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An array of Chinese dishes.
Dishes from 1618 Asian Fusion.
Julia Keim

Austin’s 16 Most Underrated Restaurants

Seek out these hidden gems

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Dishes from 1618 Asian Fusion.
| Julia Keim

Everyone knows about the very best of Austin’s first-rate places to eat, from Franklin Barbecue to Uchi. Then there are those favorite neighborhood haunts and consistently reliable joints that rarely get the spotlight that deserve just as much attention.

Here is Eater’s updated guide to the city’s most underrated restaurants. This means New Jersey-style pizza from Little Deli, stellar yakitori/sushi from Fukumoto, tacos from Taco Joint and Taquito Aviles, and others. This update adds Paper Route Bakery and JNL Barbecue.

For other top-notch restaurants, check out Eater’s essential Austin restaurants, hot new ones, and classic spots.

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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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Tomodachi Sushi

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This far north sushi restaurant has been turning out crowd-pleasing sushi both traditional and fusion for over 15 years. The friendly service in the small restaurant is also a major plus. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Taquito Aviles

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The goat-based quesabirria de chivo taco at the North Austin taqueria truck is fantastic. Takeout orders can be placed in person and there are outdoor tables.

The quesabirria de chivo taco at Taquitos Aviles
The quesabirria de chivo taco at Taquitos Aviles
Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin

Bartlett's

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The North Shoal Creek restaurant gives classic American food — burgers, sandwiches, grilled fish, amazing marinated steak, etc. — the attention it deserves in an upscale but casual setting that is great for dinner with family and friends. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Little Deli & Pizzeria

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The pizzeria with two locations lives up to its name in terms of physical size, but the Jersey-style pizza is a big deal, and the subs are not to be trifled with, either. Vegetarians should turn to roasted eggplant. Sit outside for a taste of the old-school Austin vibe in this cloistered neighborhood spot. Takeout orders can be placed over the phone or in person; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Workhorse Bar

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The beloved North Loop bar has cheap drinks and great bar food like thick burgers and fried pickles. With a convivial patio that has tree stumps for barstools, it’s a hidden gem that feels like old Austin. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Fixe Southern House

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The fancy-ish downtown Southern restaurant offers really great biscuits, plus the entire menu is full of hits like the lobster and crawfish pot pie and the fried chicken. There are indoor dine-in services.

Fukumoto Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya

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The East Sixth Street Japanese restaurant whips up masterful sushi and yakitori from former Musashino chef Kazu Fukumoto, along with playful specials, like crisp river crabs. There are indoor dine-in services.

Garrison

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Hidden within the giant downtown hotel is an excellent fine dining destination. Garrison serves up skillfully prepared dishes from steaks to pastas to seafood with top-notch service, which all makes up for the fact that, well, yeah there’s a bit of a trek to the not-exactly-aesthetically-pleasing windowless dining room. There are indoor dine-in services.

Paper Route Bakery

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Yes, it’s a bakery, but the plentiful cakes at the East Austin spot are wonderfully decadent, thoughtful, and delicious. It’ll be hard to have just one slice.

Taco Joint

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Among Austin’s amazing taco providers, the East Riverside taco restaurant is a hidden gem. The breakfast tacos are super-stuffed in a not-annoying way, the lunch tacos flavorful, and the array of salsas perfect. Takeout orders can be placed over the phone or in person; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Bento Picnic

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Out-of-town visitors exhausted from Tex-Mex and barbecue? Direct them to the fresh fare at Bento Picnic and they’ll thank you. There are bento boxes, snacks, and a great wine selection from built-in natural wine shop Saba San’s, plus a large patio to hang out. Takeout and delivery orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A bento box with chips and another with veggie sticks and other stuff on a blue tile circular table with white plates with chopsticks on them.
Bento boxes from Bento Picnic.
Bento Picnic

Aviary Wine & Kitchen

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At this intimate South Lamar restaurant, classic wine-friendly foods like oysters, cheese, and a burger join exciting seasonal fare like crudos and cabbage wedges. (Chef Andre Molina is quietly one of the best in the city.) Then, the wine selections from Alex Bell are as much fun to hear about as they are to drink. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room with a teal-blue wall and wine bottles on shelves and a bar and a dining table.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

The wide-ranging menu of the pan-Asian Riverside restaurant offers well-made dishes for every craving, from dim sum to pho to curries. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

JNL Barbecue

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For great under-the-radar barbecue, head to the truck parked at Buzz Mill in the East Riverside neighborhood, which happens to be helmed by Franklin Barbecue alum Ben Lambert. There are outdoor dining areas.

Vinaigrette

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Fancy salads? Yes, fancy salads. The New Mexico import offers well-crafted salads chock-full of bright vegetables, sweet fruits, and substantial proteins. It doesn’t hurt that the space is also stunning, from the airy building to the tree-filled patio. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

The Little Darlin'

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Okay, yes, it’s a bar, but it’s a bar with really great food. The burger is hefty, the baby lettuce salad makes for a perfect lunch, and the mac and cheese is stellar. The sprawling patio is just an added bonus. Takeout orders can be placed in person; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

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Tomodachi Sushi

This far north sushi restaurant has been turning out crowd-pleasing sushi both traditional and fusion for over 15 years. The friendly service in the small restaurant is also a major plus. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Taquito Aviles

The quesabirria de chivo taco at Taquitos Aviles
The quesabirria de chivo taco at Taquitos Aviles
Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin

The goat-based quesabirria de chivo taco at the North Austin taqueria truck is fantastic. Takeout orders can be placed in person and there are outdoor tables.

The quesabirria de chivo taco at Taquitos Aviles
The quesabirria de chivo taco at Taquitos Aviles
Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin

Bartlett's

The North Shoal Creek restaurant gives classic American food — burgers, sandwiches, grilled fish, amazing marinated steak, etc. — the attention it deserves in an upscale but casual setting that is great for dinner with family and friends. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Little Deli & Pizzeria

The pizzeria with two locations lives up to its name in terms of physical size, but the Jersey-style pizza is a big deal, and the subs are not to be trifled with, either. Vegetarians should turn to roasted eggplant. Sit outside for a taste of the old-school Austin vibe in this cloistered neighborhood spot. Takeout orders can be placed over the phone or in person; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Workhorse Bar

The beloved North Loop bar has cheap drinks and great bar food like thick burgers and fried pickles. With a convivial patio that has tree stumps for barstools, it’s a hidden gem that feels like old Austin. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Fixe Southern House

The fancy-ish downtown Southern restaurant offers really great biscuits, plus the entire menu is full of hits like the lobster and crawfish pot pie and the fried chicken. There are indoor dine-in services.

Fukumoto Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya

The East Sixth Street Japanese restaurant whips up masterful sushi and yakitori from former Musashino chef Kazu Fukumoto, along with playful specials, like crisp river crabs. There are indoor dine-in services.

Garrison

Hidden within the giant downtown hotel is an excellent fine dining destination. Garrison serves up skillfully prepared dishes from steaks to pastas to seafood with top-notch service, which all makes up for the fact that, well, yeah there’s a bit of a trek to the not-exactly-aesthetically-pleasing windowless dining room. There are indoor dine-in services.

Paper Route Bakery

Yes, it’s a bakery, but the plentiful cakes at the East Austin spot are wonderfully decadent, thoughtful, and delicious. It’ll be hard to have just one slice.

Taco Joint

Among Austin’s amazing taco providers, the East Riverside taco restaurant is a hidden gem. The breakfast tacos are super-stuffed in a not-annoying way, the lunch tacos flavorful, and the array of salsas perfect. Takeout orders can be placed over the phone or in person; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Bento Picnic

A bento box with chips and another with veggie sticks and other stuff on a blue tile circular table with white plates with chopsticks on them.
Bento boxes from Bento Picnic.
Bento Picnic

Out-of-town visitors exhausted from Tex-Mex and barbecue? Direct them to the fresh fare at Bento Picnic and they’ll thank you. There are bento boxes, snacks, and a great wine selection from built-in natural wine shop Saba San’s, plus a large patio to hang out. Takeout and delivery orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A bento box with chips and another with veggie sticks and other stuff on a blue tile circular table with white plates with chopsticks on them.
Bento boxes from Bento Picnic.
Bento Picnic

Aviary Wine & Kitchen

A restaurant dining room with a teal-blue wall and wine bottles on shelves and a bar and a dining table.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

At this intimate South Lamar restaurant, classic wine-friendly foods like oysters, cheese, and a burger join exciting seasonal fare like crudos and cabbage wedges. (Chef Andre Molina is quietly one of the best in the city.) Then, the wine selections from Alex Bell are as much fun to hear about as they are to drink. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

A restaurant dining room with a teal-blue wall and wine bottles on shelves and a bar and a dining table.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

1618

The wide-ranging menu of the pan-Asian Riverside restaurant offers well-made dishes for every craving, from dim sum to pho to curries. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

JNL Barbecue

For great under-the-radar barbecue, head to the truck parked at Buzz Mill in the East Riverside neighborhood, which happens to be helmed by Franklin Barbecue alum Ben Lambert. There are outdoor dining areas.

Vinaigrette

Fancy salads? Yes, fancy salads. The New Mexico import offers well-crafted salads chock-full of bright vegetables, sweet fruits, and substantial proteins. It doesn’t hurt that the space is also stunning, from the airy building to the tree-filled patio. Takeout orders can be placed online; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Related Maps

The Little Darlin'

Okay, yes, it’s a bar, but it’s a bar with really great food. The burger is hefty, the baby lettuce salad makes for a perfect lunch, and the mac and cheese is stellar. The sprawling patio is just an added bonus. Takeout orders can be placed in person; there are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Related Maps