2017 best restaurants and bar openings
Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, the third outpost from the team behind Ramen Tatsu-ya, opened at the beginning of 2017 and immediately made an impression, landing on Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants list while winning over the hearts (and bellies) of Austinites. Located in the former Live Oak Barbecue spot, the smoke stained walls and rustic setting lend a Texas feel to the Japanese hotspot, where plates of chili cheese takoyaki, scallop skewers, guaca-poke and yuzu pecan pie are meant to be shared. Stiff cocktails round out the menu—try the Matcha Painkiller, or order the Puff Puff Pass to share.
Beautifully tiled floors, a raw bar flush with oysters, a kitchen that serves golden roasted chicken and a selection of French wines galore—Le Politique officially became Austin's most stylish Parisian restaurant when it opened in September. Chef Derek Salkin's menu comes straight out of the traditional brasserie playbook, from a creamy gnocchi à la Parisienne to perfectly cooked steak frites. (When asked which sauce you would like—béarnaise, bordelaise or au poivre—say all of them.) After polishing off a few glasses of wine, treat yourself to one of pastry chef Alyssa Hulstone's impeccable desserts, like the otherworldly coffee crêpe cake. And now that the bakery is open—a small room with macarons and croissants and the like—you never have to leave.
The former Longbranch Inn transformed into Nickel City over the summer, and a new neighborhood bar was immediately born. Refreshing and unpretentious, the cocktail bar offers classic cocktails, inventive variations and a legit Detroit-inspired food truck out back. Two NOLA-inspired frozen drinks are on the menu—including the Frozen Irish Coffee, a frosty blend of Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey, coffee liqueur and cream—but you could just as easily order a local beer or a shot from their solid whiskey collection. Settle in, make some friends and stay a while.
When Callie Speer launched her irreverent downtown diner, Holy Roller, this summer, she and pastry chef Britt Castro developed an outrageous migas kolache to put on the menu. It was just the beginning: the comfort food-driven spot is a glutton's dream, from the trash fries to the struggle snacks to the fries that come with soft serve for dipping. Make it out of bed for brunch here and you'll be rewarded with cookies and cream pancakes.
Hill Country arrived in East Austin with the opening of Pitchfork Pretty, a quaintly named, elegantly designed restaurant where executive chef Max Snyder makes breakfast and dinner. On weekday mornings, grab a blueberry streusel or the Pretty (an everything bagel with pimento cheese, dill pickle, red onion and alfalfa sprouts); in the evening, dishes from both the land (pork shoulder with bok choy, fried chicken with sweet potato salad) and sea (oysters, ruby trout) leave a strong impression. Finish with a slice of the lemon icebox pie if you know what’s good for you.
Knowing there were plenty of old-school BBQ joints in town, Evan LeRoy decided to go new school. After working the pit at Freedmen's, the native Austinite launched food truck LeRoy and Lewis in March with partner Sawyer Lewis, offering dishes like boudin-stuffed quail and brisket-and-kimchi sandwiches. The sides are just as unique—mole sweet potato salad, Korean radish salad and more. Stop by the Dawson truck to get a taste before their brick-and-mortar location opens in late 2018.
You'd better like potatoes if you're dining at Bonhomie. The French eatery on Burnet has an entire section of pommes rosti, crispy shreded potatos that are topped with lox or foie gras or caviar—or, simply, bacon, eggs and cheese. There are other classic dishes, too: a croque monsieur, a rotisserie chicken, steak bavette and cassoulet. For brunch, pancakes are topped with fresh pears and shaved ham—ooh la la.
Sister bars Las Perlas and Seven Grand opened on Seventh Street as a whiskey bar and mescaleria, respectively. At Seven Grand, the cabin-inspired bar offers five classic whiskey drinks (old-fashioneds, Sazeracs, etc.) in addition to beer, wine and other craft cocktails, and can turn any whiskey skeptic into a fan. At Las Perlas, imbibers can settle into the green-hued, candlelit space and sip on copitas of top-notch mescal, or order a handcrafted cocktail like the smooth Oaxacan negroni, the Jarritos Paloma on draft or the Spiced Daisy—a Las Perlas original given some extra oomph with fresh-pressed jalapeños.
After a 13-month renovation, Green Pastures reopened with a new restaurant dubbed Mattie's, a nickname stemming from original owner Martha "Mattie" Miner Faulk. In the Victorian home's jazzed-up space, the team serves rustic American fare for dinner (buttermilk biscuits, roasted chicken with rainbow carrots), and a weekend brunch offers dishes like rice grits and French toast. Grab a cocktail—the 1965 Milk Punch is a gem—and sit on the patio while peacocks roam freely around the property.
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Consider this your ultimate Austin dining checklist.