Bringing authentic Spanish tapas by way of San Francisco, husband-and-wife team Daniel Olivella and Vanessa Jerez should be kissed for bringing this gem to South Lamar. What more could a person want than to be able to pick an assortment of small plates bursting with flavor, from squid ink paellas to traditional latas? Oh yes, to wash it all down with house-made sangria. Barlata’s got it all.
If restaurants were greatest hits albums, Cantine would be burning up the charts. Hospitality veterans Lisa and Emmett Fox borrowed elements from their Hyde Park classic, Asti, and sorely missed Hollywood Regency stunner Fino for their new venture in the Lamar Union development. The result is an innovative Mediterranean restaurant with a bright dining room and a serious beverage program that couldn’t be more contemporary.
Let’s be honest; you’re here for the kimchi fries. And they are amazing, especially topped with the spicy pork. With a fifth location on the way, Chi’Lantro is becoming something of a local empire; you might as well get in on the action before they go national.
1509 S. Lamar
We can’t wait for drier weather so we can fold Juliet’s gorgeous patio into our happy hour rotation. From the polpo and pesce crudo to the pizzas and handmade pastas to the ample parking lot, Juliet beckons us back for her well-executed Italian dishes and stunning decor. The olive oil tastings offer a true touch of Tuscany.
1500 Barton Springs Rd.
Any person walking into Odd Duck for the first time will see the open kitchen and wood-fired oven and know they’re about to get both dinner and a show. Starting as a trailer by Barley Swine owner Bryce Gilmore, Odd Duck focuses on letting local ingredients speak for themselves through small plates, like the duck fat fried rice and sweet potato with green chile. Some dishes are so good, you’ll find yourself ordering another round of them before the night is over.
1201 S. Lamar
This South Austin favorite visits different culinary regions of Mexico, with nuanced twists and an emphasis on a worldwide food staple – corn – with delectable crema de elote and handmade corn tortillas. Enchiladas de mole, or de pipián, are solid choices, and the garlic rice is a nice detour from oft-featured Spanish rice.
1816 S. Lamar
Rumor has it that Matthew McConaughey frequents this classy sushi joint and orders nothing but sea bream sashimi. We would be fine with just that as well – no soy sauce or wasabi needed on the immaculate cuts of fresh fish – but other menu items (Wagyu hot rock, tiger shrimp tempura, or the hakujin roll, to name a few) make it nearly impossible to not go all-out.
801 S. Lamar
The seasonally changing yet always-gorgeous platings (read: highly ’grammable) have us coming back to VOX on the reg. Chef Joe Anguiano’s albacore tuna tartare scooped with a delicate potato lavash is divine, and smoked Tasmanian trout at brunch had us swimming. Beverage director JR Mocanu is also doing some very innovative things behind the bar, utilizing house-made ingredients like smoked pineapple ginger shrub and tangerine tincture.
If you’re wondering how a burger drive-through earned a spot in our Hall of Fame, you haven’t earned your Austin stripes. Everyone recognizes the infamous Golden Arches, but thanks to Patrick and Kathy Terry, alongside architecture guru Michael Hsu, the futuristic aesthetic of this Central Texas mega-chain – more than 21 locations and counting – is also recognizable from the highway … but for way better food and business practices. Since 2005, when they opened the original location on Barton Springs, it’s largely been the same simple menu, and the ingredients are real: 100% Angus beef and ground chicken breast, Mrs. Baird’s special buns, fresh-cut Idaho potatoes, house veggie patties, and more – all at “fast food” prices. They welcome customizing your combo (say yes to jalapeño and grilled onions), offer breakfast sammies, and frequently surprise us with monthly milkshake specials and their staff with birthday cakes. As if we couldn’t fall any more in love, in 2021, a year of turmoil, P. Terry’s executives raised the minimum wage for all employees to $15 per hour. Heroes? We think so. Inducted in 2021.
404 S. Lamar
Many of us became obsessed with noodles thanks to an affection for Eighties and Nineties Asian crime dramas: In almost every film, there is a scene of a meal shared between cohorts, cops, or often just regular people. And they slurp those noodles, and they spoon that broth, and we’re like, “That looks like the most amazing combination of ingredients in the universe!” Restaurants like Ramen Tatsu-ya effortlessly expand all of our palates, and we are lucky they chose Austin to become a ramen mecca, now with a family of offshoots like Domo Alley-Gato Tatsu-ya, Kemuri Tatsu-ya, DipDipDip Tatsu-ya, and Tiki Tatsu-ya. Despite (and because of) the pedigree of minds – like chef Tatsu Aikawa – behind these delightful bowls of wonder, it all comes down to the noodles. Slurping them here is a singular experience. Inducted in 2019.
1234 S. Lamar
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. Inducted in 2017.
801 S. Lamar
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