We try to visit Austin as often as we can; a deal made when Steve moved me out of my home-state of Texas to Tennessee. We usually can’t help but eat at our same favorite restaurants, however this trip we decided to change that. We had read and heard about many new eateries, some getting national attention, and couldn’t wait to taste them for ourselves. Here is what we found!
Franklin Barbecue – this newcomer to the Austin barbecue scene has quickly become one of the most acclaimed barbecue joints in the country – and all of the press is well deserved. Bon Appetit declared chef/owner Aaron Franklin a BBQ genius and declared Franklin Barbecue as as the best BBQ restaurant in America. Previously a food trailer – now a great brick and mortar spot with indoor and outdoor seating. The brisket melts in your mouth and has an unbelievably tasty outer char and rivals the brisket of The Salt Lick. The pork ribs are the best we have ever had and fall off of the bone. Great Austin vibe, Live Oak beer on tap and fantastic side dishes and dessert tarts available. Opens up at 11 am, but recommend you get there in line before 10:45 am if you want to be sure they don’t run out of food. Walk through the line and have the fun and charming Aaron Franklin slice some moist brisket and enjoy this unique food experience. Press: Bon Appetit, Food and Wine
Haddington’s – instantly became one of our favorite places in Austin. Fantastic new upscale gastropub and cocktail bar in the West 6th area. Excellent service, great decor, vibrant mood, and the drinks and food were both top notch. We loved the Deviled Eggs with Venison Tartare, Basil Love Letters (perfectly cooked seasonal vegetable plate), and Lemon Curd with Fresh Berries. Both their original and classic cocktails were great and we were thrilled to find Monk’s Cafe on their beer list.
La Condesa – this upscale Mexican restaurant was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the county in 2010. Beautiful decor, impressive drink list and wonderful cocktails. We stopped in for a drink and tried their chips and salsa sampler (we loved the salsa verde with avocado fresco) but plan to go back and taste their full menu next visit. They are planning and expansion to Napa Valley soon.
Chi’Lantro – Korean BBQ taco truck with two trucks/locations per day. They have everything from tacos to burritos to quesadillas, but recommend their Beef Bulgogi burger (amazing) and their Kimchi fries. Check their site or their twitter feed for their location that day.
the backspace – small rustic Italian restaurant in the East 6th area with fantastic thin crust Neapolitan wood-fire oven pizzas and excellent Italian wine list. Recommend the Proscuitto Wrapped Mozzarella Antipasti and the Peperoni Americano pizza and give the pizza special of the day a try. Their amazing Ricotta Cheesecake comes in a jar with a Graham cracker crumble crust and berries on top.
Fabi + Rosi – European restaurant with German and French influences in the house on Hearn St. that formerly housed Zoot. Beautiful white interior, excellent value (all of the entrees less than $20), and great place to try some escargot or shnitzel and spatzle.
Second Bar + Kitchen – this new American cuisine restaurant is part of the trio of Congress establishments in the downtown Austonian. Bar Congress has high quality cocktails, Congress is a prix-fixe upscale restaurant and Second Bar + Kitchen is a more affordable restaurant with a fun modern vibe. Recommend the Avocado Fundido and the Pappardelle with Veal Meatballs.
Gordough’s – their motto is “big.fat.donuts” and they aren’t kidding with their unique take on donuts at this South Lamar food trailer. The Miss Shortcake has a donut topped with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries, while the Mother Clucker has fried chicken strips with honey butter.
Vino Vino – low key wine bar that has more of a pub-like feel and also a full menu with excellent reviews. The owner is a former wine distributor and has accomplished his goal of unique wines without the excessive mark-up usually seen at wine bars. Also with a nice selection of beers on tap.
24 Diner – great example of the new trend of “modern” diners that specializes in using fresh local ingredients to upgrade the typical greasy-spoon diner food. If you are looking for a non Tex-Mex breakfast in Austin we would recommend this as the place over Kerby Lane or Magnolia Cafe. Nice location next to Waterloo Records on Lamar. Unique beers on tap as well as a nice cocktail menu. Give one of their frittatas a try and they have gotten a lot of press for their roasted banana &brown sugar milkshake. Open 24 hours and they have a gluten free menu. Press: Bon Appetit
Malverde – this cocktail bar is directly above La Condesa. Both the drinks and the DJ are great. Gets lively on weekends and has both interior and outdoor patio sections.
Places Still to Try:
Foreign + Domestic
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Elizabeth Street Cafe
Odd Duck Farm to Trailer
East Side Showroom