You don’t need us (or anyone else) to tell you that Austin is changing. Constant construction is the new norm, traffic is getting worse, fewer and fewer people around town use the word “y’all,” and restaurants are opening up at a faster pace than most people can keep up with.
That’s where we come in. We’re here to help you decide which new restaurants are worth your time and money. The Infatuation Hit List is a regularly updated guide to new Austin restaurants that we highly recommend you try.
One key thing you can always rely on: we’ll only put restaurants on this list that we’ve actually visited. We’ve also left off countless spots that simply aren’t worth it, regardless of what a bunch of Instagrammers are saying. New openings don’t automatically qualify a spot on the list (we keep track of those in our Openings Guide).
Now go forth and embrace the change. Here are the best new restaurants in Austin.
New to The Hit List (as of 1/27): The Peacock Mediterranean Grill
The Peacock Mediterranean Grill is an all-day spot in the new Austin Proper Hotel downtown from the people behind places like June’s, Elizabeth Street Cafe, and Swedish Hill. And just like all of those restaurants, the food here is consistently excellent. The menu includes a mix of kind-of-healthy things like tajines, grilled kebabs, grains, and dips (that come with homemade pita bread). No matter what else you get, start with the cheese saganaki, an appetizer of bubbling fried cheese – something we’d eat every day if we could. Since The Peacock only opened in December, the service can be a little spotty at times, but the food is so good that it’s worth putting up with until they figure it out.
Interstellar BBQ, from the team behind the now-closed Noble Sandwich Co., has quickly established itself as one of the best new options for barbecue in Austin. It’s not central, but it’s very much worth the drive up to far northwest Austin (it’s almost in Cedar Park). Alongside their Steve Miller Band-themed BBQ sandwiches, they’re serving all the classic Texas barbecue staples - brisket, pork ribs, as well as rotating specials like mole-spiced baby back ribs, jalapeño popper sausages, and pastrami beef ribs. Also of note are the vegetarian sides, including smoked scalloped potatoes that you absolutely should not miss.
The new trailer La Tunita 512 is one of the only places in Austin serving bright-red beef birria, a style of taco originally from Tijuana that’s also popped up all over LA and San Francisco. La Tunita’s is outstanding, and you should also order the consomé, a chili and lime-infused beef broth for sipping and dunking the birria. All the tacos at La Tunita use handmade corn tortillas, which are so good you’ll be thinking about them for the rest of the day. Even the day after. Check their Instagram for hours that sometimes change.
Hestia is the new restaurant downtown with a wood-fired grill from the Emmer & Rye people. As expected, the steaks are outstanding, but the grill brings char to a whole bunch of dishes, including the grilled potato strands that were so good we can’t stop talking about it. Some of the sleeper hits are things that aren’t grilled at all, especially the crudos and the Kakigōri, a towering Japanese shaved ice dessert. There’s also a whole separate menu of smaller one- or two-bites snacks, and you should definitely order the shrimp tacos in which the tortilla is actually grilled cabbage.
The meat whisperers over at Franklin Barbecue opened a trailer serving coffee and breakfast tacos on flour tortillas. Here, the legendary brisket is chopped and then crisped up in its own fat. On the coffee front, there are espresso drinks and pour-over. Austinites love to wait in lines for food - especially for barbecue - and this is one you’ll probably end up waiting on at some point. However, in contrast to the regular line at Franklin Barbecue, the one here moves rather quickly, and you don’t need to get there early.
Nixta Taqueria serves some of the best tacos in Austin. And therefore the world. They might stick to some old-school techniques - like making their own corn tortillas - but they use inventive and unexpected ingredients in their dishes, like duck confit or Japanese smoked eggplant tacos, and beet “tartare” tostadas. The tiny space on East 12th Street is super low-key, and there’s even a short, affordable natural wine list. Pay attention to their Instagram for daily specials that vary from charred octopus with gochujang to a smoked whitefish tostada.
At Kalimotxo, the new Spanish-inspired bar from the people behind Emmer & Rye, the bites are small, the music is loud, and you can make a complete mess of yourself by drinking from a porron, a glass wine pitcher you use to pour wine directly into your mouth. Or you can just get a gin & tonic and watch other people do it. The food is Basque-style pintxos - similar to tapas, but tinier - and small plates like jamón ibérico, a Spanish tortilla, seafood conservas, Basque cheesecake, and a very tasty pan con tomate. Kalimotxo would be a pretty perfect place to get some snacks and drinks after work, or you can order pintxos from the display case, slowly grazing while you practice the art of drinking from a porron.
Located on a transmission repair shop’s dusty parking lot on the corner of Manor and Airport, you might easily miss Cuantos Tacos’ tiny yellow truck. Stop your car and turn back around - responsibly of course, use your blinker - because the Mexico City-style street tacos and quesadillas are tremendous. It’s a tight menu of classics like suadero, beef cheeks, carnitas, and the absolutely unskippable champiñones, all made with corn tortillas driven in from San Antonio.
After closing in 2018, long-time Clarksville bakery Sweetish Hill has now reopened as an all-day spot from the team behind Clark’s, Lamberts, and Elizabeth Street Cafe under a slightly different name and with a very different look. Check out all the salads, baked goods, and other items at the counter before you place your order and choose between indoor or outdoor seating. The best options here are in the breakfast category, like the bagel and lox or soft egg toast with avocado and bacon. Though, if you happen to be in the area around Happy Hour, it’s a great spot for a glass of wine, a half-priced cheese board, and a couple of salads to share.
Oseyo is a new Korean restaurant on the East Side that’s lively and great for a night out with friends. Starters include things like Tong Dak fried chicken and dumplings, but the real standouts are the Dolsot bibimbap in a stone bowl and the slightly-sweet bulgogi with chili paste and kimchi. There’s a long bar where you can snag a seat solo or with a friend, and plenty of big tables if you want to head here with a group to eat something before an East 6th bar crawl.
DipDipDip is a Japanese shabu-shabu place from the Ramen Tatsu-ya team where everyone gets their own individual pot of broth to cook in - so no need to fight for pot real estate. The options for broth, dips, meats, vegetables, and dumplings on the menu can be overwhelming, so we recommend the House Omakase - both so you don’t have to make decisions and because it’s the perfect sampler. You’ll get steak, pork, and meatballs to dip with sides like tofu skin stuffed with raclette and mushrooms that they call ‘pot pockets.’ Just be sure to order the Keep Austin Dipping queso so you can make your own Japan/Austin/Philly cheesesteak on a steamed bun.
When people ask us where to get sushi in Austin, we usually answer with a few qualifications like, “Be ready to wait three hours” or “It’s fine, for Austin.” Thankfully now there’s Uroko, a casual, affordable sushi spot from the Kome team that we only qualify with “best handroll in the city.” Head to the Springdale General office park starting at 11am to order counter-service handrolls, then eat them at the indoor picnic tables in the lobby of the main co-working space. Also, on Friday and Saturday nights, they offer limited reservations for their 45-minute, 12-piece omakase for $65.
From the outside, Comedor is all business: steel doors and a slate-gray color scheme. Step inside though, and you’ll find a chic interior with a long bar and courtyard area packed with well-dressed people drinking interesting cocktails. It’s likely that every table around you ordered the DIY bone marrow tacos to start, which is exactly what you should be doing as well.
Back in 2017 the team of brothers behind Vaquero Taquero opened a food truck behind a gas station in Hyde Park serving a small selection of spicy tacos made with handmade tortillas. Then they closed the truck and opened a brick and mortar spot just a few blocks away. And while the space isn’t much bigger - there are only a few places to sit - the tacos are just as good if not better. The quesadillas with the pan-seared Oaxacan cheese are easily one of the best in town, and we strongly recommend the tacos al pastor topped with pineapple and their spicy salsa.
The teams behind Via 313, Juniper, and Nickel City opened this all-day cafe in Hyde Park and it’s an ideal spot to spend a morning with some coffee and a pastry. Later in the day, come hang out on the patio while snacking on things like meatballs, prosciutto and ricotta on toast, and an Italian tuna sandwich. Since the portions are on the smaller side, it’s best at lunch or for a snack and cocktail at their daily Happy Hour (2-5pm).
While the East Side is full of bar and food truck combos, Domo Alley-Gato is shaping up to be the best - and definitely most cat-focused - one yet. There are hundreds of red and white lamps hanging from the ceiling, and more miniature cat figurines on the walls than in every grandmother’s house you’ve ever seen combined. The drinks are the main focus, like the Back Alley Punch that serves a group of four or the Oolong Island Iced Tea, an adult version of your go-to drink in college. But when you’re ready to get some food, try the ban ban dog, the O.G. wings, or the katsu curry. The food isn’t as quite as good as their Ramen Tatsuya brother/neighbor, but there definitely won’t be a line and the drinks are stronger here.