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National Food Magazines Honor Austin Restaurants and Chefs as the Best of 2023

Plus, a very cool Whataburger-’Mandalorian’ cosplay outfit, and more news

A plate of food.
A dish from Este.
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

It’s been a big week of national publications releasing their best of the year lists both in terms of restaurants and chefs, all of which include Austin and important-to-Austin places. First, James Beard Award-winning chef Edgar Rico of Mexican restaurant Nixta Taqueria was named as one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs of 2023. Restaurant editor (and former Eater staffer) Khushbu Shah talks about his cooking and food journey, which became more and more focused with maize, leading to the opening of the restaurant. The write-up also sings the praises of his and the team’s corn tortillas, duck carnitas, and beet tartare. He also shared his favorite restaurants and bars in Austin, including Franklin Barbecue, Comadre Panaderia, and Matt’s El Rancho. The criteria for the list is that it honors people who have only been in charge of restaurants/food programs for five years or less — Rico opened Nixta in October 2019 with his now-wife, business partner, and the restaurant’s operations director Sara Mardanbigi. Currently, Nixta is operating as a food truck and pop-up due to a really ridiculous permitting situation. Nixta won Eater Austin’s best new restaurant award in 2021.

And then, Bon Appetit published its best new restaurants of 2023, which includes Mexican seafood restaurant Este from the team behind Mexican restaurant Suerte. Restaurant editor Elazar Sontag (also former Eater staffer) highlights Fermín Nuñez’s seafood dishes, such as the camarones “el ricas” and the trout a la pulla. The publication also filmed a video chronicling a day in the life of the chef at the restaurant, which opened in October 2022. Suerte actually made Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants long-list in 2018, but didn’t make the final one. Nuñez was Eater Austin’s best chef of the year in 2018.

Also as part of Bon Appetit’s restaurant issue, there’s a roundup of the best desserts from across the country, which includes Austin Egyptian barbecue truck KG BBQ’s cardamom and pistachio rice pudding.

Finally, Southern Living announced its list of the best barbecue restaurants in the South of 2023, which includes 14 places in Texas. Number one is Snow’s BBQ in Lexington (up from last year’s number two position). Austin restaurants include Franklin Barbecue at number 16 (down from last year’s slot of number six) and LeRoy & Lewis at 26 (moved up from its position at 33 in 2022). And then Lockhart spots include Smitty’s Market at number 17 and Kreuz Market at 23. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ’s Buda relocation nabbed number 34 (same slot as the 2022 list).

This is just a really cool Whataburger-slash-Mandalorian cosplay outfit

Tracking openings

South Austin bar Bouldin Acres and barbecue truck CM Smokehouse opened its North Austin expansions on Monday, September 11. The 1806 West Braker Lane bar’s hours are from 11 a.m. to midnight daily; the truck’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and then from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The business took over what was supposed to be a location of Kerbey Lane.

Pizza restaurant and taproom mini-chain Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse opened its newest location in Mueller sometime in July at 1905 Aldrich Street, Suite 115. Its hours are from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and then from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Chef shuffles

Brentwood restaurant Bufalina Due has a new executive chef with Eli Rodriguez.

Nixta Taqueria

2512 East 12th Street, , TX 78702 Visit Website

Franklin Barbecue

900 East 11th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 653-1187 Visit Website

Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ

11500 Menchaca Road, , TX 78748 (512) 221-4248 Visit Website

CM Smokehouse

2027 South Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78704 (512) 536-0132 Visit Website


601 Barton Springs Road, , TX 78704 (512) 477-9586 Visit Website

Aviator Pizza and Drafthouse

6501 South Congress Avenue, Suite #105, Austin, Texas 78745 Visit Website

LeRoy & Lewis

121 Pickle Rd, Austin, TX 78704 (512) 945-9882 Visit Website

Bouldin Acres

2027 South Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78704 (512) 536-0132 Visit Website

Bufalina Due

6555 Burnet Road, , TX 78757 (512) 215-8662 Visit Website


2113 Manor Road, , TX 78722 (512) 522-4047 Visit Website

Snow's BBQ

516 Main Street, , TX 78947 (979) 773-4640 Visit Website


3108 Manor Road, , TX 78723 (512) 586-9624 Visit Website