From Bridget "Make It Rainey" Dunlap and a chef who did time at Olivia and Napa's French Laundry, Mettle's got a metal-heavy interior and and delicious eats like a flat iron steak sided with freshly fried potato chips with cheesy Mornay sauce.
The dishes at High Tower -- a friendly neighborhood spot in East Austin -- run the gamut from Tex-Mex to Asian, and though their flavor and presentation could compete with the best of Austin's white-hot culinary scene, they're still affordable enough to order any night of the week, not just for special occasions. Grab a spot on the outdoor patio and try the ever-popular and comforting roasted pork jowl, a Korean hot pot filled with rice, egg yolk, cucumber, pickled shallots, and house Sriracha. Another favorite? Grilled scallops with avocado and grapefruit.
The husband/wife Boston expats behind Bonneville are dishing serious eats and twists on classic cocktails in a succulent-festooned, whitewashed brick space that's so lakeside, it's worth a fantastic voyage.
Communal seating, an expansive patio, and an open kitchen (the view is best from the bar) abet in the casual atmosphere at Odd Duck -- a second concept from the team behind Barley Swine -- on South Lamar Boulevard. Antithetical to its atmosphere, Odd Duck's menu features upscale, intricate dishes inspired by the daily pick at the local farmer's market, and thus the menu shifts with the Texan seasons. Odd Duck features craft cocktails, craft beer, and wine to pair with its flavor- and ingredient-forward dishes. If you happen upon the pimento cheeseburger, get it.
Located the second floor of the historic (and now defunct grocery store) Swift's Premium Food Co. building on Congress Avenue, the appropriately named Swift's Attic serves up eclectic small plates and creative cocktails for hipstered out Austinites. Among a brunch Bloody Mar bar and generous daily happy hour deals, Swift's offers sophisticated meats, seafood, snacks, and cocktails. Must trys are Korean BBQ flank steak, squid "fries," and the Pop Rocks charred edamame.