Chef Bryce Gilmore was at the forefront of Austin’s farm-to-table movement, and he continues to cook with the same inspiration and creativity at his Brentwood restaurant. Barley Swine guests can opt for the chef’s tasting menu experience or order à la carte from the constantly changing menu, which surprises and delights with creations like fried pig skin slaw or smoked fish salad with leek mousse and savory cereal. The bar program is equally inspired by the seasons, and the Swine Time happy hour is not to be missed.
6555 Burnet Rd. #400
Like so many so-hot Austin restaurants, BMP started out as a food truck in the early 2010s, slinging Filipino-inspired fare like longanisa tots (tater tots topped with longanisa sausage and plantain sauce). Owners Mark Pascual and Giovan Cuchapin have recently expanded service at the joint to include the Kamayan Experience, a family-style meal served on banana leaves and eaten with the hands, every Tuesday.
Hawaiian slang for “big shot,” the Big Kahuna is the biggest, if not the only, game in town for real Hawaiian food. Anchored in the Rosedale food court on Burnet Road, the truck slings generous, heartbreakingly fresh poke bowls, the classic Loco Moco (rice topped with a burger patty, fried egg, and gravy), and simply outstanding coconut shrimp tenders.
1309 W. 45th
The award-winning craft beer is brewed in-house, the elevated pub grub is a locavore’s dream come true, and the fish & chips would make Christopher Lee smile from beyond his British grave. Oh, and the whole industrially inflected joint’s run cooperatively, FTW, right there where Airport snugs into North Lamar.
7020 Easy Wind #100
Philip Speer’s bistro on Burnet is smooth like clarified butter. Go visit those bartenders squeezin’ gallons of fresh grapefruit juice for your morning-after pick-me-up, and remember that their brunch boasts such tasty hangover-banishing fare as Rum Baba French Toast and a rosti with thick-cut bacon, Boursin, and a perfectly cooked soft scrambled egg that warrants its own YouTube congrats from Jacques Pépin.
We don’t know what it was like to be some Eighties German pud who drank hectolitres of the world’s only source of excellent beer during America’s down years of brewing, but we do know what it’s like to enjoy the post-millennium renaissance of American brewers emulating German bierhalle precision. With a surprisingly thoughtful menu of housemade pretzels (with IPA mustard and beer cheese!) to the wundersalad All Kale Caesar, the food menu is only surpassed by their stunning Helles and Vienna lagers.
6015-A Dillard Cir.
The rustic, wood-lined dining room and chicly rough-hewn stoneware plates match the kitchen’s stylish but casual approach to Spanish cuisine. Dishes like arroz valencia, or grilled octopus with chorizo and verdina beans, beg to be shared, ideally with a glass of sherry or two to wash it all down.
Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo items on one meat-free menu? From flapjacks at brunch to a barbecue “pulled plant” sandwich for dinner, this nondescript from the outside, but charming on the inside spot is full of surprises. Be sure to get a selfie with the pink rabbit on the wall before your third cocktail.
5011 Burnet Rd.
Open less than a year, this homey, funky Tex-Mex comfort food joint has Austin cred out the yin-yang. Chef/owner Joel Fried pairs his creative spin on classic combo plates (mashed potato enchiladas, anyone?) with loving gestures toward Austin’s culinary history in the form of specials like the Lost Amis and the Cocina del Sur. We’re obsessed.
3300 W. Anderson
This French and NOLA-inspired restaurant ought to be an essential staple on the brunch rotation. It offers the comfort of dining at (your very lovely) home to enjoy chef-created croque madames, beignets, and duck & grits with your cappuccino, but with absolutely no dish duty.
Foreign & Domestic has redefined itself more than once. Last year, founder Ned Elliott sold the North Loop mainstay to talented chefs Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley. The co-owners are staying true to the roots (we see you, popovers) while making it their own (the nose-to-tail tasting menu), and their ability to adapt is a reason F&D remains a cherished neighborhood favorite.
306 E. 53rd
Helmed by former Uchiko Executive Chef Sterling Ridings, this highly anticipated new seafood-focused restaurant features a raw bar fit for Aquaman himself, along with cooked ocean treasures like Chilean sea bass poached in marrow and oyster sabayon. Guild also dances delightfully with luxurious land-dweller dishes like double-cut pork tomahawk and Wagyu teres major. They’ve got chess pie, too.
Irasshaimase! The customary Japanese welcome greeting – announced in unison by the staff for each new guest – embodies the casual but chic comfort of this wonderful (and recently revamped/expanded) restaurant. Their insanely fresh sushi and sashimi plates are arguably the best lunch deals in town, and now that there’s a full bar, we plan to renew our wedding vows. Try the sunshine roll with fresh mango, Shiso greyhound, and chicken karaage.
5301 Airport Blvd.
It’s easy to have low expectations of a fast-casual Mediterranean joint, but that just means that you’ll be blown away by the freshness and flavor of this build-your-own pita/bowl concept from Turkey native Moody Ugur. Visitors to the Triangle restaurant should definitely not miss the kofte meatballs and falafel.
4700 W. Guadalupe #9
Anybody with a gluten, corn, peanut, or soy allergy can easily eat at Picnik, but other folks seem pretty pumped about it, too. The paleo-popular grass-fed butter coffee is always front and center, but exec chef Dan Salivar also knocks it outta the park with beef stew, Cobb salad, and creamy cashew queso.
4801 Burnet Rd.
PHP is not Austin’s alpha pizza joint, no, but the combination of elite IPAs paired with one of their decidedly delicious pies makes them a top-shelf pizza/beer experience. As their development team smokes overtime to bring us things like the Burgler, a cheeseburger-inspired pie, we can rest assured knowing we’ll never reach the load baseline of an electric scooter.
4729 Burnet Rd.
While other barbecue joints in town see their names splashed all over TV shows and headlines, this Brentwood joint has been quietly pumping out top-notch ’cue since 2011. Don’t sleep on the banana pudding, either.
6610 N. Lamar
What started out as Salty Sow chef Harold Marmulstein’s hot chicken food truck side gig has now blossomed into a full-blown Allandale restaurant that has snatched the fried chicken crown from all other local competitors. Thanks for the inspo, Nashville, but Austin will take it from here.
7211 Burnet Rd.
Sometimes we’ll shop at the Half Price Books on North Lamar only for an excuse to go back to nearby Titaya’s a third time in the same week, because the expansive menu of Thai classics is so gustatorily compelling. Or maybe it’s just how their tom kha soup’s made us, ah, coo-coo for coconuts? (Pro tip: Get the Talay Dancing.)
5501 N. Lamar Ste. C-101
Like the classic little black dress, Uchiko has become a mainstay on the Austin dining scene. From the economical social hour to a date-night splurge with a shellfish allergy, there’s something for everyone at this beloved modern, innovative Japanese restaurant. The menu is in a league of its own: Not even Bon Appétit can nail that not-so-secret crispy brussels sprouts recipe.
4200 N. Lamar
The newest kid on the North Loop block proves itself a master with Vietnamese sandwiches that epitomize the flawless combo of spicy, fatty, and crunchy. If the baguette-enveloped tour de force isn’t your thing, opt for a vermicelli bowl or the pork egg rolls, but always, always say yes to extra house-made hot sauce.
201 E. 53rd
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin. Support the Chronicle