Austin is one of the best foodie towns around. We are super lucky to be surrounded by a plethora of incredible cuisine.
I used to be a “picky” eater and stayed true to my chain-restaurant roots. When we moved to Austin after college, I started dabbling in the “foodie” realm. I was still apprehensive, but started to give it a whirl. And I am SO glad that I did! My husband and I love eating out on date night, and try to find unique, local spots to patronize. We’ve put together a list, with a few spots that were recommended by our foodie friends, of our top 25 spots (in no particular order).
1. Eastside Showroom – The East Side Showroom is a family owned restaurant and craft cocktail bar set in Austin’s vibrant East Side Neighborhood. Celebrating a bohemian spirit and a pride for local craft and food, the Showroom lives up to its namesake, showcasing the work of local visual artists as well as live local music on weekends, ranging from jazz to blues to gypsy music.
2. Roaring Fork – The Roaring Fork’s Wood Fired Cooking captures the spirit of bold American cuisine, creating flavors that crackle with a rugged edge.Add to this our impeccable service and an atmosphere as inviting as our food, and you’ve got a dining experience you’ll come back for again and again. Two locations in Austin.
3. Salty Sow – Salty Sow is an American Gastropub that serves contemporary farmhouse fare. Hand-crafted meats, cocktails and entrees are served fresh daily, mindfully sourced from local farms and purveyors. Modern and unpretentious, Salty Sow’s chef-driven menu delivers clean, farm-to-table eats in a casual setting, making it a trusted neighborhood eatery.
4. The Noble Pig – The philosophy behind the Noble Sandwich Co. is grounded in culinary experiences that range from trattoria fare to fine dining, as well as a love for scratch cooking. And yet, it’s a philosophy that can be summed up simply: Make it, and make it better than the guy down the street. Try to Duck Pastrami on Bacon Bread – you will NOT regret it.
5. Daruma Ramen – They specialize in whole chicken broth ramen made with eggless tapioca-based ramen noodles. All stock and bases are freshly made every day from scratch. The menu is very simple. Just four varieties of ramen: Shio, Shoyu, Miso, and Vegetable (which is vegan). All four ramens have a very unique personality so you can choose your ramen based on your diet or your craving.
6. East Side King – *My current favorite.* East Side King was created by Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya as a side project when they were working at Uchi and Uchiko. They currently have four locations – three food trucks and one in-bar spot – across Austin with different menus, styles, hours, and vibes. Look for fun dishes with an Asian spin, perfect for late-night snacking or lunchtime grubbing. The Brussel Sprouts are out of this world.
7. Uchiko – Uchiko will match the experience of food,wine and service found at its sister restaurant Uchi; in a new setting with a Japanese farmhouse aesthetic, crafted materials and warm finishes to round out the dining experience. The menu is a brand new selection of composed dishes and sushi, taken from ideas and dishes originally created at Uchi. Everything is incredible here – the eggplant and onion rings on the app menu are to die for.
8. Congress – You will find nothing less than the finest culinary experience from start to finish. Chef David Bull describes the prix-fixe menu as “Natural American” cuisine, where he selects the highest-quality seasonal ingredients and ensures every dish comes out perfectly executed by the team. (When you are there, ask for the Chef price menu!)
9. Siena – Named one of the Top 10 Italian Restaurants in Austin by USA Today, this is a can’t miss. With its fireside-lit bar and its Tuscan farmhouse feel, Siena Ristorante Toscana has long been known as one of Austin’s most romantic destinations.
10. parkside – Known for its small plates & extensive drink menu, in a setting that’s upscale for 6th Street, chef Shawn Cirkiel’s creativity and innovation in the kitchen have made him one of Austin’s most coveted chefs and restaurateurs.
11. Turf and Surf at Lavaca Street – Sharing the real estate at Lavaca Street Bar, Turf & Surf is providing Fresh Seafood everyday, along with a number of options that one can get on a Po Boy, Taco or Salad, Grilled, Blackened or Fried. Fresh baked bread on everything, and the chef is a stickler on making things from scratch. Turf and Surf is becoming one of the most sought after spots in town. The Red Snapper Po-Boy with a side of fries is incredibly tasty and totally split-able.
12. Frank – Sometimes you just need a hot dog and a cold beer. But this isn’t your every day backyard grilled dog. Self proclaimed as the “purveyors of artisan sausage”, I have to agree. Everything I’ve had there is delicious – including the homemade mac & cheese that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
13. Kebabalicious – Organic Turkish kebobs in the brick-&-mortar outpost of a popular food truck, inspired by Turkish street food. This place is delicious and becoming super popular. Live music outdoors.
14. Takoba – Trendy storefront turning out modern takes on Mexican standards with a creative cocktail list. Check out their website for many awesome reviews. It is, in my opinion, the best brunch on the East side – no place I’d rather be on a beautiful Austin Sunday morning, than the Takoba patio with a mimosa in hand. (I even mentioned them when I wrote about my “3 Days Off in Austin”!
15. Yellow Jacket Social Club – Check out this cozy watering hole known for its global nibbles, dog-friendly patio & recycled wood & stone decor. Very cool vibe – this was recommended to my by a friend, and once I checked it out, it had to be included.
16. Wink – The restaurants philosophy is rooted in the underpinnings of The Slow Food Movement and plain Austin-style Hospitality. They are a “Cook’s Kitchen” that fully embraces Farm to Table ideology, as well as Local Farms & Gardens, Small Family Farms, and Sustainable Agriculture. Well over 75% of the items on our menu come from within 100 miles of the restaurant. Which makes this spot a win-win.
17. Chez Zee – From inside to out, Chez Zee is warm and welcoming with an original vibe that reflects both its art-loving owner and the creative city in which it exists. Chez Zee serves a wide range of American fare with southern regional influences and plenty of locally sourced ingredients. (Also – some of the best desserts in Austin – as mentioned in our Top 5 Places for Sweets!)
18. Peche – Peche’ brings the enjoyment ethic of the old world back to life, right here today, in Austin’s historic Warehouse district. Peche’ offers the most unique cocktail experience in Austin, alongside a stunning menu of European comfort dishes.
19. Truluck’s – You truly want to escape to Truluck’s. Savor the freshest Crab, direct from their own fisheries. Delight in the fresh-catch seafood menu or select tender, juicy steaks prepared to perfection. Then complement it all with delicious wines by the glass and bottle. You will not regret a visit to this Austin favorite.
20. Hopfields – This fun place offers a front bar on a first-come first-served, communal seating environment. Just place your food & drink orders at the bar, make yourself comfortable at a table, and they bring your food to you. If you prefer, they also offer traditional table service in our dining room.
21. Conan’s Pizza – This yummy spot has a long history baking some of the best pizza in Austin. With fresh produce daily and mostly local ingredients, Conan’s is a family-run, locally-owned small business – which I LOVE. This is another Austin favorite that you will not regret. So, order up a pie and spread the good word!
22. Jack Allen’s – Fresh, locally sourced food that is full of refined Southern-inspired flavors, crossed with the spice of southwestern cuisine that come together to create plates that will invigorate any palate and comfort the soul. In addition to a fantastic happy hour/appetizer menu, Jack Allen’s has one of the best brunches (and best price) around. Run, don’t walk. Seriously.
23. Hillside Farmacy – This very cool eatery is a restaurant & specialty grocery store located in the old Hillside Drugstore building – beautifully restored using original pharmacy cabinetry. The menu is delectable and the drink menu – including fresh fountain soda’s – is delightful.
24. Texas French Bread Company – Since in 1981, Texas French Bread has made freshly-baked artisan breads, pastries, and desserts from scratch. The casual bistro menu combines many of their deepest culinary interests – specifically, the techniques of traditional French country and Mediterranean cooking, and Alice Waters’ dictate to seek out the local, the fresh, the simple, the nutritious, and the beautiful, and to serve these in season at their peak.
25. Epicerie – I am hesitant to even mention this because it is so great, I don’t want to share this sweet spot. But, because I’m nice, I’ll let you in. Located off Hancock Drive, this cafe and grocery is lovely. A small menu that packs a lot of punch and lovely wine selections. Read more about Epicerie on my 10 Year Date Night Dish on AMB.
It was super hard to create this list – Austin is FULL of awesome date night spots! If you are used to eating beige (i.e. same old, same old), give one of these a try and start eating in COLOR!
So tell us, what is your favorite ATX Date Night? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook or tag us in your favorite date night pic on Instagram!