It’s that time of the year again when we here at Eater Austin honor the best new dining spots in the city over the past 12 months. We are so very excited to announce the deserved winners of the Eater Awards of 2022.
We all know that Austin, at its base, is a great dining city, where its cooks and food businesses are constantly pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a good restaurant/food truck/bar/etc. And this year’s awardees represent the best of the best, where each winner adds something new, needed, and much-welcomed into the intricate web of the city’s restaurant scene, all while evoking senses of specific places and different points of view through fantastic food and vibes.
In East Austin, there’s a Caribbean restaurant where the Guyanese pastry chef explores his and his team’s interpretations of culturally interwoven cuisines. Up north, there’s a Mexican truck where the Rio Grande Valley native chef showcases and emphasizes what true border town food is. Back in East Austin, there’s a hidden Japanese restaurant where a Los Angeles-born chef highlights international flavors in the omakase array. Nearby, there’s the unfussy bookstore and wine bar where the owner curates a stimulating selection of books, wines, and snacks. And finally, across the river is the transportive tropical wonderland full of rum cocktails and detailed decor.
Fun fact: this is Eater Austin’s 11th award season (there was a pause in 2021 due to the pandemic). Each winner below will receive the traditional Eater tomato can trophy, hand-delivered by the local editors themselves. (Alas, there are no hidden bundles of money inside these cans a la The Bear, apologies.)
Please join us in celebrating Eater Austin’s Eater Awards 2022 winners. And with that, here they are.
Best New Restaurant of 2022
There has been a long-time cry for a greater variety of international cuisine in Austin, and, oh boy, has Canje delivered. Superstar pastry chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph serves dishes from his native Guyana and the surrounding islands and countries, like truly heavenly roti (do not attempt to share this), wild boar pepper pot, and tres leches with white chocolate and guava. The jerk chicken at the restaurant will recalibrate any expectations of the dish, delivering a smoky, spicy punch, soothed by the excellent tropical cocktails. The revamped space (formerly tropical-ish bar Last Straw and much starker New American restaurant Gardner) reinforces the Caribbean atmosphere, from the big leafy plants to the black-and-white wallpaper to the straw-laden hanging decorations. Let’s hope the major food awards are paying attention. —Erin Russell
1914 East Sixth Street, Holly; Official Site
Best New Food Truck of 2022
Chef Joseph Gomez has created something truly special with Con Todo, a taco truck parked at Celis Brewery that draws on his upbringing in the Rio Grande Valley. Gomez starts with corn tortillas (made in-house and fresh daily), turning them into tostadas and tacos served “con todo” — with cilantro and onions. Each shows a clear sense of place, from the mesquite-grilled sweetbreads on the mollejas taco to the alambres taco with beef, bacon, and griddled onions, a tribute to his favorite late-night spot in Brownsville. Occasionally, Gomez will dust off his pastry chef roots with sweets like pan de muerto, paletas, or buñuelos — and when that happens, run, don’t walk. —Erin Russell
Best Omakase of 2022
There’s been a glut of omakase restaurants in Austin during the pandemic. And of the new ones that opened in 2022, the best of the best is Toshokan, the tiny restaurant hidden within the no-longer-a-hostel the Native in East Austin. It’s executive chef Saine Wong’s little dinner party, where he brings together all of his international cooking experiences into a thoughtful yet not overly excessive 14-course meal. There are nigiri and other bites — look out for the duality of the crunchy and sweet spot prawn dish, the decadent bone marrow bite, and the simple sake (salmon). It’s rounded out by high-quality service, a small group of only six total diners, and a lively ambiance. It’s just fun — get a ticket to one of his Taylor Swift nights (yes, the chef is a true Swiftie). It also makes sense that the restaurant is co-helmed by restaurateur C.K. Chin, who knows what he’s doing when it comes to composing an ideal dining adventure. —Nadia Chaudhury
Best Combination That Needed to Happen of 2022
There’s something to be said about the simple pleasures of life: bread and butter, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, cats and square surfaces. But one of the best one-two combinations is books and wine, and that’s the foundation of Vintage Bookstore & Wine Bar. It’s a philosophy that owner Jean Elizabeth Buckner deeply believes in: She loves reading and loves drinking wine, so wouldn’t others enjoy the same? Thus, the bookshop-slash-wine-bar. It’s stocked full of books spanning genres from romance to contemporary fiction to a hefty fantasy area (all books she’d want to read and share with others), as well as a well-rounded wine selection. The space itself is a tribute to the history of the Haehnel Building but updated with bold floral wallpaper, a custom-built wooden bar, and tables built by her father. It’s the ideal place to find space in one of the many rooms, curl up on a vintage sofa with a glass of wine at hand, and while away the day. —Nadia Chaudhury
1101 East 11th Street, Central East Austin; Official Site
Best Spectacle of 2022
There is no other bar like Tiki Tatsu-ya in Austin. Walking into the space is like leaving the city and embarking into a different world. Through the South Lamar bar, the Tatsu-ya team — known for its group of Japanese restaurants throughout the city, and in this instance, led by owner and chef Tatsu Aikawa and beverage manager Cory Starr — created a drink- and food-filled theme park attraction, while keeping in mind the fraught nature of tiki. Each area has its own theme, like the beach vibes of the second-floor space with a table of hanging pufferfish or the ground-floor table dedicated to Japanese female pearl drivers. The settings are all the better to enjoy well-made classic and house tiki cocktails and dishes. Order one of the larger-portioned drinks and delight in the light-and-audio show that ensues. The entire bar exists with the help of design company McCray & Co., fabrication company Blue Genie Art, lightwork by Natalie George Production, video and projection work by Thrown Light, and construction by Satterfield Construction. —Nadia Chaudhury
1300 South Lamar Boulevard, Zilker; Official Site