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Best Restaraunts in Austin

  • m

I'm moving to Austin soon and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts about if there was any really good fine dining in the area? What are the best restaraunts in Austin?

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  1. These are some of my favorites:

    Houston's
    Truluck's
    Jasper's
    Vespaio
    Fleming's
    Eddie V's
    McCormick and Schmick's
    Sullivan's
    McDonald's (just kidding)

    1. If you are into food in general cooking more specifically, try Boggy Creek Farm for organic vegetables grown within the city limits of Austin.

      http://www.boggycreekfarm.com/

      Say hi to Carol Ann and Larry, the Saturday morning markets are a social event.

      1. The Chronicle's Restaurant Poll may give you some good initial guidance, this year's issue just came out and can be found here - http://tinyurl.com/yt4m37

        1. Best Restaurants in Austin:

          1) Uchi - near consensus
          2) Vespaio - for consistent, delicious italian
          3) Toss-up: Hudson's, Aquarelle, Fonda san Miguel, Driskill Grill, many others...

          1. There are lots of helpful older threads about the best restaurants in Austin. Some good discussions can be found via these links:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376335

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360625

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/377256

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387874

            In my experience, consensus on “the best” (as reflected in lame popularity polls or even right here on chowhound) doesn’t necessarily mean that any particular restaurant will be right for me. Sushi lovers from other parts of the country don’t always love “Austin’s best” Uchi (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367854 ). Similarly, people with a lot of experience with Italian restaurants outside of Texas often dislike, to varying degrees, Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/378902 ). But reading everyone’s perceptions should give you enough information to help you make your initial decisions.

            If you should find that “fine dining” isn’t really a world-class category amongst Austin’s restaurants, you may still discover different kinds of hidden gems, with a little chowhounding. I certainly have.

            My personal favorite for “fine dining” is the Backstage Steakhouse. I’ve also enjoyed meals at Jeffrey’s and Hudson’s on the Bend. Brunch, once in a blue moon, at Fonda San Miguel can be a pleasant experience. Overall, I’ve found Wink, the Driskill Grill, and Castle Hill (among others) to be disappointing. In fact, some of my best meals have come from the most surprising—and often unknown—places.

            I hope this helps you get a handle on the local scene. Welcome to Austin.

            Best,
            MPH

            1 Reply
            1. re: MPH

              Although wink has disappointed me every time I visit in terms of their pricing, portions and cohesiveness of their dishes, their sister restaurant, Zoot, always wows me. Give Zoot a go, especially their vegetarian tasting menu. I'm actually a big meat eater, but the vegetarian/vegan tasting was not only less expensive ($45 vs. $65), but better in both execution and flavor imo. That's not to say the meaty version was bad (the lamb with fresh beans and fennel custard is to die for), but give the vegetarian option a whirl - you won't regret it.

            2. Amazing, I posted a response stating my opinion that the Chronicle Reader's Poll should not be taken overly seriously and it got deleted? Who runs this place?? Having my posts censored (this is not the first time) is going to drive me to Yelp. Don't make me do it! I like this place much, much better!

              In the spirit of the thread's TITLE, I will say that my favorite restaurants in town include (in rough order):

              Enoteca, Uchi, Vespaio, Sunflower, Polvo's, Din Ho, Casino el Camino for burgers

              But MPH says it best. Search for the types of cuisine you like.. (even maybe use that Chronicle poll as a starting point).. then look for more detailed information, reviews, user accounts, whatever. What I like about chowhound is that the people who write a lot tend to be pretty serious and critical in their taste. I may not always agree with them personally but know they're not just saying that Place X is their favorite because secretly it's the only place they ever go for Food Type Y.

              5 Replies
              1. re: tastegood

                I agree with MPH and tastegood. Best restaurant is kind of a broad category. Best Restaurant when you're in a hurry and just want to get something cheap and quick? Or Best Restaurant when the company is paying and you want a 5 lb steak? Or best restaurant when you are ready to drop $200 of your own hard earned cash?

                So following those types of categories:

                1) Best super expensive Steak Dinner - I am partial to Sullivan's, but there have been new ones opened recently which I have not hit yet

                2) Best Seafood (expensive) - Eddie V's (i like the downtown location better)

                3) Best Italian - I would have to give the nod to Andiamo. We ate at Vespaio once and was not that impressed. My wife's Ciappino was delish, but to be honest, that's not really an italian dish, its really a San Fransisco dish. I got a fresh pasta dish that was simply OK, the pasta was a little overcooked and the sauce was kind of bland.

                4) Best Sushi - I don't go in for all that fancy sushi, I like my sushi plain and simple and for me, I like Ichiban.

                1. re: ChrisStein

                  Nice lists, tastegood and ChrisStein. I limited myself to naming “fine dining” restaurants, but it’s good to keep in mind the other excellent options out there, from burgers at Casino el Camino and Poodie’s to fried catfish and hush puppies at Reggie’s soul-food trailer (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39255... ). And these places are just the tip of the iceberg.

                  By the way, tastegood, you can discuss the huge dose of salt that needs to be taken with local restaurant polls all you want—just post it on the Food Media & News board. From what I’ve figured out, the mods will cut posts by any and all of us if they veer away from the narrowly-defined focus of this regional board: namely, where to find the best chow in Austin. So don’t jump ship! We need good chowhounds like you.

                  1. re: ChrisStein

                    I'm not into Andiamo, but I'm glad to see Ichiban get a mention. I think it's second best sushi-wise to Uchi in this town (Uchi is in another class) and is quite good for a pretension-free sushi experience. They do have some consistency problems though; I'd like to find out when they get their fish and try only to go there at those times.

                    Also, I had a really amazing experience at Zoot last week. One experience does not make the short list, but I was very pleased and have wanted to give a more complete report... especially since there's very little useful info on Zoot on this board. Just haven't made the time yet.

                  2. re: tastegood

                    I've never found reader's polls that reliable for what I'm looking for either. But hearing why people like certain places is a lot more helpful, thanks for all the input!

                    1. re: tastegood

                      I agree with you tastegood- I have had some good posts deleted too and patience wearing thin. Life is too short...

                      Mirabelle is my pick for best restaurant in Austin, but the others listed have great merit as well.

                      Generally speaking we are pretty blessed here. Houston and Dallas are overloaded with dining establishments more focused on portion size and looking good. In terms of actual count and certainly on a per capita basis- Austin has a great fine dining scene.

                      And the best part is that here you can do your fine dining in shorts and a T-shirt :)

                    2. I won't restate what's already been said below - other than to say "fine" dining in Austin is much more casual than what you may be expecting. I don't know from where you are moving - but don't expect the same types of places you would find in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, etc. There's no place in town that will turn you away if you are in jeans or make you wear a jacket. But - I think there's some great places to eat here - much of it in . . . and not in . . . the fine dining category.

                      For me, some personal favorites in the more upscale department are Starlite, Jeffrey's & Hudson's on the Bend. If you're from out of state, you probably should try Hudson's at some point, as it is a very unique place. I think Jeffrey's continues to be one of the city's best, and Starlite is probably my favorite overall.

                      Other places I quite like but wouldn't put in the same class (but still elegant dining) are Vin Bisto & Fino. I recently ate at Vin and really enjoyed the entire experience. Fino doesn't always get a lot of love here, but I like the food and the atmosphere - it has a great outdoor seating area - but I wouldn't recommend it's sister restaurant (Asti), which I believe has fallen in the last year. Uchi and Vespaio have been mentioned already, and I would recommend them as well.

                      http://www.starliteaustin.net/
                      http://www.jeffreysofaustin.com/
                      http://hudsonsonthebend.com/main.php
                      http://www.vinbistro.com/
                      http://www.astiaustin.com/

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Ken W

                        Thank you everyone!!! All the input really helps. I agree "fine dining" can be interpreted in many different ways, but basically I love tasting menus, but also enjoy any restaraunt that has really good food. I'll have to check out your suggestions first hand after I move. I have yet to hear anything bad about Hudson's on the Bend, so that might be my first splurge dinner once I'm there. Anyone have any opinions on Aquarelle?

                        1. re: mapep

                          Hi mapep,

                          I went to Aquarelle a couple of years ago for my birthday (hopefully someone has had a more recent experience!) First of all, I think the atmopshere is phenomenal. Aquarelle is located in a small house just west of downtown, and the decor inside is beautiful. I thought the waiters were pleasant, knowledgeable, and did everything they could to make sure we were well fed and comfortable.

                          The food, unforunately, did not live up to the same standard. It was good, but not great, and I feel that if you're paying 300 bucks for dinner, you should have at least one or two bites that make your eyes roll back in your head.

                          Maybe it was an off night, but I think that's one of the reasons it's not super-popular on this board. Anyway, I don't think you'll go away thinking it was an awful experience, but I think there are better options in Austin. Wink is one of my favorites (though read others posts--some have had bad experiences), as is Eddie V's for happy hour (all night Sun/Mon delicious half price apps)

                          1. re: catarata

                            I gotta agree. The wife and I went over to Aquarelle a couple months ago for a 'splurge'. Its nice inside. Service was as expected. But it was missing the 'wow' reaction that I hope to summon when spending $100-150 per person (we did tasting menu with wine pairings- bill was $285 in the end). I would say it should have been $200 max (total) for what we got. That would have seemed 'worth it.' (I'm comparing this to other $100-200 per person meals we've had in the last year that seemed 'worth it'- Arzak, Akelare, to name a couple).

                        2. re: Ken W

                          I have to second the part about Asti here - the food there is mediocre at its best, and the staff have been extremely rude BOTH times I've eaten there. Overall a disappointing experience that doesn't measure of to their projected oh-so-Downtown image.

                        3. cafe josie (anything w the Ginger Tamarind sauce turns me inside out.)...finn and porter(i ...sorry...actually like the sushi as much as uchi..the nangoku is heaven...and they have cinnamon sugar donuts w a truffle melted inside!!! plus yummmmmmy steaks, and a bleu cheese bacon salad worthy of my last meal.) vespaio-just give me some creamy polenta with everything and an order to go,also. and uchi-the new peanut buttter semi freddo dessert w apple miso sorbet is a surprising delight,and i'm not a huge fan of p.b....also,uchi's "social hour"..happy hour,that is, has been so worth my trip lately..its not crowded and good things are on special..along w my favorite sake-the unfiltered one. hope you feel like i do!

                          1. Austin is so wonderful!!! You will love it! Hyde Park Grill is amazing.They are totally known for their fries. Stubbs BBQ. Kerbey Lane. Dirty Martins down on campus has the best greasy spoon burgers.The local restaurant scene is huge. So take advantage of that. Also if you are a coffee drinker...progress coffee is wonderfull. also their cafe food is so good!! Where are you moving there from?

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: mapep

                                You will enjoy Jasper's. The owner is Kent Rathbun, Kevin's brother.

                                Also, try Restaurant Jezebel. In many ways it reminds me of Restaurant Eugene and Joel in food quality.

                            1. I know it is a chain and i am risking being shot. but Chuy's seems to be a great consensus for a regular place to get Tex-Mex. I like it okay and definitely think there are better choices, but it's a pretty decent mainstay. Either way, my Austin friends won;t go anywhere but Chuy's when they come to Dallas.

                              1. Fine dining are Winks, Trulucks, Eddie V's, Flemings, Reeds Jazz & Supper Club, Jasper's and most recently Hayashi's in Georgetown, TX (amazing sushi & grill).

                                1. I am surprised to see no mention of Shoreline Grill. Although they don't have a tasting menu , everything we have tried there has been phenomenal. The cravado is divine, they have a great wine list and an enjoyable patio. The food is consistently tasty but the ambience is not snooty. I also saw a mention here of Jeffrey's crispy oysters. The same oysters are at Shoreline for a larger order and smaller price.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RoxieB

                                    I can't speak for why others didn't mention the Shoreline Grill, but personally I'm not a fan. I've given the place plenty of tries, too. See this link for more details:

                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413016