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
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
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.
6539 Burnet Rd.
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
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 #100
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.
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.
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
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 #140
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
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
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.
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
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