It may appear like winning the Restaurant title in Austin of the Year in 2021 is a questionable honor. Nothing could be further from the truth, though.
In the last year and a half, Austin restaurants have faced unprecedented challenges. And many of our beloved local establishments have regrettably succumbed to the plague. Those who did had to navigate a new world of revolving restaurant closures, curbside pickups, and masking restrictions, not to mention personnel shortages, supply chain interruptions, and the ever-looming bottom line.
That is why, at our annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, we are ecstatic to honor local restaurants and bars.
Read about our nominees for Austin Restaurant of the Year below. (you’ve undoubtedly been eating at them for a while). Show your support with your hunger and dollars, and join us on August 5 at Fair Market to hear the winners. And look forward to a brighter future for our cherished local eateries. Purchase your tickets as soon as possible.
Carpenters Hall Austin Restaurant
Austin is a city that thrives on innovation and creativity. It’s no surprise, however, that a neighborhood restaurant is tucked within a chic South Austin hotel. That was formerly a union hall strikes the mark for Austin foodies. Carpenters Hall, which is decorated with union banners and plenty of beautiful wood and brick, serves a menu of plain, working-class fare upgraded with simple yet elegant touches that results in some incredibly gratifying eats. Delicious foods appear out of nowhere here. From brunch dishes like shrimp and grits with delicata squash and leeks to all-day fare like fried chicken with hatch chile fries and chow. Be sure to try one of the well-prepared classic cocktails like New York Sazerac.
This modest yellow E. 12th St. food truck attracts so many taco fans with its limited but flavor-packed menu of Mexico City-style street tacos, quesadillas, and other authentic drool-inducing Mexican favorites that it frequently sells out of food. Anything al pastor here is impossible to go wrong with, and the Friday torta specials are well worth the wait. Trypa and Lengua Tacos are recommended for adventurous diners and those with a genuine taste. Quantos Tacos stands out. Where you can throw it into the sky without hitting a tortilla, thanks to its simple approach and Mexican flavor. “How many tacos are there?” That is the only problem with tacos.
Dai Due Austin Restaurant
At Dai Due, Austinites appreciate the Manor Road butcher shop and supper club, carefully produced dishes made with regional ingredients. In local culinary traditions, and with a healthy regard for the journey those products take from farm to plate are of essential importance. Chef Jesse Griffiths, an accomplished hunter, and butcher provide a rotating menu of weekend brunch and dinner dishes at the award-winning hyper-local cafe, which includes flawlessly prepared steaks, big game, pork chops, and shellfish. Start your meal at the cold cuts table if you get the chance to experience a real Dai Due experience.
This invisible Rosewood Avenue taco truck translates to Mexico City-style tacos “cowboy-wok” cooking technology. That used for generations in northern Mexico and serves fresh and amazing creatures that have quickly become an Austin classic. We’re talking about family recipes with 24 hour-marinated meat and soft, slow-cooked vegetables that add layers of flavor to every meal. Chef Xose Velasco has put forth a lot of effort, but the result is a delicious “shell” of a dinner.
Hestia is a fiery phenomenon that has opened Austinites’ eyes to the fact that cooking with an open flame isn’t just for barbecue and burgers. It takes inspiration from the ancient Greek goddess of the hearth. A bespoke 20-foot cooking hearth centers the restaurant’s area, providing physical inspiration. With its beautifully baked food and glamorous wine program, Hestia is well-prepared to successfully build on its predecessors (Emer & Rye, TLV, Kalimotzo, Henbit) and is well-prepared with its exquisitely baked dishes and glamorous wine program. To be Austin’s favorite over the years.
Okay, let’s be honest: if you haven’t experienced the uniqueness of L’Oca d’Oro. And the joy of the Italian farm dining table – let’s be honest – you can reconsider your status as an Austin diet want to. The Golden Goose, a charming Mueller neighborhood restaurant, is chef Fiore Tedesco’s passionate love letter to Austin, an eatery that embraces community, family, and sustainability in the most delightful ways. Every meal is produced with sustainable, locally sourced produce and meats, and the to-die-for pasta is made in-house, ensuring that anything you order will be a hit. However, in all seriousness.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years (or, you know, holed up in your house since early 2020), we’ll let you in on the not-so-secret news that Nixta, a colorful non-traditional taqueria that opened in late 2019 on E. 12th St., is sweeping Austin. Chef Edgar Rico and co-owner Sarah Mardanbigi welcome their corn tortillas to Nixmelis. Which originated in Mesoamerica, is a time-consuming and painstaking process. Rico expertly incorporates delicacies like beet “tartare,” yellowfin tuna, duck confit, and roasted cauliflower. And offers a range of seasonal specials that challenge and wow Austin palates.
A thousand years old
Thousands of antiques are known for their exceptional quality: superb Chinese cuisine. This tiny cafe, which has two locations in Austin (St. 11 and St. Burnett Road), offers a modern twist on classic American-Chinese cuisine. General Tso’s chicken and fried rice are plentiful, and you can get it all here, from hot and sour soups to Buddha’s treasures. Mala Dried Chicken Sandwich, described by Old Downs. “Nashville hot chicken having a casual romance with one lucky big panda” as well as dishes like chicken and duck fat waffles and spicy five churros are even more appealing. That’s all there is to it!
It has no more octane than this East Sixth Street cafe, which uses traditional Mexican cooking methods to prepare fresh Texas products. Chef Furman News’ menu includes delicious, lovingly prepared delicacies that will leave you with some wonderful memories. The alcohol menu is as carefully curated as the meal menu. With a bewildering array of mezcal, tequila, and sotol, as well as various whiskey, wine, and shot selections.