Aviary gets an A+ for their extensive wine list (and knowledgeable staff to help navigate), the house-made pastas and pastries, and half-priced bottles on Wednesdays. Extra credit for the always-perfect risotto. And bonus points for the clever bathroom signage.
2110-C S. Lamar
More than just a (very) pretty face, the stylish dining room at El Chipirón serves up some of the best tapas in Austin, with flawless renditions of classics like pan con tomate, gambas a la plancha, and blistered padrón peppers with Catalan alioli sauce. Come on a Tuesday to try their fabulous paella.
Ex-nurse Stephanie McClenny has turned her tiny jam-making operation into a biscuit emporium and cozy space where folks can gather for coffee and baked goods. Baking and crafting classes put the “yum” in “community.”
Cheese and kimchi is a wildly underrated combo, but the good people at Jeonju have brought it to the masses with their wildly popular kimchi-stuffed quesadilla. It’s a little spicy, a little savory, crispy-edged, and soaked with melting cheese. Do you really need to know anything else?
1005 E. St. Elmo Road
This Barton Springs-adjacent patio has become the see-and-be-seen spot. Their brilliantly executed classic Italian-American fare – that cioppino! that chicken piccata! that gnocchi hash! – has seared itself into our collective Instagram-tinged mind with good reason. And yes, of course they have a list of rosé by the bottle.
1500 Barton Springs Rd.
Oh, look who it is (again)! Restaurant rookies Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin have combined forces to bring us a Texas-Asian smokehouse. Flavor explosions like Malaysian chicken bo ssam, Thai green curry sausage, and smoked beef brisket with chili gastrique and Thai herbs will have you wondering when someone is finally going to notice these guys’ mad skills. (They’ve also created a fantastic patio, by the way.)
2115 S. Lamar
We can thank Barley Swine’s more casual sister restaurant for keeping Austin weird with a rotating cast of playful dishes like goat chili Frito pie and chicken-fried fish heads with burnt orange habanero hot sauce. However, veggies are equally important at this South Lamar favorite and they always star in a number of cocktails and dishes (like roasted beets, black bean mole, masa fried cheese curds, radish, and pepitas).
1201 S. Lamar
Opened by two former DJs in 2012, Ramen Tatsu-ya has since been named one of the best ramen joints in the entire damn country. Belly up to a warming bowl of tonkotsu broth filled with hand-cut fresh noodles, a wedge of pork, a shoyu egg, and a spicy butter bomb, and you’ll understand how they got Austin into this fetish.
1234 S. Lamar
Fried chicken. It’s a simple concept, and one not restricted to omnivores. Get it in three forms at the Sundaze food truck: sandwich, nugget, and wing. There is crunchy, breaded, peppery fried chicken and homemade seitan No Frick’n Chick’n (for the vegans).
2323 S. Lamar
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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