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Bits About Bites

Austin's new dining destinations feature cuisine from across the world.

With new restaurants opening weekly, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s in your very own neighborhood, let alone all around town. The next few months will welcome dozens of restaurants, with everything from innovative concepts like Apis Restaurant & Apiary, to classic chains like the New York-based Shake Shack, to new ventures from well-known chefs like Launderette.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the city’s explosive culinary growth is where it’s happening. Gone are the days when downtown was Austin’s only fine dining destination (though it still houses dozens of noteworthy restaurants). Instead, Austinites can head to nearly every neighborhood in the city to find innovative and interesting fare that is well worth the trip.

So the next time you’re heading out for a meal, relish in the bounty of different cuisines — and different neighborhoods — you have to choose from.

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Sala & Betty

5201 Airport Blvd.

This adorable Airport Boulevard place is a go-to destination any time of day. For breakfast, create your own egg and biscuit sandwich with toppings like bacon, sausage, green chili queso and more. For lunch, pick from the restaurant’s menu of soups, sandwiches, or main dishes. Dinner is a bit heartier with starter selections like chicken and dumplings, and entrees like spice crusted albacore tuna. Bonus? In addition to dine-in and take out options, Sala & Betty also has a drive-thru to make eating out a snap.

Italic

123 W. Sixth St.

From the folks behind 24 Diner, Arro, and Easy Tiger, Italic is the ELM Restaurant Group’s endeavor into Italian fare. Indulge in pizzas, pastas, antipasti, salads, and more in this large — but comfortable — space.

Irene's

506 West Ave. (Late Spring 2015)

Also, make sure to keep an eye out for Irene’s, another ELM restaurant slated to open soon in downtown Austin. Whereas Italic has a modern, spacious interior, Irene’s promises to offer the “the soul of an unpretentious dive bar” but with an emphasis on design and hospitality. Enjoy American fare, housemade boozy punches, and even baked goods.

Wu Chow

(Projected opening mid-summer 2015)

Expect big things when the crew behind Swift’s Attic launches its next project, Wu Chow, this summer. Elevated Chinese food is the cuisine of choice at this downtown restaurant, and lucky Swift’s Attic diners have been privy to previews of the menu over the past few months.

Fork & Vine

3010 W. Anderson Ln.

Touting “Austin-inspired cuisine,” Fork & Vine is quickly becoming a North Austin dining destination for its creative menu. Enjoy shared plates like a housemade charcuterie board, fried alligator, and broiled oysters, or indulge in full meals like roasted chicken with green chorizo, and mole rojo, or a Niman Ranch pork chop with fresh greens, cauliflower puree, and housemade mustard.

Waller Creek Pub House

603 Sabine St.

Tucked away just off Sixth Street, Waller Creek Pub House quietly opened during SXSW and has been actively adding to its menu ever since. This brand new bar/restaurant now serves craft beers and promises “elevated pub food” like sandwiches, salads, burgers, and tacos. As nearby Waller Creek continues its epic revitalization project, expect to see even more dining options pop up.

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L'Estelle Kitchen House & Yard

  • 88 1/2 Rainey St.
  • (Projected opening late spring 2015)

Enjoy yard seating and a rooftop garden at this new Rainey Street gem. What was originally conceived as a private residence for local architect Craig Nasso was reimagined after Rainey Street’s explosive growth over the past few years. While guests dine on Southern-inspired French fare in the yard, Bistro L’Estelle plans to host cooking classes and wine tastings in the interior space.

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Mongers Market & Kitchen

2401 East Cesar Chavez

This marketplace + kitchen is one of the newest additions to the seemingly unstoppable East Cesar Chavez restaurant scene. Designed to invoke a coastal cottage feel, Mongers prides itself on serving fresh Gulf seafood directly from the boat to the consumer. Chefs Roberto San Miguel and Shane Stark will helm the restaurant’s kitchen, which includes a raw bar and offers a seasonal rotation of menu items.

OTOKO, CENTRAL STANDARD & CAFÉ NO SÉ

Paul Qui made headlines in March when it was announced he would open Otoko in the South Congress Hotel this summer. This 12-seat restaurant was inspired by Qui’s frequent trips to Japan, and will serve small bites with an emphasis on sushi. Meanwhile, Executive Chef Michael Paley will oversee Central Standard and Café No Sé, serving American standards and California-inspired dishes, respectively.

Spun

  • 1912 East 7th St., Suite C
  • (Projected opening late spring 2015)

Consider SPUN the merging of science and sweetness. Sisters Christina and Ashley Cheng create housemade ice cream right before your eyes using locally-sourced ingredients, organic cream and milk from small Texas dairies. Using liquid nitrogen and a unique spinning technique, SPUN transforms these humble ingredients into unique flavor combinations.

OSTERIO PRONTO, BURGER BAR & CORNER RESTAURANT

JW Marriott - 110 E. Second St.

These three very different restaurants all call the sprawling new JW Marriott home. While Osterio Pronto and Corner Restaurant cater to the sit down dining set with Italian- and Texas-inspired fare, respectively, Burger Bar is walk-up burger joint in the heart of downtown Austin.

Juniper

  • 2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. #304
  • (Projected opening mid-summer 2015)

Uchi’s former Creative Director Nicholas Yanes will open his hotly-anticipated restaurant on the east side this summer. Juniper, which draws culinary inspiration from Northern Italy, joins an extensive list of Italian-inspired restaurants opening across the city this year.

COUNTER 3. FIVE. VII

315 Congress Ave. Ste. 100

Consider this restaurant akin to dining in your best chef friend’s kitchen. Grab a spot at the expansive counter and choose from three, five or seven courses (get it?). Chefs Eric Earthman and Lawrence Kocurek have crafted an intimate experience that feels more like a dinner party than a stuffy restaurant. Menu changes seasonally, so plan accordingly.

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Apis Restaurant & Apiary

23526 Highway 71 West, Spicewood, TX

Undoubtedly one of the more unique restaurants to open recently, Apis Restaurant & Apiary serves a meal with a mission. From its perch on six acres overlooking the Pedernales River, Apis, led by Chef/Owner Taylor Hall, features dishes inspired by the property’s gardens and 20 beehives. The apiary influences nearly every aspect of this destination restaurant’s ethos, from its apiary-themed interiors to its house honey.

416 Bar & Grille

5011 Burnet Rd. # 150

Big name chefs continue to flock to Burnet Road, turning it into a dining destination with the addition of restaurants like Eric Silverstein’s The Peached Tortilla, Steven Dilley’s second Bufalina outpost, and Bryce Gilmore’s mysterious new restaurant project. The latest restaurant to open, 416 Bar & Grille, draws inspiration from its North Central Austin neighborhood offering accessible, American-inspired dishes like fried chicken, shrimp and cheese grits, and chicken pot pie.

Secrets of your Favorite Restaurants

Dai Due

Ladies, gather all your best gals and head to Dai Due on Tuesdays for the butchery/restaurant’s “Ladies Night” deal. The night kicks off in true style with a little Dolly Parton, and guests can choose an a la carte 6-ounce cut for just $10 each.

LaV

Head to this French restaurant on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5-7 pm and receive half off thousands of bottles of wine. If the vino isn’t enough to get you in the door, remember laV is home to one of Austin’s best wine lists. (Don’t believe us? Sommelier Vilma Mazaite was recently named a 2015 Sommelier of the Year by Food + Wine Magazine.)

El Naranjo

While parking downtown is always a drag, parking on Rainey Street can be a nightmare. El Naranjo takes it from terrible to tolerable. When dining in the restaurant, show your parking stub to receive a complimentary guacamole appetizer. Pair it with one of El Naranjo’s divine margaritas and watch your cares — parking or otherwise — melt away.

Uchiko

Talk about a hidden gem. On the first Sunday of every month, Uchiko, the restaurant that birthed culinary superstars like Tyson Cole and Paul Qui, hosts the Food and Wine Project. Inspired by weekly visits to farmers’ markets around town, the Food and Wine Project is a chance for chefs to venture outside of Uchiko’s traditional Japanese fare and create something truly unique. For $75 patrons can enjoy seven courses with wine pairing — and perhaps even a sneak peek at Austin’s next top chef.

Credits

Photography by Jessica Attie

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