25 Restaurants to Help You Eat Your Way Around the Domain in Austin
Sips, bites, sweets, and other food options from around the globe
The explosion of options for sips, bites, and sweets at the Domain – separate entities all smashed together, including Domain, Domain Northside, and Rock Rose (the dedicated central entertainment strip) – means Austin's "Second Downtown" is evolving into a destination all on its own. Hometown heroes join forces with international superstars to create a delicious mecca nestled in between major department stores, high-rise condos, and tech-world beasts. With almost 60 spots on the roster, we've rounded up a solid list to satiate your shopping-induced cravings (you know you need a boost after waiting for the attention of an Apple store Genius). – Jessi Cape
Trained at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery, an offshoot of highly awarded restaurant the French Laundry, the founders of Bakery Lorraine landed in San Antonio, and now make some of the best French-style baked goods in Central Texas. There's the classics (plain, almond, and pain au chocolat croissants), caneles, éclairs, and of course, macarons in pistachio, salted caramel, and seasonal flavors like s'mores. Taste their goods at the Domain, a much closer trek than San Antonio or Napa Valley. – Jessika Roth
Sprinkles lays claim to being the world's first cupcake bakery, first launching in L.A. and just recently landing in Austin. You'll find traditional cupcake flavors like red velvet and dark chocolate piled high with perfectly rounded frosting. Seasonal flavors include peach pie and pineapple upside-down, along with themed flavors throughout the year like Pride and UT. Satisfy your after-hours cravings with the Cupcake ATM, open 24/7 to dependably deliver a sugar rush at any time. – J. R.
Healthy without the bore, Flower Child satisfies more than a spectrum of diets: There are complex flavors from Indian-spiced cauliflower to spicy Japanese eggplant sure to delight your taste buds. A restaurant with a "soul-satisfying mission," their menu promotes overall wellness. Park your yoga mat at the door, choose which juice will invigorate your being, and satiate your spirit with meals like the Glow Bowl – spicy sweet potato noodles cooked with coconut milk and sunflower butter. – J. R.
It's hard for region-specific pizza to elbow in and shine, especially amidst the dominance of Chicago- and New York-style pies, but Salvation Pizza has thrived, perhaps in part by simply remaining under the radar. The New Haven-style thin crust boasts a distinctive, cracker-like snap that is irresistible when paired with prosciutto and goat cheese and accompanied by garlicky Easy Tiger bread. Also, for those who aren't into sharing a pie, Salvation has a great array of pastas, sandwiches, salads, and wings. – Jessi Devenyns
The complimentary pile of chile flakes that accompanies dishes already smothered in boom sauce is a reminder of chef Thai Changthong's Bangkok origins and the dashes of his fiery character that are visible at Thai Kun. Whether fast-casual lunch or family-style dinner, expect a waterfall of colors and scents from every direction. Somehow though, instead of a sensory overload, taste, texture, smell, and sight all mingle into an exclamation point in the first bite of the vivid dishes from the menu. – J. D.
The Grove Wine Barwww.grovewinebar.com
A Central Texas wine bar with a neighborhood hangout vibe, the Grove offers pan-Mediterranean/New American fare with plenty of health-conscious choices and patio seating and carefully selected wine lists. Between the unique bruschettas – think edamame hummus and heirloom tomato, or wild mushroom and smoked Gouda – and pizzas, guests will also find coriander crusted halibut and stuffed Texas quail breast. Refer to the themed wine flights (Pinot 911!, California Chardonnay Dreaming, etc.) or peruse their wine bible to home in on specific varietals from (namely) Italy, California, Spain, and France. Value wines abound! – Alexandra Detmar
For a place that must feel the pressure to live up to some level of Domain-driven hype, Lotus does the basics surprisingly well. The lo mein and fried rice (pick your protein) are solid yet far beyond food court Chinese. Pair them with handmade dumplings, or make it a combo. Don't miss the soft serve ice cream or Boba Boyz teas (complete with optional adult beverage add-ins) when something sweeter is called for. – Rod Machen
Steel City Popswww.steelcitypops.com
There's something about fresh ingredients that takes food to a new level, and there's something about a hyper-frozen ice pop that feels like sweet salvation on an Austin summer day. Steel City Pops will prevent your personal meltdown with plentiful options of fruity, creamy, and cookie pops as well as their signature customization bar, with dips, dredges, drizzles, and dustings to kick it all up a frigid notch. – R. M.
Garbo's Fresh Maine Lobsterwww.garboslobsteratx.com
When Whole Foods opened their Domain location with a small restaurant/bar space in the middle of the store, it seemed like the perfect neighborhood touch to what can be a consumerist slog, and Garbo's is a purveyor of fine food worthy of the cozy space right inside. The Maine-stay lobster rolls – both Connecticut and Maine versions – usually found on their trucks (and brick-and-mortar up the road) are added to delights like smoked fish dip and half-shell oysters, all enjoyed in climate-controlled bliss. It's a perfect match. – R. M.
If the Domain wants to be Austin's "Second Downtown," good coffee is a must, and while having Starbucks' fanciest "Reserve" imprint is a good step, the appearance of Houndstooth on Rock Rose was a sign the area had arrived. Serving their obsessively sourced and made coffee and tea (as well as cocktails for the happy hour set), this location lives up to the reputation the group has built up over the last almost decade on the coffee scene. – R. M.
Second Bar & Kitchen (at the Archer Hotel)www.sbkdomain.com
Opening this local favorite in the Domain was surely a boon to the area's food scene. From steaks and scallops to pizza and an outrageous burger, the restaurant brings big-city flair to (not-so) little ol' Austin. Don't skip the pool patio, a vision of sun-dappled good times. Add in a bar with a happy hour menu that just won't quit – we see you, buffalo fried pickles and Lime in the Coconut mocktail – and the Archer has something for everyone. – R. M.
When you absolutely, positively must have "Dingle-Bearies" (chocolate-covered gummy bears), candy thongs and bras, and giant boxes of Sour Patch Kids and Nerds on your shopping trip, Atlantic City-based It'Sugar has you covered. In addition to candy both mainstream and quirky (even naughty), here you'll find Japanese treats, stuffed animals, and other novelty gifts. Come for the bulk candy and Pocky, stay for the laughs and gag gifts. – Melanie Haupt
The vibe here is hip and trendy, with live music and pingpong tables. Situated right on the edge of the green space at Rock Rose, Culinary Dropout is right in the middle of the action, especially on bustling weekend nights. The food is hearty and cosmopolitan, with a global point of view spanning antipasti to vegan curry, and a robust cocktail menu alongside. It's irreverent comfort food, for when you're hungry, but also want to get a li'l smashed. – M. H.
Yard House is an "American-style" restaurant and sports bar serving an expansive menu for lunch, happy hour (evening and late night), and dinner where diners – including gluten-sensitive and vegetarians – can snack to their hearts' content. The approachable, international menu has à la carte street tacos, poke nachos, and the more obscure corners feature a Kurobota pork burger with blueberry ketchup and a Nashville hot chicken sandwich with aged white cheddar spread. Yard House features a colossal beer selection drawing from Central Texas, East and West coasts, with lesser-known varieties and breweries peppered in for good measure. – A.D.
The premier worldwide player in the bubble tea market, Taiwanese Gong Cha offers freshly brewed and freshly cooked tapioca pearls, resulting in a top-notch drink: Take your tea blended with milk and filled with the chewy boba pearls, with their signature salted milk foam on top, as a slush or over ice. Beat the Texas heat here for under $7. – A. D.
Here, the plates are as elegant as the Thai script in which the dishes are written. Sway's Australian-style Thai food can instigate arguments merely due to the obstinance with which patrons will remain loyal to their favorite dish. The restaurant's modern interpretations of Thai food create heady flavors that are emblematic of the cuisine but inevitably keep the spirit of Austin alive with the use of Texas wagyu brisket and the perennially popular pork belly. – J. D.
This Tokyo-based (then California, now Texas) franchise with a motto of "no ramen, no life" boasts daily-made egg noodles, over 15 signature bowls – several rich veggie options and one vegan included – and chashu, takoyaki, poke and curry bowls to round out the robust menu. Details like lobster ramen, kale noodles, and a vast add-on list set this ramen experience apart from the rest. – A. D.
Come to Mia with an appetite for variety, as the tapas list totals over 25 items, ranging from the veggie (Tuscan carrots, crispy manchego) to the fishy (gazpacho and poached shrimp, calamari frito, and salmon carpaccio), with staples like insalata caprese and patatas bravas in between. Pasta, pizza, and sandwich classics have you covered in case there are any gaps to fill. – A. D.
This fast-casual Mediterranean chain has been popping up all over Austin like mushrooms after a stretch of rain. The concept is simple: Pick a base (greens, grains, a pita, or some combination of those), pick a protein, some dips (the harissa has a pleasant bite, and the red pepper hummus is bright and creamy), toppings, and a dressing. Then tuck into a light, satisfying meal that you can totally feel smug about for the rest of the day. – M. H.
Xian's stretched noodles are a beloved build-your-own adventure for Austinites everywhere. Although the shop uses traditional Chinese techniques and makes all the noodles fresh – hence the name, which means "fresh" in Mandarin – the names of the noodles are conveniently described in Italian terminology. Still, it's easy to get lost when agonizing between pappardelle and vermicelli to go with shoyu ramen soup, or maybe the wonton noodle, or even the spicy pork noodles. – J. D.
The Yard Milkshake Barwww.theyardmilkshakebar.com
Hailing from Gulf Shores, Alabama, with a handful of locations nationwide, the Yard makes dessert dreams come true. Guests with a major sweet tooth can pick from themed milkshakes in jars (cones and bowls also available), like the Mermaid (birthday cake ice cream, marshmallow cream, candy jewels, and a white chocolate mermaid tail) and Peanut Butter Brownie Bliss (the name says it all). Or, you know, choose from 33 ice creams, 36 toppings, 24 large specialty toppings, and nine cookie dough scoop flavors to build a custom creation. – A. D.
Copper Restaurant and Dessert Loungewww.copperaustin.com
An "evolution of Hill Country cuisine," Copper features decadent brunch and dinner as well as a playful bar program. Apps like fried goat cheese balls and trash fries prime guests for entrées like steak and avocado salad, stacked crab and shrimp enchiladas (with a brunchy egg on top), shepherd's pie, and 24-hour St. Louis pork ribs. Get in the DIY spirit with a mix-your-own mimosa flight or cool off with frozen paloma, but don't overlook the cake balls menu, ranging from lemon drop to German chocolate flavors. – A. D.
Once you've puzzled out that the windowless joint with the rope-slung door handle next to the Aloft hotel is your destination, you could enjoy a $5 Old Fashioned during happy hour. Or you could try one of the couple-dozen craft cocktails on the menu. But we all know that deep down, everyone wants to try the "edible cocktails" (so, fancy Jell-O shots), in rotating flavors like the Pop Rocks-topped Vegas Bomb or Hawaiian Punch. – M. H.
When that Italian food craving strikes, North consistently hits the spot – burrata drizzled in basil pesto, prosciutto bruschetta with truffles, tagliatelle covered in Bolognese – need we say more? In case your senses aren't fully consumed by the divine smell, a clear divider between kitchen and dining room provides a view behind the scenes into the pizza- and pasta-making processes. North Italia's Domain location was Texas' first, 11 years ago. Go for the meatballs and stay for the established neighborhood charm. – J. R.
To really get a feeling for what this Japanese meets Latin American menu has to offer (despite being tucked in next to Dillard's) order the Tower, a simply named hodgepodge of a dish certain to convert even the raw fish averse. Piled onto a stack of sushi rice is avocado, two kinds of sauce, and four kinds of roe; pick either spicy tuna or salmon and get ready for populist fare that tastes too good to be a snob about. Or select one of approximately 4 billion other options on this extensive menu. – R. M.[Editor's Note: We rearranged the restaurants to more accurately reflect their Domain associations.]
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