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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?