10 Austin Restaurant All-Stars

By Megan Giller  |  September 30, 2013

Austin is practically exploding with new restaurant openings, but don't overlook the real gems that have been around for a while. From wild game to home-cooked vegetarian cuisine and sushi, Austin's classic haunts are keeping things modern.

  • Enoteca

    On South Congress, the Italian food institution and little brother to Vespaio consistently turns out high-quality antipasti, homemade pastas and more of our amores. The cozy atmosphere reminds us of a very trendy Italian grandma’s kitchen.

    1610 S. Congress Ave.; 512-441-7672

  • Perla’s

    Chef and owner Larry McGuire’s classic seafood spot on South Congress is still alive and kicking. Try brunch items like the lobster omelet with crème fraîche and caviar, sandwiches like the lobster roll and, of course, oysters galore. McGuire recently opened a little brother to Perla’s, Clark’s, which we like too, but sometimes older siblings know best.

    1400 S. Congress Ave.; 512-291-7300

  • Hudson’s on the Bend

    Wild game is the way to go here, with entrees like smoked elk backstrap and stuffed pheasant breast with mole. Hudson’s keeps it old-school with comfort-food sides that come with every dish: mashed potatoes, cornbread and veggies with butter, topped with a big edible flower. The atmosphere is also from a different era, combining white tablecloths and taxidermy in a quirky Austin way.

    3509 Ranch Road 620 N., 512-266-1369

  • Wink

    Since 2001, the tiny upscale restaurant on South Lamar has been impressing the city with its cuisine. Chefs Mark Paul and Stewart Scruggs focus on fresh, local ingredients to prepare New American dishes at their best. The wine selection and wine bar also make the restaurant a standout.

    1014 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-482-8868

  • Uchi

    Sure, there’s Uchiko and a bevy of restaurants from the group’s alumni (the most famous of which is Paul Qui’s new place, Qui). But first there was Uchi. Chef Tyson Cole elevated Austin cuisine to a new level with his creative small plates with Japanese influences, and the locale still surprises and amazes with every meal.

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

  • ACL Steaks

    You probably know this restaurant as Austin Land and Cattle, but because of other similar names in town (cough, the Texas Land and Cattle chain, cough), the locale decided to change its name. Regardless of what it’s called, when the legislature is in session, you’ll find plenty of representatives eating their fill of steaks at this downtown restaurant on South Lamar. Head to the Cloak Room for a cocktail afterward to really blend in with the capital crowd.

    1205 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-472-1813

  • Café Josie

    One of Clarksville’s oldest restaurants, Josie knows New American food. Classic dishes like crispy Gulf oysters, pepita redfish and high-end steaks have stayed on the menu for years, and with good reason. The spot has also trained and turned out many a well-known Austin chef.

    1200 W. Sixth St.; 512-322-9226

  • Credit: Flickr user fifty acorns


    Two words: cashew tamari. The famous salad dressing is nutty, rich and addictive, and fortunately for us, the vegetarian restaurant has been topping quite a few dishes with it since 1980. We also can’t get enough of the stir-fries and veggie sandwiches like the burger and the portabello mushroom burger (pictured). Keep in mind this is old-school vegetarian, with extra cheese. But that rich chocolate cake and blueberry pie? Both vegan, and delicious.

    4215 Duval St.; 512-451-3994

  • Musashino 

    Hidden off Mopac underneath the Chinatown restaurant, this traditional Japanese restaurant consistently amazes us with both its food and welcoming atmosphere. The fresh fish on special is the way to go here, and we dream about the Road Runner roll, with soft-shell crab and black squid ink rice, topped with avocado and habanero-infused caviar. The restaurant has turned out famous alumni like Uchi and Uchiko's Tyson Cole.

    3407 Greystone Dr.; 512-795-8593

  • Chez Nous

    This traditional French restaurant in downtown Austin has been around since 1982, and it is one of those special places that somehow has been overlooked by the new crowd in the city. The prix fixe dinners are always lovely at the locale, which looks like a cottage in rural France. But we love it most for lunch, when you can get a croque madame and a salad for $8.50.

    510 Neches St.; 512-473-2413