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A caviar dish.
A caviar bite from Barley Swine.
Barley Swine

14 Restaurants to Splurge on an Upscale Dinner in Austin

Where to go big for a special occasion, or for no reason at all

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A caviar bite from Barley Swine.
| Barley Swine

While Austin is more often recognized for its taco joints and barbecue spots than its high-end restaurants, there are still quite a few pricey places that fit the bill for super special occasions. These restaurants range from a once-in-a-lifetime omakase sushi experience at ultra-cool Otoko to the always-creative tasting menu from Barley Swine. With this guide, you’ll find a fine-dining establishment for every occasion, from group dinners in luxe and modern spaces to charming and cozy choices for two. (Find a wider variety of date night solutions here, as well as tasting menus and caviar destinations.)

And not all break the bank if you keep it simple. Check out the dinner options from James Beard Award-winning chef Iliana de la Vega’s El Naranjo, or visit during happy hour, when some of these picks — like Jeffrey’s and Uchi — have the same great food for much less.

With updates by Nadia Chaudhury.

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DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya

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Opting for special occasion shabu-shabu may sound a little odd, but the Crestview higher-end Japanese restaurant is definitely an experience. At beautiful, intimate tables, diners can choose high-quality cuts of meat like A5 wagyu rib-eye from Japan and browse the daily cart offerings for noodles and more. Or, pick an omakase to sit back and enjoy. Don’t miss the Keep Austin Dipping sauce — a take on queso. There are two omakase options, a $95 and an $125, allowing you to sample a little bit of everything. There are indoor dine-in services.

Barley Swine

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Of chef Bryce Gilmore’s three restaurants, it is the Brentwood restaurant that offers up more experimental seasonal dishes through its multi-course chef’s tasting menu for $115, with optional beverage pairings. Expect items like the cured duck breast and duck leg mousseline paired with mushrooms and spicy greens or grapefruit ice cream with a chèvre marshmallow. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Lutie’s

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Planning ahead is essential at this tiny restaurant at the Commodore Perry Estate. Verdant Lutie’s, from lauded Austin chef couple Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu, has dishes like chickpea and green corn salad, black cod with curry and okra, and kouign amann ice cream. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

The grand aioli features fresh vegetables including some cut into rosettes with poach shrimp and boiled eggs on a tower made from marble. A white plate with a single English muffin sits off to the side along with a crystal dish of dip and a clear stemless glass of white wine.
Grand aioli at Lutie’s
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection

Tsuke Edomae

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One of the city’s hottest and highly difficult to get to tickets is this Mueller omakase lead by chef Michael Che. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll experience a thoughtful 21-course sushi journey for $135 with such top-notch quality ingredients. There are indoor dine-in services.

Three pieces of fish sushi.
Sushi at Tsuke Edomae.
Tsuke Edomae

Inherently, seafood makes for a pricier meal, but the menu at the Blackland Mexican seafood restaurant is well worth the extravagance. Chef Fermín Núñez pulls off fantastic, flavorful, and fresh dishes like the creamy trout a la pulla or the messy fun camarones “el ricas,” and a decadent seafood tower with clams preparados and morita-drawn butter lobsters. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Jeffrey's

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This Clarksville fine-dining institution was reimagined by the entrepreneurs at McGuire Moorman Hospitality in 2013 (now McGuire Moorman Lambert), turning it into a near-perfect spot for special occasions. The menu changes daily and is centered on dry-aged steaks — go all in with a bone-in ribeye. “Oohs” and “aahs” are guaranteed thanks to both the martini and cheese carts, caviar service, and top-notch hospitality. There are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room.
Jeffrey’s.
Jeffrey’s

Olamaie

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The modern Southern restaurant in downtown Austin is back, under executive chef Michael Fojtasek and chef de cuisine Amanda Turner. The menu focuses on expertly executed Southern faves like smoked cabbage with an Alabama barbecue sauce, red rice with Gulf shrimp and Tabasco sauce, and grilled pork chops. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Qi Austin

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Of chef Ling Qi Wu’s many Austin restaurants, it’s this downtown restaurant that is a bit more upscale. The modern Chinese menu includes knock-out fancy dishes such as lobster dumplings, salt-and-pepper lobster tails, loads of spicy fish, and corn soup with crab meat. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor dine-in services.

Named after the Greek goddess of the hearth, the downtown restaurant centers on live-fire cooking. That means dishes like a scallop with beef tallow and mushroom gelee, wagyu steaks, and king trumpet mushrooms with radishes. There’s also a 13-course tasting menu available for $195 with wine pairings for an additional $150. Hestia comes from the much-lauded team of Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph, the latter of whose creative desserts are absolutely not to be missed. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Garrison

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Though the windowless ambiance at this restaurant within the downtown Fairmont hotel may not be to everyone’s taste, the kitchen is doing everything right. The menu rotates frequently and ranges from super fancy tater tots with black truffle and aerated gruyere to caviar with brioche to large steaks. Expect five-star fine dining service as well. There are indoor dine-in services.

A whole grilled fish on a board.
Garrison’s whole grilled branzino.
Courtney Pierce/Eater Austin

The Zilker restaurant’s modern take on Japanese cuisine has rightly earned its national acclaim. While you can’t go wrong with the exquisite a la carte menu, choose the adventurous market-priced omakase menu to truly experience the chefs' expertise with fresh cuts of fish with flavorful adornments to one-of-a-kind desserts. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Toshokan

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The Japanese restaurant within East Austin venue the Pershing is one of the most fun higher-end omakase experiences around. Led by chef Saine Wong, the $150 14-course meal showcases his global culinary experiences in tasty dishes. There are indoor dine-in services.

Raw fish in a bowl.
A dish from Toshokan.
DJ Ferno/Open House Productions

Shrouded in exclusivity, the 12-seat Japanese restaurant located at the South Congress Hotel in the Travis Heights neighborhood offers a multi-course omakase-style ticketed dinner, which incorporates influences from Kyoto's kaiseki and Tokyo’s sushi traditions. At $295 per person for sushi omakase or $250 for the classic omakase, the multi-course journeys from chef Yoshi Okai are one of Austin's most expensive dinners — but it’s unforgettable. There are indoor dine-in services.

El Naranjo

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James Beard Award-winning chef Iliana de la Vega serves dishes from Oaxaca at her South Lamar Mexican restaurant. Expect items like duck breast served in mole negro, tlayuda oaxaquena, and ensalada a la jamaica. Most of the dishes in the restaurant are gluten-free. Takeout orders are available; there are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya

Opting for special occasion shabu-shabu may sound a little odd, but the Crestview higher-end Japanese restaurant is definitely an experience. At beautiful, intimate tables, diners can choose high-quality cuts of meat like A5 wagyu rib-eye from Japan and browse the daily cart offerings for noodles and more. Or, pick an omakase to sit back and enjoy. Don’t miss the Keep Austin Dipping sauce — a take on queso. There are two omakase options, a $95 and an $125, allowing you to sample a little bit of everything. There are indoor dine-in services.

Barley Swine

Of chef Bryce Gilmore’s three restaurants, it is the Brentwood restaurant that offers up more experimental seasonal dishes through its multi-course chef’s tasting menu for $115, with optional beverage pairings. Expect items like the cured duck breast and duck leg mousseline paired with mushrooms and spicy greens or grapefruit ice cream with a chèvre marshmallow. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Lutie’s

Planning ahead is essential at this tiny restaurant at the Commodore Perry Estate. Verdant Lutie’s, from lauded Austin chef couple Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu, has dishes like chickpea and green corn salad, black cod with curry and okra, and kouign amann ice cream. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

The grand aioli features fresh vegetables including some cut into rosettes with poach shrimp and boiled eggs on a tower made from marble. A white plate with a single English muffin sits off to the side along with a crystal dish of dip and a clear stemless glass of white wine.
Grand aioli at Lutie’s
Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection

Tsuke Edomae

One of the city’s hottest and highly difficult to get to tickets is this Mueller omakase lead by chef Michael Che. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll experience a thoughtful 21-course sushi journey for $135 with such top-notch quality ingredients. There are indoor dine-in services.

Three pieces of fish sushi.
Sushi at Tsuke Edomae.
Tsuke Edomae

Este

Inherently, seafood makes for a pricier meal, but the menu at the Blackland Mexican seafood restaurant is well worth the extravagance. Chef Fermín Núñez pulls off fantastic, flavorful, and fresh dishes like the creamy trout a la pulla or the messy fun camarones “el ricas,” and a decadent seafood tower with clams preparados and morita-drawn butter lobsters. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Jeffrey's

This Clarksville fine-dining institution was reimagined by the entrepreneurs at McGuire Moorman Hospitality in 2013 (now McGuire Moorman Lambert), turning it into a near-perfect spot for special occasions. The menu changes daily and is centered on dry-aged steaks — go all in with a bone-in ribeye. “Oohs” and “aahs” are guaranteed thanks to both the martini and cheese carts, caviar service, and top-notch hospitality. There are indoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room.
Jeffrey’s.
Jeffrey’s

Olamaie

The modern Southern restaurant in downtown Austin is back, under executive chef Michael Fojtasek and chef de cuisine Amanda Turner. The menu focuses on expertly executed Southern faves like smoked cabbage with an Alabama barbecue sauce, red rice with Gulf shrimp and Tabasco sauce, and grilled pork chops. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Qi Austin

Of chef Ling Qi Wu’s many Austin restaurants, it’s this downtown restaurant that is a bit more upscale. The modern Chinese menu includes knock-out fancy dishes such as lobster dumplings, salt-and-pepper lobster tails, loads of spicy fish, and corn soup with crab meat. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor dine-in services.

Hestia

Named after the Greek goddess of the hearth, the downtown restaurant centers on live-fire cooking. That means dishes like a scallop with beef tallow and mushroom gelee, wagyu steaks, and king trumpet mushrooms with radishes. There’s also a 13-course tasting menu available for $195 with wine pairings for an additional $150. Hestia comes from the much-lauded team of Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph, the latter of whose creative desserts are absolutely not to be missed. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Garrison

Though the windowless ambiance at this restaurant within the downtown Fairmont hotel may not be to everyone’s taste, the kitchen is doing everything right. The menu rotates frequently and ranges from super fancy tater tots with black truffle and aerated gruyere to caviar with brioche to large steaks. Expect five-star fine dining service as well. There are indoor dine-in services.

A whole grilled fish on a board.
Garrison’s whole grilled branzino.
Courtney Pierce/Eater Austin

Uchi

The Zilker restaurant’s modern take on Japanese cuisine has rightly earned its national acclaim. While you can’t go wrong with the exquisite a la carte menu, choose the adventurous market-priced omakase menu to truly experience the chefs' expertise with fresh cuts of fish with flavorful adornments to one-of-a-kind desserts. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

Toshokan

The Japanese restaurant within East Austin venue the Pershing is one of the most fun higher-end omakase experiences around. Led by chef Saine Wong, the $150 14-course meal showcases his global culinary experiences in tasty dishes. There are indoor dine-in services.

Raw fish in a bowl.
A dish from Toshokan.
DJ Ferno/Open House Productions

Otoko

Shrouded in exclusivity, the 12-seat Japanese restaurant located at the South Congress Hotel in the Travis Heights neighborhood offers a multi-course omakase-style ticketed dinner, which incorporates influences from Kyoto's kaiseki and Tokyo’s sushi traditions. At $295 per person for sushi omakase or $250 for the classic omakase, the multi-course journeys from chef Yoshi Okai are one of Austin's most expensive dinners — but it’s unforgettable. There are indoor dine-in services.

El Naranjo

James Beard Award-winning chef Iliana de la Vega serves dishes from Oaxaca at her South Lamar Mexican restaurant. Expect items like duck breast served in mole negro, tlayuda oaxaquena, and ensalada a la jamaica. Most of the dishes in the restaurant are gluten-free. Takeout orders are available; there are indoor and outdoor dining areas.

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