Christmas is over and 2018 is coming to a close with New Years soon to be in full swing. What better way to end the year then with a Foodie Friday of Austin 360 Eats list of the top 10 restaurants in Austin for 2018!
You still have time to try one or more of these before the year closes out. Why not check at least one of these out this week-end!
Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2019!
#10: Odd Duck 1201 S. Lamar Blvd.
Odd Ducks menu is inspired by the Texas seasons by using local ingredients that showcase the relationships the chefs and the farmers have built throughout the years. They take what is known and make it new and this is part of what makes the restaurant great. There’s always a thoughtful touch that raises their food one step further than what you might have expected like pickled rind on chile-marinated melon, feta and pepitas with umeboshi vinaigrette that adds an extra element to grilled shrimp with mango slaw.
#9: Juniper 2400 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Juniper has few Austin equals in terms of classy atmosphere. But don’t let the look make you think the restaurant will overpower you with stuffiness. It has an energy that makes it the perfect spot for group dates and special nights out. Chef Nic Yanes’ cuisine is delicious and rustic like the earthy grilled mushrooms that work together with the sweetness of corn in an abundant risotto.
#8: Otoko 1603 S. Congress Ave.
Otoko is a 12 seat Japanese restaurant. The bar at Otoko is dimly lit and there is a 12-seat counter dining room. Chef Yoshi Okai is a 2017 Food & Wine Best New Chef award winner who puts together a wonderful meal that might include an appetizer of escargot contrasted by pickled chiles and vegetables on top of a sushi rice cracker or a cold cantaloupe soup hiding a cured piece of amberjack ham and spiked with Thai chile.
#7: L’Oca d’Oro 1900 Simond Ave.
L’Oca d’Oro is an Italian inspired party of family, community, and sustainability. Their dishes are prepared with both local and sustainably grown produce and meats. This is an expression of their farm-to-table philosophy reflected in their handmade pastas, cheese, salami, bread, vinegars and liqueurs. Their neighborhood has slowly taken shape around this kind of Italian restaurant that most established areas would long to have. There are touches of greenery inside with blue walls that recall the nearby park, a design that makes you think of home. Chef Fiore Tedesco celebrates the seasons with dishes like a cucumber-laced spread of smoked kingfish smothered across charred, crusty bread, and milky hand-pulled mozzarella on a plate spotted with figs.
#6: Kemuri Tatsu-Ya 2713 E. Second St.
There’s no place like it in Austin and there may not be anyplace like it in America. Tokyo-born and Austin-raised Tatsu Aikawa and native Austinite and first-generation Japanese-American Takuya “Tako” Matsumoto have made ramen popular in Austin. By combining Japanese and Texan cuisine, they have been able to maintain an enthusiasm among their guests by preparing food like fried octopus balls doused with Texas chili and showered with cheese. Add to that refreshing poke fattened with guacamole and their exciting cocktails made with Japanese whisky.
#5: Barley Swine 6555 Burnet Rd. #400
When Barley Swine opened it made a commitment to supporting farmers and ranchers from our region. They currently offer their guests a dining experience that features several courses that are inspired by their farmer friends. The shared plate and tasting menu options are truly seasonal and always change based on the ingredient availability and the goals of the kitchen. They are always creative and have fun in hopes that their guests will share in the excitement. Barley Swine is a great place to have a good time enjoying the love of food and drink that shows in what they serve.
#4: Olamaie 1610 San Antonio St.
With grace and elegance Chef-owner Michael Fojtasek, a native of Dallas, warmly welcomes you to his restaurant. He has filled his restaurant with the best hallmarks of the South, making it the most consistently great restaurant in Austin of the past four years. His team has helped him fully realize a dream that started in part after a culinary research road trip through the South. The lovely back porch and the sitting area give it a sense of hospitality and charm of a restaurant serving some of the best cocktails in town, accompanied by a wine list that expanded this year to include Old World selections. But the menu remains resolutely and gracefully Southern, stretching from the Carolinas with rice hush puppies in an onion dip with sweet lump crab meat through Georgia with boiled peanuts in thickened buttermilk; and then on to Texas with Ranger cattle beef tartare with beef fat mayonnaise.
Not many restaurants in the past several years have delighted Austin and caught the nation’s attention in a more complete way than Suerte. This modern Mexican spot from owner Sam Hellman-Mass and executive chef Fermin Nunez has an energy that bounces off its brick walls and goes under its Oaxacan textiles. The excitement for this restaurant comes not only from the in-house masa that tops the menu but also from the way the kitchen combines local ingredients, thoughtful cooking methods and the flavors of Mexico. Gouda gives a nutty flavor to Mexican street corn served in a glass, and fresh Mexican herbs enliven a tender mound of goat rib barbacoa.
#2: Pitchfork Pretty 2708 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Pitchfork Pretty is a family-style, upscale dining experience that is grounded in the expressive cooking and seasons of the Hill Country with its earthy colors and textures that create a clean, inviting space with exposed trusses, high ceilings, and big windows. They want their space to be both a refuge from and festival of the day-to-day. They have their own garden about two miles from the restaurant, and what’s growing there is what’s on the menu. They make sure they offer a complete experience to all diners, which is why you'll find many of their dishes are vegan, veggie-forward, or gluten-free. But they're also very enthusiastic about serving you a giant BBQ’d beef rib if that's what you'd like. Everything they serve is cared for from seed to plating, so that in the end, it will nurture you—their guest.
#1: Emmer & Rye 51 Rainey St. # 110
Between the bar area and the open kitchen at Emmer & Rye sits a small pantry closet that holds a selection of Mason jars that houses the restaurant’s current fermentation projects. At some point, those experiments will make their way to your plate — maybe in the form of wild Texas plum umeboshi, or mesquite vinegar. Emmer & Rye is a restaurant designed around the farmer’s haul. The menus are changed daily with a focus on seasonally inspired and local cuisine. They mill heritage grains for pastas, breads, and desserts and when it comes to meat, they source whole animals. With a goal to maximize local ingredients, we have an in-house fermentation program that allows them to capture flavors at their peak and preserve them for the off season. When you visit the restaurant, you can check out their pantry to see vinegars, pickles, and brines bubbling away.
Dorie’s Past Picks:
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As always, local events and information are brought to you as a courtesy of Dorie Dillard, Coldwell Banker United REALTORS, your NW Austin Real Estate Consultant. Watch for future Dorie picks for Austin dining experiences!
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