When Austinites head to the east side for food and drinks, chances are they’re looking somewhere between East Cesar Chavez and Seventh Street. Sure, that area has some of the buzziest restaurants in town, but sometimes diners need something more mellow.
For a quieter evening, make a beeline for Manor Road’s restaurant row. A short hop from campus, it is packed with superlative spots that all have a cozy neighborhood feel. Better yet, wait times are far shorter than many places in town. For those catching a show at Bass Concert Hall or a Longhorns game, the strip is an absolute must.
The Butterfly Bar and Patrizi’s
Few local spots capture the old Austin’s keep it weird vibe as much as this pair of concepts located on the grounds of The Vortex Theater. The Butterfly Bar serves up classic cocktails and originals like the energizing Whippoorwill with Basil Hayden Bourbon and cold brew. Patrizi’s is a revered favorite with fresh Italian offerings like handmade pasta and seasonal salads. Both rest in a courtyard that features some of the best people-watching in town — and an occasional impromptu performance.
Though it offers a handful of dishes for vegetarians, this 100-percent local eatery is a carnivore’s dream. The butcher shop in the front supplies the restaurant with ever-changing inspiration, from dry-aged Wagyu for burgers to wild boar for lettuce wraps. Those seeking a great date night will want to check out the fantastic weekly specials, like the Gulf seafood dinner for two every Friday evening or the Sunday supper featuring decadent, tallow-fried chicken.
This sporty spot offers a quality patio, multiple TVs, and satisfying comfort food. Definitely order up the poutine, served either traditionally with brown gravy or Southern-style with white. The snack pairs beautifully with almost everything on the menu, from a huge croque monsieur smothered in Gruyere sauce to a patty melt with grilled onions and cheddar. At the bar, there’s craft cocktails, but the lengthy craft beer list is the highlight. Be sure to check out the daily drink specials — there’s one for every day of the week!
No guide to Manor Road is complete without Hoover’s “honest-to-goodness good Texas cooking.” For more than 20 years, the restaurant has offered up quality Southern comforts, such as chicken fried steaks, charbroiled catfish, barbecue pork ribs, and meatloaf. If you’re on a budget, head to the bar for Hoover Hour from 3-7 pm every Wednesday through Friday for deals on select beers, wine, and spirits, plus food options like a $7 fried chicken basket.
This Tex-Mex institution has been operating since 1990, long before Manor Road became a restaurant destination. Still, it has remained an essential spot, especially during the bustling morning hours. Get your day going with breakfast tacos and a horchata, then bring it to a close via chicken mole enchiladas or a chile relleno in tangy ranchero sauce. Cervezas, cocktails, and wine are available, as is a lovely patio to set the scene.
This charming delicatessen from a farmers market favorite will only have a limited run at its current address, so Austinites should catch it while they can. The sandwiches, especially The Rachel with hot pastrami and the slightly fiery pimento cheese, all astound, but the salads and daily soup are just as good. Finish the meal with a praline or the velvety brown butter chess pie, and bring a bottle of rosé to sip on the porch. Non-imbibers can choose from a selection of locally made water, tea, and kombucha.
Ask any Austinite who has the best happy hour in town, and they will likely point to this spot, which offers super deals on select cocktails (try the maple-glazed Old Fashioned) and snacks from 4:30-6:30 pm every day of the week. Even when not discounted, hors d’oeuvres like earthy truffled deviled eggs and duck fat fries are a steal, but save some room for an entrée. The candied pork belly with collard greens and soy balsamic syrup is not to be missed.
School House Pub
Next door to Mi Madre’s is School House Pub, offering plentiful outdoor seating, a sizable list of craft beers and cocktails, and a friendly neighborhood crowd. Though the drinks are the big event, the food isn’t an afterthought. Solid choices include everything from soft pretzels to spicy ginger chili wings to burgers, but the best dish of all may be the savory popcorn — a snack masterpiece with shaved Parmesan, bacon, and sage.
Located in the middle of an oddball triangle island between Manor Road, Lafayette Avenue, and Dean Keeton Street, Yuyo brings dining diversity to Manor's strip. Kickback with a refreshing Pisco Sour and enjoy Peruvian-inspired dishes, such as churrasco (grilled Angus steak with chimichurri), bao buns filled with hoisin pork belly, or one of four ceviche options. While dining, be sure to snap a few pics of the beautiful interiors.