Midtown

John Anderson

Emmett and Lisa Fox have been serving up seasonal, reasonably priced Italian fare in the heart of Hyde Park for more than a dozen years. Suitable for a lunch meeting, early dinner with the kids, or a romantic night out for two, Asti is the portrait of comfortable elegance. – Melanie Haupt

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

Creative pub grub meets terrific microbrews in an unpretentious setting. Plates like bangers and mash give the menu an English accent, while chicken-fried chicken and shrimp with grits strike a decidedly Southern twang. Ultimately, the beers best reflect cultural provenance. Sporting names like Moebius, Epsilon, and Vulcan, you know that dorky geniuses are behind it all. – Rachel Feit

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

photo by John Anderson

Ten years ago, North Loop was a quiet neighborhood of run-down student rental housing and aging family bungalows. Michael and Jessica Sanders have helped to add some vibrancy and culinary adventurousness to the area since 2012, redefining craft cocktails and pub fare, not to mention the iconic Twinkie. – Melanie Haupt

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

After initial worries over noise and parking, owner Sarah McIntosh's classy take on Cajun and French cooking has won over the Rosedale neighborhood. Whether it is seasonal fried green tomatoes and smoked shrimp, or slow simmered oxtail stew over grits, there's always something new and interesting on the menu at this quaint cafe and mini-grocery. – Rachel Feit

2307 Hancock
512/371-6840
www.epicerieaustin.com

Photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

This grande dame of Austin's fine dining court is where the culinary cognoscenti go to experience authentic Mexican gastronomy, unadulterated by tacky Texan bling. Sunday brunches are legendarily lavish. – Rachel Feit

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

Ned Elliott's spare-but-homey American diner is effectively a laboratory for the charismatic chef's pursuit of modern comfort food. Elliott's drive and curiosity have ensured that the small North Loop spot is the first place to look if you want to know what this year's culinary trends will be. – Melanie Haupt

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

Just down the road from I Luv Video, this unassuming gem happens to feature a masterful wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizza for an excellent price. The spicy, roasted olive appetizer; mixed green salad with strawberries and goat cheese; and a traditional 12-inch Margherita – plus at least one glass from their sustainably-minded wine list – make a perfect meal. – Jessi Cape

Takehiro and Kayo Asazu got their start selling bento boxes at the farmers' market in 2006; the Sushi-A-Go-Go trailer followed in 2009. In 2011, they opened their brick-and-mortar shop with a full Japanese menu including ramen, and there is almost always a (well-deserved) line out the door. – Melanie Haupt

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

John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

Blink and you might miss this hole-in-the-wall pizzeria hidden in the Crestview neighborhood. Little Deli makes pizza like they do back in Jersey, with thin crust, gooey cheese, and a generous dose of bada-bing. Mile-high sandwiches on thick-sliced bread and classic Italian subs are tempting, too. – Rachel Feit

7101-A Woodrow
512/467-7402
www.littledeliandpizza.com

This second location of the popular Lucy's on South Congress has got all the sass that made the first restaurant so popular: deep-fried deviled eggs, mountain oysters, and, of course, crisp buttermilk fried chicken, plus the recent addition of a new weekend brunch menu. But don't overlook the fantastic wood-fired baked oysters. – Rachel Feit

5408 Burnet Rd.
512/514-0664
www.lucysfriedchicken.com

For three blissful hours a day, Tuesday through Saturday, savvy Austinites have at their disposal some of the best deli food south of the Mason-Dixon. The house-cured pastrami, pork belly confit, and roast beef are transcendent; what's more, they're all cured in-house at this upstart little trailer. – Melanie Haupt

Another trailer-gone-brick-and-mortar success story, Freddy Lee couldn't keep up with the demand for his product when he opened his truck at the now-defunct North Austin Trailer Yard in May 2012. The restaurant followed a few months later, and has handily established itself as a contender in Austin's ramen wars. – Melanie Haupt

6519 N. Lamar
512/386-1908
www.michiramen.com

A sentimental favorite, Mother's was one of the first dedicated all-vegetarian restaurants in Austin. From the timeless cashew tamari dressing to the artichoke enchiladas to the wheat-free almond mocha torte, Mother's reminds us that comfort food doesn't have to be modernized, nor does it need to contain meat. – Melanie Haupt

4215 Duval St.
512/451-3994
www.motherscafeaustin.com

This may be one of the best restaurants you've never heard of. Serving up classic Persian dishes from their grocery store kitchen, Pars' deli attracts a loyal following that can't get enough of the lush fesenjon (chicken stewed in pomegranate and walnut sauce), or the earthy gorma sabzi (beef stewed with herbs and kidney beans). – Rachel Feit

8820 Burnet Rd. #502
512/452-4888
www.austinparsdeli.com

Phoenicia has always been a foodie heaven. After you've made yourself dizzy scanning the rare grocery treats imported from around the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, order a chicken shawarma from their deli counter, or try the zatar bread sandwich. You're cheating yourself if you don't try the sinful pecan and date coconut macaroons. – Rachel Feit

4701-A Burnet Rd.
512/323-6770
www.phoeniciabakery.com

This friends-and-family eatery hit the bull's-eye when it opened last year. Serving hop forward microbrews and puffy pizzas, it became an instant hangout for Midtowners. Don't forget to bring plenty of quarters for Donkey Kong! – Rachel Feit

4729 Burnet Rd.
512/436-9605
www.pinthousepizza.com

photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

For more than three quarters of a century, Quality Seafood has offered fresh fish for retail sale, as well as a variety of fried delights and oysters galore. Where else in Aus­tin can you pick up squid to dissect in biology class, lobster tails to serve at a fancy dinner, or take your kids for $3 fish tacos on Tuesday night? Nowhere else, that's where. – Melanie Haupt

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

Weekend brunches at this popular neighborhood cafe are the bomb, which is what you'd expect from the sister restaurant to the established west Austin bakery, Russell's. After you've sampled the excellent crab cakes Benedict, or the pecan banana pancakes, come back for dinner. The menu is an eclectic mix of modern American fare featuring a reliable array of steaks, burgers, and seafood. – Rachel Feit

1601 W. 38th St. #1
512/467-7877
www.russellsbistro.com

John Anderson

Owner Foo Swasdee knows a thing or two about Thai food after 26 years in the biz. Not content to rest on her laurels, Swasdee's kitchen always has some new treat brewing. It might be seafood in red curry topped with coconut cream and shredded magrood, or Pilipino egg rolls stuffed with minced chicken; her food is always polished and professional. – Rachel Feit

Most places in Austin don't require a lunch reservation. But most places aren't the Steeping Room, which specializes in deliciously dainty tea sandwiches (no crusts here!), delicate pastries, and, naturally, a wide selection of specialty teas. Demand is deservedly high for the chance to luncheon in this mid-city oasis. – Melanie Haupt

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

photo by John Anderson

Co-owner Lance Kirkpatrick's barbecued beef ribs made judges swoon at the Chronicle's inaugural beef rib smackdown in January, but the restaurant's peppery brisket and spicy, coarse-ground sausage have also earned this family-friendly dining spot a solid reputation among the pit bosses. Sides here go beyond the standard potato salad and coleslaw to include excellent corn casserole and mac and cheese. – Rachel Feit

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

Every bit of Uchiko's stellar reputation is earned, from the innovative cuisine (Jar Jar Duck! Hot Rock! Brussels sprouts!) to the impeccable service. While the price point might intimidate some, the weekday Sake Social Hour also means that you don't have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy truly special food. – Melanie Haupt

4200 N. Lamar #140
512/916-4808
uchikoaustin.com

John Anderson

Yes, it's a wine bar, and a damn good one at that. But, in addition to its sophisticated wine list, reflecting both depth and breadth of expertise, Vino Vino also has an incredible French-inspired menu that is emblematic of elegant Austin. The mussels and fries alone make Vino Vino a can't-miss dining destination. – Melanie Haupt

4119 Guadalupe
512/465-9282
www.vinovinoaustin.com

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

John Anderson

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

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.

6416 N. Lamar
512/451-5440
www.threadgills.com

 
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