With chef Jorge Hernández taking over as culinary director in early 2020, this gorgeous Zilker-area restaurant in the Carpenter Hotel has leaned away from the Central Texas Czech and German influences and leaned into Southern-kissed, seafood-forward coastal chic, with campechana, shrimp and grits, and plancha quail, but also tacos, burgers, and migas. Hip, accessible, and, naturally, ’gram-friendly.
400 Josephine St.
The legit New Orleans-style po’boys at this truck (currently parked at Radio Coffee) are full of soul. We’re talking bourbon chicken wings, buttery bread, fried shrimp, hella good collard greens, and creamy mac & cheese. Laissez le bon temps rouler, indeed.
4204 Menchaca Rd.
Fanatics of familiar Thai fare owe it to themselves to visit this spectacular trailer from chef Lakana Sopajan-Trubiana, the not-even-self-proclaimed “Thai Food Queen of Texas.” She serves street food straight from her childhood in Isaan in northeastern Thailand, from som tom Isaan (spicy papaya salad) to laab moo (minced pork with sticky rice).
4204 Menchaca Rd.
This biz has been holding down the Venezuelan food fort since 2015 with their stuffed corn cakes and avocado sauce, and we should all say thanks. Are arepas the new tacos?
80 Rainey St.
It’s all right there in the name: Koreans know barbecue and braising can’t be beat. Jjim puts it all together with Asian cuisine for the Lone Star heart. With a prime location right next to Alamo South Lamar, this place could be the start of quite a night.
1100 S. Lamar #2140
No one thought, when brisket king Aaron Franklin and Uchi’s Tyson Cole decided to collaborate on, whoa, an Asian-inflected smokehouse and barbecue joint, that it would be anything other than astonishingly good. That was in 2018, and that’s still how it is now. Bonus: the big, tree-shaded, dog-friendly porch.
2115 S. Lamar
Having maybe the best crinkle fries in town is kind of a flex when you consider Luke’s Inside Out is right across the street from Shake Shack. Too bad, NYC, because this top-flight sandwich shop not only makes magic happen with meat and bread, but those fried taters are more than legit, too.
Friend, if you haven’t had a fresh, warm pan dulce to kick off brunch at chef Iliana de la Vega’s traditional Mexican restaurant, what are you even doing with your life? Recently relocated from Rainey Street to South Lamar, El Naranjo continues its tradition of culinary excellence, from chilaquiles to cocktails and everything in between.
2717 S. Lamar #1085
It wasn’t enough for Jack Gilmore to make his Jack Allen’s Kitchen a Texas contemporary-dining success story. He had to go and expand to seafood? Oh, shut up and pass us another fresh oyster before we tuck into this sustainably caught and nicely roasted catch of the day. Perennial cioppino and a damn fine bar program, too.
1101 South MoPac Expressway
Breakfast tacos just don’t get any better than migas with avocado at Veracruz. Sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez have been wowing us with their tacos and juices for over a decade now, and their continued success means there are now six blessed locations to visit.
4208 Menchaca Rd.
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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