Austin wine bar flutters into the top 20 on Southern Living's best new restaurants list
Whether Austinites live to eat or eat to live, it's all Southern Living. And snacking. The homey magazine is always touting home cooking in recipes and seasonal cover images, but even its top homemakers go out for a nice meal sometimes.
Southern Living unveiled The South's Best New Restaurants Of 2023, and Austin made No. 20. Birdie's, the super popular wine bar, just made it to that milestone ranking, squeezing ahead of Roots Southern Table in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch, which came in at No. 21.
To address the ostrich in the room: Many Austinites probably don't consider Birdie's new. It opened in 2021, quickly rising in local opinion. The magazine does not specify what timeline it's working with.
The wine bar calls itself "fine-casual," indicating a serious approach to food and wine, but a laid-back service style — counter service, to be specific.
Birdie's has not been hurting for spaces on best-of lists. It won CultureMap Austin's own Tastemaker Award in 2023 for Restaurant of the Year — new or otherwise. It made Esquire's Best New Restaurants in America list in 2022, and Bon Appetit's 50 Best New Restaurants the same year. Canje also made both lists, but the Caribbean restaurant did not make it onto Southern Living's list.
Chelsea Brasted, the Louisiana-based writer who explained the collaborative list between Southern Living editors, writes:
"The vibe may be casual, but the restaurant takes its food seriously. Life and business partners Arjav Ezekiel and Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel offer a constantly changing menu with a tight focus on handmade pastas plus seasonally influenced small and large plates ... Fans flock here for the impressive wine list as much as for the food. Whether you order by the bottle or the glass, you’ll find plenty of new things to try; Birdie’s prides itself on working with smaller producers."
Roots Southern Table, the only other Texas establishment to make the list, was also a James Beard Award finalist in 2022. Founder Tiffany Derry was also a finalist for Best Chef.
"It doesn’t take long to get cozy at Roots Southern Table ... The menu features Southern comfort food with an international twist that pays respect to the meals [Derry] grew up eating. Everything is seasonal and flavorful—all while maintaining a focus on waste reduction ... The space feels fresh and modern with white marble tabletops and organically shaped ceramic servingware. The experience at Roots Southern Table, makes it hard to leave but easy to return."
It may be a little disappointing to see that Texas only made the list twice, but it was just as much as any other state. Weirder, perhaps, is that the editors didn't go with any barbecue in the Lone Star State, despite having recently praised it in Austin. The list wasn't just fine dining: Fried chicken sandwiches made the list in Washington, D.C., and a pizza joint in Alabama called Pizza Grace snagged the top spot. The times, they are a-changin'.
Read the full article at southernliving.com.