Midtown

John Anderson

Asti is one of the best midpriced neighborhood cafes in Austin. Going on 13 years, somehow this place never gets old. Owner Emmett Fox greets you at the door with a breadstick and a smile, catching up on the latest news. Food is consistently delightful, whether it is grilled octopus, a thin-crust pizza, or their ever-popular chocolate cannoli. – Rachel Feit

408-C E. 43rd
512/451-1218
www.astiaustin.com

Don't let the modern industrial feel of this restaurant fool you: Black Star Co-op is a true English-style pub. They don't even accept tips! The homebrews and food are so good here you'll want to make it your second home. The crispy beer-battered redfish and chips will satisfy any pub craving. From mac and cheese to pub curries, Black Star Co-op won't let you down. – Rachel Feit

7020 Easy Wind #100
512/452-2337
www.blackstar.coop

photo by John Anderson

Small but snazzy, this North Loop bar offers a slew of creative craft cocktails, a rotating draft beer selection, and a wide variety of bottles and cans. Upscale bar food includes Antonelli's cheese plates, sliders al pastor, bourbon beanie weenies, and a Texas Kobe burger. Brunch is available on the weekends. – Jessi Cape

207 E. 53rd
512/614-6683
www.drinkwellaustin.com

Three decades serving Interior Mexican cuisine surrounded by vibrant art and an on-site organic garden makes this fine dining spot one of the loveliest anywhere. Tempting nightly specials join time-honored favorites such as cochinita pibil and pescado veracruzano, and expert cocktails like the Pisco Sour. Sunday brunch is a feast fit for royalty. – Jessi Cape

2330 W. North Loop
512/459-4121
www.fondasanmiguel.com

John Anderson

Photo by David Brendan Hall

You can always count on organ meats headlining the seasonally changing menu at this intimate, yet bustling, cafe. Ned and Jodi Elliott have upped the game in Austin with their inventive nose-to-tail approach to cuisine. Whether serving venison heart tartare or mouthwatering fried chicken with biscuits, F&D makes edible art from simple building blocks. – Rachel Feit

306 E. 53rd
512/459-1010
www.fndaustin.com

The Asazus' Airport Boulevard hot spot offers divine, fresh sushi and authentic Japanese home cooking served in a comfortable atmosphere with reasonable pricing. The lovely lunch menu includes noodles and donburi rice bowls. Dinner travels the globe with dishes ranging from a whole grilled squid to panko-fried mashed potatoes, but always with a delectable Japanese spin. – Jessi Cape

5301 Airport #100
512/712-5700
www.kome-austin.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

Three locations all feature a big, bustling ristorante complete with deli, bakery, coffee bar, and grocery. This family-friendly eatery has something for everyone looking for a casual Italian dining experience. Pizza, pasta, panini, cannoli, gelato, Bellini ... The delicious list goes on for miles. – Jessi Cape

4700 W. Guadalupe #12
512/419-9700
www.mandolas.com

This trailer is the place to go for piggy sloppy sandwiches that make you lick your fingers and dream of more. Meats are cured in-house and almost everything is made from scratch. – Rachel Feit

photo by John Anderson

Quality Seafood Market has purveyed fresh fish in Austin since 1938; since 1965, they've been cooking and serving simply prepared seafood, too. In January 2013, they celebrated the 75th anniversary by doubling the kitchen/restaurant capacity to add charbroiled oysters, lobsterfests and crawfish boils to the existing offerings of fried fare, raw oysters, and gumbo. – MM Pack

5621 Airport
512/452-3820
www.qualityseafood.wordpress.com

Back when most Austinites had never heard of Thai food, owner Foo Swasdee was serving delicious authentic Thai dishes at Satay. These days she's still practicing her art with favorites like duck in red curry and grilled spicy snapper seasoned with lemongrass and basil. Try the food, and then learn to make it yourself with one of Foo's popular cooking classes. – Rachel Feit

John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

This power-ladies-who-lunch cafe is always crowded with tea drinkers and nibblers. But the real secret to its success is that men like it, too. Who wouldn't love the spicy pork tenderloin tea sandwich, their classic croque monsieur, or the terrific house-made cakes?  – Rachel Feit

4400 N. Lamar #102
512/467-2663
www.thesteepingroom.com

There's a new kid on the barbecue block on North Lamar, and neighborhood folks are giddy about it. Taylor native Shane Stiles and Lance Kirkpatrick have brought their considerable enthusiasm and expertise to the restaurant's peppery brisket, crackling ribs, and spicy, coarse-ground sausage. The friendly setting and big-screen TVs make this a go-to place for a casual family meal. – Rachel Feit

6610 N. Lamar
512/380-9199
www.stilesswitchbbq.com

The granddaddy of all Southern comfort restaurants in Austin, Threadgill's has still got it, even if the likes of Janis Joplin are long gone. The airy yeast rolls and cornbread will convert the most rigid gluten-free dieter. The chicken-fried steak continues to be among the best in town, and terrific live roots music still draws crowds. – Rachel Feit

Generations of Austinites have come to Top Notch for greasy burgers, onion rings, and homemade fried chicken. New proprietors Kelly Chappell and Phillip Santa Cruz have updated the menu with fried okra and green beans, but otherwise Top Notch is a local fast food restaurant still frozen in time – and that's why we love it. – Rachel Feit

7525 Burnet Rd.
512/452-2181
www.topnotchaustin.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

Uchiko's Japanese-inspired cuisine has helped put Austin food on the national radar. But sushi and sashimi play second string to the creative flavor pairings in dishes like rosemary-smoked duck with candied citrus or pork-belly-and-egg sushi with a spicy citrus-soy sauce. Decor here is almost too beautiful to look at. A trip to Uchiko is a treat for the senses. – Rachel Feit

4200 N. Lamar
512/916-4808
www.uchikoaustin.com

Stuffed with ingredients as wild as their celebrity namesakes, these Airport Boulevard burgers are big and beautiful. A mom-and- pop retro diner handcrafts items such as the Norma Jean and Buffalo Bill, plus hot dogs like the Snoop Dog. An Amy Winehouse salad and Mom's Fried OH!!! Rings round out the menu. – Jessi Cape

Candice Gallion

In 2001, Chronicle readers voted this Hyde Park mainstay the Best New Restaurant in our annual Restaurant Poll. Customers haven’t stopped raving since. It’s rare for a restaurant to have longevity over a more than 15-year span; it’s rarer still when a restaurant still feels relevant. Inducted in 2016.

408-C E. 43rd
512/451-1218
www.astiaustin.com

Serving regional Mexican cuisine since 1975, Fonda San Miguel is as much of an Austin icon as it is a great happy hour spot. The walls of the expansive hacienda-style space showcase a fine gallery of Mexican art, and the dishes served are equally remarkable. Do not visit without ordering a ceviche and house margarita. Inducted in 2016.

2330 W. North Loop
512/459-4121
www.fondasanmiguel.com

John Anderson

We suppose there’s a sentiment around 24-hour diners like Kerbey Lane that inevitably boils down to “it’s open,” but there are spoons that rise above the greasiness. Most of the locations maintain those endless hours (keep them in your thoughts), and Kerbey Lane has been doing this town a public service for going on 40 years, feeding their wonderfully absorbent and delicious array of pancakes to patrons needing a particular brand of restorative. We recommend starting with the Cowboy Queso before moving on to the California Omelet. In a town that constantly reckons with its identity, Kerbey’s recent expansion into the Mueller community solidifies and expands on its role as a particular and much-needed cultural and culinary mainstay. Inducted in 2019.

3704 Kerbey
512/451-1436
www.kerbeylanecafe.com

Did you know that this Austin institution supplies many of your favorite restaurants with fresh Gulf seafood? Even better, their own menu will satisfy just about any seafood craving you’ve got: peel-n-eat shrimp, grilled Texas black drum, and buttery lobster. Plus, they’ve got that family reunion-style mac & cheese you not-so-secretly love. Inducted in 2017.

5621 Airport
512/452-3820
www.qualityseafood.wordpress.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

Calling Eddie Wilson’s down-home restaurant an institution is an understatement. Generations of Austinites have downed a beer (or two) at Threadgill’s while feasting on chicken-fried steaks that are as legendary as the musicians who performed there. The massive selection of sides still makes us hoot and holler. Inducted in 2016.

We’ve sampled so many delicious selections from this incredibly popular Thai restaurant, from yum nuer (a wonderfully spicy variant on steak salad) to endless combinations of fried rice and a selection of curry that has no equal. But there are two dishes (both staff favorites) that we return to time and time again: the pork garlic mixed peppercorn, with its wonderfully seasoned meat and vibrant spinach salad, and the Ta-lay Dancing, a three-chile-hot seafood, mushroom, tomato, and onion medley in tom yum sauce. Add to that the skillful and eternally effusive waitstaff who cover the comfortably cozy space with an ease that mimics a flawless dance routine, and you have all the makings of a perfect dining experience. Inducted in 2019.

5501 N. Lamar Ste. C-101
512/458-1792
www.titayasthaicuisine.com

Photo by John Anderson

 
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