Downtown

Photo by John Anderson

The Austin pizza space is pretty tight these days, but we are blessed with a Neapolitan-style restaurant that specializes in pies both classic (margherita, pepperoni) and quirky (dandelion, boar) while also showcasing the versatility and deliciousness of vegetables.

900 W. 10th
512/660-5779
www.40northpizza.com

Corn and family take center stage in this cocina. Much like what the restaurant’s menu does for the humble maize plant, the kitchen takes Mexican street food and elevates it to family-style dishes that feature grilled, smoked, and charred meat and peppers in combinations that will make you want más.

110 San Antonio St. #170
512/263-2322
www.atxcocina.com

Photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

The cycle of Mexican and Texan cuisine influencing each other is almost never-ending in Austin. However, that cycle may stop and start at Ciclo, where a barbecued octopus can elicit as much excitement as locally sourced cabrito on gnocchi.

98 San Jacinto
512/478-4500
www.cicloatx.com

On the heels of the surprise closure of his North Burnet French joint Bonhomie, Philip Speer tackles modern Mexican Downtown with his partners Gabe Erales and Alan Delgado. Here, au courant techniques mingle with ancient dishes, resulting in soul-satisfying moles and the kind of daring, out-of-the-box desserts upon which Speer built his reputation.

501 Colorado
512/499-0977
www.comedortx.com

Photo by John Anderson

Photo by John Anderson

This cafe allows diners to check out the world’s different cuisines all in one place. Inspired by cookbooks that are part of the library’s catalog (including our very own Virginia B. Wood’s memorial library), there is a certain cohesion to the family-photo-album approach in the kitchen. That’s what allows tamarind-peanut chili sauce to happily stand side by side with Burmese curry.

710 W. Cesar Chavez
512/487-5166
www.cookbookatx.com

Fareground food court 86’ed Easy Tiger and Antonelli’s stalls earlier this year, adding TLV and an offshoot of rustic Italian restaurant Italic to existing Ni-Komé (Komé Sushi/Daruma Ramen mash-up), Contigo (satellite location with rotisserie chicken), Henbit (Emmer & Rye’s little sister), and Dai Due Taqueria. At the bite-worthy distillation of chef-author-hunter Jesse Griffith’s cooking-as-ecological-responsibility ethos, guests enjoy traditional al pastor, guisada, and tinga while supporting lesser-known Texan producers. Yes, the boar is from Austin’s backyard, deliberately elevated to suit the people’s taco needs. TLV showcases Chef Berty’s iteration of Israeli street food – something this town needs more of – with hummus in a lead role, supported by a cast of pillowy pita, Balkan pastries, filled Israeli donuts, and Turkish breakfast. No matter the time of day, you need that tahini milkshake in your life.

111 Congress
512/284-7083
www.daiduetaqueria.com/home

John Anderson

Photo by David Brendan Hall

If Arlo Grey (by celebrity chef Kristen Kish) at the LINE Downtown is a little too chichi for your tastes, perhaps the hotel’s more casual Dean’s is more your speed. That is, if your speed is Don Draper’s backyard cookout: burgers, hot dogs, hot chicken, and a wedge salad, for God’s sake. Don’t forget the Ray-Bans when you go.

111 E. Cesar Chavez
512/473-1570
www.thelinehotel.com/austin/food-drink

Heirloom grains meet dim sum-style small plates at one of Austin’s most innovative restaurants. A global perspective translated via hyperlocal seasonal ingredients manifests as pork loin with barbecued loquats, roasted carrots with wild pecan mole, and a variety of pastas made with thoughtfully chosen grains.

51 Rainey #110
512/366-5530
www.emmerandrye.com

photo by John Anderson

photo by John Anderson

Callie Speer’s Downtown diner has been outspokenly gluttonous and fun from the get-go, and Austinites have embraced the layering of comfort food, stoner snacks, and brunch, eschewing the suggestion that the punk rock angle might have been gimmicky. Holy Roller gives us permission to play with our food again.

509 Rio Grande
512/502-5119
www.holyrolleraustin.com

New on the crowded Italian scene, “The Fox” offers one of the best cheese/charcuterie boards in town. Add to that a two-story ceiling, blue velvet, and candlelit chic plus a seasonal menu of grilled proteins, handmade pastas, delicate seafood, and a dark chocolate tart that will have even the most savory of your crew sneaking another bite. It’s a lovely balance of Southern meets Italian, with a sexy, sophisticated vibe.

201-B Brazos
512/501-6713
www.lavolpeaustin.com

Photo by David Brendan Hall

photo by John Anderson

This Downtown French brasserie boasts a menu that will take diners from Brittany to Paris and all the way down to the French Riviera. The words sprinkled with accents make the dishes sound haute gamme (aka fancy), but the important thing to know is that because butter and bread are used in abundance (tiny puffed pastries atop escargot!), everything is delicious.

110 San Antonio St.
512/580-7651
www.lepolitiqueaustin.com

Chef Iliana de la Vega has been focused on tradition for much longer than her Oaxaca-City-come-Rainey restaurant has been offering a taste of interior Mexico (since 2012, ftr). She’s a veteran of the local masa-making, comal-toasting, mole-crafting scene, so brave the hordes to taste her mole negro (featuring chilhuacle negro, guajillo, mulato, ancho, and more) and that guisada-ceviche power duo for brunch.

85 Rainey
512/474-2776
www.elnaranjorestaurant.com

John Anderson

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Named Best Place to Start Off the Weekend by the Chronicle way back in 1999, Polvos has remained a mainstay. Offering a variety of interior Mexican dishes in a very casual setting, Polvos keeps you chill with its affordable brain-buster margs. This South First institution recently brought its something-for-everyone watering hole menus to Downtown in a sleek new location overlooking Shoal Creek, complete with dog-friendly patio.

360 Nueces #10
512/494-4064
www.polvosaustin.com/polvos-downtown

TLV

Fareground food court 86’ed Easy Tiger and Antonelli’s stalls earlier this year, adding TLV and an offshoot of rustic Italian restaurant Italic to existing Ni-Komé (Komé Sushi/Daruma Ramen mash-up), Contigo (satellite location with rotisserie chicken), Henbit (Emmer & Rye’s little sister), and Dai Due Taqueria. At the bite-worthy distillation of chef-author-hunter Jesse Griffith’s cooking-as-ecological-responsibility ethos, guests enjoy traditional al pastor, guisada, and tinga while supporting lesser-known Texan producers. Yes, the boar is from Austin’s backyard, deliberately elevated to suit the people’s taco needs. TLV showcases Chef Berty’s iteration of Israeli street food – something this town needs more of – with hummus in a lead role, supported by a cast of pillowy pita, Balkan pastries, filled Israeli donuts, and Turkish breakfast. No matter the time of day, you need that tahini milkshake in your life.

111 Congress
www.tlv-austin.com

Photo by John Anderson

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Chef Ji Peng Chen offers Downtown a thorough sampling of regional Chinese food. His menu features specialty dumplings, a shrimp-centric dim sum menu, and not-your-mama’s tiki cocktails in addition to an expansive menu with a decidedly true-to-farm emphasis, especially when it comes to proteins. Order the striped bass or Beijing whole duck 24-48 hours in advance. We appreciate the intentionality.

500 W. Fifth #168
512/476-2469
www.wuchowaustin.com

If you ask an Austinite where to eat vegan food, 99.9% of the time, the immediate response is, “Arlo’s!” Plant-based but designed with carnivores in mind, the menu caters to late-night cravings, and they’ve absolutely mastered the art of meatless cheeseburgers with their famous Bac’n Cheezeburger. That Frito pie ain’t nothing to sneeze at either, friends. To really let you in on how special their trio of curbside eateries is, consider this: Arlo’s is the very first food trailer and only the second plant-based kitchen inducted into our First Plates Hall of Fame. Austin’s plant-based comfort food baby is all grown up now. Inducted in 2019.

900 Red River
512/840-1600
www.arlostruck.com

David Brendan Hall

John Anderson

Comfort, warmth, and a dash of romance makes this little bistro live up to its name. Started by three Parisian friends in 1982, it’s a classic take on traditional French fare, and an excellent spot for relishing in conversation over escargots de Bourgogne and bubbles while hidden away from the Downtown melee. Inducted in 2017.

510 Neches
512/473-2413
www.cheznousaustin.com

 
Campus
East

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