Our neighbors to the north have a delicious little secret: The Round Rock restaurant game has leveled up. Farm-to-table and family-owned restaurants are quickly becoming the norm, and better pricing and (gasp!) parking make the short drive north totally worth it.
Here are 10 rocking restaurants to try in Round Rock:
Ajo tries to bring the feel of downtown Austin to Round Rock (without the parking problems). It's a family-owned restaurant with a farm-fresh bent. Lobster-stuffed soft shell crab, bourbon-candied pork belly, seared sea bass, hamachi crudo, fried tomahawk pork chop, and fig and blue cheese cheesecake are standouts. Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Teji's was the name of the game for Indian cuisine in Round Rock for a long time, but Chennai Cafe has won over some tough critics. It specializes in southern Indian fare displayed on an extensive menu. Expect fresh dosas, samosas, butter chicken, and tikka masala. For those more well-versed or adventurous, dig into the chettinadu kofta curry, vindaloo, chili paneer, muttai bajji, kanava sukka varuval, or meen kozhumba.
Greenhouse Craft Food
Oh so crafty! This casual farm-to-table restaurant sources lunch, brunch, breakfast, and dinner items from the best Texas purveyors, and the meat is hormone- and antibiotic-free. Daily soups, rotating dinner specials, weekend brunch, and monthly beer-pairing feasts ensure you've got a different option every day of the week. Enjoy happy hour from 3-6 pm Monday through Friday.
High Country Market, Diner & Gastropub
As we know, there's nothing wrong with eating in a gas station — especially when that gas station also houses a restaurant with fresh food, a lovely wine bar, and a great little patio. Stop in for a quick brunch or a leisurely, inexpensive dinner. Highlights include the burger on a pretzel bun, margherita pizza, and pulled pork sandwich. Check High Country's social media for updates on weekly wine tastings.
Jack Allen's Kitchen
The second location of JAK is a staple of the Round Rock dining scene. The restaurant sources 80 percent of the items locally and features robust brunch, lunch, dinner, and bar menus. Fan favorites include chorizo-stuffed tenderloin, blue crab gratin, beef cheek enchiladas, bacon-wrapped quail, fried chicken, and the extensive brunch buffet. JAK is a great option for those with gluten-free diets too.
Places that specialize in two kinds of international cuisine are tricky, but Miso nails it. This eatery has a full Korean menu — with spicy bulgogi, seafood pancake, kimchi, and galbi — and a nice selection of Japanese-style sushi rolls. Order the kimchi bacon fried rice with a tuna tower and you'll never have that "hungry after sushi" feeling again.
Palermo Pasta House
Located on Main Street, Palermo Pasta House is a little slice of Italy by way of Argentinean chef Antonio Giner. Artisanal hand-tossed pizzas, housemade sausages, fresh pasta, from-scratch sauce, huge salads, and daily dessert options are just a few of the standouts. Palermo never uses tomato paste, opting for peeled Roma tomatoes packed in juice with fresh basil.
The Scarlet Rabbit
The Scarlet Rabbit is like a magical adult Alice In Wonderland tea party. The decor is whimsical with "drink me" and "eat me" signs, vintage chandeliers, brightly colored walls, and a huge patio littered with fairy lights and turquoise tables. The food is distinctly Southern — think smoked rabbit gumbo, fried oyster nachos, spicy chicken and waffles, and green chile mac and cheese.
Svante's Ranch Direct
Talk about meta — Svante's sources its grass-fed beef directly from its own farm in West Texas. The restaurant is famous for burgers and other prime beef cuts, but non-carnivores have seafood and vegetarian options. You should absolutely leave room for the mocha mud cake or chess pie. If you can't make the trip to Round Rock, look for Svante's stuffed burger catering truck around town.
Veracruz All Natural
Veracruz All Natural took the Austin taco scene by a storm with its early food truck endeavors. The first brick-and-mortar is located up by Dell and boasts the same incredible flavors with a sit-down option. Veracruz is super popular during the week, so you'll want to find off-times or you may end up in a line. The best part? Breakfast tacos are served all day.