With new restaurants popping up these days like Charmander on Pokémon Go, it can seem impossible to pick the most perfect spot for your birthday. That, plus your 10 friends who all have different ideas about what they want to eat, makes for a very stressful situation. The pressure can be enough to say f*ck it, we’re going to Whataburger. (You could do worse.)
That’s where we come in. We can’t make your friends any less annoying, but we can help you pick a great spot. We’ve narrowed down your birthday restaurant choices to a manageable, carefully-selected list of excellent restaurants. It’s your party, you can cry if you want to - but the food should never disappoint.
Imagine a secluded and sexy French bistro, mixed with a whimsical vibe and some weird mirror installation in the back - then drop it in Austin, give it a killer patio scene, and call it Justine’s. If you’re looking for a different take on a birthday dinner, this is the spot for you. Justine lends a more sophisticated (but definitely not pretentious) spin to your average group outing, and ensures you’ll never forget that one year you ate escargot in Texas on your birthday.
Tired of always doing Tex-Mex for every big group get together? Switch things up at Max’s Wine Dive. It feels like a cross between a Southern backyard BBQ and a wine bar, with chill vibes and dim lights. The menu ranges from brussels sprouts to fried chicken and greens - so there’s an option to please everyone in your crew - and it’s conveniently located on San Jacinto within walking distance of many birthday-worthy drinking spots.
In the middle of Dirty 6th, Parkside is a lot more upscale than its surroundings. If you’re turning 25, this is the perfect place for you and your trying-to-be-adults friends (just promise us you won’t hashtag your photos #adulting). The fries are crisp and the oysters never disappoint, but the drinks are what you come to Parkside for - a bit on the pricier side, but definitely worth the extra few bucks.
A super new kid on the block, Irene’s is officially already one of the best places in town for a laid-back but still festive birthday meal. This all-day place is ideal for a big group to hang outside, eat some fancy toast, and potentially migrate to West 6th if the night’s going well. If the neon sign out front didn’t make you stop and take a picture already, it’ll definitely get you and your friends on the way out.
Italian is always a crowd favorite, and Winflo does it better than most. The interior is a stunning, wood-covered space that feels like a grown-up treehouse, but the outdoor patio covered with Christmas lights is probably where you want to be.
Feeling like a birthday dinner on the beach this year? Clarks is as close as you’re going to get in Austin. The bright yellow and white decor definitely qualifies as “super cute,” and is the perfect backdrop for any celebratory meal. But you’re not just here for the atmosphere - you’re here for the seafood, which also never disappoints.
Have 30 close friends? Congratulations, and make your reservation at Searsucker now. This place gets bonus points for accommodating huge groups, on top of the fact that it’s already an excellent spot. From the large shared plates and queso served up in a jar - to the fun and open space, this place is a must for at least one of your birthdays to come. Considering its location in the heart of downtown, the post-dinner opportunities are endless.
Over the idea of a big, unwieldy group birthday situation this year? Good news: no one is making you do that. Better news: Peche is the perfect spot for a small group or a birthday date night for two. The place feels like a French speakeasy, and the cocktails and food are both excellent. If there was a question, the short ribs are definitely for you.
An oldie but a goodie, if spending your birthday on South Congress wasn’t “Austin” enough, celebrating with margaritas and Tex-Mex at Guerro’s will take it to the next level. Sometimes you just need a super casual, yet still highly delicious meal to ring in a new year - and Gueros more than ideal for a low-key celebration. Good food, good friends, and possibly too many margaritas await.
A good choice right now when it comes to food and fun before a big night out, Central Standard might look like a place you’d expect to find in Los Angeles, but is actually conveniently located in the heart of South Congress. With its impressive space made for photo opps and fancy takes on classic American dishes, this place is ideal for kicking off your birthday night (and making background appearances on your Snapchat).
Thinking birthday brunch instead of dinner? St. Genevieve is your spot. Mimosas are constantly flowing (as in, they don’t let you see the bottom of your glass), and the atmosphere always feels like a ready-made party. A great choice for sharing food and prioritizing the drinking aspect of your big birthday weekend.
Austin has no shortage of Mexican restaurants. But Mexican restaurants that combine excellent food and cocktails with an excellent birthday environment are a little rarer. Licha’s is just as fun, lively, and cool as it is delicious, and from the front lawn to the backyard patio, there isn’t a spot in this joint that isn’t perfect for a truly fun birthday experience. With its prime East 6th location, it’s also ideal for post-meal bar hopping. You’ll be glad you steered away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and kept it weird with Licha’s.