ATXGuide

The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin

Our list of the best spots for a romantic night out.

Date night is (theoretically) a special night, but in Austin things are a little different. The overall “I’m never growing up,” non-committal vibe of the city as a whole has trickled down to the dating world too - things stay pretty casual around here.

But if you’ve established that you enjoy each other enough to sit at a real table across from one another, here’s a solid list of restaurants that will impress, without being too over the top. We’re still in Austin, after all.

The Spots

Suerte is one of our favorite places in the city, and since everyone in Austin agrees, you’re going to have to wait. But use that to your advantage and start with some cocktails and brisket tacos at the bar. When your table is ready, go for the bigger dishes like the carne asada or goat shoulder barbacoa, both of which come with tortillas made with house ground masa. Get a few vegetables to balance it all out—or to add to your tacos—and make sure you leave with enough room and energy for a nightcap at Whisler’s down the street.


The folks that brought you Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, and Tiki Tatsu-Ya certainly know how to build a vibe, and DipDipDip is no exception, with its relaxing, dimly-lit atmosphere and custom woodwork. Unlike most hot pot places we’ve been to, everyone here is given their own bowl, so you and your date can each pick a different broth and share (if you want to). Order the “baller omakase,” where you’ll be treated to some great oysters before diving into the selection of more premium meats and veggies. It’s fun, it’s intimate, and it’s everything we like on a date. But please do your best to refrain from singing “when you dip I dip we dip” before every bite. Once is enough.


Nixta Taqueria’s is an excellent place to bring a date and do what one does in Austin: eat some stellar tacos on an expansive outdoor patio with colorful picnic tables. While you can spend the date debating which you like better—the duck carnitas taco vs the roasted cauliflower taco vs the beet tostada—you can easily come to an agreement that Nixta’s tortillas are some of the best in town. While you can just get a Modelo here, the natural wine list is full of unexpected gems.


In an ideal world, Mopac would never have traffic, summer nights would have at least a breeze, and we would live close enough to Clark’s for it to be our go-to date spot. Between the great wine list and patio, eating here always feels a little high end without being stuffy, and it’s a great place to grab some oysters and a drink and see where the night goes. If you find out too late that your date isn’t a fan of seafood, they make a great burger too.


When the weather is nice, there’s hardly a better place to go for a casual date night than Patrizi’s. This food trailer parked at Butterfly Bar has it all—great pasta, ambient lighting, and $20 bottles of wine. The pasta here is made from scratch, which becomes apparent after a few bites of textured al dente noodles. After those first few bites and a couple glasses of wine, you may forget entirely that white tablecloths don’t exist here. Since this is a no-reservation situation (it is a trailer, after all), lines can get a bit long during peak weekend hours. Get there early, or just grab some wine for the line.


Just like your date (hopefully), Lenoir’s got it all. For one, there’s the menu made up of “hot weather foods” (translation: light and fresh), offered a la carte or as a 5-course “chef’s choice” tasting if you want to remove the guesswork. You’ll have to choose between two great options:  there’s the modern farmhouse interior, or the large outdoor wine garden shaded by oak trees. Combine all that with a very well-curated wine list, and you’ll see why they’re the complete package.


Holding onto an Uchi reservation is like a golden ticket to a great date. Sure, it’s pricey—too bad that golden ticket isn’t made of precious metal—but this is the kind of place you come to celebrate. The dining room is in an old remodeled house, giving it an atmosphere that feels both cozy and cool, with a dimly-lit interior that will hide the fact that you forgot to iron your shirt before heading out. And if you don’t have a reservation (bold move for an Uchi date night), the sushi bar is walk-in only, so you might just get lucky after all.


Hestia is one of the few spots in town where a suit doesn’t feel out of place. Pair that with local ingredients cooked on a live fire hearth, an excellent wine list, and a dining room that feels like it was plucked out of a much bigger city, and you get Hestia, one of our favorite spots downtown for a fancy night out. It’s not cheap—expect to drop a few bills on the experience—but for celebrations, anniversaries, or impressing that special someone, it’s a hard spot to beat.


The all-day restaurant/bar Better Half is a good bet for a more casual date night, with a small and intimate dining room and a pretty sizable patio with picnic tables for a more relaxed vibe. On the menu you’ll find simple but smartly-executed dishes like grilled halloumi, a very good classic cheeseburger, cauliflower tots with beet ketchup, or a greens and grains bowl. Date night is especially great here on ​​Tuesdays, when bottles of wine are half off.


If you still haven’t been to Emmer & Rye, use your next date night to make it a priority. And even if you have, this place should still be at the top of your list. Our favorite way to do it is to snag seats at the bar overlooking the kitchen. It’s fun to watch the action go down - and if it’s an early-in-the-game situation, you know you have a conversation topic to fall back on.


Birdie’s, the new natural wine bar and cafe on East 12th Street, doesn’t take reservations—so be ready to wait in line. Lucky for you, you can grab a glass of wine (or two) to keep you company while you wait. This cozy neighborhood cafe has a regularly changing menu, made up mostly of small plates pulling from American, Italian, and French influences. Order the beef tartare with pecans and shiitake or one of their handmade pasta dishes, then prepare to not stop talking about it for the next two days.


June’s All Day is the younger sibling of Jeffrey’s and Josephine House. And just like everyone’s younger sibling, it’s a little more carefree and relaxed than the rest of the family. The location is in a prime part of South Congress Avenue, but still feels like it’s set back from the chaos. There’s no wrong time to come here - per the name - but it’s a great date destination to have a glass of wine and eat one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the city.


Bufalina Due on Burnet Road has nearly everything you need for a near-perfect date night: A chill and candle-lit dining room, a dependably fun soundtrack, excellent pizzas, and one of the most interesting wine selections in the city. The friendly and knowledgeable staff here is just as likely to chat with you about everything from today’s mozzarella set to the merits of Jimmy Buffet. It’s also surprisingly easy to walk in and get a seat without a wait.


An intimate date night dinner spot, Justine’s hits the mark with its brasserie menu — is there anything more French than escargots cooked in garlic-herb butter? Where Justine’s really shines is the multiple dining options: there’s the romantic bar with vinyl records spinning, there are the semi-private tented cabanas with chandeliers, and the chill and relaxed winter tent with the oyster bar. If you really want to make a night of it, there’s the caviar service with the smoked heirloom potato gaufrettes.


A seat at the bar sometimes means a seat in the back of the restaurant, staring at stacks of beer crates. But a bar seat at Odd Duck means a prime spot in the heart of the action, as well as the full attention of the bartender (who will make you some excellent cocktails). The menu here is constantly changing, but there are a couple of things you can count on: a tasty ceviche with homemade chips, and a great burger. 


You locked eyes with someone last week after they sang “No Scrubs” during karaoke, and you’re 80% sure you’re soulmates. Now you have to choose the perfect first date spot, even though you know nothing about this person. That’s where Hillside Farmacy comes in. This place has a ridiculous amount of charm, along with classic cocktails and an affordable wine list. And if dinner goes well, maybe you finally won’t have to sing both parts of “A Whole New World.”


Located at the bottom of a condo building, in a cozy, home-themed space that feels very fitting, given the name, Apt 115 is mostly a wine bar that focuses on small producers and low-intervention wines. There’s a rotating daily selection of wines by-the-glass, with an extensive bottle list if you’re ready to jump in for a bigger commitment. And with a dinner menu made up of small bites from nearby farms and ranches, it kind of feels like you’re eating at the home of a local chef. 


Some couples plan elaborate cross-country road trips and others have had “do something fun” on a to-do list for months. If you’re more the latter and not the best planners when it comes to dates, Hopfields is a great place to go without having to make a reservation a week in advance. Just show up, order the mussels and fries and whatever else sounds good from their French-inspired menu, and have a casual night. It’s simple, easy, and way less stressful than picking a road trip playlist.


When you haven’t reached the point where you’re traveling together, but you want to test the waters, go on a date to Fonda San Miguela in Allandale. It’s a colorful place that will make you feel like you took a mini vacation to Mexico. The chile rellenos, mole enchiladas, and ceviches are some of the best in the city, and after a few tequila and mezcal cocktails, you’ll probably be ready to get on a plane with this person.

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