What sets Austin apart from other cities in Texas is our unrelenting effort to support local, independent businesses. While the big names in town are undeniably impressive, it’s the neighborhood eateries and bars that keep our culinary scene fresh and relatable.
At the fourth annual CultureMap Tastemaker Awards 2015
, May 12 at Brazos Hall, we will pay homage to restaurant gems in the heart of our communities. Check out the nominees for Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year below, and snag your tickets to find out who wins at the event.
Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar
Since 2009, this vino-focused Rosedale hideaway has served up intricate shared plates, cheeses and charcuterie to pair with a range of varietals. With a different happy hour special every day of the week, this relaxed yet sophisticated joint welcomes neighbors to hang out and clink glasses for any occasion. Apothecary is open late, has free Wi-Fi and even sports a dog-friendly patio.
Locals enjoy hand-crafted pizzas, pastas and modern Italian fare at this Hyde Park fixture. Open for lunch and dinner, guests can hop up on a counter seat for a quick bite or chill at a table for a leisurely meal. To wind down, the upbeat kitchen offers classic desserts with a twist, such as the affogato with warm beignets and dessert wines to sweeten the deal some more.
Épicerie Café & Grocery
Tucked away on Hancock Drive, this quaint neighborhood staple dishes up French-inspired sandwiches and plates. The laid-back atmosphere makes it a prime spot for a glass of wine, an everyday meal or Sunday brunch. In addition, Épicerie stocks a selection of fine cheeses, wines and all the necessary fixings for a successful cocktail party.
Fabi + Rosi
In this homey house-turned-restaurant, which opened in 2009, the team serves creative dishes using locally sourced ingredients. The inviting spot, which features prime outdoor seating, is a perfect destination for food enthusiasts with adventurous palates.
Chef/Owner Chad Dolezal of this East Austin eatery and bar draws inspiration from various cultures for his stylized comfort food. (Think grit-fried chicken thighs in orange sauce with fresno chilis and fried bok choy.) Affordability is also a key ingredient of this neighborhood spot. Add easy-sipping cocktails and a spacious patio to the mix and you'll see why The Hightower has become a favorite in this vibrant quarter.
This longstanding French mainstay needs no further introduction. Located deep in the heart of East Austin, Justine’s highlights no-nonsense bistro fare, from escargots to steak tartare. With a wide selection of French wine, daily chalkboard specials and live performances, locals flock here for the food and the vibe. Neighbors can kick back with a bottle of wine under strings of lights without having to deal with downtown parking.
Noble Sandwich Co.
The innovative duo of John Bates and Brandon Martinez showcases meaty creations at this hot destination. Noble Sandwich Co. describes its approach as "thoughtful, hand crafted, fresh and dedicated to scratch cooking." Diners are willing to wait in line for the famed smoked duck pastrami sandwich and the indulgent oxtail on waffles with an over-easy egg. "Our goal is to give people a experience that stands out and is not cookie cutter," says the team.
The Peached Tortilla
Chef Eric Silverstein successfully transitioned his Asian-inspired food truck into this new, colorful brick-and-mortar location. The bar and kitchen serves whiskey-forward cocktails alongside imaginative sharable eats such as kimchi arancini balls and signature banh mi tacos. The restaurant is constantly packed, but Silverstein has greater ambitions. "I still have a lot of work to do" he says.
St. Philip Pizza Parlor + Bakeshop
Carb-avores rejoice at this bread-centric eatery! This family-friendly hangout on South Lamar is firing unconventional pizzas and whipping up comforting plates. "We'll often have guests sit at the pizza bar, enjoying their food as well as the show the line puts on, and say how happy they are they don't have to go downtown to get a great meal,” says Chef Page Pressley. With an attached bakery that opens at 8 am, neighbors welcome this comfy addition with open arms.
This laid-back haunt draws hordes of diners with its diverse Spanish-Mediterranean menu with a dash of Asian flavors. Despite housing a lofty wine list, this joint aims to keep it real and relevant. "We want to keep this area feeling that way, despite all the new changes and developments that have been happening to Austin recently," explains Ryan Fulmer, general manager. "We want people to feel comfortable in their own backyard ... We're definitely trying to channel an 'old-school Austin' vibe."