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Austin Restaurant Experts Share the Best Meals of 2019

Oaxacan at El Naranjo to Nixta’s beet tartare tostada to coconut cake at Emmer & Rye

Two-layer cake covered with white icing, toasted coconut, and accented with a purple flower on a teal plate with a fork in the background.
Coconut cake from Emmer & Rye’s Caribbean brunch
Erin Russell/EATX

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 seven:

What was your best restaurant meal of 2019?

Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
I had a stupendous meal at El Naranjo’s new digs on South Lamar. Chef Iliana de la Vega specializes in the cuisine of Oaxaca and excels at everything. If I had to mention only one dish, it would be the fabulous deconstructed chile relleno, using a smoky chile pasilla Mixe with mild, melty Oaxaca cheese and a rich black bean sauce.

Jolène M. Bouchon, critic at Austin Monthly
I always think in terms of best dishes rather than full meals: Nixta Taqueria’s beet tartare tostada blew me away — and this coming from someone who despises beets. I crave it, compulsively. And, Comedor’s bone marrow tacos live up to the hype.

Raphael Brion, former Eater editor and Texas Editor of The Infatuation
During truffle season, Bufalina does white Italian truffles at cost, shaved tableside, with a truffle-centric menu. I’m glad it’s only once a year because otherwise it would become an expensive habit.

Robert Jacob Lerma, photographer for Eater Austin and others
Sunday’s at Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ. Barbacoa, al pastor, carne asada, homemade tortillas, queso, and a nap. My kinda Sunday.

Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Oseyo — this upscale Korean restaurant serves Korean comfort food without a ridiculous price tag. The wood-grilled meats like the kalbi and bulgogi are so good and then paired with a hot steaming bowl of kalbi tang.

Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
In addition to the Parisian gnocchi and salad at Foreign & Domestic and the omakase at Uroko that I have already mentioned, the Caribbean brunch at Emmer & Rye was my favorite. A daiquiri to start, followed by savory goat curry with flaky, butter roti, and a fluffy coconut cake for dessert. Heaven.

Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
Along with the dishes detailed in Eater Austin’s roundup last week, I would add:

  • the omakase at Uroko
  • the chicken momos at one of Puli-Ra’s dinners
  • the duck carnitas taco at Nixta
  • the tres leches dessert at Comedor
  • the roti at Talad
  • the chess pie at Mum Foods
  • the sufganiyot at TLV

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