Austin’s Best New Restaurants Of 2022We spent the year looking for the best new restaurants in Austin. This is where you’ll find them.
At one point this year, we entertained the idea of moving to Cedar Park to be closer to our favorite new ramen spot. And the ramen wasn't the only highlight of the year. 2022 was big for food in Austin, with pop-ups turning into real restaurants, food trucks continuing to blow our minds, and so much more. Through all of our dining out, we noticed one overwhelming trend—a focus on regionality and on the many cultures that make up our city, whether that’s in the form of Rio Grande Valley-style tacos, Guyanese specialties, classic Tonkotsu ramen, or coastal Mexican seafood.
We also were reminded that Austin knows how to have a good time. Where else in America can you drink tiki drinks in an underground cave with a waterfall, have a sushi omakase experience behind a hidden bookshelf, or eat smoked brisket shawarma? Out of all of the recently opened spots we tried this year, below you'll find the very best of them. These are Austin’s best new restaurants (and food trucks) of 2022.
While the East Side is probably the true center of the Austin taco universe, it's totally worth going out of your way to Con Todo at Celis Brewery in North Austin for the Rio Grande Valley-style tacos. The food here is punishingly good, like the mesquite-grilled cauliflower taco with a nutty salsa macha, or the chori-papa tostada with crispy griddled cheese that’ll make you reconsider what you eat for breakfast every day. The homemade corn tortillas are unforgettable, the kind that will make your hands smell like corn for hours, and you'll never want to wash them. If you're wondering where the best new tacos in Austin are these days, this is it.
There aren’t a lot of things that motivate us to make the drive from Central Austin to Cedar Park, which is what puts a meal at Ramen512 and a Spurs game at the H-E-B Center in very unique company. This is ramen at its best—nearly every component is expertly made in-house—with bowls composed beautifully enough to make even the ramen emoji jealous. And grumble as we may about the drive, we’re still out here making it. There are a lot of ramen styles here, so whether you’re doing a tonkotsu tasting tour of Austin or just in the mood for a delicate chicken-and-dashi shoyu bowl, you have a reason to make the trip, too.
It’s easy to forget you’re on Manor Road when you step through the doors at Este, a Mexican seafood restaurant that feels plucked out of a small coastal town in Baja, California. Prioritize the raw menu—the top neck clams swimming in a fiery pool of habanero pico and chile oil will make you forget oysters ever exist. Well, at least until your oysters arrive and force you to choose between your first and second love. It’s casual yet chic—the kind of place where you’ll feel like you can finally pull off that big hat you own but have always been too afraid to wear out in public. And the food is good enough to make even a random Tuesday dinner feel like you’re celebrating a special occasion.
KG BBQ brings an entirely new combination of flavors to Austin, and maybe the world? The barbecue trailer specializes in Central Texas-style smoked meats with Egyptian and Mediterranean influences, which looks like sticky pomegranate glazed pork ribs and smoked lamb chops with za’atar. The brisket, on the other hand, is about as classic as it gets—seasoned with salt and pepper, and slow-smoked over oak—but still gets a little bit of distinctive KG BBQ-treatment after it takes a shallow plunge into pomegranate barbecue sauce. The trailer is parked at Oddwood Brewing, so you can get some excellent beers to pair with it all.
We’ve never really thought about ranking all the poultry dishes in Austin (well, except for fried chicken sandwiches), but if we ever did, we have to imagine that the jerk chicken at Canje would be one of the final bosses near the top. The charred skin/moist interior is a texture combination that most grilled chicken can only aspire to—if Canje built a restaurant around this dish, we’d be first in line. Or at least we’d try to be. Because the multi-month wait to get in the door means we’re probably not the only ones seeking out their spicy, pineapple-glazed jerk chicken. But once you finally do step through those front doors, it feels like you just sweet-talked your way past the bouncer into Austin’s hottest club.
We really like when places focus on doing one thing exceptionally well, and at La Santa Barbacha, barbacoa takes center stage. But as good as the barbacoa is, it’s the excellent corn tortillas—that incorporate spinach and other vegetables into the masa for a bright green or red pop—that makes every taco here feel like a present on Christmas morning. The trailer is parked behind Native Hostel and has quickly become one of our favorite tacos in Austin, and judging by the line at most times of the day, we’re guessing we’re not the only ones.
Tiki Tatsu-Ya is Disney World for adults (and speaking as adults, we really like Disney World). It’s basically a tropical resort, with a beach house upstairs, and a mysterious cave downstairs complete with waterfalls and totems. When you order a large format drink, lights will flicker and thunder will rumble as your server brings your beverage, a cloud of smoke trailing behind them. Food-wise, you need to get the large-format pu pu platter that comes with ribs, wings, beef skewers, taro tots, and something called crab lagoon, which is basically a little pot of cheesy crab dip. It’s easy to forget you’re actually at a tiki bar next to a gas station on South Lamar. Grab a tropical shirt to fit in, because this is the quickest way to escape Austin without ever leaving town.
There aren’t a ton of experiences in Austin that feel quite as magical as the moment a bookshelf opens up in the back of an East Austin hostel to reveal a tiny, six-person dining room with a live edge sushi bar. But if you’re dropping $135+ on dinner, we’re going to guess you want a little more than a moving bookshelf, or you’d just be hanging out in one of the display units at Ikea. Toshokan does a 14-course experience that will likely end in a 14-way tie for your favorite dish of the night. Even when garnishes get creative, you'll never end up with half a dozen different toppings competing with each other. The fish is ultimately the star of the show here, as it should be.
You should check out Pecan Square for the airy and light-filled space alone. Stylistically, it's casual and sophisticated at the same time (just like its zillions of sibling restaurants: Sammie’s, Perla’s, Swedish Hill, Clark’s Oyster Bar, etc.), with white tablecloths, very nice glassware, and warm mid-century lighting. But mainly we're here for the food that applies the “MCM-California-Central-Coast-seasonal-fancy-but-rustic dining” aesthetic to central Texas, with handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and a super simple salad of local lettuces that's better than any salad you could make at home, unless you know the secret handshake with the farmer that supplies their greens.