Austin neighborhoods north of the river contain some of the city's oldest and quirkiest communities, as well as countless new businesses. Wherever you find yourself in this gorgeous spring weather, we’ve rounded up the best date spots in each district, from downtown to Allandale.
One of your last remaining excuses to get caught on Dirty Sixth is Parkside. Oysters, crab fritters, and potato gnocchi make it one of downtown's favorite happy hours, and the group recently introduced a dessert menu from freshly appointed executive pastry chef, Juliann Stoddart. The new offerings are an elevated yet playful twist on classics, with highlights like the Rice Krispie cheesecake (featuring hints of lime, mango, and coconut). If you’re more of a chocolate fan, try the nygangbo chocolate mint tart with a hint of lavender.
For drinks, head around the corner to Small Victory on East Seventh Street. Tucked away in a parking garage near the Stephen F. Austin, the space has a speakeasy feel and a New York vibe. Note the urban-inspired damask wallpaper, which looks lovely and quaint until you notice the pattern comprises rats, pigeons, and fire hydrants. The menu offers classic cocktails and an innovative ice program: make your own martini from the helpful infographic on the right side of the menu, or pick one of their adaptations on a classic. And, the $24-for-4 deal on charcuterie and cheese is possibly the best board in town.
West of Congress, head to the 2nd Street District for fancy barbecue and live music at Lambert’s or a dazzling night at the W Hotel bar. With warmer weather upon us, now is the perfect time to make use of the local discount available for Austinites in the W's Away Spa, which also grants access to one of the coolest pool decks in town.
Sleepy Clarksville is one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods, but it's home to some of it’s newest culinary champions. You can’t go wrong when choosing between Jeffrey’s, Josephine House, and Clark’s Oyster Bar, but with patio weather in full swing, Clark’s is our spring pick. Monday through Friday from 3-6 pm, enjoy $0.50 off oysters, half off burgers, $5 martinis, and draft beer. Weekends offer the same $0.50 oyster special, plus half off wine.
Sit back and soak up an Austin afternoon under the nautical awning — Clark's is best enjoyed with a classic gin martini and your most stylish pair of sunglasses.
Happy hour at Fabi + Rosi is a great way to unwind with your date. From 5-6:30 pm, starters are $6, with $10 boards, $2 off wine, $8 off bottles, and $3 beer. Everything is made in-house, with fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients from Dewberry Farms, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, and Beeman Ranch. The fare is European, with France and Germany being the two most prominent influences. Chef Wolfgang Murber’s German heritage can be tasted across the menu, from his unique selection of German beers to homeland classics like bratwurst in dark beer sauce with sauerkraut.
Located in a bungalow on Lake Austin Boulevard, the modern décor manages to strike an elegant but relaxed feel thanks to the design eye of Murber’s wife, Cassie. The pair met on a yacht in Spain, a romantic story behind an equally romantic restaurant you won’t want to miss.
UT students will come and go, but Texas French Bread is forever. This cafe/bakery empire (turned farm-to-table restaurant) is such an integral part of Austin’s food scene, we almost didn't want to share it. But then you’d never have the chance to try the bread. Or gingersnap cookies. Or sip glasses from the expertly curated wine list on the vine-covered patio — best enjoyed during happy hour from Wednesday to Friday, with half-priced wine, beer, and cider.
The family-owned restaurant’s close ties to local businesses continues to this day, with produce from Boggy Creek, chicken from Dewberry Hills, coffee from Tweed Roasters, and cheese from Antonelli’s. The lunch special is the best deal in town, while dinner options are more seasonal and exploratory. For a breakfast date, the American is a go-to classic, and the eggs Benedict with ham on ciabatta never disappoints.
A new business seems to pop up in the Burnet corridor every other day, but Epicerie remains a favorite. Chef/owner Sarah McIntosh describes her restaurant as the place where “France and Louisiana become friends in Texas," which aptly captures her menu’s blend of comfort food with fine dining. “I cook what I crave at home,” says McIntosh, and one visit will have you craving everything on the menu.
Right now is the perfect time to enjoy bubbles and a burger on the patio. Made with ground beef from Black Hills Ranch and homemade cheddar on a challah bun, the burger’s only downside is the nap you’ll need shortly after. The patio makes for an equally romantic brunch date, and while Epicerie is perhaps best known for its fluffy beignets, start with the savory egg Roxanne. McIntosh mixes New Orleans-style dirty rice with deconstructed boudin, topped with a coddled egg, hot sauce, and green onion. A homemade honey butter biscuit balances out the boudin flavor explosion and preps your palate for the famous beignets. Wash it all down with a latte from the excellent in-house coffee program or skip straight to your Sunday mimosa.
Airport Boulevard continues to blossom with new restaurants on both sides of I-35. Bullfight, the brainchild of chef Shawn Cirkiel, is one of them. Bullfight serves Spanish food with a modern twist — perfect for a young Austin crowd, especially the one growing daily in the Mueller development nearby.
Indoor and outdoor seating make this a great date spot for any season, but the white stucco and brick patio are ideal for enjoying these golden afternoons. Small plates rule the day, and at unbelievably reasonable prices: appetizers and sides are $10 or less during happy hour, which also features half off wine, beer, and liquor. Stop by on a Tuesday evening to enjoy the exclusive, off-menu squid ink paella for $32 — a feast as flavorful as it is colorful. Get there early for your best chance to order (and because it takes 25 minutes to make), and enjoy a sangria or vermut while you wait.