The Best Austin Restaurants For Dinner With The ParentsParents in town? Here’s where to take them.
Sometimes, dinner with your parents is a special occasion—an excuse to go somewhere nice where you wouldn’t typically just take yourself. But chances are you’re not looking for a Big Deal dinner every single time you all go out. We hope you know your parents better than we do, but over the years we’ve figured out some of the essential parent-friendly restaurants in Austin. Here are some crowd-pleasing spots to consider.
For the parent who hates shared small plates
It’s hard to imagine a better crowd pleaser than Jack Allen’s. There’s a whole menu of chicken fried things (including a giant beef rib, sometimes), Tex-Mex-style tacos, and a bunch of classic comfort foods like cheeseburgers and enchiladas. The portions are big, the food is consistently great, and nothing on the menu is more than $20. Come here with your old-school parents that grew up in small-town Texas, who expect big portions at reasonable prices.
For the parent who only drinks big red wines
Asti Trattoria in Hyde Park is a chill neighborhood spot that functions well as a place to take your parents because they like big Italian red wine and straightforward, uncomplicated food. True to the spirit of an unfussy Italian trattoria, the menu is short and focused, with pastas that are made in house, seasonally-minded, and somehow always al dente.
For the parent who wants queso and margaritas
If you’re an Austin transplant and it’s your parents’ first time in town, Chuy’s is always a good idea. The Tex-Mex mini-chain was born on Barton Springs Road back in 1982, which makes it the ideal spot to give your parents a good taste of the town. It also happens to be easy on the bank account, since you plan on “showing them around” via many, many meals while they’re in town. Enchiladas and fajitas are the must-order items here, but so is the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo. The original location is the best, and it helps keep Austin weird.
For the parent who wants a great steak and a view
From the folks responsible for the always busy downtown restaurants ATX Cocina (a modern Mexican spot) and Red Ash (an Italian/grill concept), Bulevar is a blend of both. Essentially a chophouse that’s been heavily influenced by bold Latin flavors, at Bulevar you can get a mix of classic steaks and Mexican-inspired dishes cooked on a live wood fire. That means that for every large format, dry aged prime porterhouse (priced by the ounce), you’ll also see things like grilled beef tenderloin or roast duck breast doused in sweet and savory moles, or blistered shishitos with charred serrano aioli. The best part is that all of it is set to a breathtaking view overlooking the hills of northwest Austin.
For the parent who wants barbecue for dinner
Another Texas experience your parents (locals or not) will appreciate: barbecue. The problem is that most barbecue places are only open for lunch. So if your parents want barbecue for dinner, you should head to Lambert’s, where you won’t have to wait in line (you should probably make reservations). Lambert’s is more of a fancy barbecue restaurant, which is a concept we’d hate if the food wasn’t so good. Here’s how you’ll want to fill your table: fried pickle spears, mac and cheese, brisket, and ribs. Lots of ribs.
For the parent who won’t stop talking about their recent vacation to Mexico
If your parents just want a plate of enchiladas and a margarita, there are a lot of great spots you could take them to in Austin. But Fonda San Miguel hops to the top of the list for its picturesque atmosphere that will make your parents feel like they’re back on vacation in San Miguel de Allende on a day trip from Mexico City. It’s fancy-adjacent and a bit on the pricey side, so take advantage of your parents’ credit card and grab a second watermelon margarita while you’re there.
For the parent who wants to try local beer but you need a cocktail because your parents are in town
Hopfields is a rustic neighborhood gastropub by campus that has something for everyone. There’s a French-inspired menu with dishes like steak frites, moules frites, ratatouille, an enormous salad nicoise, and French onion soup. There’s also their Pascal Burger that has Camembert cheese, which is perfectly French and something you should try at least once. Plus, they have a broad selection of craft beer on tap, a solid cocktail menu, and a big list of wines by the glass.
For the parent who really loves a good biscuit
Olamaie serves upscale Southern comfort food in a remodeled old house that looks like it belongs on the cover of Southern Living magazine. The interior is cozy and elegant, but it still feels just casual enough for a dinner with the parents. Come here with your parents who always talk about how much they miss the biscuits they ate growing up in some small town in the South, and let them leave with a new favorite. Prices fall more onto the fine dining end of things, so we like to save this for a somewhat celebratory meal.
For the parent who hates paying for downtown parking garages
Colleen’s in Mueller is a solid option for brunch, but the rest of the week we’ve found it to be a great place to go with parents. The wait times are generally pretty low, and the menu leans classic southern comfort, with just enough upscale twists to keep things interesting—like pimento cheese with tomato jam, or fried chicken biscuits with pickled mustard seed mayo. The parking is plentiful, so you don’t have to hear your parents complain about garage rates downtown or having to pay to valet, and afterwards you can take a walk around the area and grab some ice cream, if you didn’t already fill up on the brûléed banana pudding at Colleen’s.
For the parent who “just wants something simple but nice”
Head to Bartlett’s when you want a classic steakhouse experience without all the stuffiness and hassle of dealing with downtown parking. Burgers and steaks share a playing field here, so it’s pretty easy to scale the casualness of your dinner up or down, while still getting some great service and tasty food. Order a 100 hour marinated ribeye for your dad who’s really into grilling, and some excellent grilled artichokes for the table. Nothing here is cheap, but it won’t break the bank like some other steakhouses in town.
For the parent who just wants a light dinner because you keep taking them to eat barbecue and tacos
A cute neighborhood house turned restaurant in Allandale, the all-day-cafe/grocery Epicerie serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays. It’s great for a low-key brunch on the outdoor patio or a healthy-ish dinner with a bottle of wine. The menu veers French by way of Louisiana, and our go-to is the shrimp po’boy, the gnocchi parisienne, or the salmon and farro salad. No matter what you do, get the fried-to-order beignets.
For the parent who hates waiting in line
When your parents visit from out of town in the middle of the summer because that’s when flights are the cheapest, you should take them to Stiles Switch because they offer a couple of very important things: beer on tap and an indoor air conditioned space (there’s also a patio). The traditional Central Texas barbecue is just always consistently solid, with fantastic brisket, gigantic peppery beef ribs, chunky pulled pork, and sausages with a good snap. There can be a bit of a wait during weekend lunch and prime dinner hours, but the line moves fast, so you won’t have to worry about a trip here turning into a multi-hour event.
For the parent who can never make up their mind
Komé in Ridgetop is a Japanese restaurant perhaps best known for its action-packed sushi rolls and their go-go sauce, a spicy mayo. It’s great for bringing your parents because there’s a super broad menu so everyone can get something that makes them happy. The menu spans from homemade gyoza to nigiri, yakitori, and some of the best ramen in town. There are also donburi rice bowls with options including Japanese beef curry and katsu.
For the parent willing to spend big
Maybe you’re having dinner with your parents to celebrate something, like a new job or a new puppy. If that’s the case—and you think there’s a high probability they’ll be paying for your dinner—you should most certainly consider taking advantage by going to Jeffrey’s. It’s the least steakhouse-y steakhouse in Austin and one of our city’s greatest places for a fancy and impressive meal. Make a reservation in the dining room for the full experience, which includes canapes, a $62 risotto, and soufflés.