Midtown

John Anderson

You can get almost anything at Barley Swine, from pigskin noodles to steak bavette, all of it compellingly strange and locally sourced. But what you want is the tasting menu, 10 courses of chef Bryce Gilmore’s best ideas. The menu varies seasonally, but there will be fresh herbs and pickled things and unusual animal bits, all of it house-made and plated like a series of tiny, perfect jewels.

6555 Burnet Rd. #400
512/394-8150
www.barleyswine.com

It’s hard to imagine a scrappier gathering place in Austin than Black Star Co-op. It’s got all the things Austinites love: inventive house-brewed beer, pub fare made with locally sourced ingredients (the chips are life-giving), and a progressive, worker-friendly cooperative model that gives back to the community. A recent financial struggle has only made them stronger.

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

John Anderson

John Anderson

This buzzy newcomer has the aesthetics of a minimalist production of Barbarella, and a menu that could fool you into thinking you’ve snagged a seat at the hippest cafe on the French Riviera, with dishes like crispy octopus Lyonnaise, an already legendary burger, and an extensive menu of pommes rosti, crispy potato nests filled with everything from applesauce to foie gras. They say they’ll be serving brunch soon; we suggest you get in line now.

CLOSED

You won’t find crumpled napkins and remnants of food littering the floor at Bullfight, but their jamón croquettes and impressive list of dry sherries will transport you straight to the noisy tascas of Madrid. Here there’s an occasional fútbol game blaring, too, but unlike the crowded dive bars of Granada, we like Bullfight’s open-air dining room for date night over game night.

CLOSED

John Anderson

John Anderson

Serving up fast-casual chicken sandwiches for the socially conscious and buy-local set, Flyrite offers fresh ingredients, local coffees and beers, and innovative craft sandwiches (the Eastside is a cool, crunchy bet on a hot day). The breakfast tacos include a chicken tender wrapped in a waffle, a surefire way to brighten up a humdrum weekday morning.

6539 Burnet Rd.
512/243-6258
www.flyritechicken.com/

In a food scene crawling with influencers, we still like to stick with the innovators. Chef Ned Elliott was one of the first trailblazers that started Austin’s current hospitality explosion, but he has never rested on his laurels. Now serving a French-inflected menu, F&D remains every bit as essential to Austin as when it was first started.

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

John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

Drive past this unassuming little sushi joint on Airport Boulevard on any given night of the week and witness a throng of people patiently waiting to be seated. It’s no wonder, as Také and Kayo Asazu consistently deliver fresh, high-quality Japanese comfort food, from the quirky sushi rolls to grilled octopus at dinner and piping-hot ramen and rice bowls at lunch.

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

Southern comfort doesn’t have to start in the South? Chef Eric Silverstein’s menu bridges the cuisine of his international youth – Japanese, Chinese, and Malaysian from Tokyo and traditional Southern from Atlanta. We wish all memoirs were so delicious.

5520 Burnet Rd. #100
512/330-4439
thepeachedtortilla.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

Brightly lit, airy, and full of plants, the interior of Picnik is so fashionably cheery that you can’t help but feel a little dour in comparison. Don’t worry; a dose of bulletproof coffee (made with grass-fed butter and organic espresso) or a cup of one of their lush bone broths will put you in a positively angelic mood.

4801 Burnet Rd.
737/226-0644
www.picnikaustin.com

Titaya’s underwent major interior renovations in 2014, but their dishes have remained (blessedly) unchanged. Whatever the surroundings, patrons have always rhapsodized over their basil talay, tom-kha, tom yum fried rice, and crispy sweet corn taro fritters with just the right hint of sweet chili plum sauce.

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

Photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

Uchi’s baby is all grown up. The second-born in Tyson Cole’s empire shines bright with a unique balance of classic Japanese and up-to-the-minute farm-fresh fusion that showcases food as an art form. Who said middle children aren’t ambitious?

4200 N. Lamar
512/916-4808
uchikoaustin.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

When we talk about restaurateurs that helped put Austin on the food city map, multiple James Beard Award finalist Bryce Gilmore – executive chef and co-owner of Barley Swine, Odd Duck, and Sour Duck Market – is up there with the best. In 2009, back when our farmers’ markets were small and the food truck scene was still gestating, Gilmore and his brother refurbed an old trailer and opened fan-favorite Odd Duck, serving only local produce and utilizing whole animals. Gilmore’s acclaimed fine dining restaurant Barley Swine opened the next year, spotlighting his dedication to seasonal ingredients with an always exquisite tasting menu, and the crowds went wild. The continuous efforts to celebrate local ranchers and farmers, and up the ante with casual sister restaurant Sour Duck Market, an annual almanac, and a carbon neutral initiative, are forever seared in our hearts. Inducted in 2021.

6555 Burnet Rd. #400
512/394-8150
www.barleyswine.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
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
kerbeylanecafe.com

Long before Korean food was a popular cuisine in the Austin restaurant scene, Korea House opened in 1988, and legions of fans, new and old, still frequent what is considered the first Korean restaurant in town. Outside seating overlooking a lovely koi pond, twinkly lights, and peaceful music all contribute to their wonderful ambience, but it’s the delicious and consistent food that keeps customers coming back. While the menu continues to expertly execute classic dishes like bibimbap, galbi, and seafood pajeon – and helped introduce banchan and one of the world’s greatest condiments, kimchi, to many diners – they’re set on maintaining the magic with new concepts like family meal kits for budae jjigae and Korean-style barbecue (both grilled and DIY). We’re big fans of this delightful place. Inducted in 2021.

2700 W. Anderson Ln. #501
512/458-2477
koreahouseaustin.com/

photo by David Brendan Hall

photo by John Anderson

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
qualityseafoodmarket.com

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.

CLOSED

John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

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
titayasthaicuisine.com

 
Lower East
North and Northwest

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle