This humble mom and pop's shop highlights exquisite handmade udon that's difficult to find outside Japan. Their meticulously prepared dashi broth brings deep umami to comfort staples like chawanmushi. The manager Yoshi, currently pursuing saké sommelier licensure in Japan, enjoys introducing diners to lesser-known premium varieties.
Every day, hordes of UT students line up for Don Japanese's pork belly or Veggie King bowls. Why? Because you are not likely to find a more harmonious marriage of price, quality, and taste (so what, it's a triad) in all of Austin. A brief hiatus has us patiently waiting for May 12.
This beloved little midtown cafe offers fresh takes on soups, salads, and sandwiches served at breakfast and lunch. Dine al fresco on the charmingly dishabille shaded front yard with their Tuna Niçoise Sandwich, soup du jour, and a side salad with blackberry balsamic vinaigrette.
616 W. 34th
Nestled in the lobby of the historic Hotel Ella, Goodall's Kitchen is a welcome refuge from the ubiquitous spread of pizza joints and taco shops of West Campus. They have rotating seasonal offerings like pork belly tater tots, and their cocktail list is expansive and well thought out. Need we say more?
1900 Rio Grande St.
We are not saying that the phrase "Jesus is a biscuit" has anything to do with Olamaie, but if any one biscuit is worthy of such religious thoughts, it's the one made by chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas. The rest of the contemporary Southern – from pickles to chicken dumplings – have us testifying, too.
1610 San Antonio St.
There are few breakfast taco secrets left in Austin, but this campus-area hangover cure has been left largely untouched except for a steady stream of UT students and staff. It's rare you'll find eggs on a house-made tortilla in this town, even rarer to find one topped with such a gluttonous mound of cheese.
2807 San Jacinto
One of the most pleasant things about Texas French Bread has nothing to do with the food. Owner Murph Willcott's emails are part holiday newsletter, part memoir, and part photo essay, sharing anecdotes about restaurant life next to weekly specials. That personal touch shows in everything TFB does, from the Texas bistro cuisine to the charming garden patio.
Forever famous for their Detroit-style square pan pies with a caramelized cheese crust, the newest locations (both full-service restaurants with a full menu) offer apps like stuffed artichokes, beet salads with candied prosciutto, and thin-crust "bar style" pizzas that are – gasp! – round. As devoted to the four corners as we are, we can't deny we want to try all Via has to offer.
3016 Guadalupe #100
Vegetarians and spice lovers rejoice when they walk into the sumptuous, aromatic interior of the Clay Pit. Although sticklers for authenticity may disagree, this restaurant has elevated Indian cuisine for Austin. If you’re around for lunch, make sure to check out their buffet, where you can indulge for a very economical price. Inducted in 2018.
Once, on a first date in their original location off North MoPac, we may or may not have mistaken their oshibori (warm towel) as a complimentary facial, only to be gently guided by the angelic server to cleanse our hands before dinner. This is the kind of classy operation that is Musashino, which opened in 1993 and has become the origin story of several local superstars: Tyson Cole of Uchi/Uchiko/Loro; Kazo Fukumoto of his eponymous restaurant; Ramen Tatsu-ya’s owners/chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto. The Tokyo-style restaurant, now in the former Fino spot in West Campus, is known for creating some of the most elegant pieces of Edomae-style sushi this side of Japan. In addition to an impossibly fresh, stunning traditional menu, they offer a wide assortment of modern twists, and an omakase option. After spending so much time in loungewear at home, we cannot think of a better reason to dust off the jacket and black dress than dining at this world-class establishment. Inducted in 2021.
2905 San Gabriel St. #200
The Detroit Tigers may be in a rebuilding phase this season (fingers crossed!), but this Detroit-style pizza has enraptured Austin since the Hunt brothers’ first trailer opened in 2011. The cheesy, crunchy, thick signature squares topped with just the right amount of marinara are to credit for their now legendary winning streak, but the thinner bar-style pies will also have you happy-heckling the kitchen. Don’t skip their bonkers pizza collaborations featuring special toppings like Garbo’s lobster, la Barbecue’s cold-smoked ham, and Michi’s ramen. And if you don’t end up with meatballs on your pizza (do it), grab the appetizer version before you succumb to all the cheese. Bonus points for a seriously solid gluten-free crust. Inducted in 2019.
3016 Guadalupe #100
Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin. Support the Chronicle