As is the tradition as we near the end of 2019, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. The annual survey spans eight questions, from dining surprises to best food neighborhoods and disappointing meals. All answers will be revealed as the week rolls on — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number one:
What were your top restaurant standbys of 2019?
Raphael Brion, former Eater editor and Texas Editor of The Infatuation
I don’t know what I’d do without Bufalina Due. Just like the original Bufalina on the East Side, the mozzarella is fresh, the soundtrack is always outstanding, and the Neapolitan pies are so good you’ll cry a little. As a bonus, it’s got one of the best wine lists in town with tons of unusual stuff, and unlike the East Side Bufalina, you can almost always walk right in with no wait. I’ve often sat at the bar and thought about moving in.
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Oseyo, Hank’s, Vespaio, and Fresa’s.
Jolène M. Bouchon, critic at Austin Monthly
Comedor’s been my repeat special occasion pick, but for everyday eating, I’m always, always in the mood for Veracruz All Natural and Sour Duck.
Robert Jacob Lerma, photographer for Eater Austin and others
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. It’s as good as food gets.
Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
Clark’s Oyster Bar — I love sitting outside and eating a burger or just having a tray of raw oysters; it’s small and casual-chic.
Kemuri Tatsu-ya — Can you say brisket ramen? When a visitor wants to experience the new Austin, this crazy Texo-Japanese place is my go-to.
Fonda San Miguel — This lovely restaurant, which looks like a colonial hacienda, started the whole interior Mexican movement in Austin in the 1970s and it’s still in the game.
Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
Better Half, for all occasions, at all times. Convenient location, great food, welcoming atmosphere, parking, and a solid whiskey list. I also rediscovered Foreign & Domestic this year — food experts will notice the little touches that go into elevating each dish, and everyone will find something to like.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
My answer this year is basically the same as last year: Better Half always and forever. I’ve also forgotten how much I love the one-two punch of Veracruz All Natural and Radio Coffee for migas tacos, excellent coffee, and all of the people- and puppy-watching. A new favorite has been Malibu Poke, especially after I go to the gym (the salmon is a particular favorite). I’m also a big fan of the selection over at East Austin wine bar Apt 115.