As is the tradition as we near the end of 2021, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. Given the insanity of this year, Eater has adapted the standard survey into one that reflects the new realities of takeout, restaurant shutters, and a shaky industry. All answers will be revealed before the year ends — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number five:
What neighborhood were you most excited to dine in this year?
Nicolai McCrary, Austin staff writer, The Infatuation, and photographer for Eater Austin
The area around Rundberg and Lamar is a bit of a treasure trove of good food hidden in a seemingly endless series of strip malls with parking lots that feel more like guidelines than actual spaces. But if you’re willing to navigate the area a bit and find the right spots you’ll cross paths with everything from excellent pho at Pho Phong Luu to the best carnitas I’ve ever had at Carnitas El Guero. I could spend weeks visiting all the strip mall restaurants and trucks lining North Lamar and it still wouldn’t be enough time.
Paula Forbes, cookbook writer and critic, and former editor of Eater Austin
Pardon me while I get excited about my own part of town but NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN! From the taco trucks of North Lamar to the Crescent strip mall at Airport and Lamar that is just packed with tasty spots to Julie’s Noodles, House of Three Gorges, and Ramen Tatsu-ya on Research to everything that’s happening on West Anderson and Burnet. We’ve got pizza, we’ve got dumplings, we’ve got tacos, we’ve got conveyor belt sushi, we’ve got Top Notch burgers. I can get some of the best baguettes in town whenever I want at Easy Tiger and some of the best kimchi in town at Mom’s Taste and one of the best selections of wine and beer in town at Sunrise Minimart, all within biking distance. What more do you need?
Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
It looks like East Twelfth Street is gaining traction. Nixta and Birdie’s, which are both great, have gone in on the far east stretch. The street is becoming quite commercial on the part near I-35.
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
I still love East Austin — there’s a mix of beloved old restaurants like Tamale House and then newcomers like Birdie’s.
Lenny Dewi, @eats_n_noods and Eater contributing writer
Lakeline because Honey Pig is coming!
Raphael Brion, Texas editor, The Infatuation, and former editor of Eater
I found myself dining the most around the intersection of Rundberg and Lamar. It’s just so dense and so diverse. Just to name a few excellent spots: Carnitas El Guero, Phở Phong Lưu, Aparicio’s, Usta Kababgy, Seoulju, Mi Sabor Oaxaqueño, Taquito Aviles, and Taco Dolores Hidalgo. And now there’s that whole row of trucks at La Ultima Y Nos Vamos Sports Bar (where China Spice used to be), including Machetes Doña Leova.
Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
I share Paula’s excitement for North Central Austin (particularly North Loop) and see great things on the horizon for East Twelfth.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
As a South Austinite, I’m always happy when places open on/move to my side of the river, i.e. Distant Relatives, Ani’s Day & Night with the Las Alegres truck, Little Brother’s South Congress expansion, Keepers Coastal Kitchen, etc.
The North Loop neighborhood is another one of those areas that I always find myself returning to: Drink.Well, Abo Youssef, Patrizi’s/Butterfly Bar (cats!), Jewboy Burgers, Kome, etc.
The East 12th Street corridor with Cuantos Tacos, Nixta, Fil ‘N Viet, and Birdie’s (when will I ever be able to go to Birdie’s again?). I also need to make my way to Dō’s Tiny Bread Shed ASAP.
Rundberg’s taco game is ridiculously strong.
- Austin Food Experts’ Exciting New Go-To Restaurants in 2021 [EATX]
- Where Austin Food Writers Had Their Best Restaurant Meals in 2021 [EATX]
- Austin Food Experts Lament the City’s Saddest Restaurant Closures in 2021 [EATX]
- Local Food Experts Share Their Most Anticipated Austin Restaurants of 2022 [EATX]