serena's date night guide to austin

restaurants
bars

 

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restaurants

Hestia
Named after the Greek goddess of the hearth, Hestia boasts a custom 20-ft hearth and a menu which highlights the role of fire in food. Epic wine list.

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Olamaie

Gorgeous upscale Southern cuisine by executive chef Michael Fojtasek named after five generations of women in his family. Triple James Beard finalist. 

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Uchi

Literally meaning "home", chef and Tokyo-trained sushi master Tyson Cole serves up delightfully-presented Japanese fusion cuisine in intimate surrounds. 

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Red Ash

One of the hottest tables in Austin as of 2022, executive chef John Carver showcases Northern and Southern Italian cuisine prepared on a customer wood-burning grill, home-made desserts, and an excellent wine list. 
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Maie Day

A playful take on the traditional steakhouse which aims to get away from the stuffy darkly-lit room, this is Olamaie's Michael Fojtasek's newest venture. 
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Truluck’s

The aforementioned traditional steakhouse! An Austin rarity in that it has a strict dress code, Truluck's is a great choice if you just want a really good Texas steak in upscale surroundings (which let's face it, sometimes that's all you need for a great night). The lobster tail is also excellent.
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Lenoir

Named after the Texas Hill Country grape, Lenoir is a regionally and seasonally-focused restaurant that showcases Central Texas ingredients with "spice, heat and robust flavor".

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El Naranjo

Oaxacan chef Iliana de la Vega, winner of 2022's James Beard award for Best Chef in Texas, serves traditional, elevated Mexican cuisine. The homemade tortillas are a highlight. 

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Perla's 

A SoCo fixture since 2009, Perla's is a go-to for fresh seafood and oysters flown in daily from the coasts (I'll wartch you eat them!) served on one of Austin's loveliest outdoor patios shaded by mature oak trees.

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Barley Swine

A constantly changing seasonal prix fixe menu which showcases local farms and regional ingredients, this is one of the most innovative restaurants in the city.

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Lutie's 

One of the prettiest settings in Austin with hundreds of plants hanging from the ceiling, Lutie’s is the flagship restaurant at the Commodore Perry estate restaurant (also an excellent hotel if you're looking for one) which serves a fresh, local, chef-driven menu.

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Jeffrey's

Described by Bon Appetit as having a "laid-back modern country-club vibe", Jeffrey's is an unapologetically glamorous fine-dining steakhouse that serves a perfectly seared 35 day dry-aged Texas porterhouse. Let the meat commence. 

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Garrison

Tucked inside the Fairmont, Garrison features elevated dishes cooked on an open flame. Chef de cuisine Jason Purcell previously cooked at Bouchon, Aureole and Farmshop. (We're definitely getting the tater tots with black truffles and Gruyère foam.)

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Sushi | Bar

A speakeasy-style sushi bar on the very hip East Side with just ten seats, Sushi | Bar serves a 17-course o-makase dinner with playful takes on traditional nigiri. Reservations are released at noon on the first of every month.

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Otoko

Yoshi Okai heads up this initimate twelve-seat o-makase restaurant that blends tokyo-style sushi and kyoto-style kaiseki into a seasonal delight inside the hip South Congress Hotel. 

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emmer + rye

One of the best meals I've had in the last six months, this is the sister restaurant to Hestia. It's based around the farm-to-table concept with a seasonal menu that changes daily. Their take on cacio e pepe from a couple of months ago was Rome-level delicious.

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BARS

 

The roosevelt room

Step back in time and let's play Gatsby at this dark, intimate bar where craft cocktails are categorized by era. My fav is the Clover Club, a Prohibition-era favourite made with gin, raspberries, and lychee.
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milonga room

An intimate speakeasy beneath the Argentinian restaurant Buenos Aires Cafe decorated in 1920's art deco style which serves seasonal crafted cocktails and tapas alongside live music.

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ah sing den

This beautifully appointed velvet-furnished cocktail lounge has an Asian-inspired menu but is named after an infamous opium den in Victorian London. The soup dumplings are top notch.

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codependent

A bastion of the "new Austin", this stylish mid-century modern lounge downtown features a beautiful crowd, live jazz, gorgeous charcuterie boards & desserts, as well as some of the best craft cocktails in the city. Great wine list too.

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parker jazz club

A jazz club designed by a musician for musicians. In this intimate basement there's nightly live music plus beer, wine and creative craft cocktails.

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garage

One of the best speakeasies in Austin (in my opinion), Garage is hidden inside an actual functioning parking garage. Exceedingly romantic, you enjoy your stellar creative cocktails by candlelight.

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here nor there

 Make reservations to this exclusive speakeasy through their dedicated app, which will reveal a secret code before your scheduled time that will let you through the gate. The life-sized stuffed bear holding a tray of champagne is a personal highlight.

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the red room at the W

Always a scene, this upbeat but intimately-lit bar at the W with a fantastic wine list is great for a bit of see and be seen with cosy, dark booths in the corners. 

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elephant room

"Cool jazz in the basement since 1991" is their tagline, and that says it all, really. A very storied and hip "old Austin" choice.
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small victory

Another parking garage speakeasy! A cute little bar with a red gate, Small Victory has friendly and knowledgable bartenders and an extensive cocktail list. 

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midnight cowboy

One of the oldest speakeasies in Austin, this spot has a special place in my heart because it used to be a brothel pretending to be a massage parlour; the original name was Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage. They celebrate their origins with the eclectic decor.

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higher ground

A "sanctuary-with-a-twist", this quirky church-themed two-storey bar features cocktails named after the seven deadly sins, stained glass windows, religious icons, and wooden archways sourced from around the world downstairs, while upstairs there's another bar and an adorable outdoor patio with (wait for it) a church organ which has been converted into a DJ booth. Only in Austin.

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tiki tatsu-ya

Hidden behind the front of a fake Japanese travel agency, this tiki-themed speakeasy is a sister to the excellent Ramen Tatsu-ya next door. Reservations are still hard to get as of summer 2022, so plan early! 

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honey moon spirit lounge

A romantic's dream, velvet booths sit beneath a chandelier and purple lighting at this adorable little spot. If you like espresso martinis (and be honest, they may be deeply uncool but who doesn't?) then you have to try the Full Salute. I sometimes have dreams about their cheese plate.

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