DINE OUT, DO GOOD
8 can't-miss spots to visit during Austin Restaurant Weeks
Though social media is currently beckoning users to take a cashmere-clad stroll through a pumpkin patch, the conditions on the ground are far less autumnal. Central Texans looking to get out of the house can either cozy up to a friend with a swimming pool or book dinner reservations stat.
While it can't help with social skills, the Central Texas Food Bank is doing a solid for those who want to spend the waning summer days languidly nibbling Austin's best cuisine in blissfully robust air-conditioning. The food insecurity nonprofit's annual Austin Restaurant Weeks is back on the calendar from September 1-17 with prix-fixe menus and other deals until the city gets its first breath of cooler weather.
During the fundraiser, dozens of area eateries will offer $20 lunches and $40-$60 dinners to help fight hunger in the community. Several spots have added $12 cocktail deals or beer and wine specials to help sweeten the pot. Funds will go to the Central Texas Food Bank.
Of course, that leaves the eternal question of where to eat. While some sure bets have yet to upload their menus, plenty of popular spots are eager to get guests' mouths watering in the opening week. Start filling up the datebook with these prime picks, then check the website frequently for new temptations.
The Dirdie Birdie
The proverbial angel on the shoulder entreats Austinites to grab a Bavarian pretzel and pork shoulder tacos during Restaurant Weeks. The devil tempts them to take a ditch day to enjoy a round of mini golf accompanied by a couple of Berry Heatwave cocktails.
Fil N' Viet
Decisions can be tough during Restaurant Weeks, but this Filipino-Vietnamese spot takes out all the guesswork. Pay $20 any time during operating hours, give a good tip, and then dine on a crispy adobo bowl paired with sweet iced coffee and a freeze pop. Leave happy.
Heavy pasta may not be everyone's top choice for hot-weather dining, but this East Austin Italian spot offers lighter dishes in its $60 dinner. The signature puffy potatoes will start the party, followed by summery fare like a Baby Gem salad, roasted Savoy cabbage, or grilled branzino with salsa verde.
This Mueller neighborhood favorite offers one of the promotion's biggest bargains in its $40 prix fixe. Warm up the tastebuds with mozzarella and Texas peaches before diving into a bowl of risotto with summer berry agrodolce. A rum-soaked tiramisu will hit the spot for dessert.
Save the San Antonio trip for October. The city's most celebrated chef — Steve McHugh — is dishing out one of Restaurant Week's most intriguing menus downtown. The entrees for the $60 feast are particularly enticing. Choose from two Spanish-inspired options: gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) or a carrillada of pork served with whipped hominy.
St. Elmo Brewing Co.
This South Austin go-to has more than a dozen brews on tap, but guests only need to be interested in one this month. A dollar from every $8 pour of Smalls benefits the cause. Luckily, it's a snappy pale ale with summery stone fruit notes. And at only five percent ABV, one can make a night of it.
Summer House on Music Lane
Lingering heatwaves beg for staycations, so book a last-minute stay at the Hotel Magdalena. After a dip, head to the in-house restaurant for a $60 dinner featuring options like strip steak, scallops, and chicken. Opt for the $15 wine pairing too. It's not a break without a little torpor.
Wu Chow North
The Rosedale location of the Chinese standard-bearer is offering a $20 power lunch with main options like scallions hugging beef, shrimp with preserved greens, and a local vegetable and tofu stir fry. Pair it with a mocktail like the citrusy Johnny's Jungle Juice or the spicy Lil' Pepino to add an extra dollar to the food bank's pot.