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Garrison Austin
Photograph: Courtesy Garrison

The 23 best restaurants in Austin for 2022

From fine dining to casual, barbecue to vegan, and tex-mex to sushi, the best restaurants in Austin cover everything

Written by
James Wong
Contributors
Anastacia Uriegas
&
Alex Temblador
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Despite a culinary reputation built on barbecue and tex-mex, Austin is no two-trick pony. The capital city has graduated beyond smokey brisket and queso dip, adding a slew of internationally infused concepts to its delicious dining scene. Now y’all can chow down on modern twists on South Asian classics, omakase fanned with smokehouse grill techniques and Texas-sized servings of French fare. Basically, all the perks for an unforgettable experience. Don’t worry, the mainstays are still here, and you can certainly keep going till your waistbands say stop; starting with taco counters all the way up hot-shot tacos that come with silverware. The spectrum is huge and the flavors are always brilliant. Whatever you’re in the mood for, at whatever style or price point, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best places to eat in Austin right now.

Craving a specific cuisine? Check out our list of Austin’s best Mexican restaurants, best Italian restaurants and best Japanese restaurants.

Best restaurants in Austin

Garrison is one of the rare places in town where Austinites actually make an effort (i.e. leave their shorts and flip-flops at home). The grill house fuses together big city glamor with small-town southern hospitality, and the food is tasty as Texan fare should be. That’s thanks to superstar Chef Jakub Czyszczon, who grills with Texas Post Oak flame and uses all fresh locally-sourced ingredients. The result is the juiciest selection of steaks, fish and poultry downtown. Don’t miss their beloved Tater Tots (with aerated gruyere cheese and black truffle) and a delectable selection of fine imported wines.

You wouldn’t expect a hipster Chinese in Texas joint to cook up General Tso’s Chicken like a longtime family takeout on Manhattan’s Canal Street but Old Thousand’s a jack of all trades. They satisfy both patrons after the neighborhood American-Chinese classics (like the egg rolls, xiao mian, and beef & broccoli), and the cool kids looking for creativity (Kung Pao Brussels, and the Texan-influenced brisket fried rice). A full bar serving cocktails like the Panda Spiced Latte and Sunday Brunch only add to the festivity.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • East Cesar Chavez
  • price 2 of 4

With legendary pitmaster Louis Mueller’s granddaughter at the helm, you know this Central Texas-style barbecue joint will be good. Now located at East Cesar Chavez, with indoor and outdoor seating, La Barbecue serves up brisket, pork ribs, and house-made sausage. Sandwiches are tasty too, both straightforward options and over-the-top ones like La Frito Loco (pulled pork, chopped beef, chipotle slaw, Fritos, cheese, and jalapeños).

The decadent French-inspired house, just north of downtown, is both a dinner date night haven and a happening weekend spot for cocktails or brunch with the gang. Sit against sultry velvet walls in the company of fabulously chic antiques, and tuck into delights with a bit of ooh la la (in a good way). We're talking Duck Confit with soft gnocchi and seasonal mushrooms; whipped cheeses and charcuterie; and if you're feeling extra fancy, caviar with creme fraiche. Sunday brunch, meanwhile, is all about the seafood tower. And as for drinks, we recommend the Pucker Up, a gin-based citrusy concoction. Honey Moon Spirit Lounge takes advantage of the warm Southern weather, with a breezy patio and extensive selection of beers, ciders, wines, cocktails and more to enjoy it on.

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40 North is a small but mightly neighborly pizza joint, worth the wait even if there’s a line. Each Neapolitan pie is cooked to perfection; the crust is crisp, slightly charred and with the right amount of chewiness, and the toppings have an edge. Faves include the Funghi (mozzarella, raclette, pecorino romano, garlic, mushrooms, black truffle and fresh herbs) and the naughty but nice Kale (mozzarella, grana Padano, garlic, chili, kale and house sausage). Though you may be tempted to pair pizza with beer, go with wine here - their natural selection is clean, fresh and brings out the doughy flavors.

Sazan is the place to get an authentic ramen fix during the winter months in Texas (and beyond). They specialize in the paitan variety, which comes in a rich cloudy broth. It’s available in original, spicy or vegan. For noodle lovers after more traditional ramen, then the Ma-Yu Black Ramen is an excellent choice, made with a savory broth and topped with a rainbow of vegetables. As for accompaniments we suggest the Indomitable Chicken Wings, which are twice-cooked and seasoned with their house spice rub, and for dessert, there’s Mochidoki Mochi (mochi ice cream) in a variety of fun flavors such as Matcha and Ube (purple yam).

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Eastside butcher shop and salumeria, Salt & Time, serves the freshest cuts of meat in a number of ways, but the best is in their acclaimed Signature Burger. It features half a pound of patty full of daily steak trimmings, mayo and sour pickles on a brioche bun. Add a side of beef fat french fries and you’ll never be able to enjoy burger and fries again (sorry not sorry). Be sure to browse their new Salt & Time Wine shop next door where they’ve curated an array of natural wines ranging from funky to familiar as well as specialty snacks and apothecary items.

  • Restaurants
  • Trucks
  • East Cesar Chavez
  • price 1 of 4

Veracruz All Natural sets itself apart from the city's other taco slingers thanks to super fresh ingredients. The Migas taco has a cult following, and for good reason; the fresh tortilla stuffed with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, pico de gallo and cheese will make you a fan too. Try a fresh juice to complete your breakfast, and you’ll see why they’ve earned a loyal following that's led to additional outposts – both food trucks and brick-and-mortars – around Austin.

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A manifestation of Rainey Street’s famed G’Raj Mahal Indian restaurant, Mumtaz Market has already developed a loyal following who come for authentic curries like Rogan Josh and Saag, as well as contemporary takes on classic South Asian entrees. Our fave is the Pork Rechaard - tender stewed pork popped with spices and ginger and sided with braised cabbage and candied pineapple. The Deconstructed Samosa, made with chicken, yucca, chutney, pickle and turmeric aioli, will change your view on the traditional samosa, and it’s best washed down with a lassi, available in a variety of flavors.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Allandale
  • price 3 of 4

Executive chef and owner Bryce Gilmore and his staff are dedicated to complex, visually-stunning food—and cocktails—on a menu that varies dramatically season by season. In the savory department, sample dishes include Black Cod with pecan dashi, local long beans, lunchbox peppers, basil vinaigrette and fish sauce pecans, and sweets include sunchoke flan and butternut cake. Barley Swine’s larger location makes these delights accessible to more people, and it’s worth going with a group for the adventurous tasting menu experience.

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Though the South Lamar newcomer opened during the big freeze of ‘21, things have been anything but cold. Jjim braises their meats until they are so tender that they fall right off the bone, so go straight in for the Beef Short Rib Jjim (the medium feeds two); a cast-iron full of chunks of heavenly soft meat, vegetables, sweet soy sauce, steamed rice, and your choice of kimchi, mozzarella or glass noodles. Other Korean goodies on the menu include spicy beef silken tofu soup, spicy pork bulgogi, bibimbap and a selection of Korean pancakes.

  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Arts District
  • price 3 of 4

Olamie is James Beard Award finalist Michael Fojtasek's ode to Southern cuisine, but one thing to note is his dishes are not the heavy and fried fare you might expect. It’s all seasonal here, so expect sample dishes like the Hoppin’ John (Sea Island red peas, Carolina Gold rice, soft-boiled egg) and the rye-brined pork chop (with pecan, sorghum, apple, and paprika). The cocktail program is equally exciting, and at the end of your meal, its worth checking if they have any of their famous biscuits to-go.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • West End
  • price 3 of 4

Clark’s Oyster Bar reflects the personality of Clarksville, the historic neighborhood where this ode to bivalves is located. The elegant interior features white-and-black penny tile flooring and luncheonette-style seating at the bar. Get the oysters, of course; flown fresh from both coasts, they're the best Austin has to offer. The crab cakes and lobster roll are winning picks for entrées, as is the mac and cheese with lump crab. Looking for good booze? The cocktail menu is a mix of martinis and modern classics, all of which are mixed with care. 

Everybody knows that Barton Springs institution, El Alma, is the best place for a feast, slash party. The multi-tiered rooftop is the best place to gather during the weeks surrounding Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Muertos. Outside of the fiestas, things are merrily chill, but the food’s just as lush. Popular items include the duck Relleno and pork tamales, and you absolutely can’t go wrong with any of the huge selection of tacos. Of course, no Mexican meal in Austin is complete without a margarita. Their frozen offerings are the medicine during a long hot Texan summer.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Holly
  • price 2 of 4

Part Japanese izakaya and part Texas smokehouse, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya delivers a playful mashup of the two cuisines alongside a sophisticated cocktail program. The menu includes playful bites like Cornbread Taiyaki, seafood, meat and veggie skewers, and fried chicken thigh bites. Favorites include the brisket and gouda “Hot Pocketz”. Cocktails like the Matcha Painkiller—served in a Maneki-Neko (aka lucky cat)—are a testament to the culture of quirkiness at Kemuri.

  • Restaurants
  • South River City
  • price 2 of 4

Catch the throwback vibe at this retro-style diner complete with a vintage jukebox and checkered tile. The cafe opens early with options like the famous matzo ball caldo as well as crêpes and omelets. For dinner, indulge in bone marrow Bolognese with handkerchief pasta, kale and parmesan. Take advantage of their daily Happy Hour specials or Pub Nights on Sundays with pub-style Indian food, British Invasion music, and pints of Old Speckled Hen.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Central East Austin
  • price 2 of 4

Franklin Barbecue produces some of the best brisket on the planet, and the line forms early at this lunch-only spot. James Beard Award winner Aaron Franklin seasons and smokes his brisket to juicy perfection. It’s so good that people queue up and wait up to four hours for a taste. The line has become an experience in itself, as hungry patrons arrive early in the morning with chairs, drinks and a willingness to chat with strangers.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Town Lake
  • price 3 of 4

From James Beard Award semifinalist chef Iliana de la Vega, this upscale Rainey Street restaurant is an Oaxacan oasis on a bustling bar street. Mexican fare is well represented on the menu in dishes like mole, seasonal ceviche and tostadas. Traditional cooking methods are used, and ingredients are fresh and responsibly sourced. If your meal leaves you craving a firsthand experience, check out their culinary tours to Oaxaca and Mexico City.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

At Suerte, Chef Fermin Nunez uses local heirloom corn to craft his upscale Mexican dishes, which include goat barbacoa with handmade tortillas and tetela al carbon. A sizeable mezcal and tequila menu are available, and you'll find both spirits in Suerte's specialty cocktails like the Don Dario with reposado tequila, tamarindo, sarsparilla, and lime.

This Downtown modern Mexican is from Chef Philip Speer, formerly of Uchi, and a team of culinary heavy-hitters. The menu features ingredients native to Mexico and influenced by Mexico City’s food scene. There’s a Texas flare though, which results in standouts like huauzontle fritters, bone marrow tacos with hoja santa-pecan gremolata, and masa spaetzle. The impressive bar list features classic cocktail twists like the mole Old Fashioned and more than 100 agave-based spirits.

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  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Govalle
  • price 3 of 4

Justine’s is located just East of where most Austinites are comfortable hanging out. Upon entering though, you'll feel instantly transported to another place—one clad in deep reds, emerald-green velvet and lit by vintage chandeliers. If you’re a sucker for ambiance, you’ll embrace the fact that your dinner will take place over a couple of hours - it’s a great after-bar spot for indulging in cuisine that’s decidedly classic French. Order the escargot Bourguignonne, salade de crabe, steak frites, and a Sazerac—or three.

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • East Cesar Chavez
  • price 1 of 4

Brothers Zane and Brandon Hunt opened the first Via 313 trailer in 2011; it was named after the zip code in Detroit where they grew up. It's pure Detroit-style here: The pies are square, the edges laced with crispy burnt cheese, and the sauce is dolloped on top. The menu offers great out-of-the-box options, but don't miss a more simple option: “The Detroiter” features smoked pepperoni under the cheese and natural casing pepperoni on top.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Bouldin
  • price 3 of 4

James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole opened Uchi in 2003 to immediate critical acclaim. Fish is flown in fresh from Tokyo, and traditional techniques mix with unexpected ingredients. Some of the most loved selections include the Machi Cure (smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, Marcona almond, Asian pear) and the Zero Sen roll (yellowtail, avocado, cilantro, shallot, tobiko, yuzu). Check out the daily happy hours for extra accessible options.

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