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A metal serving shallow bowl with fried chicken, greens, and mashed potatoes.
Fried chicken at Mattie’s
Nick Simonite/Mattie’s/Facebook

The Best Restaurants to Take Your Parents to in Austin

13 sure bets

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Fried chicken at Mattie’s
| Nick Simonite/Mattie’s/Facebook

The question of where to eat is going to crop up and potentially be a topic of debate whenever they come in town, whether your parents live nearby or are only able to visit once every couple of years. Sure, Austin is well known for tacos, barbecue, and food trailers — and you should definitely visit some, if not all three categories — but sometimes, mom and dad just want to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant. Nothing too loud. Or too dark. Or too niche. Something with good service, delicious food, and not too much flash.

With those criteria in mind, Eater curated the following 13 spots — all of which are certain to please even the most discerning parent. From safe spots like Italian-focused Vespaio and Southern spot Fixe, to a few restaurants slightly outside the comfort zone, such as Odd Duck and Uchi, all of these places are ready to charm your parents. There’s a range of price points, lots of understated options, and many that are intertwined with Austin’s history. Some will give them plenty to talk about too (e.g. expect at least one of your parents to comment on Snow’s uniquely successful business model). This update adds Southern spot Olamaie and Top Chef winner Kristen Kish’s Arlo Grey.

Sometimes mom and dad are willing to spend more to celebrate a special occasion, so for those dinners, we’ve included a few suggestions such as Mattie’s. And if you need more inspiration, check out Eater's picks for the city's high-end restaurants and wine bars and restaurants.

Have a spot you fall back on when your parents are in town? Let Eater know on the tipline or over in the comments.

With updates by Nadia Chaudhury.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Fonda San Miguel

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The late chef Miguel Ravago and his business partner Tom Gilliland introduced interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites in the ’70s, and their North Loop restaurant now has a longstanding reputation as an Austin essential. The walls of the colorful, hacienda-style restaurant are covered in original artwork making the meal all that much more memorable. Oh, and two words: Brunch buffet.

Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

Jeffrey's

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Head to the French-American fine dining institution for dinners when only dry-aged prime beef, pan roasted pork chops, and shellfish risotto will do. Bonus: The fully-stocked martini cart is a surefire fix for awkward conversations.

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey's [Official]

Olamaie

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Chef Michael Fojtasek named his modern Southern restaurant after several matriarchs in his family, so it’s a fitting choice for parents. The thoughtful food — and yes, that includes those ever-treasured biscuits — is served in an elegant setting in downtown Austin.

Olamaie
Olamaie
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Scholz Garten

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Head to the historic beer garden (billed as the oldest bar in Texas) near the capital for a low-key meal and beers with a side of nostalgia. The updated menu (under the direction of the owner of no-longer hot dog restaurant Frank) is heavy on the Texas-German side, chicken fried steaks, smoked wings, and all sorts of sausages and schnitzels. Tip: It’s also an energetic game day destination based on its proximity to campus.

Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten/Facebook

The surprisingly large downtown Southern restaurant will please anyone with its inventive fare, such as lobster and crawfish pot pie, biscuits with whipped butter, crispy beef tendons, and delightful desserts in a quirky yet elegant setting.

Fixe
Fixe
Robert Strickland

Chez Nous

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Around since 1982, this casual and unassuming French bistro has been dishing up traditional fare in the most improbable of places: just off Dirty Sixth. It’s open for lunch too if you want to avoid Sixth Street’s more lively hours. Bonus: The three-course prix fixe meal option is $34.50.

Chez Nous
Chez Nous
Chez Nous/Facebook

Arlo Grey

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The Line Austin hotel restaurant from Top Chef winner Kristen Kish offers a lovely exploration of her history and present (Korean-born, Michigan-raised, Boston fine dining training, solo restaurant in Austin) in a stylish, green space.

Arlo Grey
Arlo Grey
Courtney Pierce/EATX

Pair super-fresh seafood flown in daily with award-winning sushi master Tyson Cole and you get Uchi’s modern and often surprising take on Japanese cuisine. It will thrill sushi lovers, but there are plenty of cooked dishes too. It's worth the splurge no matter what you order.

Odd Duck

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For slightly more adventurous eaters, opt for this South Lamar favorite, which was formerly a food trailer. Its ambitious approach to sourcing and inventive menu have earned it both local love and national recognition.

Odd Duck
Odd Duck
Odd Duck [Official]

Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio

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Austin’s endless wave of new Italian restaurants has yet to slow down but these two have been South Congress staples for more than nearly two decades and a decade respectively. Vespaio delivers a nice dinner out with cacio e pepe, lasagna, and more without flash. Or head next door to the more casual (and less expensive) sibling Enoteca Vespaio for unfussy Italian lunch and dinner with a patio.

Matt's el Rancho

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If queso is the Tex-Mex fuel that run Austin, then Matt’s El Rancho is an Austin essential thanks to its Bob Armstrong dip, a mix of queso, guacamole, and taco meat. The restaurant opened in 1952 and quickly became a go-to Tex-Mex destination for politicians, sports writers, and other movers and shakers. Let mom and dad feel like a local: advise them to order it by asking for “a small Bob” or “a large Bob.”

Fajitas from Matt’s El Rancho
Fajitas from Matt’s El Rancho
Matt’s El Rancho/Facebook

Mattie's at Green Pastures

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This renovated iconic Victorian home on an oak-studded South Austin estate offers Southern fare (with a global twist), craft cocktails (try the milk punch), and a hearty serving of Texas hospitality. A sure bet for brunch too.

Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Snow's BBQ

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Looking for little road trip? Take a pilgrimage to Snow's BBQ. Texas Monthly thrust the little spot and its badass 80-year-old pitmaster "Tootsie" Tomanetz from relative obscurity into the national barbecue arena by naming it home of the "best barbecue in Texas." Snow's is only open on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until sold out.

Barbecue from Snow’s BBQ
Barbecue from Snow’s BBQ
Anthony N./Yelp

Fonda San Miguel

Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

The late chef Miguel Ravago and his business partner Tom Gilliland introduced interior Mexican cuisine to Austinites in the ’70s, and their North Loop restaurant now has a longstanding reputation as an Austin essential. The walls of the colorful, hacienda-style restaurant are covered in original artwork making the meal all that much more memorable. Oh, and two words: Brunch buffet.

Fonda San Miguel
Fonda San Miguel
Paul Bardagjy

Jeffrey's

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey's [Official]

Head to the French-American fine dining institution for dinners when only dry-aged prime beef, pan roasted pork chops, and shellfish risotto will do. Bonus: The fully-stocked martini cart is a surefire fix for awkward conversations.

Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey’s
Jeffrey's [Official]

Olamaie

Olamaie
Olamaie
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Chef Michael Fojtasek named his modern Southern restaurant after several matriarchs in his family, so it’s a fitting choice for parents. The thoughtful food — and yes, that includes those ever-treasured biscuits — is served in an elegant setting in downtown Austin.

Olamaie
Olamaie
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Scholz Garten

Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten/Facebook

Head to the historic beer garden (billed as the oldest bar in Texas) near the capital for a low-key meal and beers with a side of nostalgia. The updated menu (under the direction of the owner of no-longer hot dog restaurant Frank) is heavy on the Texas-German side, chicken fried steaks, smoked wings, and all sorts of sausages and schnitzels. Tip: It’s also an energetic game day destination based on its proximity to campus.

Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten
Scholz Garten/Facebook

Fixe

Fixe
Fixe
Robert Strickland

The surprisingly large downtown Southern restaurant will please anyone with its inventive fare, such as lobster and crawfish pot pie, biscuits with whipped butter, crispy beef tendons, and delightful desserts in a quirky yet elegant setting.

Fixe
Fixe
Robert Strickland

Chez Nous

Chez Nous
Chez Nous
Chez Nous/Facebook

Around since 1982, this casual and unassuming French bistro has been dishing up traditional fare in the most improbable of places: just off Dirty Sixth. It’s open for lunch too if you want to avoid Sixth Street’s more lively hours. Bonus: The three-course prix fixe meal option is $34.50.

Chez Nous
Chez Nous
Chez Nous/Facebook

Arlo Grey

Arlo Grey
Arlo Grey
Courtney Pierce/EATX

The Line Austin hotel restaurant from Top Chef winner Kristen Kish offers a lovely exploration of her history and present (Korean-born, Michigan-raised, Boston fine dining training, solo restaurant in Austin) in a stylish, green space.

Arlo Grey
Arlo Grey
Courtney Pierce/EATX

Uchi

Pair super-fresh seafood flown in daily with award-winning sushi master Tyson Cole and you get Uchi’s modern and often surprising take on Japanese cuisine. It will thrill sushi lovers, but there are plenty of cooked dishes too. It's worth the splurge no matter what you order.

Odd Duck

Odd Duck
Odd Duck
Odd Duck [Official]

For slightly more adventurous eaters, opt for this South Lamar favorite, which was formerly a food trailer. Its ambitious approach to sourcing and inventive menu have earned it both local love and national recognition.

Odd Duck
Odd Duck
Odd Duck [Official]

Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio

Austin’s endless wave of new Italian restaurants has yet to slow down but these two have been South Congress staples for more than nearly two decades and a decade respectively. Vespaio delivers a nice dinner out with cacio e pepe, lasagna, and more without flash. Or head next door to the more casual (and less expensive) sibling Enoteca Vespaio for unfussy Italian lunch and dinner with a patio.

Matt's el Rancho

Fajitas from Matt’s El Rancho
Fajitas from Matt’s El Rancho
Matt’s El Rancho/Facebook

If queso is the Tex-Mex fuel that run Austin, then Matt’s El Rancho is an Austin essential thanks to its Bob Armstrong dip, a mix of queso, guacamole, and taco meat. The restaurant opened in 1952 and quickly became a go-to Tex-Mex destination for politicians, sports writers, and other movers and shakers. Let mom and dad feel like a local: advise them to order it by asking for “a small Bob” or “a large Bob.”

Fajitas from Matt’s El Rancho
Fajitas from Matt’s El Rancho
Matt’s El Rancho/Facebook

Mattie's at Green Pastures

Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

This renovated iconic Victorian home on an oak-studded South Austin estate offers Southern fare (with a global twist), craft cocktails (try the milk punch), and a hearty serving of Texas hospitality. A sure bet for brunch too.

Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Mattie’s at Green Pastures
Robert J. Lerma/EATX

Snow's BBQ

Barbecue from Snow’s BBQ
Barbecue from Snow’s BBQ
Anthony N./Yelp

Looking for little road trip? Take a pilgrimage to Snow's BBQ. Texas Monthly thrust the little spot and its badass 80-year-old pitmaster "Tootsie" Tomanetz from relative obscurity into the national barbecue arena by naming it home of the "best barbecue in Texas." Snow's is only open on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until sold out.

Barbecue from Snow’s BBQ
Barbecue from Snow’s BBQ
Anthony N./Yelp

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