This post is dedicated to all the foodies at there who are on their way to Austin for the first or the BEST time ever. If you are looking for the typical BBQ/TexMex/walkable-from-the-conference-center recommendations – there are a ton of other sources out there for that. This is for those, who like me, want to know the secrets of a foreign city and who even if there on business, will make the trek across or even out of town to have extraordinary food. This is a list of personal favorites (in the moment) of mine and other foodie locals in Austin. By no means is it comprehensive, absolute or inarguable.
But it’s my gift to those of you who out there – and you know who you are – who appreciate a local’s crib sheet for where to eat without having to research endless reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor. It’s one girl’s opinion — but it’s informed by 20+ years of living in Austin, many a dollar spent in ATX dining establishments over the years and a downright unhealthy obsession with Bourdain, Ripert, Colicchio, Pepin, et. al.
In no order. You’re welcome. And have an awesome conference! Hope to hear what you ate…. @kathykeanini
1) Kome – Best place to get your Grilled Squid and Monkfish Liver On. Seriously great Japanese food – Sushi is the bonus, the real star is authentic home-style Japanese cuisine. PS – they have Ramen at lunch *swoon*
2) Parkside – Best place for offal when you’re the only one who loves it. This is my favorite place downtown (so all you convenience factor foodies, rejoice). It’s funky, it’s Austin, it’s phenomenal food including everything from pork jowels and bone marrow to fried egg sandwiches.
3) Vivo – Best Tex Mex with style….amazing salsa, enchiladas, and puffy tacos. They even give the ladies roses upon departure and have scandalous artwork tucked away in corners throughout the restaurant.
4) Justines – Amazing farm to table French food on a sprawling lot on the east side. My friend Carole swears by the cucumber and lump crab salad. Fabulous vibe, get their early.
5) Olive & June – Best Italian *influenced* spot with the second best patio in town. I highly recommend that you put yourself in the waiter/waitress’ hands and let them order for you or at least point you in the right direction – and you HAVE to get the fried artichoke hearts. They also have an amazing cocktail list – – and even carry Frenet from all you San Franciscans. 😉
6) Uchiko – Nationally known sushi restaurant, sister to the original Uchi. Uber creative with a menu designed by Top Chef winner Paul Qui who has moved on to other projects including East Side Kings and his own restaurant to open this year. (Who’s excited? This girl!)
7) Chilantro – My homage to the ATX food trailer obsession. Korean Barbecue TACOs. How’s that for fusion. They are amazing – get the chicken on corn tortilla with kimchee and sirracha. Ridiculously good. PS – looks like they will be on Rainey St. Friday and Sat (i.e. near the convention center)
8) Second Bar + Kitchen – Chef David Bull brought some muscle back to the Austin culinary scene in 2011 when he returned to Austin and Second is his hip, approachable take on new American cuisine. Go for the Buffalo fried pickles and anything containing short ribs.
9) Perla’s – BEST patio in Austin regardless of weather. I love the oyster shooters, redfish on the half shell, scallops, potato cakes, brussels sprouts, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…..
10) Lambert’s – Well, I guess I wouldn’t be a native Texan without at least one in this category. Lambert’s is the more civilized approach to barbecue – i.e. they are open at night, have a great vibe and don’t sacrifice on flavah. Located in the heart of downtown in a charming historic building, I’ve never had a bad meal there.