Texas Monthly unleashed its annual ten best new restaurants of the state, and Austin is represented with three spots: the splurge-worthy omakase of Otoko (#2) and two of the city’s newer Italian destinations, L’Oca d’Oro (#9) and Red Ash (#10). While the magazine’s executive and food editor Pat Sharpe was concerned about the state of Austin's culinary scene with last year's shutters (including Congress), she thankfully found that it is still holding strong with 2017’s new crop of restaurants.
Sharpe described South Congress Hotel restaurant Otoko’s impeccably attention to detail as:
[N]othing has been left to chance, not the intimate room with its stunning backlit black and white stripes, not the sense of drama, not the engaging music.
Then there’s the sushi, which she characterized "as intensely flavorful as it is gorgeous” during a shout-out during Eater's year in review coverage in 2016.
For L'Oca d'Oro, she highlighted the kitchen's terrific ability to add just the right twist to classic dishes, like the lasagna:
Instead of noodles, tomato sauce, and meat, his revelatory, more northerly version uses delectably crisped pasta sheets to embrace a trove of cheeses and a forest’s worth of mushrooms. The finishing touch is not red sauce but green-onion puree.
And then, Red Ash rounds out the Austin roster with its Italian take on the steakhouse, and the impressive
[...] heavily mushroomed bruschetta with roasted bistecca drippings — a slab of rustic bread glistening under rivulets of steak gravy.
South Congress Hotel’s other restaurant, Cafe No Se, gets an honorable mention nod. Last year, the list included Launderette, Juniper, Vox Table, and Emmer & Rye, with honorable mentions for Bullfight, Fukumoto, Italic, and Monger's.