Courtesy of Clark's

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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7 things to know in Austin food right now: Bagel shop brings imported ingredients to new Cedar Park location

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.


Austin is not known for its bagels, but things started looking up when Nervous Charlie's came on the scene. The shop has become well-known and respected around town for using ingredients from the Tri-state Area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) to craft bagels that are neither overly chewy nor fluffy. Starting in August — or September, the team says, if that doesn't work out — Nervous Charlie's will have a second location in Cedar Park at 410 W. Whitestone Blvd. Some menu items to look out for include pastrami sandwiches, pistachio cream cheese, and the lox platter — like a morning charcuterie board.

News and notes

More in bagel news: for the month of July, Fil N' Viet and Rosen's Bagels are spicing up the world of bagels with a new schmear of the month: "Lime Cilantro Chili Crunch." This specialty cream cheese gets its main flavor from Fil N' Viet's crunchy chili oil. The Filipino and Vietnamese food truck will also be offered a more limited edition special on July 15 and 16: a sandwich using Rosen's sesame bagel with house-made pork tocino (like sweet bacon), scrambled eggs, Boursin Cheese, mayo, and pickled red onions.

Just as Stonewall, Texas, is a waystation when driving between Austin and West Texas, so is it a Monarch Waystation for butterflies migrating north. Although the Llyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site had the town's first official designation from Monarch Watch, the newcomer is Kuhlman Cellars. The wine estate has been growing nectar wildflowers for nearly a decade, and working to receive the designation for years. The multiple species of milkweed at the estate makes it a haven for monarch butterflies, which are on a watchlist, so to speak, for potential endangered status.

Collaborations are all over this July, and there's no easier food to hybridize than pizza. Still, this Via 313 collab with Black's BBQ is pretty left-field. Forget marinara; This pie of the month is all about barbecue sauce and brisket, supported by pickled red onions. The stringy mozzarella is still a must, even in this unorthodox deep dish combo. Each pizza sold generates a $1 donation to The Other Ones Foundation (TOOF), which combats homelessness in Austin. The collab is available at Via 313 in North Campus, Oak Hill, the East Side, Cedar Park, Round Rock, and Bee Cave until August 6.

A $44 budget (before tip, that is) doesn't usually get you much at a steakhouse, but this month Perry's Steakhouse is celebrating its 44th anniversary. Every Monday through Thursday in July, from 4 pm until the restaurant closes, guests can order four courses, with four choices each, for $44 total. The most important choice is the entree, which is between pork chop, chargrilled salmon, brick chicken, and even a vegan chopped steak. Reserve at perryssteakhouse.com.

Things never seem to slow down at Meanwhile Brewing, which interrupts this lazy summer to announce four new beers, including a 2023 World Beer Cup medalist. "Fore!" is the medal winner, an "Arnold Palmer style kolsch" with lemon and sweet tea notes. Rounding out the other releases are more summery flavors: a West Coast IPA, a tea lager, and a strawberry Berliner Weisse. Meanwhile also announced two young kids' story times with Austin Public Library at the taproom on July 18 and 25.

Feminist culinary development nonprofit Les Dames d'Escoffier Austin is inviting guests for a dinner party with the city's top talent at wine barLoLo on July 17. Four women chefs — Sarah McIntosh of Épicerie, Annie Thomas of Emmer and Rye, Jules Stoddart of Little Ola's Biscuits, and Amanda Turner of Olamaie — are combining their talents for this "Supper Club," which offers four courses followed by DJ sets and women-made wine. Get tickets ($75, or $65 for members) before they run out on Eventbrite.

Photo courtesy of Taste on Main

6 things to know in Austin food right now: Driftwood hospitality couple drift to Buda to launch steakhouse

News you can eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.


Class is the main goal at Taste on Main, opening in Buda on February 15. The space is modeled after "classy downtown steak and seafood concepts," according to co-owner Travis Tindol. Tamra and Travis Tindol are known for their previous effort, Hays City Store & Ice House, a casual Southern staple in Driftwood, but now they're turning up the refinement. The menu follows most steakhouse standards, but emphasizes comfort food even if it's not the most common order: That means rib-eyes and pork chops next to mac and cheese, poutine, and crab legs with butter and charred lemon. Taste on Main will be located in a 100-year-old building at 116 Main Street. Reserve on Tock.

Other news and notes

The Texas Farmers' Market isn't just a random gathering of makers; there's programming that makes the event more of a community. There's a brand-new Fresh at the Market Fan Club, which enters shoppers in a drawing once they complete a 10-haul punch card, plus the return of cooking demos and market samples meant to inspire new home cooking. The market also hosts special seasonal events, including ones scheduled for Black History Month and Valentine's Day.

Free cheese! That's the Tweet. It somehow gets even better, considering that the cheese is from Antonelli's, one of Austin's favorite cheese makers. On Friday, February 10, the first 50 people in the shop will receive a free wedge of cheese — even if they don't purchase anything. This deal celebrates the shop's anniversary week, marking 13 years of service. There are also a few tickets left to the last anniversary event: a cheese and donuts structured tasting.

A huge king cake is a fun treat for Fat Tuesday, but sometimes you just need a taste. (Regular Tuesday, anyone?) Abby Jane Bakeshop, run by the celebrated Louisiana-born baker Abby Love, offers a smaller-scale version perfect for one or two people. There's also a savory version with andouille sausage, cheese, veggies, and a cream cheese filling. Order for a Dripping Springs pickup at abbyjanebakes.com. (Select the king cake option if prompted for location.)

Sotol is already like a milder mezcal, so what happens when you mix it with the characteristics of a light red wine? Desert Door has done the science for us, aging a new limited edition sotol aged in old Beaujolais barrels for a unique blend with "the buoyancy and breeziness of Beaujolais wine," according to a release. The resulting SotolJolais will be available at the distillery through Sunday, February 12, for tasting in cocktails or picking up a full bottle.

The only thing better than brunch is Mexican brunch, and El Chile is taking care of that in East Austin, bringing back its old brunch program that surely was sorely missed by many. Regional chef Giovanny Gonzalez-Diaz, new to the team as of 2022, helped bring back the tradition, which includes its "puffy huevos rancheros" as well as new, broader menu items like eggs benedict, crab omelets, and banana foster pan frances (french toast). Brunch is served weekends from 10 am to 3 pm.

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Lessening millennial migration leads Austin's 5 most-read headlines this week

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Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From moving millennials to old businesses staying put, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Austin is no longer the No. 1 magnet for millennials on the move, report says. For the past two years, Austin has been the No. 1 destination for millennials making the move to a new city. But that's no longer the case.

2. East Austin barbecue family holds strong against neighborhood developers. The owner of Sam's, Brian Mays, remembers what it was like when his father first bought the restaurant from his friend, Sam, in 1957.

3. Worldly restaurant with fancy plating and views floats to Austin lakefront. Quince LakeHouse will offer menu items inspired by all types of international cuisines, pulling flavors from Peru, Mexico, New Orleans, and more.

4. Court sentences Kaitlin Armstrong in famous Austin trial for cyclist's murder. Armstrong was sentenced to 90 years in prison after being convicted of murder. She faced a maximum of 99 years.

5. Iconic Texas beer cracks open first-ever non-alcoholic brew. It all starts with one beer: Rodeo Golden Brew, which according to a news release, will still taste like a Shiner beer even without the alcoholic kick.

Austin is among the 20 most 'house rich' cities in U.S., report says

hopes for homeownership

With high interest rates and home prices making daily headlines, houses in Texas' current real estate market may seem out of reach for many potential homebuyers. But that isn't the case in Austin. A new study has revealed that Austin is the No. 16 most "house rich" major city in the nation.

To define the term "house rich," home services provider All Star Home examined data from the U.S. Census Bureau regarding the median value of owner-occupied homes and the median household income across the 25 most populous American cities. A home-value-to-income ratio was established for each city based on the Census data, and rankings were determined based on whether a city had a low home-value-to-income ratio and high homeownership rate.

The study found that 44.70 percent of all housing in Austin is owner-occupied. The median home value of a home in the city is $593,000, according to the Census data, which also pegs the median household income at an estimated $89,415 per year.

Using those financial factors, All Star Home determined Austin has a home-value-to-income ratio of 4.83.

Austin's median home value is significantly higher than the median prices of homes for sale in the city. Median home prices dropped to $435,000 in October, according to the latest real estate report from the Austin Board of Realtors.

Elsewhere in Central Texas, San Antonio far outpaced Austin in the report, ranking 10 spots higher as the fifth most "house rich" city in the nation. San Antonio has a homeownership rate of 52.30 percent, and the median value of a home in the city is $335,200.

El Paso took the No. 1 spot in the report, leading over all other major American cities with the highest homeownership rate (59.80 percent) and a home-value-to-income ratio of 2.68. Houston (No. 12) and Dallas (No. 15) also earned spots in the report.

The top 10 most house rich major cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – El Paso, Texas
  • No. 2 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • No. 3 – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • No. 4 – Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 5 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 6 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 7 – Columbus, Ohio
  • No. 8 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • No. 9 – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • No. 10 – Phoenix, Arizona

All Star Home also analyzed the most house rich states in America, but Texas appeared at the bottom of the study's category for the least house rich states, ranking No. 21. (Which really only makes it a middling score.)

The full report can be found on allstarhome.com.

Jealousy, intrigue, and weirdness make Saltburn an eat-the-rich hoot

Movie Review

Writer/director Emerald Fennell made her feature film debut with the provocatively great 2020 film, Promising Young Woman, which saw its protagonist single-handedly – and, perhaps, foolishly – taking on male sexual predators. Her follow-up, Saltburn, has another protagonist with a one-track mind, this time a young man obsessing about joining upper crust English society.

Barry Keoghan in Saltburn

Photo courtesy of Prime Video

Barry Keoghan in Saltburn.

Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) is a student at Oxford University who longs to be part of the popular crowd, especially the group led by Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), who has everyone he meets fawning over him. Through a few chance meetings, Oliver does manage to endear himself to Felix, who invites him to spend the summer with him and his family at their estate called Saltburn.

There, Oliver is able to participate in the seemingly carefree revelry enjoyed by Felix and his family, including mother Elspeth (Rosamund Pike), father Sir James (Richard E. Grant), and sister Venetia (Allison Oliver). With hangers-on like fellow school friend Farleigh (Archie Madekwe) and Elspeth's friend Pamela (Carey Mulligan) along for the ride, Oliver discovers exactly how the filthy rich live, slowly but surely insinuating himself into each of their lives.

Films set on ornate British estates tend to be stuffy period pieces, so Fennell’s story is initially a breath of fresh air, telling a more modern version that’s full of life. Colors pop from every shot, especially the film’s many party scenes (and their aftermath). The sequences are the definition of excess, but deliciously so, as Fennell also fills them with hilarious dialogue that highlights the privilege of rich people who’ve never known a day of need in their whole life.

The strength of Oliver’s desire to join their ranks shifts constantly in the film, at first subtly and then in huge jumps. Fennell appears to have taken inspiration from The Talented Mr. Ripley, both in the haves vs. the have-nots aspect of the story, and in the fluctuating sexuality of Oliver. If it helps him get closer to his goal, Oliver has no trouble playing both sides of the fence, as it were, and in increasingly bizarre ways.

Just as she did in Promising Young Woman, Fennell makes certain storytelling choices that may not sit well with all viewers. The third act has more than a few of these, especially the culmination of the story, and while those decisions don’t always work, the fact that she went for them at all is deserving of some credit. Too many filmmakers try to play it safe, and it's much better to have someone try and fail than not try at all.

Keoghan has an innocent look to him that belies the intensity he can bring, which makes him ideal for a role like this. He’s up for whatever Fennell throws at him, which is quite a lot, and he succeeds even if the scenes don’t always work. Elordi plays a spoiled-but-empathetic rich kid well, and Grant, Pike, Oliver, and Madekwe give equally interesting performances. Mulligan has a short but funny role in which she plays against type.

While not as good as Promising Young Woman, Saltburn demonstrates that Fennell is still a filmmaker to watch. Her ideas are off-kilter enough to give her a distinctive voice, and she deserves to be given many more opportunities to bring her perspective to the big screen.


Saltburn is now playing in theaters.