The Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll

2010 Readers Poll  |   2010 Critics Picks  |   2010 Index of Winners


La Condesa

Voting in the Chronicle Restaurant Poll is an annual ritual for plenty of Austin foodies. Some years the results don't change much, but then we'll have a year like this one when the voting tells a completely different story and certain trends emerge. Our special issues editor, Kate X Messer, and her able assistant Angelica Brenner have tabulated the readers' votes, and our panel of critics – Mick Vann, Claudia Alarcón, MM Pack, Wes Marshall, Rachel Feit, Kate Thornberry, and myself – have reflected on the high points of our dining experiences during the past year to create a list of Critics Picks. In addition to giving special recognition to exemplary dishes, cocktails, and restaurants, our critics are weighing in on emerging local trends for this special pull-out edition of the Restaurant Poll results. We've even included a reminiscence by original Chronicle Food Editor Ed Ward about the legendary local sandwich always recognized in his honor.

When it comes to interpreting this year's voting, we can't help but notice shake-ups in the list of favorite restaurants as well as in many individual categories. There are six new members in this year's Top 10, and 13 in the Top 35 overall. We also note that more new (6- to 18-month-old) restaurants show up throughout the poll than ever before, with three new restaurants winning categories in their first year of existence: Frank for Hot Dog, Get Sum Dim Sum for Dim Sum, and Justine's Brasserie tying for French and winning Romantic and New Restaurant outright. (Hardly surprising considering the deafening buzz about this überhot spot since the day it opened in 2009.)

Uchi continues to reign supreme atop the favorite restaurants list, plus winning four individual categories, and the upcoming debut of its new sibling, Uchiko, is one of the most eagerly anticipated local restaurant openings in years. La Condesa is still a relative newcomer, but the swanky Downtown Mexican spot shot to second place in the overall list and five other categories, while winning Decor for the first time. Eddie V's garnered wins in both Seafood Dish and Steak, another interesting first. One of the most amazing elements of this year's voting is the number of upsets in categories that have looked locked down for several years. Congratulations to new winners of the following: Hamburger, Steak, Italian, Thai, Vegetables, French, Romantic, Takeout, Street Food, Wine List, Sunday Brunch, Buffet, Place to Take Kids, Place to Take Parents, and Other Restaurant Worth Noting.

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of this year's results is how many restaurants in the forefront of the locavore, farm-to-table movement are represented in the voting. La Condesa, wink restaurant, Asti, Fino, Eastside Cafe, Jack Allen's Kitchen, Fonda San Miguel, and Olivia are all in the list of 35 favorite restaurants and are sprinkled throughout the list of categories, while stalwart Kerbey Lane Cafe maintains its hold on American Breakfast and newcomer Odd Duck Farm to Trailer shows itself worthy of note.

As always, we hope the readers who helped us create this important annual issue will use it to inform their dining choices for the next year – it's a keeper! – Virginia B. Wood

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Who's won the most awards

Picked by readers year after year

Curbside Cuisine Goes Big in Austin

Due to an unforgiving economy, the food trailer scene in Austin has exploded (in a good way)

Eastside Renaissance

The Eastside is finally coming into its own as a destination for diners

Central and South America Arrive

Ceviche may very well be the new sushi

Sushi Takes Over Austin

In a town dominated by Tex-Mex and barbecue, something fishy is happening

Cocktails: Drink Fresh

The new brand of cocktail is neither cheap nor fast, but for many, it's the only way to go