There’s at least one thing to look forward to despite the miserable pandemic: new restaurant openings in 2021, and there’s plenty in store for Austin. Southern restaurant Olamaie opened its casual biscuit shop Little Ola’s in Wells Branch, Bastrop restaurant Ma’Coco brought California-style burritos and Baja comfort food to East Austin, barbecue great Aaron Franklin will show off his sandwich skills on East Sixth, and the Emmer & Rye team will highlight Caribbean fare with a new East Austin restaurant. Out-of-towner Mashama Bailey was going to bring her acclaimed Savannah restaurants into downtown Austin this year as well, but the project has been pushed back into next year.
As 2020 did not prove to be a year conducive to restaurant openings, many of the restaurants listed for this year were also featured on last year’s list. Read on for what’s in store for 2021, listed in chronological order, with new updates since the original publishing of this guide.
Address: 11101 Burnet Road, Suite 100, North Burnet
Opening: Fall 2021
New York-style bagel company Rosen’s is finally opening a physical storefront this summer. The menu includes different flavors of bagels and schmears, bagel sandwiches, matzo ball soup, and salads. It will also serve espresso drinks, and offer two patios for outdoor dining.
Address: 1914 East Sixth Street, East Sixth
Opening: Fall 2021
Extremely talented chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph will be taking the reins as executive chef of this new Caribbean restaurant from the Emmer & Rye group. Expect fare with influences from Indian, Portuguese, African, and English cuisines from Bristol-Joseph, who is Guyanese, and fruity, spirit-forward cocktails in the former Last Straw space.
Address: 1300 South Lamar Boulevard, Zilker
Opening: 2021 (a carryover from 2020)
The Tatsu-ya family, which includes 2019 restaurant of year DipDipDip Tatsu-ya, 2017 restaurant of the year Kemuri Tatsu-ya, Domo Alley Gato, and several locations of Ramen Tatsu-ya, is expanding with a tiki bar. Tiki Tatsu-ya will be conveniently located next door to the South Lamar Ramen Tatsu-ya, found in the former Backbeat space. The bar will serve drinks crafted by Cory Starr, as well as a food menu with Japanese and Polynesian influences.
Address: 306 South Main Street, Buda
Essential Tex-Mex barbecue trailer Valentina’s is moving into mixed-use development Buda Mill & Grain sometime this year. This will be the first full-on physical location for the truck, which opened in 2013.
Address: 4329 South Congress Avenue, East Congress
Opening: 2021 (a carryover from 2020)
The massive, highly anticipated 40,000-square-foot market was announced in 2015 and originally scheduled to open in 2018, then 2020, and then that whole pandemic thing happened. Still, expect lots of big names in the space, including Mignette, a bakery and diner from Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie; a wine bar, butcher shop, and produce store from Salt & Time; Hawaiian pizza chain Fire Dance Pizza; and a location of local charitable coffee shop Greater Goods Coffee Co. Check out the full guide here.
Address: 2304 South Congress Avenue, Bouldin Creek
Opened: January 30, 2021
Home-bakery-turned-food-truck-turning-storefront Teal House opened on South Congress in the former New India restaurant space. It’s known for excellent baked goods like cinnamon rolls, kolaches, croissants, and pies (including gluten-free varieties), along with coffee drinks. Owner Lance Phillips shared that the new store will have lunch options like soup and salad, as well as an expanded menu of baked goods.
Address: 1100 South Lamar Boulevard, Zilker
Opened: February 11, 2021
A Korean barbecue spot came to mixed-use development Lamar Union. Jjim (which refers to a Korean style of cooking braised marinated meat) will serve braised short ribs, oxtails, and pork with vegetables and banchan. There will also be a small market inside the space, which formerly held Vox Table and Connection Pizza. Jjim is operated by the same team behind Korean grocery store H-Mart’s fried chicken stand Donkey Mo’s.
Address: 4600 Mueller Boulevard, Mueller
Opened: February 21, 2021
After Kyoten Sushiko closed in September 2020, chef Otto Pham hand-selected Michael Che of affordable omakase trailer Tsuke Honten to take over the space. Che planned a $79 omakase restaurant, Tuske Edomae, which will focus on edomae-style sushi. There are two seatings nightly.
Address: 4100 Red River Street, Hancock
Opening: April 14, 2021 (a carryover from 2020)
Though the super-fancy new hotel Commodore Perry Estate has opened already last summer, its on-site restaurant took its time to open. Lutie’s, from Barley Swine alums Susana Querejazu (Eater Young Gun ’16) and Bradley Nicholson, offer Texan and New American fare, using ingredients from the property and local vendors, in a space with a classy, plant-filled country club vibe.
Addresses: 807 and 801 West Sixth Street, Downtown
Opening: April 27, 2021 (a carryover from 2020)
McGuire Moorman Hospitality’s ambitious expansion plan was slightly delayed with the pandemic, and the homegrown group’s takeover of the former Hut’s Hamburgers had been on hold. Sammie’s is an Italian red sauce spot offering wine in jugs, house-made pasta, and chicken and veal parmesans. The restaurant is accompanied by a new pizzeria, Favorite’s Pizza, taking over the adjacent liquor store, set to open in July.
Address: 601 Congress Avenue, Downtown
Opened: May 7, 2021 (a carryover from 2020)
Greek restaurant Simi Estiatorio is dedicated to seafood — so much so, that it will fly in catches from the Mediterranean daily. Look for dishes like octopus and seafood orzo, all-white decor, and an extensive list of Greek and American wines.
Address: 5701 West Slaughter Lane, South Austin
Opening: July 9, 2021
Chef Amir Hajimaleki — of District Kitchen + Cocktails, Oasthouse, and 2020 newcomer Shortie’s Pizza and Grinders — opened a seafood restaurant in South Austin. The former North by Northwest brewery and restaurant location on Slaughter Lane was transformed to focus on local and sustainable seafood, with dishes like king crab rolls, grilled seafood, seafood fried in cornmeal, and ceviches.
Address: 2944 East 12th Street, Chestnut
Opening: July 16, 2021
Hospitality veterans and husband and wife team Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel and Arjav Ezekiel opened a wine bar on East 12th Street. Malechek-Ezekiel is in charge of the menu, which they have called “American food often inspired by Italy and France,” including pastas, tartare, larger plates like fish, and desserts.
Address: 14735 Bratton Lane, Wells Branch
Opening: July 16, 2021
Lauded Southern restaurant Olamaie turned into a temporary casual biscuit sandwich shop during the COVID-19 pandemic, which proved so popular that it is getting its own restaurant in North Austin. Little Ola’s will serve biscuit sandwiches, salads, rotating desserts, and eventually cocktails out of the former Garbo’s space.
Address: 501 Comal Street, East Sixth
Opening: July 29, 2021
Replacing Italian sandwich shop La Matta off East Sixth is Ma’Coco, which serves comfort food from San Diego and Baja California. That means California-style burritos (stuffed with french fries), tacos on corn tortillas, tortas, and a tequila-focused drink menu. Ma’Coco already has one location in Bastrop that opened in 2018. The restaurant features lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
Address: 603 Sabine Street, Downtown
Opening: September 2, 2021
Popular taco spot Vaquero Taquero is serving its tacos out of the former Waller Creek Pub House downtown. Expect a similar menu of classic tacos like al pastor, barbacoa, and breakfast tacos — but made for speed. During the pandemic, the staff worked to streamline their processes so tacos are now ready in under 15 minutes even during busy times.
Pushed to 2022
The Butcher’s Burger
The team behind butcher shop Salt & Time is opening a sibling restaurant, the Butcher’s Burger, with a menu centered around the shop’s famed namesake burger, made from trimmings around the shop. Other burgers on the preview menu included a lamb birria burger, a breakfast-themed burger, and halloumi grilled cheese, alongside beef fat fries and coleslaw. Until the restaurant opens, the burgers are available through delivery service Caviar.
Address: 506 San Jacinto Boulevard, Downtown (In the Thompson hotel)
Opening: Early 2022
James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey, behind famed Savannah restaurant the Grey, is opening two Austin restaurants in the forthcoming Thompson hotel downtown with her business partner Johno Morisano. Bailey has said Grey Diner Bar will work as a “cocktail bar-slash-snack thing” with sandwiches, charcuterie, and classic dishes from the Savannah Grey. On the other hand, Grey Market will be a “bodega-meets-lunch counter,” with counter service and grab-and-go items like boxed lunches.
Address: 2113 Manor Road, Cherrywood
Opening: Early 2022
The team behind modern Mexican restaurant Suerte — Sam Hellman-Mass and executive chef Fermín Núñez — are opening a new restaurant focused on Mexican coastal cuisine in the former Eastside Cafe. That means local, sustainable fish and shellfish, and heavy use of a charcoal grill.
Address: 1200 East Sixth Street, East Sixth
Opening: Summer 2022
Barbecue great Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue is teaming up again with James Moody of the Mohawk (his partner in the Hot Luck festival) to open a neighborhood bar and sandwich shop in the long-vacant Uptown Sports building. The menu will focus on sandwiches like po’ boys, gumbo, and breakfast. Cocktails will come from Chris Bostick of Rainey Street bar Half Step. The space is being designed by lead designer and project manager Tenaya Hills, with drawings and collaboration by the ubiquitous Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, who also designed Franklin’s other collaboration restaurant, Asian smokehouse Loro. Construction will start in October.