Where to Eat in Austin Right Now
Almost every restaurant and bar in Austin has had to pivot in order to remain compliant with ever-changing regulations and the ever-evolving reality of our "new normal." But, it’s not all bad! There have been a handful of unexpected, welcome surprises: Many restaurants have re-imagined their dining room setup and implemented strict safety measures, mixed cocktails can now be sold to-go, and temporarily closed Olamaie just launched a biscuit pop-up. If you're looking to support local restaurants while staying fed -- look no further. Just remember to take precautions and always wear a mask.
The gist: The gang behind concepts that include Better Half and Little Brother recently added trailer Bummer Burrito--expect over-the-top, munchie-approved burritos and snacks.
The food: The menu is small but covers all your burrito needs--breakfast, vegan, and...loaded with jalapeño poppers? Mmmhmm. Our favorite burrito of the bunch is inspired by a truly Texan snack, Frito pie. The Frito 'Rito--Chili Cheese Fritos, nacho cheese, refried beans, Oaxaca jack cheese, Bummer Sauce, and your choice of meat/protein. And, because the trailer is located next to Little Brother, be sure to add some to-go booze or coffee to your order!
The cost: Burritos start at $7 with add-ons for a few bucks more, sides and sweets range from $5-$7, and coffee $3-$4.50. To-go cocktails range from $9 ready-to-drinks to $52 for kits.
How to order: Order online for pickup and delivery or order delivery from Uber Eats.
The gist: While Southern eatery Olamaie remains closed for now, their famously rich and flaky biscuits are back with a few new additions at their brand spanking new pop-up, Little Ola’s Biscuits.
The food: The team behind Little Ola’s is serving the biscuits that Olamaie is known for -- impossibly buttery with seemingly hundreds of flaky layers, available by half and full dozen and in the form of sandwiches. We love the fried chicken biscuit with its oversized chicken thigh fried to crisp golden perfection and swipe of honey butter but the country ham and cheese (a super thick slice of mozzarella!) is a sleeper hit. With one of the city’s best cocktail programs, we’d suggest adding to-go cocktails to your order.
The cost: Sandwiches cost $8. Side dishes are $3-$7. Cocktails $12-$50.
How to order: Order online for curbside pickup.
The gist: Neighborhood Sushi is the casual Japanese eatery from MMH, the powerhouse hospitality group behind uber-chic concepts that include June’s and Clark’s.
The food: The menu features both a traditional and modern approach to sashimi, nigiri, rolls, hand rolls, and tempura. Spicy tuna rolls are served alongside tempura shiso leaves and specials like Maine Lobster with yuzu butter and yuzu pickled shallots. A daily omakase will be offered at the sushi bar.
The cost: Sashimi and nigiri run $3-$16, rolls are $9-$37, tempura and starters are $5-28. Happy hour food and beverage specials take place every weekday from 4:30-6 pm.
How to order: The restaurant is open for dine-in service for now, but to-go ordering will be added soon. Reservations are available.
The gist: Chef Nic Yanes, owner and executive chef of Juniper and Uncle Nicky’s, brings French and Mediterranean-inspired dining to Austin’s newest boutique hotel.
The food: Verbena’s menu is a well-rounded selection of fresh, colorful dishes that put the focus on the ingredient. Try the braised pork shoulder with chili honey, broccoli rabe and ricotta salata and the snapper crudo with parsley salsa verde, Meyer lemon, and olive oil.
The cost: Starters are $5-$19, flatbreads are $9-$14, and plates are $15-$37.
How to order: To dine-in, reserve your table online or by calling (512) 991-3100.
The gist: The most anticipated restaurant opening of the year, Nixta Taqueria’s Chef Edgar Rico delivers colorful and exciting food that honors the traditions of Mexico while always looking forward.
The food: Tacos and tostadas always begin with fresh masa made in-house from heirloom corn. The Beet "Tartare" Tostada is super popular for good reason -- a crisp heirloom tostada is topped with earthy roasted beets, salsa macha aioli, avocado crema, sharp horseradish, and lime for a one-two punch of flavor and texture. And, the paletas are a must: Try the Tropical Sueño -- a summer-y popsicle made with pineapple, mango, and lemon then dipped in chamoy and lime zest.
The cost: Tacos and tostadas cost $6.50-$8, and paletas are $5.50.
How to order: Order online or call (512-551-3855) for pickup or order delivery from Favor, Grubhub, and Postmates.
The gist: From the Emmer & Rye team, Hestia is the sleek New American restaurant where everything is cooked over live fire and adjacent Kalimotxo, its Basque-inspired sister concept.
The food: Hestia has switched gears offering a dine-in only, 12-course tasting menu that will vary from day-to-day. The deceivingly simple menu lists ingredients --”scallop, green coriander, aged tallow”, for example -- versus familiar dishes but we know from experience that each bite will be exciting. Conversely, Kalimotxo is offering casual, hearty takeout and to-go cocktails. Try the Kali burger -- 44 Farms beef, Pedro Ximenez-spiked onion, mushroom aioli, and Mahón cheese on a house-made bun.
The cost: Kalimotxo’s mains cost $12-$40 with sides $8-$13. Hestia’s pre-fixe tasting menu is $120 per person.
How to order: Order Kalimotxo online for pickup or via Favor for delivery. Place a reservation by calling 512-333-0737 for patio dining. Walk-ins are also welcome. For dining in at Hestia, book your table online or by calling (512) 333-0737.
The gist: Paperboy shutters their two popular breakfast trailers to make way for their Eastside brick-and-mortar boasting an extensive new menu and rooftop patio.
The food: Regulars can expect their favorites like the Texas hash (braised pork shoulder, sweet potato, onion, kale, poached egg, pecan molé) but with the addition of new dishes like Paperboy pancakes, expanded pastry offerings, and a full alcohol and coffee program.
The cost: Pastries are $2.50-$4.50. Mains, sandwiches, bowls, and toasts are $7-$16 and sides are $4-$7. Coffee runs $3-$4.50 and cocktails $8-$10.
How to order: Paperboy is open for dine-in on its patios only and will open using a reservation system in order to maintain social distancing. The grab-and-go window is open with limited offerings meanwhile the restaurant is working on online ordering.
The gist: Uber-hip Kinda Tropical offers colorful cafe fare and a killer selection of adult beverages in a former convenient store.
The food: Kinda Tropical’s menu strikes the perfect balance of fresh-and-healthy-ish and fuck-my-diet. Grab the (addictive) Sesame Salad, a bed of local butter lettuce topped with pulled chicken, avocado, peanut, and cilantro with Kinda Curly Fries. We also love the Jackfruit Sandwich, a vegan barbecue-style sandwich that rivals the real thing. Oh, and the cocktails. Get those too.
The cost: Food runs $4.50-$12 and cocktails around $9.
How to order: Order online, call ahead at (512) 373-8430 or order curbside.
The gist: Twenty-something brothers run this taqueria that pays homage to the food and culture of the Rio Grande Valley and Monterey, Mexico where they grew up.
The food: The specialty at Vaquero Taquero are the tacos laboriously made with juicy al pastor sliced off the trompo (vertical rotisserie), as well as their freshly handmade corn and flour tortillas. Don’t snooze on lesser-known offerings like the quesadilla de nopales, pan-seared Oaxacan cheese, and chopped cactus garnished with queso fresco, cilantro, onion, roasted salsa roja or verde, and avocado cream.
The cost: Tacos and quesadillas are $2-$5.
How to order: Order online or call (512) 366-5578 for pickup and delivery. Or order delivery from DoorDash, Favor, and Uber Eats.
The gist: 12-seat Japanese omakase restaurant Otoko is one of the priciest and most exclusive, bucket-list-worthy dining experiences in town.
The food: The chef's-choice tasting menu will vary based on availability, we don’t know what chef Yoshi has up his sleeve from one day to the next. However, you can expect small plates and fresh seafood treated with the expertise and innovation of nationally celebrated chef Yoshi Okai.
The cost: The multi-course, omakase tasting menu is $175 per person.
How to order: Purchase your ticket online. Otoko is two seatings available Wednesday - Saturday with six guests maximum per seating.
The gist: Popular East Austin eatery making modern Mexican cuisine with local ingredients and an in-house masa program.
The food: Like other restaurants, Suerte has switched gears a bit to make their food more takeout friendly. What hasn’t changed is the commitment to highlighting Texas ingredients and their corn tortillas made using heirloom grains. Order the best-selling suadero tacos (confit brisket, black magic oil, avocado salsa) they are among the best tacos we’ve ever tasted. Also, don’t miss the to-go cocktails, particularly the Don Dario, Suerte’s tamarind-laced margarita.
The cost: Tacos are $12-$14 for an order of 4. Quesadillas are $9-$12. Cocktails are $10-$14.
How to order: Order online for pickup. For indoor and outdoor dining, Suerte is accepting walk-ins or reserve a table.
LeRoy & Lewis
The gist: LeRoy and Lewis is the new-school barbecue truck offering a rotating selection of alternative cuts and creative sides made with locally sourced products.
The food: Known for his innovative takes on Texas barbecue, pitmaster/chef Evan LeRoy incorporates elements of fine dining and from-scratch cooking into the menu. Expect old-school, market-style service of meats sliced to order and served by the pound; accompanying the meats are seasonally inspired, picnic-style sides beyond the basics, home-style desserts, and even barbecue bagels for breakfast.
The cost: Barbecue is $10-$15 per half pound and sides are $5. Plates and mains are $8-$20.
How to order: Order online for takeout or use Postmates for delivery.
The gist: A chic Clarksville restaurant, housed in a historic bungalow, known for chef-driven dishes and crafty cocktails.
The food: Nightcap’s takeout menu is a curated selection of tried-and-true favorites executed to perfection. Regulars love the Nightcap Burger -- two 4oz Ranger Cattle Wagyu beef patties, special sauce, house pickles, American cheese on a sesame bun with a pile of fries -- and the juicy Ranger Cattle Wagyu New York Strip. And, be sure to grab the Old Fashioned cocktail kit, it comes with 375 mL Woodford Reserve, bitters, fancy big ice cubes, garnish, and jigger.
The cost: Smaller bites and entrees cost $12-$20, the Wagyu steak is $65. To-go cocktails are $13-$16 with cocktail kits for 6 running $52-$60.
How to order: Order online for pickup and delivery.
The gist: Chef Kazu Fukumoto’s masterful approach to yakitori and sushi and the knowledgeable, friendly staff is why Fukumoto has remained a top pick.
The food: In addition to an expansive menu of sushi and sashimi offerings, skewered meats and veggies grilled over charcoal, and rolls, Japanese izakaya Fukumoto has now added bento boxes. Standouts include the King Salmon skewers, the YST roll (smoky yellowtail, shiso, tomato, Thai chili mayo) fried chicken karaage, and the chef’s choice sashimi.
The cost: Yakitori is $3-$6, sushi/sashimi are $3-$12, hot dishes are $5.50-$13.
How to order: Order online or call 512-770-6880 for takeout. Call to place a reservation to dine-in. Get delivery via Grubhub (limited menu selection).
Foreign & Domestic
The gist: Chefs and owners Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley breathed new life into this neighborhood restaurant with their modern and inspired farm-to-table food.
The food: Ingredients from local farmers and producers and the chefs’ self-assured approach results in bold dishes and flavors that are both familiar and exciting. Do yourself a solid and order the Parisian gnocchi (with oyster mushrooms, dandelion green, and koji butter) and a bottle of wine. F&D also has its brunch menu available for dine-in and takeout/delivery (hello, fried chicken biscuit!).
The cost: Mains run $18-28, starters and sides are $5-$12, brunch entrees are $10-$19.
How to order: Order online for takeout and delivery. Or reserve your table to dine-in.
TLV Israeli Food
The gist: When Chef Berty Richter first opened his modest food truck, Austin went nuts for his take on Israeli street food and hasn't let up.
The food: Try the hummus with chicken thighs in a Yemenite spice blend, with onion, green tahini, amba (spiced pickled mango), schug (spicy herb garlic pepper sauce), and pita -- it’s literally two meals worth of food. Also great: the grilled minced beef and lamb pita wrap with tzatziki and herbs.
The cost: Wraps and plates are $10-$15.
How to order: Order online for curbside pickup at the 2nd Street lot. (Fareground is currently closed to the public.) For delivery, order via DoorDash and Favor.
The gist: Helmed by Soursop owner Teddy Bricker and chef Dillon Misonznick, Spicy Boys can be found outside Zilker Brewing serving wings seasoned and sauced with Asian-inspired flavors, fried chicken, sandwiches, and a buttery roti for good measure.
The food: While much of the menu is on the chill side of hot, we can’t stop ordering the mouth-numbing, peppery Lemon-Sichuan wings, and the Hot Gai chicken sandwich with massaman mayo, Swiss cheese product, Thai basil, and pickles. Get the tots tossed with your choice of wing flavor.
The cost: Wings (6) are $9-$12, sandwiches are $8-$8.50, sides and extras are $3-$5.
How to order: Order online for pickup or via Favor and Uber Eats.
The gist: Japanese culinary vets from both Kome and Uchi have joined forces to serve sushi hand rolls and omakase in a casual setting.
The food: From Chefs Kayo Asazu and Takehiro Asazu (cousins and co-owners at Kome) and Chef Masazumi Saio (formerly at Uchi), this casual eatery focuses on temaki (sushi hand-rolled into a seaweed “cone”) as well as takeout-ready omakase (12 pieces of sushi, chef’s choice) and DIY temaki (hand roll) kits. Or opt for hand rolls like the salmon, avocado, and cucumber or beef tataki (chopped raw beef tenderloin, pickled jalapeño, shiso, garlic chip, ginger, and umami jelly).
The cost: Hand rolls are $4.50-$7, temaki and omakase take-home kits start at $45.
How to order: Order online for pickup or via Doordash and Favor for delivery.