Being the Asian smokehouse lovechild from Austin celebrity chefs Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole, Loro had a lot to live up to. The much-awaited South Lamar restaurant has been bustling since it opened in April, with lines forming most evenings. But is it worth the hype? Read on for the early word on the Asian-barbecue collaboration.
The food: As expected, Franklin’s signature brisket accented with chili gastrique and Thai herbs is a hot ticket item, and only available after 5 p.m. While Texas Monthly described it as “stupendously tender, deeply crusted slices,” the publication’s barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn and food critic Pat Sharpe agreed that the bite that best summed up the restaurant was the bavette steak, where the “smokiness and the grilled flavor complement one another, with neither dominating.” Culinary Culture called the kettle corn with burnt ends and togarashi a standout, along with the “unforgettable” Malaysian chicken bo ssam, but was less sold on the chicken karaage. The general consensus on Yelp seemed to be that the oak-grilled snap peas and corn fritters are great, but the garlic noodles lack flavor.
The drinks: Loro’s signature drinks are both frozen: a mango-sake slushie and a frozen gin & tonic. Texas Monthly said the beverages pair “perfectly” with the food, though Yelp seems concerned that the slushie is too small to be worth the $8. Brandon Watson at CultureMap lamented, “the expansive bar practically begs for a full array of bottles, even if the draft cocktail system is necessary to keep the lines humming along.”
The service: Almost across the board, Loro got panned for a confusing ordering and seating system. The counter-service model combined with spotty service and a bar that doesn’t keep tabs open seems to be an unpopular choice.
The space: Time Out Austin called architect Michael Hsu’s dancehall-inspired space “airy [...] with plenty of light and exposed wood beams.” Watson said the interior “couldn’t work better.” The Chronicle highlighted the “fantastic” patio, though its popularity may have waned as summer temperatures and insects move in.
The overall experience: Though it had only open for a month, Chronicle already added Loro to its annual First Plates list. Texas Monthly commanded: “Go to Loro. Now.” However, Yelpers seem split between those who love it and those who are less sold on the place. The biggest complaints seem to be the ordering system, portion size, and price, though many are underwhelmed by the food. Time will tell if Loro will rise to the level of its founders.
- Loro [Texas Monthly]
- Much-Anticipated Loro Is Open: This Bite Sums It Up [Texas Monthly]
- What you need to know about Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin’s new restaurant Loro — open now [CultureMap]
- Loro [Time Out Austin]
- First Plates: Loro [Austin Chronicle]
- Loro [Yelp]
- All Coverage of Loro [EATX]