At the top of Statesman critic Matthew Odam’s annual dining this year is heritage grain-focused restaurant Emmer & Rye. It’s the first time the Rainey Street restaurant nabbed the number one slot on the list of 50 best restaurants in the city (down from his typical 75), which aims to highlight places “that brim with creativity, purpose and sincerity.”
Odam praised the imaginations of Emmer’s chefs Kevin Fink, Page Pressley, and Tavel Bristol-Joseph, calling their dishes “a study in flavor and textures,” (echoing his blurb of the restaurant from the 2016 dining guide when the restaurant ranked sixth). Emmer & Rye is also featured on Eater’s list of the 38 best restaurants in Austin and in Texas. (The trio also operate far-more-casual food hall stand Henbit as well as the forthcoming downtown live-fire restaurant Hestia.)
Included in Odam’s top five is last year’s number one restaurant Southern spot Olamaie (now at number four), as well as newcomer Suerte. As the list was restricted to restaurants in Austin, previous favorite Spicewood restaurant Apis was left off this year. Here’s the rest of the top five in its ranked order:
- Pitchfork Pretty: “An elegant vision of Texas with enough restraint to keep from teetering into highly stylized caricature.”
- Suerte: “the brisket tacos with the toasty sauce are some of the best I’ve ever eaten in Austin.”
- Olamaie: “Grace, elegance, warmth, and welcome.”
- Barley Swine: “the nimble kitchen delivers both a la carte and tasting menus that don’t skimp on creativity.”
Though Odam noted the guide “isn’t simply a list of the fanciest or most expensive restaurants,” dinner at each of these spots is generally quite expensive (a more reasonably priced option can be found at number six, with Kemuri Tatsu-ya).
Besides Suerte, other newcomers that made the general list included beer-focused The Brewer’s Table, all-day bakery Sour Duck Market, Charm Korean BBQ, Vietnamese restaurant Le Bleu, punk rock diner Holy Roller, the revamped Mattie’s at Green Pastures, Asian smokehouse Loro, and Italian sandwich shop La Matta.
Odam’s list also included all of Bryce Gilmore’s restaurants (Odd Duck, Barley Swine, and Sour Duck Market) as well as four restaurants from the McGuire Moorman Hospitality empire (Jeffrey’s, June’s All Day, Perla’s, and Elizabeth Street Café).