Industry Trends

Top 10 Restaurants in Austin You Need to Try

By Katherine Pendrill

Street view of Austin, Texas.

Austin, Texas is known for its live music, outdoor adventure opportunities, and of course, its food scene. Mexican, barbecue, Asian, and classic American cooking dominate the city’s culinary landscape. But Austin also offers tons of vegetarian options, Italian restaurants, and food trucks to enjoy. With a mix of everything from James Beard Award-winning venues to beloved local dives, it’s time that this city is on your radar. That’s why we’re sharing our personal roundup of the top 10 restaurants in Austin.

How did we decide on the best Austin restaurants? We scoured the internet to find the award-winning, storied, top-rated, and most popular dining venues in the city – from longtime favorites to exciting newcomers. We hope you brought your appetite!

10 Best Restaurants in Austin

These dining venues – many of them award-winning – are known for the best food in Austin, fresh ingredients, inventive menu items, outstanding restaurant customer service, and more. So, what are the top 10 restaurants in Austin? Let’s get to it!

1. El Naranjo

With a James Beard Award (often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world”) under her belt, Iliana de la Vega is a chef worth watching. And her restaurant, El Naranjo, is a venue worth visiting. Chef and co-owner of El Naranjo, de la Vega won best chef in the James Beard’s ‘Texas’ category in 2022 for her traditional Mexican cuisine.

Dishes at El Naranjo reflect the bold flavors and rich traditions of Mexico. Fresh ingredients are central to each menu item, and here – as with many of the top 10 restaurants in Austin – the menu changes frequently. Expect delicious house-made mole sauces like Mole de Mango served with halibut, as well as hearty entrées like Chamorro al Pibil, a pork shank cooked in an orange and Mexican spice marinade for 24 hours.

2. InterStellar BBQ

InterStellar BBQ is built on simple, yet powerful principles: the finest quality ingredients, meticulously selected wood for the barbecue, and ample time to cook each batch of meat with care. And diners have taken notice. Loyal fans start lining up as early as 8 a.m. and the most popular menu items often sell out by 1:30 p.m. 

It’s no surprise that this barbecue joint is one of the best restaurants in Austin, and even made Texas Monthly’s list of the top 50 barbecue restaurants in the entire state in 2021. With dishes like Frito Pie Sausage, Peach Tea Glazed Pork Belly, and Tipsy Turkey, InterStellar lives up to its tagline of “out of this world BBQ.”

3. Olamaie

Since its debut in 2014, Olamaie has been a star in Austin’s restaurant scene. This venue serves fine Southern cuisine and offers a fresh, modern twist on classic flavors, blending creativity and technical prowess. The result? Raving fans and numerous awards, including Austin American-Statesman’s 2015, 2017, and 2019 “Best Restaurant in Austin”.

Entrées like the Blackened Dayboat Fish in a blue-crab sauce, Jefferson Red Rice with Gulf Shrimp, and Grilled Pork Chop seasoned with jerk spice highlight chef Amanda Turner’s dedication to showcasing Southern cuisine through the lens of the African diaspora.

4. Odd Duck

Odd Duck is all about fresh, local ingredients. One of the more established top 10 restaurants in Austin, it started in 1970 as a food trailer on the same lot where the brick-and-mortar venue stands today. Since then, Odd Duck has won numerous awards – recently, The Austin Chronicle’s readers’ top choice for New American cuisine in 2023. 

Offering seasonal menus with imaginative twists on American classics, Odd Duck’s food and service reflect Austin’s vibrant culture. The restaurant’s atmosphere is cozy yet upscale. It’s the perfect place to enjoy creative farm-to-table dishes like Crawfish Cajun Alfredo with mushroom ravioli, Aged Wagyu Burger with fried beer cheese, or Stuffed Quail with dirty rice.

5. Toshokan

Japanese omakase cuisine is at its best at Toshokan. This Austin restaurant is the recipient of Eater’s Best Omakase of 2022 award, and it’s easy to see why. A hidden gem, the venue is tucked away in a bar on the city’s east side, delivering one of Austin’s most intimate dining adventures. The 14-course omakase sushi experience is tailored for just six diners at a time. 

Chef Saine Wong brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his world travels and culinary career to Toshokan. His 14-course menu features dishes like crunchy and sweet Spot Prawn, rich Bone Marrow bite, and simple yet elegant Sake (salmon nigiri). Toshokan is about more than the food – it’s a fun and unique dining event with themed dinners like Taylor Swift evenings. Due to its popularity, the restaurant is often booked out over a month in advance.

6. Nixta Taqueria

Self-proclaimed as “a little silly and a little serious,” Nixta Taqueria’s food is seriously good. The venue has earned its place as one of the best Austin restaurants with a James Beard Award in 2022 awarded to chef Edgar Rico in the Emerging Chef category.

Nixta Taqueria strikes a perfect balance between traditional and the unconventional: the restaurant makes its own masa and tortillas from heirloom Mexican corn, while also serving unique dishes like duck confit in place of carnitas. Owners (and husband and wife) Sara Mardanbigi and Chef Edgar Rico are on a mission to redefine Mexican-American cuisine. 

7. Numero 28

Numero 28 is undoubtedly one of the top 10 Italian restaurants in Austin, Texas. Featured on Eater’s list of the city’s most charming Italian restaurants, this Neapolitan pizzeria is serving up some of the best food in Austin, with a focus on meticulous product selection and pizza baked to perfection in a brick oven.

The restaurant’s pizza recipe has been passed down through five generations of master pizza makers. The pizzas themselves showcase a blend of delicate and complex ingredients. These flavor combinations, paired with freshly made pasta cooked in wood ovens, create an unforgettable taste and aroma. Numero 28’s dishes are even better paired with the curated selection of wines from renowned Italian wineries. And don’t forget the gelato for dessert!

8. Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant and Bar

Looking for more unique types of restaurants in Austin? Skip the Tex-Mex and head straight to Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant and Bar, which boasts hundreds of rave reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and more. Operated by husband Yidnekachew Fantu and wife Selam Abebe, who’s also the head chef, this restaurant brings the heart of Ethiopian culture to Austin. Fittingly, the name “Habesha” celebrates unity and shared heritage. 

Habesha serves Ethiopian cuisine in its most authentic form – on a large, thin sourdough pancake known as injera, which complements the rich flavors of the dishes. Meals are shared from a large plate, and include both meat-based (beef, lamb, poultry, or fish) and vegetarian dishes. Garlic and ginger add enticing flavors and scents to many of the menu items.

9. Bakery Lorraine

Diners with a sweet tooth adore Austin’s Bakery Lorraine, which not only serves up famous Parisian macarons, but also offers delicious breakfast and lunch items. The Quiche Lorraine with bacon, gruyere, and caramelized onions is a melt-in-your-mouth delight. It’s no wonder Bakery Lorraine made Food & Wine’s list of the 100 Best Bakeries in America, as well as Southern Living’s list of The South’s Best Bakeries 2022.

With bright, open concept restaurant interior design featuring large windows facing a tree-lined street, Bakery Lorraine is a place you’ll want to stay a while – for the food and the atmosphere. The food critics have it right – this is one of the best casual restaurants in Austin.

10. Con Todo

Taco truck Con Todo is one of the best casual restaurants in Austin. Winner of Eater’s Best New Food Truck of 2022 award, the restaurant is proudly “not Tex-Mex!” Rather, its food is inspired by the Indigenous culinary traditions of South Texas, and is deeply connected to the Rio Grande Valley’s culture and cuisine.

Con Todo translates to “with everything,” capturing the essence of a fully loaded taco. And the menu delivers, with rich fillings, fresh toppings, and corn tortillas made fresh daily in-house. Each taco has an origin story, from the mollejas taco with its mesquite-grilled sweetbreads to the alambres taco, which pays homage to Chef Joseph Gomez’s late-night haunt in Brownsville. 

Which of these top 10 restaurants in Austin will you try next? Or, maybe you have an idea to add to our list. Did we miss your restaurant? Shoot us a message!

Photo of Katherine Pendrill
by Katherine Pendrill

Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

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