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The steak at Carpenter Hotel
Carpenter Hotel/Facebook

18 Hottest Restaurants in Austin, December 2018

Where to eat in the capital of Texas

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The steak at Carpenter Hotel
| Photo by Carpenter Hotel/Facebook

Tipsters, readers, friends, and family of Eater Austin always want to know: Where should I eat right now? What are the buzziest new restaurants? What haven't I heard of yet? What's everyone talking about?

To answer those questions, behold the 88th edition of the Eater Austin Heatmap, updated monthly to reflect the city’s freshest restaurants where people are flocking to right now. December sees the addition of Grae Nonas’s Carpenters Hall, Portuguese grill Tio Pepe Chicken, Otherside Deli’s brick-and-mortar, Southern-Asian fusion House of the Rising Tanuki-san, and high-tech Malibu Poke.

To see which places were previously on the heatmap, visit the archive. For a look at Austin’s most essential restaurants, take a look at the Eater 38 map, which highlights the city’s reliable dining offerings. Then there are the city’s newest cocktail spots, beer bars, brunch restaurants, tacos, burgers, and pizza.

For all the latest Austin dining intel, subscribe to Eater Austin's newsletter.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tio Pepe Chicken

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2510, 6406 N Interstate 35 Frontage Rd
Austin, TX 78752
(512) 582-0629
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Third generation restauranteur Pepe Garcia opened his Portuguese-style grill Tio Pepe Chicken after falling in love with peri-peri sauce while traveling through Portugal. Tio Pepe serves grilled chicken with choice of sauce and heat level, sides, and desserts.

A spread from Tio Pepe
Tio Pepe Chicken/Facebook

2. Nervous Charlie's

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5501 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78705

The North Austin bagel specialists import its dough from New York City. The shop serves a variety of bagels and schmears, plus bagel sandwiches, and a few salads.

A bagel sandwich from Nervous Charlie’s
Nervous Charlie’s [Official]

3. Otherside Deli

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1104 W 34th St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 407-9702
Visit Website

The food truck famous for its pastrami has finally expanded to a brick-and-mortar. The menu serves the same menu of sandwiches, with some new additions like a cheesesteak and meatball sub as well as latkes and lox.

Otherside Deli’s pastrami sandwich
Otherside Deli/Facebook

4. Bird Bird Biscuit

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2701 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722

The fast-casual Cherrywood restaurant is very focused: the daytime spot only serves biscuit sandwiches courtesy of chef Brian Batch. Fillings range from fried chicken thighs slathered with cayenne-black pepper honey and bacon-infused chipotle mayonnaise to the classic bacon, egg, and cheese combination.

A biscuit sandwich from Bird Bird Biscuit
Chelsea Laine Francis

5. Sour Duck Market

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1241, 1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 394-5776
Visit Website

The latest offering from the Odd Duck team is a bakery, bar, and all-day restaurant rolled up into one. Wake up with a latte and croissant, dive right into a hefty burger, or just relax on the ample patio with a beer or draft cocktail.

Pastries at Sour Duck
Courtney Pierce/EATX

6. 40 North

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900 W 10th St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 660-5779
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The popular Neapolitan pizza trailer is back as a brick-and-mortar found in a cute bungalow. Under chef Clint Elmore, the restaurant serves classic pies from the trailer like tender eggplant as well as newer inventions like dandelion greens with pancetta and onion jam. For non-pizza items, there’s a sturdy burger and porchetta sandwich.

Pizza from 40 North
Courtney Pierce/EATX

7. Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum

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1203 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 474-5107
Visit Website

Wu Chow dim sum chef Ling Qi Wu opened up her own restaurant on West Sixth Street. Focused on dim sum, the menu features items like dumplings (both soup and pan-fried), soups, noodles and rice, vegetables, and entrees like sesame chicken and two kinds of roast duck. There’s also a full bar and a gorgeous, sleek interior.

The giant seafood dumpling from Lin Asian
Louis C./Yelp

8. Better Half Coffee + Cocktails

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406 Walsh St
Austin, TX 78703

The Wright Bros. Brew & Brew team brought their coffee and food expertise over to the West 5th Street area with counter-service all-day cafe and bar Better Half. The focus is thoughtful yet easygoing dishes like cheeseburgers, biscuits, redfish tortas, plus top-notch coffee and cocktails in the small space with an expansive patio.

Food and coffee at Better Half
Courtney Pierce/EATX

9. House of the Rising Tanuki-san

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120 W 5th St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 394-7391
Visit Website

House of the Rising Tanuki-san (aka Tanuki) started as a pop-up in Aspen but migrated over to Austin to take over the former Basecamp spot downtown. It serves Southern-Asian fusion, with items like spicy chicken and bubble waffles.

Udon-even-know Cashew noodles at Tanuki
House of the Rising Tanuki-san/Facebook

10. Malibu Poke

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211 Walter Seaholm Dr
Austin, TX 78703

The sleek new location of Dallas-based Malibu Poke has automated ordering of customizable poke bowls. James Beard-nominated chef Matt McCallister is behind the menu, which includes low-sugar cocktails and nontraditional items like smoked bonito aioli.

Poke from Malibu Poke
Malibu Poke [Official]

11. She’s Not Here

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440 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 888-1970
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She’s Not Here serves tropical drinks and Asian-Pacific dishes in a stunning downtown space. In addition to daily sushi specials (including must-order crab butter), there are larger plates like pork shank and the fun sakana tempura — a play on fish and chips.

Nigiri from She’s Not Here
Courtney Pierce/EATX

12. Dean's One Trick Pony

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111 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 473-1570
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The casual burger restaurant at the Line Hotel has everything from burgers and disco fries to shrimp cocktails. Along with cocktails and sweets like pie and soft serve, the restaurant has a fun decor, including a shuffleboard table.

Dean’s double burger
Sydell Group

13. Arlo Grey

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111 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 478-9611
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Top Chef winner Kristen Kish is now in the hotel restaurant game at the Line Austin Hotel. The signature restaurant in the trendy hotel, Arlo Grey boasts a burger topped with cheesy pommes aligot, ricotta beignets served in creme fraiche with caviar, and a drink program from Brian Floyd, who was formerly with stellar cocktail bars Half Step and Weather Up.

Arlo Grey’s burger and fries
Arlo Grey/Yelp

14. Darcy's Donkey

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1608 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 330-4256
Visit Website

This Irish pub on Barton Springs serves pints, meat pies, and many, many kinds of potatoes. In true pub spirit, there are also television screens for watching games and live music.

A pie from Darcy’s Donkey
Chris Olfers

15. Suerte

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1800 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 953-0092
Visit Website

A Mexican restaurant with Texan ingredients, Suerte comes from Sam Hellman-Mass, a co-founding partner of Odd Duck, with chef Fermín Nuñez. One of Eater National’s best new restaurants of the year, the kitchen highlights its house-made masa from heirloom corn in a variety of tacos, tlayudas, and tamals. There are also oak-grilled meats and raw ceviches.

The suadero tacos at Suerte
Diana D./Yelp

16. Carpenters Hall

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400 Josephine St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 682-5300
Visit Website

The Carpenter Hotel’s restaurant Carpenters Hall sees the return of Grae Nonas, who was a co-founding chef of Olamaie. The menu features hearty fare like pastas, schnitzel, and of course a burger.

Pasta from Carpenters Hall at the Carpenter Hotel
Carpenter Hotel [Official]

17. The Brewer's Table

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4715 E 5th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 520-8199
Visit Website

At the beer-focused restaurant, chef Zach Hunter sneaks beer ingredients into many plates, from beer grain spaetzle to toasted barley ice cream. Pair with a creation from head brewer Drew Durish, formerly of Live Oak, or choose from the large list of cocktails, beer, and wine.

Pasta from The Brewer’s Table
Logan Crable

18. Loro

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4921, 2115 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 916-4858
Visit Website

Hai Hospitality’s hotly anticipated collaboration between Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin is a spacious Asian smokehouse with soaring interiors in a casual, counter-service setting. Franklin’s brisket gets the usual rave reviews, and items like oak-grilled snap peas, corn fritters, and chicken karaage keep the menu interesting. There’s a spacious patio for sipping the many creative cocktails.

Food from Loro
Logan Crable

1. Tio Pepe Chicken

2510, 6406 N Interstate 35 Frontage Rd, Austin, TX 78752
A spread from Tio Pepe
Tio Pepe Chicken/Facebook

Third generation restauranteur Pepe Garcia opened his Portuguese-style grill Tio Pepe Chicken after falling in love with peri-peri sauce while traveling through Portugal. Tio Pepe serves grilled chicken with choice of sauce and heat level, sides, and desserts.

2510, 6406 N Interstate 35 Frontage Rd
Austin, TX 78752

2. Nervous Charlie's

5501 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78705
A bagel sandwich from Nervous Charlie’s
Nervous Charlie’s [Official]

The North Austin bagel specialists import its dough from New York City. The shop serves a variety of bagels and schmears, plus bagel sandwiches, and a few salads.

5501 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78705

3. Otherside Deli

1104 W 34th St, Austin, TX 78705
Otherside Deli’s pastrami sandwich
Otherside Deli/Facebook

The food truck famous for its pastrami has finally expanded to a brick-and-mortar. The menu serves the same menu of sandwiches, with some new additions like a cheesesteak and meatball sub as well as latkes and lox.

1104 W 34th St
Austin, TX 78705

4. Bird Bird Biscuit

2701 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722
A biscuit sandwich from Bird Bird Biscuit
Chelsea Laine Francis

The fast-casual Cherrywood restaurant is very focused: the daytime spot only serves biscuit sandwiches courtesy of chef Brian Batch. Fillings range from fried chicken thighs slathered with cayenne-black pepper honey and bacon-infused chipotle mayonnaise to the classic bacon, egg, and cheese combination.

2701 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722

5. Sour Duck Market

1241, 1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78702
Pastries at Sour Duck
Courtney Pierce/EATX

The latest offering from the Odd Duck team is a bakery, bar, and all-day restaurant rolled up into one. Wake up with a latte and croissant, dive right into a hefty burger, or just relax on the ample patio with a beer or draft cocktail.

1241, 1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Austin, TX 78702

6. 40 North

900 W 10th St, Austin, TX 78703
Pizza from 40 North
Courtney Pierce/EATX

The popular Neapolitan pizza trailer is back as a brick-and-mortar found in a cute bungalow. Under chef Clint Elmore, the restaurant serves classic pies from the trailer like tender eggplant as well as newer inventions like dandelion greens with pancetta and onion jam. For non-pizza items, there’s a sturdy burger and porchetta sandwich.

900 W 10th St
Austin, TX 78703

7. Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum

1203 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703
The giant seafood dumpling from Lin Asian
Louis C./Yelp

Wu Chow dim sum chef Ling Qi Wu opened up her own restaurant on West Sixth Street. Focused on dim sum, the menu features items like dumplings (both soup and pan-fried), soups, noodles and rice, vegetables, and entrees like sesame chicken and two kinds of roast duck. There’s also a full bar and a gorgeous, sleek interior.

1203 W 6th St
Austin, TX 78703

8. Better Half Coffee + Cocktails

406 Walsh St, Austin, TX 78703
Food and coffee at Better Half
Courtney Pierce/EATX

The Wright Bros. Brew & Brew team brought their coffee and food expertise over to the West 5th Street area with counter-service all-day cafe and bar Better Half. The focus is thoughtful yet easygoing dishes like cheeseburgers, biscuits, redfish tortas, plus top-notch coffee and cocktails in the small space with an expansive patio.

406 Walsh St
Austin, TX 78703

9. House of the Rising Tanuki-san

120 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78701
Udon-even-know Cashew noodles at Tanuki
House of the Rising Tanuki-san/Facebook

House of the Rising Tanuki-san (aka Tanuki) started as a pop-up in Aspen but migrated over to Austin to take over the former Basecamp spot downtown. It serves Southern-Asian fusion, with items like spicy chicken and bubble waffles.

120 W 5th St
Austin, TX 78701

10. Malibu Poke

211 Walter Seaholm Dr, Austin, TX 78703
Poke from Malibu Poke
Malibu Poke [Official]

The sleek new location of Dallas-based Malibu Poke has automated ordering of customizable poke bowls. James Beard-nominated chef Matt McCallister is behind the menu, which includes low-sugar cocktails and nontraditional items like smoked bonito aioli.

211 Walter Seaholm Dr
Austin, TX 78703

11. She’s Not Here

440 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701
Nigiri from She’s Not Here
Courtney Pierce/EATX

She’s Not Here serves tropical drinks and Asian-Pacific dishes in a stunning downtown space. In addition to daily sushi specials (including must-order crab butter), there are larger plates like pork shank and the fun sakana tempura — a play on fish and chips.

440 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701

12. Dean's One Trick Pony

111 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
Dean’s double burger
Sydell Group

The casual burger restaurant at the Line Hotel has everything from burgers and disco fries to shrimp cocktails. Along with cocktails and sweets like pie and soft serve, the restaurant has a fun decor, including a shuffleboard table.

111 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701

13. Arlo Grey

111 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701
Arlo Grey’s burger and fries
Arlo Grey/Yelp

Top Chef winner Kristen Kish is now in the hotel restaurant game at the Line Austin Hotel. The signature restaurant in the trendy hotel, Arlo Grey boasts a burger topped with cheesy pommes aligot, ricotta beignets served in creme fraiche with caviar, and a drink program from Brian Floyd, who was formerly with stellar cocktail bars Half Step and Weather Up.

111 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701

14. Darcy's Donkey

1608 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704
A pie from Darcy’s Donkey
Chris Olfers

This Irish pub on Barton Springs serves pints, meat pies, and many, many kinds of potatoes. In true pub spirit, there are also television screens for watching games and live music.

1608 Barton Springs Rd
Austin, TX 78704

15. Suerte

1800 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702
The suadero tacos at Suerte
Diana D./Yelp

A Mexican restaurant with Texan ingredients, Suerte comes from Sam Hellman-Mass, a co-founding partner of Odd Duck, with chef Fermín Nuñez. One of Eater National’s best new restaurants of the year, the kitchen highlights its house-made masa from heirloom corn in a variety of tacos, tlayudas, and tamals. There are also oak-grilled meats and raw ceviches.

1800 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702

Related Maps

16. Carpenters Hall

400 Josephine St, Austin, TX 78704
Pasta from Carpenters Hall at the Carpenter Hotel
Carpenter Hotel [Official]

The Carpenter Hotel’s restaurant Carpenters Hall sees the return of Grae Nonas, who was a co-founding chef of Olamaie. The menu features hearty fare like pastas, schnitzel, and of course a burger.

400 Josephine St
Austin, TX 78704

17. The Brewer's Table

4715 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702
Pasta from The Brewer’s Table
Logan Crable

At the beer-focused restaurant, chef Zach Hunter sneaks beer ingredients into many plates, from beer grain spaetzle to toasted barley ice cream. Pair with a creation from head brewer Drew Durish, formerly of Live Oak, or choose from the large list of cocktails, beer, and wine.

4715 E 5th St
Austin, TX 78702

18. Loro

4921, 2115 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Food from Loro
Logan Crable

Hai Hospitality’s hotly anticipated collaboration between Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin is a spacious Asian smokehouse with soaring interiors in a casual, counter-service setting. Franklin’s brisket gets the usual rave reviews, and items like oak-grilled snap peas, corn fritters, and chicken karaage keep the menu interesting. There’s a spacious patio for sipping the many creative cocktails.

4921, 2115 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

Related Maps