Since the end of 2015 is near, Eater asked a group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past year. The annual survey spans eight questions from dining surprises, best dining neighborhoods, to restaurant grievances. All answers will be revealed as the week rolls on—cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Readers, add your answers in the comments below. First up:
What were your top restaurant standbys of 2015?
Kathy Blackwell, editor in chief of Austin Way
Justine's Brasserie, Olamaie, Barley Swine, Hopfield's.
Jolène M. Bouchon, critic for Austin Monthly
Dai Due and Komé. Dai Due is where we take friends when they're visiting town, where I direct out-of-towners looking for a great dining experience in Austin, and where we go to celebrate something (anything, really). And, we love Asian food of all types, but we continually return for the homey, fresh food at Komé.
Katie Friel, editor of Tribeza
Launderette. I think I dined there more than any other restaurant this year (except maybe Tamale House East). What chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki have created—the food, the drinks, the ambiance—is super special. Olamaie has also been a standby. Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas are so talented and the Austin food scene is made better thanks to them. Lately, I've been loving what the newly-opened Emmer & Rye is doing. I can't wait to see how they blossom in 2016.
Melody Fury, freelance food writer, blogger at Gourmet Fury, and contributor of Eater Austin
In one breath: Counter 3.Five.VII for a special occasion, Fixe for an indulgent evening, Vox Table for a boozy brunch, Bullfight for happy hour tapas, Bufalina for a casual night out, Daito for my noodle fix, Thai Kun for food truck eats, and Italic for a solid lunch.
Dan Gentile, staff writer at Thrillist
Kome, Via 313, Veracruz All Nautral, Taco Joint, Parkside, Uchiko, Ramen Tatsu-ya, Micklethwait Craft Meats.
Melanie Haupt, freelancer writer and Eater Austin contributor
Torchy's Tacos, Halal Corner, Curra's Grill, Kerbey Lane, Tam Deli, Top Notch, Thai Kitchen, Stiles Switch, Kome, East Side Pies, Daily Juice, and Bribery Bakery for special treats.
Jane Ko, editor of A Taste of Koko
Kome, East Side Pies, Hopdoddy, and Tacodeli.
Veronica Meewes, editor of Zagat Austin
I recommend my top standbys to friends visiting town because they consistently produce incredible food and really represent what Austin is all about. Odd Duck and Contigo are both committed to local food and present it in a casual, fun atmosphere that's great for groups and celebrations. Uchi, Uchiko and Lenoir are great options for a more "fine dining" feel or date night. For still-more casual options for lunch, you can't go wrong with Salt & Time, Epicerie, and Henri's.
Patricia Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
I always recommend Barley Swine when people visit from out of town. It’s very cosmopolitan and creative, yet has such an Austin vibe. And now it’s moving closer to my neighborhood!
Sofia Sokolove, assistant editor of Tribeza and contributor of Eater Austin
Launderette, Olamaie and Bufalina are where I found myself the most this year, for all kinds of meals, from casual to indulgent to late-night. Beyond that, Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Pho Van for my spicy soup fixes, and Tamale House for my tacos. And for a serious slice of East Coast pizza, Little Deli.
Tom Thornton, food and drinks editor of CultureMap Austin
Noble Sandwich, Veracruz All-Natural/Radio Coffee, Valentina's Tex-Mex, East Side King/Thai Kun, Second Bar + Kitchen, Rosita's Al Pastor.
Anastacia Uriegas, contributor of Thrillist
My gentleman friend and I can never decide what to eat. We browse Yelp. We reject each other’s suggestions. We browse Yelp again. Then we get in the car and just drive until one of us says, "Let’s just go to Second Bar," and the other eagerly agrees. The food there is solid; there are healthy-ish options, insanely good fries, and fantastic cocktails. Or we go to King Bee for their super cheesy pizza.
Brandon Watson, food editor of Austin Chronicle
With a busy review schedule and constant new openings, I never get the chance to become a real regular, so I am somewhat grading this on a curve. Dai Due for breakfast; Kome and épicerie for lunch; Launderette for brunch; Fixe for cocktails and snacks; Olamaie and Gardner for special occasions; Patrizi's for after-work snacks; Thai Kun, Salty Sow, and Uchiko for happy hour; Veracruz All Natural for tacos; Via 313 for pizza; and Swift's Attic for embarrassing stories.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
First and foremost, Veracruz All Natural and Radio Coffee, which I will still frequent despite having moved away from the street. Ramen Tatsu-ya for warming bowls of ramen in winter or summer. Odd Duck for dinners with out-of-town friends and family because it's always consistently great. Qui for the amazing variety of experiences it offers to diners. Home Slice for the closest thing to New York pies in Austin.