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A plate of steaks.
The Delgado chops at Luminaire.
Mary Whitten

The Hottest New Restaurants in Austin, February 2023

A new downtown restaurant from a multiple James Beard-nominated chef and a fun bar in Central East Austin

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The Delgado chops at Luminaire.
| Mary Whitten

Readers of Eater usually have the same question: Where should I eat right now? Amid the pandemic, the Austin restaurant scene remains as exciting as ever, as new places have continued to open. With all of this in mind, Eater is updating its monthly heatmap (now in its 132nd iteration), highlighting a mix of exciting restaurants, trucks, and food services open right now.

This February update adds Steve McHugh’s downtown restaurant Luminaire, taco spot Masa y Más, Central East Austin bar Lucky’s, and entertainment restaurant Spare Birdie Public House.

Know of something new and exciting that should be on our radar? Email the Eater Austin team at austin@eater.com. To see which places were previously on the heatmap, visit the archive. For a look at Austin’s outstanding dining destinations, check out the Eater 38 map.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Spare Birdie

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This massive entertainment destination in Cedar Park opened in January with bowling, golf, and Southern food. The Spare Birdie menu includes a short rib melt, blackened shrimp pasta, grilled oysters, and a truffle brie grilled cheese. The bar also offers cocktails and local beer and wine. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Ling Kitchen

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Chef Ling Qi Wu, the dumpling master behind Lin Asian Restaurant and other restaurants, opened her intimate 10-seat tasting spot in Wooten in November. The restaurant serves a tasting menu of pan-Asian fare along with wine and beer and is open for indoor dining only.

Mum Foods

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Pastrami experts Mum Foods opened a new deli again in December. The farmers market favorite — whose stalls will remain open — serves barbecued meats, smoked chicken salad, sides, desserts, beer, wine, and coffee, out of the Pecan Springs-Springdale neighborhood. There are indoor dine-in areas.

The Texas barbecue spot with Egyptian influences finally opened a permanent truck on Manor Road in October. Look for lamb bacon ribs, grilled chicken kebabs, pink potato salad, and bowls. Takeout orders can be placed online. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas at the host site Oddwood Brewing.

The Mexican seafood spot from the Suerte team, including lauded chef Fermín Núñez, opened in October in the former home of Eastside Cafe (and yes, the restaurant uses the on-site garden). Dishes include charcoal-cooked oysters, fried fish tacos on corn tortillas, and grilled shrimp. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A plate of red raw fish and olive oil and sliced avocados and thin crispies.
A dish from Este.
Este

Luminaire

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Six-time James Beard Award nominee Steve McHugh opened his first Austin restaurant in a new downtown hotel, Hyatt Centric Congress Avenue Austin, in February. The San Antonio chef’s menu includes charcuterie (which he is known for at his restaurant Cured) and seasonal Texas fare. Luminaire is on the ground floor of the hotel with indoor and outdoor seating options, and there’s also a rooftop bar, Las Bis, with cocktails, snacks, an outdoor terrace, and skyline views.

Lucky's

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Central East Austin bar Lucky’s opened in January with a menu of cocktails and shots, along with small plates from executive chef Marissa Tuñon, a Chicago-based chef who has worked extensively with humanitarian chef José Andrés. Expect to find lots of lucky charms in the decor, indoor dining for now, with a dog-friendly patio in the future.

Bufalina

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The local pizzeria brought stellar chef Grae Nonas on board for its new location, which means in addition to Neapolitan pizzas, there’s now fresh pasta dishes like tagliatelle bolognese and appetizers like spicy suppli and gooey stracciatella. This location of Bufalina, which opened in November, is indoor dining only.

Masa y Más

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This counter-service Mexican restaurant opened on South Lamar in January with tacos, tortas, queso, and more. The recipes come from chef and operating partner Roberto Campos’s grandmother. There’s an indoor dining area and a covered patio.

Dovetail Pizza & Bar

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This new pizzeria on South First comes from a superstar hospitality team Present Tense, which includes members from restaurants like Lenoir, Salt & Time, and Rosen’s Bagels. The menu includes salads, pastas, and pizza, which come with a house-made chili crisp in lieu of parmigiano and red pepper flakes. The restaurant opened in November in the former Mumtaz Market, and has indoor and outdoor dining available.

Mr. Pimento

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This Jamaican food truck opened at Buzz Mill Coffee on Riverside in December. Owner and Jamaican immigrant Clay Spence serves up dishes with plantains, jerk chicken, and a vegan jerk mushroom option. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Cooked plantains.
Plantains from Mr. Pimento.
Mr. Pimento

Golden Hour Cafe & Wine Bar

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A cafe by day and wine bar by night, Golden Hour opened in November with indoor dining, a patio, and to-go wine. In the mornings and afternoons, the cafe serves breakfast pastries, cheese plates, and cakes, while by night expect raw bar dishes and seafood — plus, low-intervention natural wine and snacks all day.

Spare Birdie

This massive entertainment destination in Cedar Park opened in January with bowling, golf, and Southern food. The Spare Birdie menu includes a short rib melt, blackened shrimp pasta, grilled oysters, and a truffle brie grilled cheese. The bar also offers cocktails and local beer and wine. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Ling Kitchen

Chef Ling Qi Wu, the dumpling master behind Lin Asian Restaurant and other restaurants, opened her intimate 10-seat tasting spot in Wooten in November. The restaurant serves a tasting menu of pan-Asian fare along with wine and beer and is open for indoor dining only.

Mum Foods

Pastrami experts Mum Foods opened a new deli again in December. The farmers market favorite — whose stalls will remain open — serves barbecued meats, smoked chicken salad, sides, desserts, beer, wine, and coffee, out of the Pecan Springs-Springdale neighborhood. There are indoor dine-in areas.

KG BBQ

The Texas barbecue spot with Egyptian influences finally opened a permanent truck on Manor Road in October. Look for lamb bacon ribs, grilled chicken kebabs, pink potato salad, and bowls. Takeout orders can be placed online. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas at the host site Oddwood Brewing.

Este

The Mexican seafood spot from the Suerte team, including lauded chef Fermín Núñez, opened in October in the former home of Eastside Cafe (and yes, the restaurant uses the on-site garden). Dishes include charcoal-cooked oysters, fried fish tacos on corn tortillas, and grilled shrimp. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A plate of red raw fish and olive oil and sliced avocados and thin crispies.
A dish from Este.
Este

Luminaire

Six-time James Beard Award nominee Steve McHugh opened his first Austin restaurant in a new downtown hotel, Hyatt Centric Congress Avenue Austin, in February. The San Antonio chef’s menu includes charcuterie (which he is known for at his restaurant Cured) and seasonal Texas fare. Luminaire is on the ground floor of the hotel with indoor and outdoor seating options, and there’s also a rooftop bar, Las Bis, with cocktails, snacks, an outdoor terrace, and skyline views.

Lucky's

Central East Austin bar Lucky’s opened in January with a menu of cocktails and shots, along with small plates from executive chef Marissa Tuñon, a Chicago-based chef who has worked extensively with humanitarian chef José Andrés. Expect to find lots of lucky charms in the decor, indoor dining for now, with a dog-friendly patio in the future.

Bufalina

The local pizzeria brought stellar chef Grae Nonas on board for its new location, which means in addition to Neapolitan pizzas, there’s now fresh pasta dishes like tagliatelle bolognese and appetizers like spicy suppli and gooey stracciatella. This location of Bufalina, which opened in November, is indoor dining only.

Masa y Más

This counter-service Mexican restaurant opened on South Lamar in January with tacos, tortas, queso, and more. The recipes come from chef and operating partner Roberto Campos’s grandmother. There’s an indoor dining area and a covered patio.

Dovetail Pizza & Bar

This new pizzeria on South First comes from a superstar hospitality team Present Tense, which includes members from restaurants like Lenoir, Salt & Time, and Rosen’s Bagels. The menu includes salads, pastas, and pizza, which come with a house-made chili crisp in lieu of parmigiano and red pepper flakes. The restaurant opened in November in the former Mumtaz Market, and has indoor and outdoor dining available.

Mr. Pimento

This Jamaican food truck opened at Buzz Mill Coffee on Riverside in December. Owner and Jamaican immigrant Clay Spence serves up dishes with plantains, jerk chicken, and a vegan jerk mushroom option. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in areas.

Cooked plantains.
Plantains from Mr. Pimento.
Mr. Pimento

Golden Hour Cafe & Wine Bar

A cafe by day and wine bar by night, Golden Hour opened in November with indoor dining, a patio, and to-go wine. In the mornings and afternoons, the cafe serves breakfast pastries, cheese plates, and cakes, while by night expect raw bar dishes and seafood — plus, low-intervention natural wine and snacks all day.

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