Best Austin Area Dining Experiences

  • Threadgill's (Austin): As the locals say about this place, "It's world famous, at least in Austin." What's so famous about it is the honest, old-style cooking that Austinites have been praising for years: the chicken-fried steak with cream gravy, the fried okra, and the ham steak with Jezebel sauce. Local musicians love playing here; the owner is one of the city's biggest supporters of live music. There is no restaurant more Austin than this one.
  • Kreuz Market (Lockhart): It's a short, pleasant drive to Lockhart and to this pilgrimage site for the barbecue faithful. Kreuz has amazing sausage and ribs. But don't expect to be putting any sauce on your meat. That would be an insult to the cook, and they take these things personally down here. If you positively must have that rich and tangy Texas barbecue sauce, then steer your car toward Black's, also in Lockhart, and held in high esteem by the must-have-sauce crowd.
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  • Curra's Grill (Austin): It's not the decor (or maybe it's the absence of decor) that brings people from all walks of life to this homey eatery in South Austin. It's for Curra's particular style of Mexican cooking that is, for locals, a delicious departure from standard Tex-Mex, without getting too far away from Tex-Mex's comfort food aspect. Not that the visitor would recognize them, but the place gets a lot of local celebrities.

Best Bets For...

  • Best, Full Stop: If I had to choose one place to have dinner in Austin, it would be Olamaie. The restaurant’s superb contemporary Southern cooking is in-depth without being fussy or self-conscious. The setting, in an old house in a residential neighborhood near the university, is charming, the service is attentive but not overbearing, and the cocktails are as creative as the food. And did I mention the biscuits? 
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  • Best Asian Food: There are a lot of terrific Asian restaurants in town, but Uchi, which wowed Austinites when it first burst on the dining scene in 2003, is still number one. The sushi is as fresh as ever, the cooked Japanese dishes as creative. 
  • Best Vegetarian Cuisine: Not only are the locally sourced vegetarian and vegan dishes served at Bouldin Creek artfully prepared and tasty, the dining experience is just plain fun. Carnivores will not encounter anti-meat pamphlets or holier-than-thou attitudes, just excellent food and drink in a friendly atmosphere. 
  • Best Quintessentially Austin: Its casual Texas menu, huge outdoor patio, and “unplugged” music series all make Shady Grove a good representative of Austin dining at its most kicked-back. 
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  • Best Brunch: Austinites do love going out for brunch, and the title is evenly split between two old-timers: Fonda San Miguel where you can sample Mexican regional cuisine and cocktails in a stunning hacienda-style setting, and Mattie’s at Green Pastures, a gracious mansion where you can sip a peach julep and savor the likes of fried chicken eggs Benedict.
  • Best for Carnivores: Austin is renowned for its barbecue, but I’m not entering the smoked meat fray here. However, Salt & Time, in the back of an East Austin butcher shop, is the place to come for cooked-to-your-liking burgers and steaks sourced from local ranches and for meats cured in house. 
  • Best Seafood: From its raw oyster bar and meaty lobster rolls to its rich bouillabaisse and oak-grilled Gulf redfish, Perla’s rocks the seafood scene. Being able to enjoy your meal on one of the best outdoor patios in SoCo is a bonus.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.