In honor of 15 years in business, we’re sharing our list of our 15 favorite Austin restaurants. They may not be trendy, and they aren’t the most daring, but they are our staples. These are the 15 places we go regularly to seek out a favorite dish or comfort food. We hope you’ll join us some night!
Bartlett's is a date night staple, as in every Thursday night. The dark ambience makes it feel romantic, and the food is fresh and simple. Paul loves the pork chop or hamburger with a barrel-aged Manhattan with rye in a rocks glass. Marquette usually opts for the hunter’s filet mignon or crab cakes with the pepita kale slaw. Dessert is either the pear martini or a delicious chocolate fudge ice cream sundae. They know us by name, and we even have a special table we sit at (the table number is our secret though). Come by and say hi!
Trudy’s has been part of our life as long as we’ve been together. It’s where Paul first asked Marquette to be his girlfriend back in 2002. The fish tacos, Ciro’s special, or cheese enchiladas suizas are our faves, served with a Mexican martini of course.
For an extra special night out, we go to Jeffrey’s. It’s the little details that make this one special. What’s not to love? From the happy guys wearing pastel shorts that valet park our car, to the pashmina shawls they keep on hand for chilly nights, and the giant-sized fresh bouquet in the main dining room – this place makes us smile. Truth be told, we really come here for the fresh popovers, bar cart, and cheese cart – the entrée is almost an afterthought. Having your drink made table side somehow makes it taste all the better. And give us ALL the cheese! The fruit, honey, and cheese plates they prepare are divine. We go on Sunday for half-price bottles of wine with our choice guided by their helpful sommeliers.
We don’t venture downtown often, but when we do, we go to Lambert’s. An awesome mint julep with an off-the-menu frito pie are Paul’s go to dishes, while Marquette usually sticks with the lean brisket so she can sop up the homemade mustard sauce. Yum!
5. Cover 3
Cover 3 is near our neighborhood so it’s our pick for working lunches and happy hours. There are so many good dishes, like the Hong Kong salmon or the steak salad. And if it’s a treat, we’ll enjoy our food with a Cover 3 press to drink on the side. Their weekend brunch is another stand out. The make-your-own-bloody-mary bar is tops in our book.
6. El Dorado
This is a relatively new addition to the list, but El Dorado quickly made it into regular rotation. They have six, yes six, different fresh salsas to choose from (we’re partial to the salsa verde and chile X flavors), and a menu that runs the gamut from traditional to creative. We also love their homage to old-school Austin favorites with rifts on dishes from Les Amis, Mad Dog and Beans, and more. (And if you don’t know recognize those names, well, you really missed out.) If we aren’t dining in, we are probably grabbing nachos to bring home.
7. Suzi’s Chinese Kitchen
Once upon a time pre-kids, Suzi’s Chinese Kitchen on South Lamar was a weekly destination for us. We don’t eat there as much as we used to, but it’s still our choice for Chinese. These days you'll find it on Anderson Lane.
8. Chez Zee
For dinner or brunch -- and definitely dessert -- we love Chez Zee’s fair. Creative salads, divine desserts, and their gorgonzola cream sauce keep us coming back. Confession time: we have a soft spot for Chez Zee since it’s where we celebrated Marquette’s 30th birthday and our engagement.
9. Dirty Martin's
We head to Dirty’s for a down home greasy burger with onion rings and a cherry Coke. Plus the kids like it and can roam around on the outside patio without causing too much ruckus.
10. Mighty Fine
Yes, another burger spot. But Mighty Fine Burgers are, well, mighty fine. Mighty Fine is a classic burger, minus the down home greasiness you’ll find at Dirty’s. Fries, onion rings, and a strawberry shake complete the meal. And the kids go nuts for the hand washing station and stickers.
11. Amy’s Ice Cream
Marquette has lived within walking distance of an Amy’s Ice Cream for much of her adult life. And while Amy’s isn’t a full-on restaurant, it is one of our favorites. We’ll have the Mexican vanilla with strawberry crush-ins please.
12. Daily Juice
Paul loves the locally-owned Daily Juice for a meal on the go. He goes so often that now our 7 year old asks for Daily Juice too. His drink is the Sublimator.
13. 34th Street Café
Fresh ingredients, delicious salad dressings, and rotating specials made 34th Street Café a Saturday lunch choice every weekend through most of Marquette’s first pregnancy. We still go for a leisurely lunch when we can.
The phat sen me with tofu at Thai Kitchen has been a staple since Marquette’s college days. Large portions and flavorful! We usually also pop over to Chango’s next door for the fresh aqua fresca.
15. Barley Swine
Another relatively new addition, everything about the dining experience at Barley Swine is unforgettable. Fabulous cocktails, an inventive tasting menu where every flavor sings, and sublime service make for an expensive but thoroughly enjoyable night out.
15 years of eating out in Austin
So there you have it! Fifteen years worth of eating out in Austin. Some oldies, some goodies, and a few new spots added in recent years. And while we are creatures of habit, we also like to try new places too. Let us know YOUR favorite places to eat in Austin.