photo by molly winters

Is Franklin Barbecue really worth the wait? What’s our favorite trailer amongst Austin’s sea of four-wheeled culinary experiences? Where do we go for the perfect chile relleno? Just in time for SXSW, we’ve updated our quintessential dining guide. Click through to find out where to go now in Team Camille Styles’ guide to Austin’s best restaurants.

photo via a piece of toast

Elizabeth Street Café

When I first heard about this classic French-Vietnamese fusion spot opening in South Austin, I thought…huh? But it somehow totally works, so well that I find myself wanting to eat here rain or shine, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t miss my favorite almond croissants in the city… or the griddles lemongrass tofu banh mi for a spicy, satisfying lunch. – Camille

photo via eater austin

Launderette

It’s my new favorite spot for date night – we like to get there early and order a bottle of rosé while we wait for our table on the patio. And there will be a wait, since just about everyone else in town will have the same plan on a warm Friday evening. But it’s so worth it for Chef René Ortiz’s perfectly executed but unfussy small plates: burrata with black mission figs, crab & avocado toast with caper-mint vinaigrette, charred octopus with garlic aioli and lentils… I could go on and on. Just go there, and whatever you do, don’t miss pastry chef Laura Sawicki’s famed birthday cake ice cream sandwich. – Camille

photo via austin a-list

Contigo

Ben Edgerton and Andrew Wiseheart couldn’t have been more charming to interview, and their East Austin restaurant exudes the same friendly, relaxed vibe. It’s just a great outdoor spot with a refreshingly rustic menu: ox tongue sliders, dewberry hill chicken, and Texas okra are a few of our favorites. Exactly what you’d expect from two guys who started out as camp buddies in the Texas hill country! – Jennifer Rose

photo via austin way

Emmer & Rye

With new Austin restaurants popping up weekly, it feels like many hotspots achieve notoriety by having the most instagramable interiors or getting the most buzz. While Emmer & Rye certainly isn’t lacking in those departments, it’s great to finally have a new place in town that’s all about the food. These guys take their farm-to-table mission seriously, and oh yeah, their house-milled grains make for some of the best from-scratch breads and pastas we’ve had in a while. Don’t take my word for it though – Bon Appetit, The New York Post, and Food & Wine all seem to be crushing on Emmer & Rye too. – Chanel

photo via foda

Cafe No Se

This is, in my opinion, the perfect lunch spot. Light and airy interiors, bustling without feeling crowded, and delicious healthy menu items that don’t make me feel like I need an afternoon nap. I always order the kale salad with a side of avocado, though the avo toast is perfection, as are the pastries that are piled high on the counters during Saturday and Sunday brunch. Valet is complementary, which means you can avoid the South Congress parking situation (but let’s keep that our secret, shall we?) – Camille

photo via east side king

East Side King

Long before Top Chef fame, Paul Qui won Austinites over with his creative, Asian-inspired food trucks. Though each East Side King location offers a slightly different menu, there are a few things you can always expect: a laid back environment, psychedelic hand-painted murals by this guy, and food that’ll keep you coming back for seconds. – Chanel

photo via eater austin

Uchi / Uchiko

If I had to pick just one place to go in Austin, Uchi and Uchiko would probably tie for first. I know, I know, Japanese food in Austin doesn’t sound all that amazing, but these sister restaurants are the real deal, and Chef Tyson Cole and team always astound me with their innovative flavor combinations. My favorites on the menu? Yokai Berry (salmon sashimi, kale, asian pear, yuzu), Maguro Sashimi & Goat Cheese (with bigeye tuna and fuji apple), and Hama Chili (yellowtail, ponzu, thai chili, orange.) My mouth is watering just thinking about it. – Camille

photo via easy tiger

Easy Tiger

It’s a bakeshop! It’s a beer garden! It’s perfection. No matter what mood I’m in, Easy Tiger almost always seems to be the answer. Don’t leave without trying a large pretzel with beer cheese, and if you’ve got 15 minutes to spare, challenge your date to a ping pong match on the back patio. – Chanel

photo via fresa’s

Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I can’t imagine life without Fresa’s. This drive-thru spot (and it’s new brick-and-mortar sister) serves up the best wood grilled chicken with all the fixings like grilled onions, beans and rice, fresh salsas, and warm tortillas. The biggest surprises come when you find out that you can also (1) get a great healthy salad (I love the Jerez) or power bowl, and (2) choose from the rotating flavors of artisanal ice creams (think rice krispie treat or salty caramel). This is my go-to spot for picking up weeknight dinner, a quick lunch, or everything I need for the ultimate picnic. – Camille

photo via olamaie

Olamaie

Everyone sat up and took notice when Michael Fojtasek was crowned one of Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in America last year, and for good reason: this executive chef makes every Southern dish he touches turn to gold. From the famed basket of biscuits to the caramelized cauliflower to Dewberry Hills Farm Chicken, everything on the menu sounds simple — and so often, “simple” is the trickiest thing to get right. Olamaie nails it every time, and don’t miss arriving early for a cocktail on their charming front porch. – Camille

photo via food network

Franklin Barbecue

Even before Bon Appétit declared the barbecue at Franklin’s to be the best in the United States, the line to get in the door was hours long. So you might as well grab a coffee and a lawn chair and make a new friend while waiting in line for their 11am opening time because this brisket is worth it! Look for owner Aaron Franklin (pictured) in his own show on PBS this year, BBQ With Franklin. – Lauren

photo via old thousand

Old Thousand

I’ll admit that when I first heard the words “new Chinese restaurant on the East side,” I was skeptical. And that the hip eatery had set up shop in a notoriously doomed spot on East 11th certainly didn’t help my first impression. But upon setting foot through Old Thousand’s doors, I immediately picked up what they were putting down – bumpin’ vibes, great food, and finally, an answer to the Chinese takeout wasteland we’ve all been suffering. – Chanel

photo via eater austin

Parkside

Those closest to me know that this restaurant from Shawn Cirkiel holds a special place in my heart. Maybe its the unbeatable happy hour specials, the simple but chic gastropub interiors, or the fact that they’re located two blocks from my apartment, but the fact remains that you can find me wining and dining at Parkside almost once a week. – Chanel

photo via lonny

Jeffrey’s / Josephine House

Lately, I’ve found myself looking for any excuse for a lunch meeting, just so I can suggest dining at Josephine House. The food is outstanding, but it’s really the sophisticated, simply gorgeous surroundings that keep me coming back for more. Already counting down to summer so I can enjoy long lunches on the made-for-people-watching patio.

Its big brother Jeffrey’s, located next door, is all plush velvet, brass fixtures, and mood lighting, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather get cozy and feast on a rainy night. The menu is old-school steakhouse, and the hyper attention to detail on every element from uniforms to martini cart brings it fully into 2014. – Camille

photo via gourmet fury

Sway

Sway is exactly what it claims to be: modern thai cuisine. This is high concept food, expertly executed. For anyone who remembers the old tex-mex and bbq food scene of Austin ten years ago… we ain’t in Kansas any more. Sway is a place to see-and-be-seen while you’re tasting something delicious that you’ve never had before! – Jennifer Rose

photo via zagat

Lenoir

The three course prix-fixe menu ($38) changes with the seasons and always features Mediterranean-inspired flavors. The intimate dining room housed in a South Austin bungalow makes you feel like you are over for dinner at the talented chef couple (Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher) who owns the restaurant’s home. – Lauren

 

photo via americas best breakfasts

Tacodeli

We talk about tacos a lot in Austin, but that’s only because we’re constantly eating them. Picking a favorite taqueria borders along impossible, but a trip to this taco-fiending town wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Tacodeli. There’s no such thing as a bad order there, but I absolutely love the Mojo Fish Taco, the Papadulce and the Space Cowboy. – Chanel

photo via vespaio

Vespaio

Some of mine and Adam’s favorite date nights in Austin have involved cozying up to the bar at Vespaio and spending hours lingering over great wine, fresh mozzarella, handmade pasta and some of the best tiramisu around. It’s not trendy, but Austinites (and visiting celebs) love this spot for its old-school vibe and consistently out-of-this-world Italian food. – Camille

photo via lucy’s fried chicken

Lucy’s Fried Chicken

The amazingly risqué neon sign draws you in, but it’s the perfect crispy fried chicken that’ll draw you back to Lucy’s. This South Austin neighborhood gem has good vibes, a great patio, and one of the best little jukeboxes in town. – Jennifer Rose

photo via thomas winslow

Bufalina

This cozy, candlelit spot serves some of the best pizza in town from its inviting East Austin location. The menu of wood-fire pies may sound simple (marinara, margherita, calabrese), but each comes with a delicious, flavor combination. – Lauren

image via citygram mag

JuiceLand

Every bonafide Austenite will vouch for JuiceLand, and thanks to the local chain’s recent expansion throughout the city, just about every Austenite has access to one, too. Pickup a smoothie on the go, a shot for when you could use a boost, a freshly squeezed juice, or agua fresca for a mid-day treat. Better yet, their grab-n-go foods are all vegan and surprisingly delicious. – Chanel

photo via roadfood

Fonda San Miguel

It’s not trendy or hip, but I consider Fonda to be an essential stop on any culinary tour of Austin. Open since 1975, this interior Mexican spot boasts vibrant, almost over-the-top decor that gives it a playful feel, but the menu is fine dining-esque with some of the best mole, rellenos and tortilla soup ever. I almost always order tacos al pastor and tostadas off the bar menu. – Camille

photo via bridget’s own diary

Justine’s Brasserie

Maybe it’s the dreamy French music in constant rotation or the al fresco dining under festoon lights hanging from the trees, but there is something about Justine’s that brings the most magical evenings. Open until 2am, start with the escargot and end with the chocolate pear tart. – Lauren

photo via lavaca st

Turf n’ Surf

If you’re looking for the best tasting and greatest quality bar food you’ve ever tried, look no further than Turf n’ Surf, discreetly located inside Lavaca Street Bar. Cause when tromping around Downtown Austin has your feet aching, and all the hip spots have been maxed out on reservations for weeks, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars (or more accurately, charming owner Ralph Gilmore) for this place. – Chanel

20 comments
  1. 1
    Molly {Dreams in HD} | March 10, 2014 at 10:08 am

    ok, seriously if the austin tourism bureau isn’t sponsoring camille styles yet they better get on it. each post you dedicate to austin makes me want to visit that much more!

    Reply
  2. 2
    Kristina | March 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I graduated from UT in 2007 and what I would do to be there again to try all of these amazing restaurants! So much has changed since I left and I can’t wait to re-explore my favorite city 🙂

    Reply
  3. 3
    Loretta | March 10, 2014 at 11:45 am

    What a great guide to sampling some of our city’s best! May I add a couple of my faves? One is a blast from the past, but El Rancho deserves a spot for its fabulous patio and the incomparable chicken chile rellenos. Easy Tiger has been around just a few years, but the croissants and other delectable baked goods are the best in town.

    Reply
  4. 4
    Molly Kendrick | March 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Wow, Loretta. El Rancho is such a unique recommendation…

    Love this list! Fonda and La Condesa are my all time favs!

    Reply
  5. 5
    Lisa Olson | March 10, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I crave 24 Diner (chicken and waffles or a burger with a side of mac and cheese!) and Torchy’s at least once a week! Thankfully, my little sister just got into UT, giving me four more years worth of excuses to make trips back to Austin! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rose Smith | March 10, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Awesome, Lisa! And congrats to your sister. Stop by and see us when you’re in town!

      Reply
  6. 6
    staley hawkins | March 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    these restaurants are literally THE BEST. great picks!!

    Reply
  7. 7
    searchingforsubstance | April 17, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    these restaurants sound so enticing!

    although it might seem a strange fusion at first, french-vietnamese fusion totally makes sense. the french colonized southeast Asia for almost a century. if you visit southeast asia (which you totally should, if you get the chance!) you will see french influence in the architecture, language, and food.

    i went to school in austin years ago and i don’t recognize any of these restaurants. austin is definitely growing up from the college town i remember it to be!

    Reply
  8. 8
    Kelli | May 20, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I have come to your site for restaurant recommendations on more than one occasion. You never disappoint. I have tried several and they are all amazing in their own right–not only for the food, but the decor and ambiance as well. Thank you!

    Reply
  9. 9
    Stacy Johnson | March 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I are traveling to Austin this month and are looking forward to trying some of these great places. Thank you!!!

    Reply
  10. 10
    A Capitol Contessa | March 1, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    and now mentally planning my next trip to Austin! What a great list that hits all the pleasure points! I must do something similar for DC

    Reply
  11. 11
    Elizabeth | March 1, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    As a fellow Austinite, I enthusiastically approve this list! We are blessed with an amazing array of restaurants in every price range, and you’ve definitely hit on some of our finest. Just tried Bullfight last weekend, and I think it belongs on the list. Delicious Spanish food served in a beautifully modern space.

    Reply
  12. 12
    Faith | May 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Camille – thanks so much for this list! I’ll be visiting Austin this month with my husband and another couple and these places look amazing. I am hoping to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday while we’re there, and was hoping you could recommend a great dinner place. Great food, ambience, and maybe some glitz would be nice. Lenoir looks beautiful! Thoughts?
    Thank you~

    Reply
    • Camille Styles | May 8, 2016 at 8:12 am

      How fun! Well, the one thing Austin doesn’t have a lot of is glitz. 😉 I think Lenoir would be great, and the bar at Jeffrey’s is very chic and serves full menu. Cant go wrong w/ either of those. Have a great time! xo

      Reply
      • Faith | May 9, 2016 at 7:15 pm

        Thank you so much!! and thank you for taking the time to reply 🙂 We are definitely looking forward to a great weekend in Austin!

        Reply
  13. 13
    Belle Hunter | June 5, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    LOVE your picks. I haven’t been to Qui or Yo No Se yet, but they are on the list. I’ve always loved Elizabeth St, especially for breakfast, but Launderette has stolen my heart and has been my absolute favorite since they opened.

    xoBH

    http://workandtheweekend.com/herstuff/

    Reply
  14. 14
    keith | January 15, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Cause when tromping around Downtown Austin has your feet aching

    Reply
  15. 15
    Molly | February 16, 2017 at 11:15 am

    My brother is going to Austin on business and texted our family thread: “What’s the fancy Austin restaurant that is a tough ticket for dinner? New American cuisine. A male name, I think.” Jeffrey’s, of course! I so miss Launderette, wine nights at Lenoir and picking up brussels and beets at Fresa’s. Must come visit soon! X

    Reply
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