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The 2023 Austin Restaurant Innovations That Should Continue Into 2024

Well-crafted nonalcoholic cocktails, mushrooms dishes, and unions forever

Someone pouring liquid onto a toast with mushrooms.
A mushroom dish from Fabrik.
Chris Praetzel
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

As is the tradition as we near the end of 2023, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. All answers will be revealed before the year ends — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number nine:

What new innovative ideas have you seen emerge this year that you hope continue into 2024?

Raphael Brion, Texas senior editor, the Infatuation

So happy to see restaurants go beyond a couple of “mocktails” and commit to broader nonalcoholic beverage programs, particularly Birdie’s, Pecan Square Cafe, Bufalina, Uptown Sports, Ezov, Holiday, Cosmic, Elementary, Nixta, and Uchiba, just to name a few. Lots of great innovative things are happening in the nonalcoholic space in Austin, especially with the bottle shop Dear Dry Drinkery and brands like Slow Luck, Tenneyson, and Rick’s Near Beer.

Darcie Duttweiler, freelance writer and Eater contributing writer

Restaurants and chefs embracing the humble mushroom! From the ample kinoko options at Uchiba to plant-based Fabrik, there are so many delicious and fun(ghi) ways to eat mushrooms. You read it first: Mushrooms are to 2024 and pork belly was to 2010.

Chris Hughes, features editor, Texas Highways

Wee’s Cozy Kitchen inside a Shell gas station on West Campus really showed what can be accomplished in a small space inside an already existing business. I hope more partnerships like that can happen — especially for diverse (and much-needed) concepts like Wee’s. It was so rewarding to see chef Wee Fong Ehlers written about in the New York Times.

Madeline Hollern, editor-in-chief, Austin Monthly

More diversity in cuisines: Underdog (Korean), Bureau de Poste (French), Ezov (Israeli), etc.

Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko

It’s exciting to see seasoned chefs venture out of their comfort zones: Cuantos Tacos to Cuantas Hamburguesas, Bufalina to Palm Pizza, and Lucky Robot to Nomade.

Erin Russell, associate editor, Eater Austin

Not innovative per se, but I think it’s really cool that restaurants like Birdie’s are getting national attention for yes, excellent food, but also the benefits they provide their employees.

Nadia Chaudhury, editor, Eater Austin

Bosses and businesses taking care of all workers in actual meaningful ways; more unionization of restaurants and companies; more independent restaurant openings not backed by larger groups.

Uptown Sports Club

1200 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 551-2013 Visit Website

Underdog

1600 South 1st Street, , TX 78704 (512) 367-2441 Visit Website

Bufalina

2215 East Cesar Chavez Street, , TX 78702 (512) 394-5337 Visit Website

Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden

121 Pickle Road, , TX 78704 (512) 481-0694 Visit Website

Nixta Taqueria

2512 East 12th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 551-3855 Visit Website

Birdie's

2944 East 12th Street, , TX 78702 Visit Website

Uchiba [Austin]

601 West Second Street, Austin, Texas 78701 (512) 916-4808 Visit Website

Pecan Square Cafe

1130 West Sixth Street, Austin, TX 78703 Visit Website

Cuantas Hamburguesas

1108 East 12th Street, Austin, Texas 78702 Visit Website

Holiday

5020 East 7th Street, , TX 78702 Visit Website

Palm Pizza

1701 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, Texas 78702 Visit Website

Bureau de Poste

4300 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751 (512) 375-3320 Visit Website

Nomade Cocina y Raw Bar

1506 South First Street, Austin, Texas 78704 Visit Website

Ezov

2708 East Cesar Chavez Street, , TX 78702 (512) 305-1118 Visit Website

Elementary

2026 South Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78704 (737) 349-9531 Visit Website

Fabrik

1701 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Suite 102, Austin, Texas 78702 Visit Website

Wee's Cozy Kitchen

2400 Rio Grande Street, , TX 78705 (512) 577-8626 Visit Website