughtfully sourced ingredients from distilleries to groves that are incorporated into handmade Italian dishes that reinvent the term “classic.” Call ahead for the very reasonably priced chef’s counter tasting menu.
Reservations are required for the twice-nightly omakase seatings. Die-hard sushi lovers with a passion for harder-to-find seafood won’t mind the eye-popping prices or the austere environment.
This tiny restaurant mastered that vintage chic aesthetic you’ve been curating on Pinterest for years, but they’ve also got a lovely three-course prix fixe menu offering seasonal dishes inspired by Field, Sea, Land, and Dream.
This Downtown brasserie oozes French sophistication. If you can, grab a seat al fresco for the full Parisian cafe-like experience Among the many meticulously prepared classic dishes, the crispy-skinned poulet roti is breathtakingly delicious and the croque madame drowned in Mornay is all indulgence.
The former site of Austin institution Green Pastures is kicking it back to the old-school in their refurbished, sprawling South Austin home with gorgeous interiors and an ambience that pays homage to everything that made Green Pastures the beacon of Southern hospitality it once was. For the full experience, join Mattie’s for a leisurely brunch under their great live oak. Just don’t pet the peacocks.
Odd Duck’s penchant for unique and adventurous flavor pairings has earned them a perpetual rep as one of Austin’s most visited and celebrated restaurants. Grab a spot at the bar lined with fermenting vegetables for a perfect view of the open kitchen.
Everyone talks about the biscuits at chef Michael Fojtasek’s restaurant, and sure ’nuff they’re golden portions of tender and buttery heaven-on-a-plate, but Olamaie’s entrées – based on Southern comfort foods – is what fancy dining is supposed to be, especially when accompanied by a honeyed Peraperfecta cocktail.
There’s no chef in town like Yoshi Okai. The celebrated Kyoto-born punk rocker is obsessed with ingredients, transforming fish flown directly from Tokyo and obscure don’t-call-them-weeds from HausBar Farms into an intimate 12-seat kaiseki experience that tastes like nothing else in town.
Upscale cuisine doesn’t always have to equate to tweezer plating or trendy ingredients. Sometimes all it takes for you to feel like royalty is a good bowl of pasta, beef bone marrow roasted in a wood burning oven, and a stack of heavenly garlic bread.
We could marvel all day at the colorful custom front door by local wood artist Aaron Michalovic, but once inside, Suerte’s food impresses with standout “frio” (read: raw) offerings and masa-driven small plates. With a stellar cocktail menu that’s as culinary as it is crafty, the new kid on the block is already making big waves in Austin.
South Lamar’s Uchi has been setting the gold standard for Austin cuisine for years, and shows no signs of slowing down. James Beard Award winner chef Tyson Cole continues to serve intricate and exquisite renderings of Japanese cuisine that will be the most worthwhile, treat-yourself splurge you make all month … maybe even all year.
An ample and clean design of copper tones is home to menu items like seared foie gras and crab cakes, pan seared scallops, chili rubbed pork chop, and, oh yeah, perfect aged prime beef.
Still going strong after nearly two decades, this Old West Austin staple has always known how to make their customers feel special. With timeless cuisine, an irreproachable front-of-house, and a savvy wine list, a dinner at Wink is always a celebration.
Looking for more restaurant recommendations? Peruse the Austin Chronicle's 2018 First Plates winners.