8 Austin Restaurant Openings You Might Have Missed

From Korean BBQ to high-end sushi, vegan pub grub, and cocktails with a view.

Jjim BBQ
Photo courtesy of Jjim BBQ

It’s all happening down in Austin. Bat tour boats are heaving with tourists, hot ticket events are at total capacity, and the locals are 100% social and 0% distant. That’s right, Austinites are living life to the fullest again, perhaps even more full (is that possible?) than ever before—we’re making up for lost time, after all.

As a result, business is booming, and a slew of new restaurants are making their own play for a slice of that Texas-sized pie. For those who have been preoccupied returning to old haunts, why not add some freshly opened spots to your summer agenda? Here are eight shiny new Austin culinary debuts to check out pronto.

Jjim - Korean Braised BBQ
Jjim - Korean Braised BBQ

Jjim BBQ

South Lamar
Though they opened on the cusp of this year’s winter storm, Jjim BBQ is anything but frozen—it’s South Lamar’s most sizzling Asian hot spot. Their speciality is jjim, a method of braising meat until tender. In other words this isn’t your average Korean BBQ—it's the kind of next level K-BBQ you’re genuinely addicted to, like an endlessly catchy K-Pop video on loop. The beef short rib jjim is their signature cast iron creation, a pile of soft meat chunks and vegetables cooked in a sweet soy sauce and served with a side of steamed white rice and choice of add-ons (don’t be put off by the $55 price tag—the dish is big enough for three). There are also creative takes on classics like seafood pancake jeon (lighter, fluffier and crispier) and seafood soon dubu soup with slippery scoops of silken tofu, clams, scallops, shrimp, and veg. Cocktails, beer, wine, and soju are available if you want to turn up the party.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out and delivery online.

Mama Fried
Mama Fried | Photo by Evan LeRoy

Mama Fried

South Austin
From the team behind Leroy and Lewis BBQ comes another food truck sure to light up the summer. Mama Fried brings three Lone Star State essentials: booze, fried eats, and country music. To translate for out-of-towners, that basically means outlaw fries and corn dogs served in a neighborly yard with live music, a beer garden, and lawn games under oak trees. Yeehaw! The menu features crinkle, curly, and waffle fries served with dip, seasoned, or loaded, alongside new school BBQ. Go all out for The Big Casino, which comes with two foot-long corn dogs and a jackpot of loaded fries and dips. 
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Simi Estiatorio
Simi Estiatorio | Photo by Emma Ramirez

Simi Estiatorio

Downtown
Simi Estiatorio is a new Greek fine dining restaurant with a heavy focus on all things Meditteranian seafood, with highlights spanning Fangri (AKA red porgy) to whole Lavraki branzino displayed on ice and flown in daily. Peruvian native chef Diego Sanchez brings his interpretation of traditional Greek dishes viewed through a modern lens to standouts like scallops with black lentils, octopus paired with Santorini fava puree, and swordfish souvlaki. Not to be forgotten is the variety of raw bar selections like oysters, shrimp cocktail, and Alaskan king crab legs. The drinks program features select handmade cocktails, a wine list filled with domestic and Greek labels, as well as bubbles from Perrier Jouet and Crystal to vintage Dom Perignon. Late nights get vibe-y with regular DJs on the decks from 10 pm until 2 am.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Sunny’s Backyard
Photo courtesy of Sunny’s Backyard

Sunny’s Backyard

East Austin
Vegan pub grub with an Asian spin eems to be working wonders over at Sunny’s Backyard in Govalle. Crowds are taking to their 3,000-square-foot patio, pups in tow, to chomp down on ‘meat centric’ vegan eats like bulgogi tacos with a crispy wonton shell topped with pickled cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers, a Seoul-inspired veggie ‘Frankfurter’ topped with Gochujang aioli, sesame seeds, and green onion, and loaded fries smothered in cashew-based quesco and dotted with chewy ‘spare rib’ chunks. The bar serves Texas-brewed favorites like Twisted X, Pinthouse, and Real Ale, alongside cocktails that uplift the classics like The Wanna, an old fashioned that replaces whiskey with a barrel-aged gin.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Higher Ground
Higher Ground | Photo by Chase Dorsett

Higher Ground

Downtown
Higher Ground is Austin's newest social club combining restaurant, bar, and nightclub all under one roof—and to boot, it’s housed in the most interesting building downtown. The grand former shoe shop is thoughtfully decorated in Western spiritual artefacts and symbols like a private altar from a Louisiana Victorian home and a nineteenth century organ transformed into an LED-lit DJ booth. Outside, a Juliet-esque balcony boasts panoramic views of Congress Avenue and the Capitol for pre-game TikTok action, while the Sanctuary, an ivy-covered atrium, provides an airy refuge to sip a Seven Deadly Sins cocktail (try Gluttony if you prefer yours on the sweet side). The food menu hovers on Italian-inspired fare, like prosciutto and cheddar crochette with a savory fra diavolo sauce, shaved fennel and frisée Caesar salad with bacon and pear, and the crispy porchetta Daily Bread sandwich served with arugula, peach mostarda, and traditional basil pesto.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Sushi|Bar ATX
Sushi|Bar ATX | Photo by Liam Brown

Sushi|Bar ATX

East Austin
Speakeasy plus omakase plus intimate bar setting is a sure-fire recipe for romance, so it’s no surprise that Sushi|Bar has quickly become a go-to date night institution—if you can snag a seat, that is. Ten coveted spots are booked out months in advance, and the best way to get in last-minute is to hope for dropouts. Inside, guests embark on a culinary journey with chef Phillip Frankland Lee, welcomed by a cocktail and then taken through 17 plates of intricately designed sushi. The menu is rotating, but recent offerings include bluefin tuna otoro with Japanese whisky and caramelized pineapple and roasted bone marrow with fresh wasabi and homemade soy sauce. It’s just as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the mouth, especially when pastry chef and co-owner Margarita Kallas-Lee ends dinner service with one of her inventive desserts. The next date will be a struggle to top this.
How to book: Reserve via Tock, and follow Instagram for last-minute cancelations.

Commodore Perry Estate
Photo courtesy of Commodore Perry Estate

Lutie’s

Hancock
Anyone following Antoni Porowski on IG will know that Lutie’s, stashed inside the posh Commodore Perry Estate, is hands down the moment’s hippest hang (hello, would a Queer Eye lad settle for anything less?). The restaurant from husband-and-wife chef team Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu brings fresh, wholesome ingredients to their garden-themed creations. Standouts include the grand aioli platter, similar to crudités but way more exciting with fresh seafood bites, and plant-based shareables like veggie hand rolls with cucumber dip, grilled beets with dill and garlic, and chickpea and green corn salad. Desserts are light yet satisfying (think: ultra-refreshing chocolate shaved ice).
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives | Photo by Granger Coats

Distant Relatives

East Austin
No Austin restaurant list would be complete without a slab of smoky BBQ. Distant Relatives was a 2020 pop-up that transitioned into a permanent trailer within Meanwhile Brewing. Chef, pitmaster, and owner Damien Brockway has seen unprecedented demand for his brilliant combination of traditional and regional BBQ infused with modern African-American flavors. Take, for instance, the pork spare ribs with spicy dry rub and onion, a fiery chicken leg quarter marinated in chilli vinegar butter, and, of course, spoon-tender brisket, served with coriander mop sauce and topped with crunchy chow chow for a unique acidic touch. Throughout the menu, Brockway also pays homage to his roots (and distant relatives), with sides like burnt ends, black-eyed peas, and green mango slaw.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

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