Best Restaurants in Austin

November 28, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Zagat’s top-rated restaurants in Austin, from longtime favorites to contemporary classics.

Japanese · Bouldin Creek · $$$
Food 4.9 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

“Every bite is a revelation” at Tyson Cole’s Zilker jewel box where “extraordinary” sushi made from “the freshest fish” and other “Japanese food at its finest” is paired with a selection of sake, wine and cocktails; the sophisticated setting in a “lovely” remodeled cottage, the chic crowd and “impeccable” service are all part the “experience” , which is “a splurge, but well worth it.”
Franklin Barbecue
Barbecue · East Austin · $$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

“Believe the hype” that’s built up around this East Austin “experience” , in which “melt-in-your-mouth” brisket, “unbelievable” ribs and pulled pork are doled out in modest digs from 11 AM till the eats run out (usually early) at what many claim is “hands-down” the “best” BBQ joint in town and "possibly the world" ; fans agree the “hours” -long waits are “well worth it.
Japanese · Rosedale · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

“Outstanding” sums up this Rosedale sib to Uchi, featuring Tyson Cole’s “inspired presentations” of sushi and Japanese cuisine capped by sakes and “creative” desserts; service is “excellent” and the woody space is modern, and while you may need to “set aside a few bucks” , you “won’t regret it” because it’s an “extraordinary experience from start to finish.”
Little Deli & Pizzeria
Pizza · Crestview · $$
Food 4.8 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.5

This “charming neighborhood spot” in Crestview is loved for its “fantastic” hand-tossed pizza featuring crust that’s “crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside” , plus an array of salads, soups and “wonderful” deli sandwiches from Reubens to meatball subs; the picnic tables out front reflect the “chill atmosphere.”
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Steakhouse · Downtown · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

This Downtown outpost of the national chain is “always on the mark” thanks to “excellent” steaks you can cut “with a fork” and “wonderful” service in “calm, classy” surroundings; the bar can be a power scene, especially at happy hour, and tabs are a bit “pricey” , but most agree it’s “worth the cost.”
Clark's Oyster Bar
Seafood · Clarksville · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.4

“Amazing” oysters are the calling card of Larry McGuire’s Clarksville “find” , where “hearty lobster rolls” and other “fresh, inventive seafood combinations” , plus a “luscious array of tasty cocktails” , round out the menu; the digs, which include marble and pecan bars and outdoor seating, are “charming” but “small” , so “either make reservations or plan to wait.”
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Burger · SoCo (South Congress) · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

“Break your diet” for these burger bars where they turn out “amazing” , “inventive” locally sourced patties on house-baked buns, plus fries, “tasty” brews and milkshakes (with spiked versions for adults); it’s “always packed” at peak hours, and while some find the line “just overwhelming” , most maintain it’s “totally worth it.”
Fabi + Rosi
French · Tarrytown · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

This “hidden gem” in Tarrytown offers a “delightful menu” of “creative” , sustainable and locally sourced European fare alongside a “small” but “excellent” wine list; set in a “quaint” rehabbed bungalow that's done up in black and white with leather banquettes, it’s “perfect for date night.”
Barley Swine
American · Brentwood · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

This Brentwood American is still a "go-to happy place" for "foodies" , offering “creative" "farm-to-table" fare (including tasting menus) alongside an impressive list of house cocktails, beer and wine; the airy space features rustic wood tables, a 10-seat chef's counter and patio seating, and the tabs remain "expensive, but worth it.
Italian · SoCo (South Congress) · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

Make reservations or “be prepared for a long wait” at this SoCo “gem” , one of the “best” Italian restaurants in Austin for “delectable” fare, “excellent” cocktails and a “fine selection” of wines; the service is “attentive and professional” and the atmosphere “relaxed” , but it can get “loud” when it’s busy.
Eddie V's Prime Seafood
Seafood · Great Hills · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

This “bustling” , “swanky” chainlet is lauded for “outstanding” chophouse fare like “big, juicy” steaks, “fabulous” seafood and “decadent” sides (think truffle mac ’n’ cheese), all delivered amid “plush furnishings” in a well-appointed dining room to a crowd of dealmakers and politicos; sure, it’s “expensive” , but they offer “excellent” service, plus live jazz and a “wonderful” happy hour with reduced-price app deals.
Wine Bar · Clarksville · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.5

This “wonderful little oasis tucked away in a nondescript location” in Clarksville is known for “innovative farm-to-table” New American dining that includes a “fantastic” tasting menu and an “incredible” wine list; some find it “a bit pricey” , but it’s still a destination for “special occasions” and “date nights” ; P.S. closed Sundays.
Ramen Tatsu-ya
Japanese · North Austin · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.1

These ramen joints “deliver with a bang” thanks to “super-flavorful” broths and “perfect” noodles creating “life-changing” bowls of the Japanese comfort classic that “always hit the mark” ; the casual spaces are dine-in only, and there are “long lines” , but most insist it’s “worth the wait.”
East Side King
Thai · East Austin · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

Though they started as a single food trailer, these Asian-fusion outposts are now “growing like crazy and for a reason” into five locations around town; fans line up for “tasty” , “inventive” snacks like pork and curry buns, ramen and beet fries “to die for” ; P.S. all but the South Lamar location are open late.
Salty Sow
American · East Austin · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

A "delicious" “snout-to-tail” menu (the "duck fat fries" are "to die for" ) made with locally sourced meats and veggies is at the heart of this Cherrywood American that also pours craft brews and “strong cocktails” and presents an "incredible happy hour" ; the “modern” space, which is "actually a lot bigger" than it first appears, has a “farm-romantic” feel.
La Barbecue
Barbecue · East Austin · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.5

You’ll have to go early to “get a good spot in line” at this East Austin trailer (now in Aztec Food Trailer Park) that smokes “fabulous barbecue” like “pork ribs” , “monster beef ribs” , brisket and housemade sausage; occasional “live music” and “free beer” sweeten the deal, and as for decor, that “doesn't count here” as patrons sit outdoors at picnic tables.
Thai · Bouldin Creek · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

“Thai-rific” exclaim fans of this “must-try” Bouldin Creek eatery bringing the Southeast Asian cuisine “to a whole new level” via “amazing small dishes” (the “son-in-law” deserves “a shout out” ), curries and whole market catch; it’s “dimly lit” and can get “a little loud” among the large wooden communal tables, so some opt to “enhance the experience” by sitting at the chef’s counter “overlooking the kitchen.”
Bufalina Pizza
Pizza · East Austin · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

An “open kitchen” with a “wood-fired” oven produces “outrageously great” “authentic Neapolitan-style” pies at these "hip" Austin pizzerias; it can be “difficult” to score a space at one of the “shared tables” in the "small" dining rooms, so go early or be prepared for “long lines” (on the plus side, you can enjoy a glass from the “unique wine list” while you wait).