Dare I say 2021 was a tad better than 2020? Yes, the pandemic continues (I can’t believe it’s been nearly 2 years of the pandemic life), but thanks to vaccines, I felt comfortable mid-summer trying a good chunk of new restaurants that opened in 2021! I’ve only made a dent in the best new restaurants in Austin, but feel like I hit up many that were at the top of my list – The 10 Best New Austin Restaurants of 2021!
I have seen Austin change a ton in the ~23 years I’ve lived here and it is super sad to see so many Austin staples shutdown due to increased rent, the pandemic, and the flood of new restaurants that open nearly every day that pose a threat. I think I’ve seen a stat that a normal life of a restaurant is about 18 months or so, and to think that there were more new restaurants that opened in 2021 that I can even count on all 10 fingers and 10 toes is just wild! There are quite a few spots I had the pleasure of visiting that I hope stick around longer than the average! Our Austin Chefs and Restauranteurs are doing amazing things and what a joy to watch them shine!
Now for the 10 Best New Austin Restaurants of 2021 according to Yours Truly…before you say I can’t count, I couldn’t include just 10…sorry 🙂
I put together a list of 5 Must Try Spots in Austin in November – read it here -> http://atx-bites.com/5-must-try-spots-in-austin-november-2021/
Quite literally the dreamiest neighborhood wine bar I’ve ever been to! Wish I lived just a tad bit closer rather than the 10 minute drive to it because I’d walk. I’m obsessed with the wine selection (wine by the glass and by the bottle), the food, the cookie, the space, and the owners! Yes, safe to say I have a huge crush on all things Birdie’s. They open at 4:30 and there is usually a line leading up to them opening but don’t let the line scare you. You order at the counter inside once you get there so I’d suggest browsing the menu on your phone ahead of time so you can make a quick order and grab a seat! Pro tip: Never ever ever leave without a cookie and/or soft serve! Save room for it. Or heck, start with it! Definitely worth of my Number 1 spot on The 10 Best New Austin Restaurants of 2021!
I’m not a huge pizza person butttttt, give me a slice (or entire pie) from Sammataro and I’ll not only eat it but dance while doing so! Sammataro is the real deal – think NY-style, huge slices, housemade olive oil, sauce, sausage, with a few leaves of basil and a bubbly crust – that’s amore! Yes, an entire pizza is $$$ but, you can plan on sharing with a couple people or take home leftovers and enjoy later! If you want to eat at Arbor Food Park, you definitely should and it’s BYOB!
Chef Tavel does it yet again with this new restaurant he added to his portfolio, Canje! True to his heritage, it features Caribbean and Guyanese dishes that are out of this world. I’ve been a long time Jerk Chicken fan and Chef Tavel’s jerk chicken will blow your mind! Be sure to start with a cocktail or glass of wine, enjoy some ceviche to start, and then move on to the jerk chicken – get the pita bread! And please save room for dessert – I had the passionfruit flan and still dream about it 2 months after trying it!
The space has been transformed into a tropical oasis and even if Austin isn’t the beach, you’ll feel you’re deep in the Caribbean when dining at Canje!
De Nada Cantina
Uhhhhhh hello the yummiest tacos, Mexico City style quesadillas and frozen margs! Ya’ll, we are obsessed with De Nada Cantina and I’d go even more often if I could. The space is absolutely gorgeous with all the plants and bright colors! You can keep the pink plastic cups the frozen margs come in (I have quite a few lol), and do not pass up their sweet potato tacos (even if you eat meat). I’m a carnivore but can’t get enough of their sweet potato tacos! Seriously, I’m drooling right now just thinking of them.
They’re open super late and even have late night happy hour on Mondays, so when your chips, tacos and marg craving hits late on the first day of the week, they gotchu! They are closed on Tuesdays but open the rest of the week and weekend for all your yummy needs! I’ve ordered lunch from them too and grabbed and eaten at home. I like that they don’t skimp on the portions and you build your own tacos when you get home and comfy.
Next on my list of countries to visit is Greece! I’ve wanted to go for so so long – so naturally, when I heard that Simi was opening and featured modern Greek food in a beautiful space, I knew we’d have to try! The space downtown is such a stunner! I mean really…think upscale early on but Mykonos as it gets later into the evening. I had some of the freshest seafood ever there! If they have the Omo Lavraki (pictured below) on the menu when you go, YOU HAVE TO ORDER IT! Also, loved the souvlaki, cocktails, wine and BAKLAVA! I’ve heard the octopus is not to be missed so I’ll have to go back for it!
They know offer discounted valet at the Driskill Hotel or park on the street in the metered spots (Free after 6 on Mondays and Tuesdays).
From the owners of Lin Asian Bar comes Qi Austin – the upscale, sit down incredible Chinese restaurant that serves soup dumplings, Peking Duck, melt-in-your-mouth salmon, etc! They have a massive covered outdoor area with plenty of dining tables (which is where we had dinner), but their inside is breathtaking! That reminds me, I need to go back and dine inside! Order the sui mai, Peking Duck, potstickers, turmeric salmon, sake and thank me later!
Not gonna lie – I booked my reservation 30 days in advance – that’s what it takes! It’s worth the hype though and I’d recommend going with a couple of people so you can order a few things and share! Some of the portions are HUGE – i.e. chicken Parmesan came on a giant plate! Keep in mind the space is tight and loud, but that’s what they’re going for. It’s as though you’re in NYC in a super authentic and popular restaurant!
Please order the Caesar salad! It was probably the best I’ve ever eaten – there is chili oil in there for an unexpected surprise! Loved the calamari which stayed crispy the entire meal! Oh and like I said, order the chicken parm but plan on sharing because it’s massive but delish! They have an extensive wine and spirits menu – amaro is their specialty and they have plenty to choose from!
Jewboy Sub Shop
I really hope you’ve had a burger (or burrito) from Jewboy Burgers! If you have, then you’ll be pleased to know that the owner, Mo, has opened a sub shop dedicated to loaded incredible hot or cold subs! Don’t forget to indulge and get fried pickles and fries – trust me! They have a full bar inside their large gorgeous space where you can enjoy a bev to pair with the sub of your dreams! Additionally, they have a massive outdoor deck where you should enjoy your meal and hang with friends! My favorite sandwiches are the Chicken Bacon Ranch and the Smoked Chicken Salad – and I always order the fried pickles. ALWAYS! Your sandwich will likely come with a heaping pile of housemade kettle chips too and I highly encourage that you enjoy those as well.
Plank Seafood Provisions
When I visited Plank Seafood the first time, I couldn’t believe I was in the old Sur La Table space at the Domain. They have transformed that old kitchen and gadget space to a magical restaurant featuring some of the best seafood the city has to offer.
Be sure to order some oysters – they have quite a variety and specialize in them and well, I’m a sucker for oysters! They are beautifully presented with all the fixin’s. I loved the calamari, crudo, ceviche, and Brussel sprouts so so much! They have a large dining room to accommodate your small group and a private space for a larger one. They also have outdoor dining spaces if you’d prefer to be outdoors!
Fil n’ Viet
The power couple behind this food truck are showcasing their Filipino and Vietnamese cuisines with an incredible fusion that I just can’t get enough of! Chef Kevin has cooked at several Michelin star restaurants and traveled around Asia. Rosie and Kevin met in Austin and decided to pair their Vietnamese and Filipino creations to make some of the most flavorful (and craveable) dishes I’ve eaten in Austin! They also have coffee drinks (Vietnamese and other yummy creations) so be sure to check them out during the day for your caffeine fix! They’ve recently relocated to their permanent home at Camp East just off E. 12th and Harvey so be sure to check out their new space!
Inspired by the texture, flavors, heritage and narrative of the African diaspora of the United States, Distant Relatives serves up some of the most flavorful and unique Barbecue I’ve ever tasted! They’ve won many accolades for their incredible dishes and they truly deserve every bit of the attention! If you haven’t tried them out, visit them at Meanwhile Brewing – their food pairs perfectly with Meanwhile’s brews but stands its own without a beverage as well.
I’ve tried their brisket, chicken and sides and definitely wish I had ordered more so I didn’t have to share with my husband 🙂
This restaurant brings a taste of San Diego and the Baja to Austin with it’s tropical/seaside decor and fresh and colorful dishes and drinks! If you remember where La Matta was located (off E. 6th St. behind Il Brutto), Ma’Coco is in that space. I was oooohing and ahhhhing when I walked in – with all their plants and tropical vibes, you’ll totally understand what I mean when you step inside. Be sure to enjoy a cocktail to start – I had The Dude which is a spicy pineapple margarita. It was the perfect start to a perfect lunch! We really enjoyed the tuna tostada, guacamole, fish tacos and Chile Relleno. I’ll definitely go back to try more of their menu and the CHURRO DONUTS <- yes you read that right!
So? Thoughts on The 10 Best New Austin Restaurants of 2021? Remember, this is strictly my opinion and while I know many of you value it, others may disagree (and that’s ok)! Let me know in the comments below if you tried any new restaurants and think they made your list! Thanks for reading and Bon Appetite!