Restaurants / Lists

Austin’s Hottest Restaurants — 5 Spots That Ruled SXSW and Validated Their Must-Visit Buzz

Taking Festival Food to the Next Level

BY // 03.19.19

AUSTIN — With this city widely considered a foodie capital, it is only fitting that SXSW puts a huge emphasis on food during the mega festival and conference.

Not only are there an increasing number of sessions and panels discussing culinary technology and sustainability in food, but there is also a lot of hype around the program’s SouthBites Dinners.

This year, SXSW partnered with the James Beard Foundation to host a series of three dinners offering multi-course dining experiences in unforgettable settings with world-renowned chefs — Carlos Garcia of Obra Kitchen Table in Miami, Tiffany Derry of Roots Chicken Shak in Dallas, Fermín Núñez of Suerte in Austin, Sonya Coté of Eden East in Austin, Antonia Lofaso of DAMA in Los Angeles and Houston’s own Justin Yu of Theodore Rex.

From outdoor open-flame cooking experiences to a multi-course study on sustainable dairy, the innovation in cooking was impressive.

Another coveted foodie ticket during the week was the Chef’s Potluck at Willie Nelson’s ranch in Spicewood, Texas as part of his Luck Reunion Musical Festival.

This year, the Potluck chef lineup was all female. Misti Norris of Petra and the Beast, Austin chef Bonnie Savage of Southern restaurant Olamaie, and Kristen Kish of Arlo Grey.

Houston’s James Beard Award-nominated chef Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri joined as well as San Antonio Chef Anne Ng of Bakery Lorraine. On Wednesday night, the powerful girl crew served up some inspiring home-cooked eats to a sold-out audience.

Hot Reservations

Outside of the conference, the 400,ooo people who choose to partake in the foodie fun start making their reservations at the hottest spots in Austin well in advance. If you think you’re going to get lucky with a “walk-ins welcome” situation during the 10-day festival, think again.

Celebrities, tech giants and fabulous foodies are serious about their SXSW food — and where to see and be seen — and the most creative and festive restaurants in town are ready to show off the best food in the city.

PaperCity rounded up a list of some of the most coveted tables and most discussed menus during SXSW. Consider it an early cheat sheet for SXSW 2020 — or just a must-visit list for your next Austin trip.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya

This award winning culinary darling is the epitome of Austin. Laid-back, authentically stylish and serious about its food. From the team of the cult favorite ramen house, Ramen Tatsu-Ya, comes this chic spin on a Japanese Izakaya.

If Texas and Japan had a baby, Kemuri would be it. Fried Chicken Karaage and a Boat, yes a boat, of beautifully barbecued meats served family-style is the perfect homage to Japanese food and the Lone Star State’s obsession with barbecue.

It is the perfect place to begin an Austin evening of partying. To continue the party, head to Kemuri’s little sibling, Domo Alley-Gato.

It’s the Texas version of a cool Japanese alleyway bar complete with Japanese-inspired cocktails, highballs, Chu-Hi cocktails via house tonics, frozen beer foam boilermakers and one cup sakes. Creative munchies such as Coo Coo Wings are served from a food truck within the outdoor bar space.

Catch a show down the street and drop in as late as 2 am for a perfect Austin evening.

Assorted Cocktails doMO ALLEY GATO AUSTIN
The Japanese craft cocktails at Domo Alley-Gato are as refreshing as they are authentic.

The Brewer’s Table

This is the perfect marriage of a brewery and a swanky restaurant. The founders of Brewer’s Table brew their own beer in-house to go with the farm fresh ingredients in the dishes.

Diners get a menu of locally sourced and shareable feasts — you can even choose by land, sea or garden — and dine amongst giant tanks for a modern and authentic meal.

In addition to the signature brews, there are 26 guest brews as well as an expertly curated wine list and craft cocktails. This East Austin hotspot has a perfect patio for the outdoor dining or beer tasting from day to night.


What happens when arguably the two best chefs in the city of Austin collaborate on a restaurant concept? Major magic.

Loro is an Asian smokehouse and bar brought to you by James Beard Award winners, Tyson Cole of Uchi and Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. This casual, order-at-the-bar eatery features unique takes on smoked meats, Asian-inspired snacks and perfectly barbecued meats.

The indoor-outdoor space reflects the laid-back cool philosophy that these two chefs live by. Grab a craft cocktail — the house special milkshake-like Hanuba Snowstorm, perhaps — or a cold beer and enjoy the delicious spin on the classics.

Red Ash

This downtown destination, just three years old, has held a full reservation list almost every night since its inception. House-made pasta and wood-fired Italian recipes are cooked up with a contemporary twist. The extensive steak selection is reflective of the power of the open-flame grill that sits in the middle of the kitchen space, visible from the dining floor.

The industrial-yet-intimate atmosphere is the perfect place for a pure Austin refuel.

Red Ash Austin
The house-made burrata at Red Ash is a fan favorite.


Suerte’s thoughtful and cheeky take on interior Mexican cuisine is a refreshing and creative approach. Start with some “snackcidents” of chips and salsa or chorizo molotes and end with authentic goat barbacoa or other house specialties. The extensive menu of “succulent spirits” will impress even the most expert tequila drinker.

This modern East 6th Street haunt has been satisfying Austin’s crowds nonstop since its opening less than a year ago.

You cant have a SXSW without the South By South bites. And the food component of Texas’ most buzz-worthy festival only gets bigger and bigger every year.

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