Downtown

photo by Jackie Klusmeyer

Throw a rock and you’ll hit a taco in this town, but not everybody can boast cauliflower chorizo, mole amarillo hongos tacos, and a chile morita brisket quesadilla, now can they? Did we mention house tortillas?

88 1/2 Rainey
asadortacos.com

From the people that brought you Z’Tejas, Eddie V’s, and Hopdoddy comes a happening Downtown spot churning out contemporary Mexican cuisine for the increasingly glitzy masses. The focus here is on corn, maize, masa, and the end result is worth braving the newest burgeoning Downtown block. Please don’t skip the queso fundido.

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

Photo by John Anderson

courtesy of Burro Cheese Kitchen

Take the most comforting of comfort foods, make them artisanal and small-batch, add all the ingredients Austinites love, and boom! Burro grilled cheese. Of course the cheese is top-shelf with the likes of Gouda, havarti, and aged cheddar, but add-ons like brisket and balsamic apricot fig sauce seal the deal.

80 Rainey Street
512/767-2810
www.burrocheesekitchen.com

Sometimes we want to feast on the finest of high-end, impeccably crafted Mediterranean food. Sometimes we want to take guests to a modern nightclub that reminds us of our poshest nights of youth in Athens and Cairo. Surprise: We can fulfill both of those sensual desires right here in ATX.

500 W. Sixth
512/767-6052
www.devilmaycareatx.com

courtesy of Devil May Care

photo by Alisha McDarris

Quirky, colorful, and very frequently covered in edible glitter, it’s hard to resist posting a pic (or 12) of your extremely festive meal to the ’gram. We’ve got several posts about their crispy fried vegan-chicken sandwich topped with a tower of onion rings as tall as the miniature Schnauzer mix we adopted during the pandemic.

900 Red River
msha.ke/happeavegansllc

The sultry dining room’s 20-foot custom hearth exalts the eponymous Greek goddess at this Emmer & Rye sibling restaurant. Smoky flavors abound, and bright bites like rockfish crudo with smoked blackberry pair with expert-level transformations of fresh and foraged produce – an umami crown jewel is the lion’s mane mushroom with blackened koji and charcoal. Hestia’s draw is a soulful atmosphere, and, of course, Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s striking kakigōri.

607 W. Third
512/333-0737
hestiaaustin.com

photo by John Anderson

courtesy of Little Lucy's

Inspired by a childhood treat, this trailer serves the Rainey bar crowd well into the wee hours, and the Domain shopping crowd during the daylight. A pink paper bag full of tiny, sugary fried dough bombs sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a night of revelry or an afternoon of pretending to be Pretty Woman.

75 1/2 Rainey St.
424/235-8297
littlelucys.com

Elegant, contemporary, and distinctly Chinese, chef Ling Qi Wu’s menu highlights her extensive culinary knowledge with super fresh organic produce from the partner farm, Wu Lanfang, in Manor. Her dim sum menu – apps for lunch and dinner, in full on weekends – is not to be missed. Where else will you find lobster dumplings, Sichuan peppercorn alligator, and Chinese opera?

835 W. Sixth #114
512/474-2777
qiaustin.com

courtesy of Qi Austin

John Anderson

Starring the custom wood-burning grill, Red Ash offers a mashup of Northern and Southern Italian fare, featuring delights such as handmade tagliolini with blue crab, torn burrata panzanella, and osso buco milanese. For the aspiring sommeliers out there, they also boast extensive wine and cellar lists.

303 Colorado #200
512/379-2906
www.redashitalia.com

Housed in the original Hut’s Hamburgers (closed in late 2019), this new MML Hospitality restaurant focuses on East Coast red sauce Italian food. Think chopped salad, rigatoni Bolognese, and house Chianti. The revamped, old-school vibes, complete with preserved classic black-and-red-checkered floors, add enough pizzazz to keep you around for tiramisu and cannolis.

807 W. Sixth
512/474-2054
sammiesitalian.com

photo by Matt Harrington

photo by John Anderson

This pandemic-born beauty might be the fanciest restaurant in Austin, but step inside the sleek interior – whitewashed with pale pink accents and oceanic textures – and you’re transported to an alternate Greek oasis. It’s a boat-to-table menu with “land” options, featuring wondrous dishes like seafood yiouvetsi, made with orzo in Moschofilero tomato sauce and a fine assortment of fresh seafood. Don’t let the price tag thwart you; it’s way cheaper than a trip to Santorini.

601 Congress Ave.
512/886-0999
simiatx.com

It’s all about ambience at Taquero Mucho, known for its dedication to all things rose-colored (pink tortillas, even!). Part of Gabriela Bucio’s unstoppable empire, the tasty tacos, tortas, elote, and choriqueso are complemented by sassy bevs served in a pouch or adorned with cheeky labels.

508 West Ave.
512/520-5646
taqueromuchoaustin.com

photo by Mesh Bhakta

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Offering farm-to-table Chinese cuisine via small plates and shareables, local legend C.K. Chin’s restaurant is an excellent choice for groups, but make reservations early! Braised eggplant in a sweet-savory sauce, honey-pecan Gulf prawns, and steamed dumplings are not to be missed, and plan way ahead for dim sum, available only on Sundays.

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

 
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