In honor of this week’s relaunch of Eater sister site Curbed and the debut of Curbed Austin, take a moment to check out the most architecturally stunning restaurants in Austin right now. Look through the beautiful restaurants below, along with some tidbits and history.
One of Qui’s three dining experiences is the ticketed tasting menu, which begins at the counter looking into the open kitchen, and ends at the semi-private room hidden behind the sliding doors. The three tabletops serve as a museum to the beginnings of the restaurant, from inspirational menus, food conference material like from MAD4, to even blueprints, sketches, and photos of the very building being constructed.
Lenoir upholds its shabby chic farmhouse look with burned wood walls and flowy curtains with pinned crocheted doilies from co-owner and executive chef Todd Duplechan’s family. The main centerpiece is the chandelier made with lights from Habitat for Humanity. This leads to a cozy and intimate feeling where diners can ignore the outside world. Peek into the bathrooms for an illustrated Austin tour along the wallpapers, designed just for the restaurant.
Fonda San Miguel
Going out to longtime Austin icon Fonda San Miguel is akin to dining in a museum because of co-founder Tom Gilliland’s love for art. Even the menus and walls are covered in original work. During the restaurant’s renovations in 1978, Gilliland began amassing a new art collection just for the restaurant, all sourced from Mexico. Pieces range from paintings like artist Daniel Brennan’s Zapata, ceramics, pottery, masks, to much more. The assortment grew so big that items are rotated in from storage so that everything gets its time to shine.
Juliet’s many rooms create different experiences for diners, from the darkly-lit back dining room with booth seating, the fun lounge that feels like your cool friend’s parents home, to the bright and spacious bar area. Those metal screens were created from rescued bank teller dividers from a defunct Bank of America in Dallas.
Soon, Gardner’s clean and natural look will give way to a new restaurant, Chicon, but until then, patrons can enjoy the high ceilings, angular corners, and skylight in the space built to "facilitate community and relationships through dining," according to co-owner Ben Edgerton. Future changes will include letting in more natural light by knocking down two walls and bringing the bar into the main space.
Underneath the bright two-floor Mexican restaurant is the Flour House, which has lived many lives. It was built in the 1850s as a brewery basement, but then became storage for the general store upstairs, and later turned into the safekeeper of whiskey and beer barrels during Prohibition. Now it serves as a private dining room, with those same weathered raw walls, as if it were some sort of stylish bunker. The sprawling mural within the dining room upstairs was designed by Austin-based artist collective Sodalitas.