the popular table
Yes, dinner recommendations are almost always better from locals. But one platform has some of the broadest sample populations in the entire restaurant industry, and it has analyzed that data to find "some of the most in-demand restaurants" in America.
OpenTable, used for booking restaurants, bars, and other culinary experiences, named five Austin restaurants on its 2023 "Top 100 Restaurants in America" list — and none others in Texas.
The platform used more than 12 million verified diner reviews, plus diner ratings, advance reservations, and number of five-star reviews to determine its spots. That means it's not OpenTable's opinion that favors Austin, but part of its dominance may just be that people around here are more generous with reviews than others in Texas.
The five restaurants chosen in Texas, all with 4.8 stars or higher, are:
- Clark’s Oyster Bar – This Austin eatery combines upscale dining with a laid-back, but not divey ambiance. It's not surprising that it charms visitors without alienating those who haven't visited yet.
- J Carver’s – Another upscale seafood restaurant, but this time much moodier — this steakhouse and oyster bar is in a great location for tourists, who want a 6th Street experience without being too in the thick of it.
- Jeffrey’s Restaurant – This meat-forward, French-American restaurant is about as fancy as it gets in Austin, and it's been serving the public since 1975. When beauty is a dining priority, Jeffrey's delivers.
- Red Ash Italia – By the same owner as J Carver's, this industrial restaurant has never been overly romantic about its Italian cuisine. It is Texas, after all. Red Ash was seemingly booked all the time before a fire indefinitely closed it for repairs.
- Uchi Austin – To no one's surprise, one of Austin's most famous restaurants is here on the list. Uchi put Austin on the map for sushi, nationally, and it stays consistent while adding other restaurants to its empire.
OpenTable did not share ratings for each restaurant, so we're not sure which restaurant stood out the most in Austin. Although it did not offer any local insight, it did come to some conclusions about the state of dining out, nationally.
It noticed that from last year people were going out roughly the same amount, but more of those excursions were on "special occasions," on which people also spent more money. "Interest" in Valentine's Day grew 9 percent since last year, according to a release about the report.
Then it must be surprising that, despite the ceremonial implications of more special-occasion dining, solo dining saw the most growth since last year — only by 4 percent, though.
Anecdotally, there have been lots of new Asian restaurants in Austin recently, but the report names three top growing cuisines: West African, African and Lebanese. Of the three, West African cuisine saw the biggest growth by a long shot, at 72 percent, compared to general African at 23 percent and Lebanese at 18.
Perhaps it is obvious that Texas, represented by one city, did not do as well as some other states, but it didn't do poorly. California and Florida led the pack with 14 and seven restaurants, respectively.
If the report has any bearing on what's coming in Texas' future, our top dining days are still ahead of us this year: we certainly have some special occasions coming up, and December held three of the top five dining days in 2022.
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