Austin's 11 Biggest Openings of 2013

By Megan Giller  |  December 16, 2013

Austin’s restaurant scene has had a bang-up year, with new places opening almost every week. And though the lines at the recently opened outposts of In-N-Out Burger are nothing to sneeze at, today, we want to highlight the new, unique eats our city has produced this year. Out of all of the restaurants that have opened in 2013, here are the 11 we are most impressed with.

  • Odd Duck

    Chef Bryce Gilmore’s highly anticipated brick-and-mortar version of his trailer that started it all, Odd Duck, finally opened in mid-December, just squeaking onto this list. One of the restaurant's coolest factoids? It is actually housed on the same property as the original trailer. Compared to Gilmore's Barley Swine, Odd Duck is a more casual operation; the focus is on dishes that are less formally plated and presented, and Gilmore told us that “anything goes.” The opening menu featured dishes like carrots roasted in hay with goat feta and pistachio as well as cow tongue with beets, deviled egg and dill pickles.

    1201 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-433-6514

  • Credit: Spencer Selvidge


    Say what you will about the high price point, chef and entrepreneur Larry McGuire delivers once again. With the help of original owners Ron and Peggy Weiss, he reopened Austin’s oldest fine-dining restaurant in May. The interior has been modernized and every detail is in place (in typical McGuire style), from embossed napkins to special aprons, fine china and carefully chosen 1970s lithographs by John Chamberlain. “It’s a whole new restaurant,” McGuire says. The steaks are the main highlight, but sides like butternut squash bread pudding and mains like roasted halibut with short-rib ravioli and grapes keep things fresh. Looking for a splurge-worthy holiday meal? Check out what McGuire orders when he eats there.

    1204 W. Lynn, 512-477-5584

  • Winebelly

    The newly opened wine bar and small plates spot on South First Street packs a lot of flavor into those bites. We’ve always liked the Tran family’s other spot, the Vietnamese restaurant Hai Ky, but we were pleasantly surprised at how they’ve raised the bar at their new place (both figuratively and literally, since they’ve also moved the physical bar to the restaurant's front and center). The rest of the interior is similar to how it looked when the locale was the Green Muse coffee shop, although some dark wood adds class and mystique to the cute neighborhood setting. We’re still dreaming about the fried quail: the peppery yet sweet, perfectly crunchy crust complemented the tender meat inside, as did the honey served on the side, the light arugula salad and the grilled pears.

    519 W. Oltorf, 512-487-1569

  • ABGB

    South Austin is more than excited about the new Austin Beer Garden and Brewery from Uncle Billy’s alums, where the philosophy is similar but with a “slight edge.” The menu features five beers that remain constant: the Hell Yes (a Bavarian-style lager), the Industry (a Pilsner), the Superliner (an IPA), the Day Trip (a Pale Ale) and Big Mama Red (a hoppy red). Additionally, five other beers rotate, such as an Oktoberfest and a Pale Ale with Belgian yeast. Chef Tim Stevens also churns out creative pizzas and sandwiches with ingredients like shrimp, pancetta and Brussels sprouts. Stevens uses local ingredients such as charcuterie from Salt and Time and Pure Luck Farm and Dairy, and changes the menu daily.

    1305 W. Oltorf; 512-298-2242

  • Credit: Spencer Selvidge


    Paul Qui's highly anticipated high-end spot opened in June, but we still get pretty excited watching Austin’s favorite Top Chef in action. Qui focuses on hyperseasonal, local food, with a daily selection of small and large plates ($150 cote du boeuf, anyone?). The cocktails here shouldn't be missed, and the hip, beautiful interior with touches from local artists like Keith Kreeger’s dishes make the space feel special. Pro tip: sit at the seven-seat bar and bypass the long wait times while still enjoying the full menu.

    1600 E. Sixth St.; 512-436-9626

  • Bufalina

    Austin had to wait two years for owner Steven Dilley’s Neapolitan pizza joint to open, but it was worth every second. The flawless crust comes from Dilley’s Italian-learned skills as well as the impressive Stefano Ferrara oven that takes center stage in the tiny restaurant. The menu is equally small but full of good things, like the cherry tomato salad with thick-cut housemade mozzarella, pies like the Fresca - with mozzarella, Sungold tomatoes, arugula and prosciutto - and wine and beer. The meats and cheeses (except for the housemade mozzarella) are sourced from Antonelli’s, and the baguettes come from Easy Tiger. The place feels casual and neighborhoody, so expect to get comfortable quickly.

    1519 E. Cesar Chavez; 512-524-2523

  • Credit: Thierry-Clément Bignolet


    The contemporary French-influenced restaurant from the team behind 24 Diner and Easy Tiger opened in late July, to our city’s delight. The somewhat high-end restaurant features entrees like grilled antelope with figs, cherries, braised endive and pistachios as well as a pickled mushroom salad with spinach, bacon, blue cheese, pickled egg and pickled-mushroom vinaigrette. There’s also a three-course, $25 option with items like lobster bisque and mussels and frites. The brightly windowed interior with wooden walls and a vintage-style bar transforms the previously dark space and fits the posh-yet-casual vibe.

    601 W. Sixth St.; 512-992-2776

  • John Mueller Meat Co.

    John Mueller may be the fieriest pitmaster around. Last year, the grandson of famous Louis Mueller left his barbecue trailer on South First in the hands of his sister, amid scandal (it’s now called La Barbecue and has moved to East Sixth), and in February opened the John Mueller Meat Co. in East Austin. His temper, unpredictability and charm precede him, as do his classic, mouthwatering smoked meats and squash casserole (“It’s a dairy product, not a vegetable,” he told us). He turns out top-of-the-line brisket, ribs and sausage on East Sixth, all while refusing to let customers wait in line ahead of time for a more democratic system. The covered picnic tables and expansive space make a nice place to hang out with the family or grab a lunch with coworkers. Plus, with Mueller’s antics, like when he claimed that he “made the Austin barbecue scene,” you’ll always come away with a story.

    2500 E. Sixth St.

  • Salt and Time

    When recovering vegan Ben Runkle and butcher Brian Butler opened the brick-and-mortar location of their butcher shop and salumeria, they didn’t necessarily plan to be a restaurant. They have always focused on using locally sourced products, classic butcher-shop methods and outstanding charcuterie, and the shop continues in that tradition. But over the year, their menu has expanded from a few premade sandwiches to full brunch, lunch and dinner options. With a modern-meets-vintage aesthetic, an open floor plan and such a strong neighborhood vibe, it’s hard not to love this place.

    1912 E. Seventh St., 512-524-1383

  • Credit: Robert Jacob Lerma

    Schmidt Family BBQ

    Back in September, the family behind famous Lockhart barbecue meccas Kreuz Market and Smitty’s announced that they would be putting their feud behind them and jointly opening a new restaurant. Luckily for Austinites, it just happens to be in Bee Cave. Dust off your cowboy boots and put on your best pair of (hopefully stretchy) jeans, and prepare for long lines at the 7,500-sq.-ft. restaurant. Since they’ve consistently been running out of meat by dinnertime, we advise going for lunch.

    12532 FM 2244, Bee Cave; 512-263-4060

  • Eden East

    Thursday through Saturday, chef Sonya Cote gets to flex her hyperlocal muscle with the prix fixe dinner menu at her restaurant on Springdale Farm. The six-course New American dinner highlights produce from the farm as well as local meat, and since the menu changes weekly, Cote experiments with varied preparations and ingredients. With complementary cocktails, good food and even better company at unpretentious though stylish communal picnic tables, any night at this romantic outdoor restaurant is sure to make memories.

    755 Springdale Rd., 512-428-6500