More food, less hype

5 tried-and-true alternatives to Austin's buzziest new restaurants

5 tried-and-true alternatives to Austin's buzziest new restaurants

Walton's Fancy and Staple Austin restaurant brunch
Walton's wows when it comes to downtown dining. Photo by Jody Horton

Whether its to experience a new environment or to have the bragging rights of eating there first, we all love to visit the newest Austin hot spots. The trouble is, every one else in town has the same idea.

Still, if you forgot to make a reservation or simply can’t stand a two-hour wait, there’s no reason to despair, just choose an alternative using from this handy guide. These five eateries may not get as many Instagram likes, but your belly will heart them just the same.

If you like Bird Bird Biscuit, try Walton’s Fancy & Staple
Even in this breakfast taco town, Manor Road’s Bird Bird Biscuit has people chirping over its flaky buttermilk biscuits, improbably engineered to hold a seeming metric ton of bacon, chicken sausage, and gooey cheddar. However, it’s not the only game in town.

Head downtown to grab biscuit sandwich from one of Austin’s perpetually underrated restaurants. Walton’s take on the classic dish tops a fried farm egg with Grafton cheddar and bacon, sausage, or tomato, then kicks it up with a smear of aioli for one of the best on-the-go breakfasts around. Follow it up it with a Golden Egg, a bite of nutmeg-infused yellow cake drenched in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar.

If you like The Brewer’s Table, try Vista Brewing
This Driftwood restaurant is about the same age as The Brewer’s Table, but doesn’t quite get the same amount of buzz. While we admit the latter’s Zach Hunter does have a singular point of view, Vista’s Andrew Stiver shares a commitment to making creative but accessible food that incorporates peak local produce and pairs beautifully with beer.

For the summer, the young chef has whittled out a spare menu that showcases the season’s bounty. There’s only a few snacks, two sides, and a couple of mains: a leafy salad topped with fresh goat cheese and simply grilled chicken, and a spicy chicken sandwich served on a buttery brioche bun. But Stiver’s finesse with fire ensures each is absolutely perfect.

If you like Le Politique, try Hopfields
Most Austinite’s think of Hopfields as a place to get a pint after work, and with its always enlightening beer menu, it’s hard to blame them. We go just as often for the soul-satisfying brasserie fare.

Although decidedly more down home than downtown stunner Le Politique, this campus favorite has many of the same dishes including steak frites, niçoise salad, and, of course, vibrant ratatouille. It has even be known to break out a trout almandine as one of its daily specials. Sure, the neighborhood vibe isn’t see and be scene, but that doesn’t mean you won’t leave saying ooh la la.

If you like Lin Asian Bar, try New Fortune
Since opening Lin in June, former Wu Chow chef Ling Qi Wu has had lines out the door for her dim sum. Yes, North Austin’s New Fortune also frequently has a line, but the huge dining room and the churn-and-burn service cuts the waiting time in half.

The specialties rolled by on carts can sometimes be hit-or-miss, so stick with the savory dumplings filled with shrimp, pork, and — of course — Shanghai soup. Every customer is guaranteed to leave the restaurant uncomfortably full without having an empty wallet. Even our most outrageous feasts there have rang in at less that $30.

If you like Suerte, try El Naranjo
East Austin’s Suerte has garnered a lot of headlines this year for its heirloom masa, but chef Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo has been making hers for years. Get it in the trio of tasty tlayudas (a treat similar to a tostada) with black beans and cheese, chorizo, or dried beef.

Still, besides the two restaurants affinity for traditional Oaxacan cooking, the two eateries offer very different experiences. Suerte’s raucous dining room is ideal for nights on the town with a few friends. If want a night of romance instead, go to this Rainey Street oasis, where whispered sweet nothings won’t get lost in the roar of the crowd.