Are These the Austin Area’s Best Restaurants? Vote in Our Survey

With so many new places around town, do these top-rated restaurants still measure up?
April 22, 2014
by Megan Giller

Over the past few years, Austin has quickly become one of the top food destinations in the country, with dozens of quality restaurants and many more opening. Last time we published our survey, in 2012, we included the greater Austin area, and you’ll see that reflected in the list below. But with so many new places around town, are these restaurants still the best? Check out our current top places below, and if you disagree, tell us so by voting in our survey

No. 10: Hudson's on the Bend

Food: 27
Decor: 24
Service: 26
Cost: $60

“Rattlesnake cakes, anyone?” - this “true Texas ranch house” in Lakeway spotlights Jeff Blank’s “memorable” New American menu highlighting “elk, elk and more elk” and other “exotic” game served by a “savvy”, “pleasant” staff in “romantic” digs; yes, it’s “expensive”, but it’s truly a “unique experience” that makes any meal “feel like a special occasion”; P.S. reservations recommended.

3509 Ranch Rd. 620 N.; 512-266-1369

No. 9: Smitty's Market

Food: 27
Decor: 14
Service: 15
Cost: $18

A “mecca” for “BBQ aficionados”, this Lockhart butcher shop set in the original site of the Kreuz Market is cherished for its “superb” brisket, “thick pork chops” that “rock your socks” and links “to die for” (a good thing since “your arteries may never recover”); all comes served straight from the pit in an “old-time, fire-seared” setting abetted by a friendly staff and cold beer.

208 S. Commerce St.; 512-398-9344

No. 8: Uchiko 

Food: 28
Decor: 26
Service: 27
Cost: $59

“Simply brilliant”, this “whimsical” Rosedale sib to Uchi features Top Chef’s Paul Qui’s “wildly creative” Japanese fare in “beautiful” presentations capped by “dynamic” wines and “mind-blowing desserts”; service is “professional”, the space is modern and while tabs are steep, that hasn’t deterred the crowds.

4200 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-916-4808

No. 7: Congress 

Food: 28
Decor: 28
Service: 27
Cost: $90

“Hands-down” among the “best” in town proclaim fans of this “upscale” Downtown restaurant spotlighting chef David Bull’s “over-the-top”, “no-holds-barred” New American creations served in prix fixe feasts “fit for a foodie”; “wonderful wines”, “fantastic” service (ranked No. 1 in Austin) and a “sophisticated” setting make it “worth every penny for a special occasion” - go for the “full-monty chef’s tasting” “if you can afford it”; P.S. the adjacent Bar Congress has its own menu of cocktails and small bites.

200 Congress Ave.; 512-827-2760

No. 6: Franklin Barbecue

Food: 28
Decor: 11
Service: 19
Cost: $17

Originally a trailer, this brick-and-mortar BBQ upstart in East Austin is “giving the big names a run for their money” with some of the “finest brisket in the entire state of Texas” plus pulled pork and other “exceptional”, “simple smoked meats”; the modest space opens at 11 AM and closes whenever the eats run out, which is usually early.

900 E. 11th St.; 512-653-1187

No. 5: The Carillon

Food: 28
Decor: 25
Service: 26
Cost: $55

“Top-drawer for Austin”, this “beautiful”, “special-occasion” Campus-area New American in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center is where chef Josh Watkins “moves Texas-native materials into haute cuisine territory”, yielding “exceptional” dishes; considering such “superior” quality and service, many find the prices quite “reasonable”; P.S. the lounge features a separate bar menu with small plates.

1900 University Ave.; 512-404-3655

No. 4: Snow's BBQ

Food: 28
Decor: 15
Service: 22
Cost: $18

It’s “only open on Saturday mornings” so diehards “show up at dawn and stand in line” for “melt-in-your-mouth” brisket and “tender, meaty” ribs at this Lexington smokehouse called “as close to heaven as meat eaters can get”; its “no-pretensions”, “far-off-the-path” locale “down a back alley in a forgotten town” is definitely “part of the charm”, and so is the “friendly” hospitality.

516 Main St.; 979-773-4640

No. 3: Barley Swine

Food: 28
Decor: 19
Service: 25
Cost: $47

One of the “hottest” places in town, this “amazing” “locavore” American in South Lamar from chef Bryce Gilmore (of the now-defunct Odd Duck trailer) provides “truly memorable” small plates all made for sharing and enjoying alongside an impressive list of beers; it’s “foodie central”, but the space is “hopelessly small”, so “arrive early or be prepared to wait for an eternity.”

2024 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-394-8150

No. 2: Louie Mueller BBQ

Food: 29
Decor: 16
Service: 21
Cost: $21

The dining room itself is “charred with years of accumulating smoke” at this “real-deal” circa-1949 Taylor BBQer declared “one of the best in Texas” thanks to its “simply divine”, “thickly crusted”, “flavorful” brisket that “passes the doesn’t-need-sauce test”; service is “cafeteria-style” and “neon beer signs” are the only decor, but it’s “well worth the drive”; P.S. it “closes when they run out of food”, so “get there early.”

206 W. Second St.; 512-352-6206

No. 1: Uchi  

Food: 29
Decor: 25
Service: 27
Cost: $56

“Heaven” for sushiphiles, this Zilker jewel box presents the “finest in forward-thinking Japanese” cuisine via chef Tyson Cole - from “delish” raw fare and the signature deep-fried shag roll to “incredible” fusion plates that “make you cry tears of joy” - earning it Austin’s No. 1 for Food rating and tying it for Most Popular; a “sophisticated” vibe, “outstanding” service and a “great-looking clientele” mean it “surpasses expectations” for most, just “take another hit of sake before you look at the bill”; P.S. a Houston outpost is now open.

801 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-916-4808

south austin
paul qui
south lamar
david bull
bryce gilmore
josh watkins
ut campus
tyson cole
louie mueller