by Alexandra Richmond - 69 Reviews - 27 List
This year has been a stellar one to open an innovative restaurant in Austin. In spite of a sluggish economy, many openings in 2009 have been instantly successful, delicious, and true to the roots of this city. One caveat: No food trucks or mobile vendors in this list, though at least 10 notable ones have opened and made an impression this year. And now, in no particular order, find the best restaurants in Austin of 2009.
Updated: December 09, 2009
This lovely spot on Congress Avenue features a full bar with svelte signature cocktails, and is a gorgeous spot for a meal. Sit down for a proper one, hot or to go; all three are served here. Salads and sandwiches make for gourmet takeaway for the day job set, and the baked goods displayed in a glass case are drool-worthy.
This deluxe spot displays their artisanal tendencies in more ways than one. With rich baked goods changing daily, extremely local and fresh cuisine and every sauce made in-house, this place is localvore ground zero. The owner's own metal light fixtures add another interesting layer.
Gourmet pizza can be pricey or feel snobby to even read about, but even toppings like Stilton, pear, balsamic reductions, and the yuppiest leaf, arugula do not make this joint overly fancy. The wood-fired crust is a crisp, bubbly miracle, and the prices are so decent weekly visits are not out of the question.
This charming French bistro adds a lot to the East Side's new glamour. Chefs here embrace the localvore aesthetic and uses produce grown within a few miles of the restaurant, but the cooking is classic and a pure joy, peppered with rich confits and terrines.
This glam joint slings upscale Tex-Mex from which all the ingredients are as locally procured as possible. Only the most cruelty-free meats farmed close to the restaurant are used--and that includes the whole roast pig, which takes 72 hours to complete, so calling ahead for that is a must. The Austin Chronicle dubbed its martini made with watermelon and elder-flower foam one of the best in the city.
While this restaurant doesn't maintain a highly visible presence on the web, it doesn't have to: Austinites already know and love its food and friendly owners. Portions are uber-generous, and the smoky, spicy, familial taste of New Orleans is in every innovative dish.
While Esquire Magazine isn't exactly known for its culinary instincts, it did give props to this restaurant in the first few months of its opening. Maybe because it is cool, has a killer location, and hearty, fresh, upscale seafood and great key lime pie.