Today, the process of choosing this year’s stars in the Austin restaurant world — the Eater Awards winners for 2019 — continues apace. After fielding many solid ideas from readers during the course of our month-long nomination period, it’s time to narrow the playing field. There are four finalists in three categories: Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Food Truck of the Year.
Here they are, listed in alphabetically order:
Restaurant of the Year
- Comedor: The high-end downtown modern Mexican restaurant from an all-star team — Gabe Erales, Philip Speer, and Alan Delgado — thrills with elegant and inventive dishes drawn from the Latin American country, with much love for masa, vegetables, and meats.
- DipDipDip Tatsu-ya: The refined Crestview restaurant focuses on shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot), offering a new-school upscale take from the Texas-Japanese experts behind Ramen Tatsu-ya.
- Uroko: The team behind essential Japanese restaurant Kome opened a new East Austin destination for approachable sushi, from the daytime counter-service temaki (hand rolls) to the quick omakase to even sushi-making classes.
- Vaquero Taquero: Brother Daniel and Miguel Cobos transformed their beloved taco truck into their very own tiny counter-service restaurant of the same name, with a focus on expertly made classic tacos, making ample use of that trompo and grill in North Campus.
Design of the Year
- Comedor: The stunning downtown space, designed by Tom Kundig, is unlike anything else in Austin: The black brick building hides a soaring dining room with top-level windows for natural light and an open-air courtyard, all obscured from the nosy downtown eyes.
- Domo Alley-Gato: Once again, the Ramen Tatsu-ya gang teamed up with go-to designer McCray & Co to recreate a yokocho (a Tokyo alley) with a Japanese tachinomiya (a standing bar) right in the middle of East Sixth Street, complete with cats everywhere.
- Oseyo: The chic East Austin Korean restaurant, designed by owner Lynn Miller and Mark Cravotta, is an ode to Miller’s background: a homey environment from the hanging ceiling centerpiece made of up woven baskets to open shelving displaying books, vases, and kettles.
- Vixen’s Wedding: The Goan-Portuguese restaurant within East Sixth hotel Arrive East Austin is a splashy, vibrant space, thanks to McCray & Co., with plenty of jewel tones, colorful tiles, a mural of the namesake fox, and more.
Food Truck of the Year
- LeverCraft: Owner Eric Mann built an oh-so-stylish tribute to coffee on wheels in the MLK neighborhood, where the menu focuses on skillfully made espresso and coffee.
- Spicy Boys: Very popular Pan-Asian food truck Soursop expanded into the spicy fried chicken field with the debut of its new East Sixth food truck, where the poultry is served with fiery sauces, within sandwiches, and more.
- Talād Thai and Lao Street Food: Excellent Southeast Asian dishes can be found at the new East Sixth food truck from the Talād team, half of whom are Thai and the other Laotian, which means items like slow-cooked beef curries and doughy rotis.
- Trill Taqueria: Former Eden East chef Nick Belloni opened up his own food truck dedicated to new school tacos served on corn tortillas, with a major emphasis on vegetables like grilled napa cabbage and foraged mushrooms.
All of these finalists have either opened or come into their own in a new way since we declared the winners last year. All of them were key contributors to making 2019 a great year of eating in Austin. So please, take a moment to give these brave finalists a round of applause. Winners will be crowned, with much fanfare, on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.