Where to eat in Austin right now: 10 best restaurants for summer bites
Don’t let the recent deluge fool you, Austin. It’s August, and like vacation guests that linger a bit too long, summertime temps are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.
If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. No, seriously, get out of that fiery kitchen and opt for some super cool refreshing chow.
If you’re not sure where to start on your path to chill culinary enlightenment this summer, don’t sweat it, we’ve got a few hot tips on the best summer bites to seek out from Austin chefs and eateries this season.
One note: Given that the pandemic continues to rage, please use your best judgment when visiting these Austin establishments, and consider ordering takeout when it’s possible and wearing a mask when it’s not. And always follow restaurants’ COVID-19 guidelines. It’s totally cool to stay safe while supporting our local restaurant community.
This summer, chef and seafood genius Davis Turner launched a Wednesday night ceviche special at his Gulf Coast comfort-food truck, Huckleberry. Located at 2340 W. Braker Ln., adjacent to Austin-based Circle Brewing Co., Huckleberry features an array of impressive seafood and Southern dishes (the fried green tomatoes are stupendous!), but chef Turner’s sustainably caught ceviche dishes — which he rotates each week — offer the perfect summery bite of ocean-y goodness. Our favorite is the shrimp ceviche, but the fresh fish version will also get you hooked. The ceviche special is available every Wednesday from 4-9 pm.
Local Foods: Truffled egg salad sandwich
This Houston-based eatery is entering the Austin market with its fresh and hyper-seasonal take on lunch classics. Local Foods opens its restaurant in the Second Street District later this year, but it’s currently in pop-up mode, so swing by 5350 Burnet Rd. Tuesday through Sunday from 10:45 am-6 pm for some tasty summer grub. Chef Dylan Murray’s truffled egg salad sandwich (house-made truffled egg salad, mixed greens, tomato, Parmesan, and aioli on a pretzel bun) is an excellent excuse to end up with egg on your face. Fair warning: You will definitely want more than one bite.
Salty Cargo: Market poke
This Hawaiian/Asian fusion eatery, located in the Hana World Market food court off West Parmer Lane, offers a menu made for summertime noshing. While the shrimp lumpia and tori katsu sando are worth chowing down on, chef John Gocong’s market poke (premium market fish marinated in dark brown sugar and soy with Thai chili, green onion, pickled pineapple, ogo sea kelp, mint, cilantro, and chili oil, and served over sticky rice and butter leaf lettuce) will definitely leave you fishing for more.
Andiamo Ristorante: Pesche con prosciutto e burrata
While it’s true that longtime owner and lovely Naples, Italy native Daniela Marcone no longer reigns over this North Austin Italian gem, her family recipes remain menu staples. And under the guidance of chef Victor Ibarra’s deft culinary expertise, Andiamo's dishes virtually transport diners to the postcard-perfect coastal shores of Italy. Stop by to check out Andiamo’s new summer menu and cool your palate with pesche con prosciutto e burrata, aka fresh peaches, prosciutto di Parma, mini heirloom tomatoes, basil, and burrata cheese in a light balsamic olive oil sauce.
Blue Sushi Sake Grill: Cherry Bomb
New to the Domain, Blue Sushi Sake Grill is quite simply put a sushi heaven. The spacious and beautifully designed eatery offers all the nigiri, sashimi, and maki faves you crave, but here, trust the staff to steer you to some more unexpected choices, as this is where sushi becomes spectacular. The Cherry Bomb nigiri is one such example and the model of a superb summer bite, with delicate bigeye tuna sitting atop of slightly crunchy rice tempura and topped with serrano, Sriracha, togarashi, and ponzu sauce. Pro tip: You’ll probably need more than one order.
Old Thousand: Corn dumplings
Known for its “dope Chinese food,” Old Thousand, which boasts two Austin locations, is a dumpling lover’s dream. And with the restaurant’s new vegan happy hour menu, chef Jeff Brown is serving up some pretty dope summer bites for just $7, including perfectly plump and delicate corn dumplings. The vegan happy hour menu, available Monday through Friday from 4-5:30 pm, also features peaches and greens, a Summer Sesame Stir Fry, and fried green tomato lettuce wraps, so make a summertime meal of it, Chinese picnic style.
TLC: Raw oysters
Give yourself a little TLC this summer in the form of fresh, ice-cold raw oysters from the Gulf or the Atlantic. If these slurpable little delicacies aren’t your thing, opt for chef Chris Andrews’ Maine lobster roll, a succulent piece of summery heaven that’ll carry you away to the New England coast. Plus, TLC, located at the Lamar Union in South Austin, offers more than 30 beers on tap to help quench that heat-wave thirst.
Salt & Time Café: Cold wagyu steak salad
When it comes to Austin restaurants offering an outdoor setting, it’s hard to beat Salt & Time Café, located at Republic Square in arguably the lushest park of downtown. Enjoy al fresco in the park while noshing on chef Madeline Brandstetter’s cold wagyu steak salad (fresh mixed greens, mint, cilantro, basil, cucumbers, red onions, and a Thai-style vinaigrette with underblade steak cut from Salt & Time’s butcher case at the Seventh Street restaurant). And add a cold drink, say maybe the signature frozen orange wine concoction known as Frorange.
Trace: Boozy ice cream floats
Trace at the W Austin hotel has teamed up with local fave Lick Honest Ice Cream to serve up some dreamy ice cream floats — with booze — for a very limited time in support of Austin nonprofit Out Youth. Created by Lick and the W’s mixology team, these summertime sippers include the Orange Cream Dream Float and the Lemon Lavender Float, which feature local ingredients and spirits in combination with Lick’s lemon lavender ice cream and honey vanilla bean ice cream. Best yet: While imbibing an ice-cold float, you’ll be supporting a great cause, as a portion of the proceeds from the drinks will be donated to Out Youth, which offers support and resources to youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Distant Relatives: Golden rice and coconut ambrosia with bird chili relish
This popular food truck serving up modern African American fare attracts barbecue aficionados like dry rub to brisket. In addition to chef and pitmaster Damien Brockway’s mastery of meat, Distant Relatives also serves up some super yummy summery bites, including golden rice and coconut ambrosia with bird chili relish, a dish the food truck’s Wesley Robinson was served by his mother each Juneteenth to help teach him about his heritage. It includes Texas-grown Carolina golden rice stewed in a tamarind coconut broth with caramelized sugarcane and a sweet/hot relish mixture of mango, onions, and African bird chiles balanced with coconut vinegar.