A friend of Mike and mine just moved to our neighborhood, so I promised to provide a list of recommended places to eat, play and shop. Because the restaurant choices are plenty, I am going to start with the eating list first, and add in the other recommendations on another day. Keep in mind, these are places I like to eat. There are a lot more options than on this list, but if they aren’t on here, I either forgot to mention them or I am not a fan. Comment if you have other recommendations or think mine are bunk.
Pacha – I’ve been going to Pacha since before I met Mike, and it was great to discover that he loves this place, too. The vibe, the people, the food and especially the coffee and teas are comforting. It’s the type of place that brightens your day and leaves you with a smile. Try the Pacha Latte iced on a hot day.
Anderson’s - All things coffee and some things tea in this neighborhood shop. It’s not so much a place to go drink a coffee, as it is a place to buy your coffee for your home (or a friend, or your office, or wherever.) They have tons of fresh in-house roasted coffees from all over the world. Not to mention the store has the most intoxicating smell of coffee luring you inside.
Stinson’s - This is a new place, so I haven’t tried the coffee and they didn’t serve mint herbal tea, so I can only go on atmosphere and the staff. Staff gets two thumbs up so far because they said they like to serve what their customers want and plan to start serving mint tea soon – on my recommendation. The atmosphere is also simple and modern and they have a full bar, so it may be a good place for a drink now and again. They also just showed Cool Hand Luke as part of a movie series they are running, so I think I like them.
Dolce Vita (Hyde Park) – This is a great place, morning, noon or night (and especially at night). Great espresso drinks, good food and delicious cake. Try the carrot cake.
Monkey Nest - Too crowded most times for my taste, but they have lots of food options and I suppose decent coffee. It’s many young undergrad or graduate school students studying – from the looks of it.
Thunderbird (web site down at the time of this post) – also a lot of people studying, so a younger crowd for the most part. Serves several typs of food from salads to sandwiches and also serves wine and beer.
Flightpath – I used to love studying here when I was taking night courses at UT. Lots of graduate school age and professionals alike who want a quiet coffee shop to retire to. Some nice food options as well, but mostly pre-made food.
Breakfast (including great places for breakfast tacos)
Kerbey Lane – a little too crowded for my tastes and the wait can be very long on the weekend, but Kerbey Lane cafe on…wait for it…Kerbey Lane is a good standby for a good brunch.
Pacha – mentioned above.
Consuelo’s – More formally known as Cocina de Consuelo is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Love their breakfast plates which are hefty and full of fresh ingredients.
Taco Deli – also good for all meals. A local Austin favorite. It gets quite busy in here, but the line moves fast. Do know that if you like your breakfast taco with egg and potato, the potato comes in mashed style. Definitely different, but it’s the way they do things there. Be sure to try their famous dona sauce (it’s the green one.)
Taco Shack - There are two in the neighborhood. The one on North Lamar has a drive through for those days you don’t want to get out of your PJs and the one on Medical Parkway has a couple of picnic tables to eat at in a quieter setting in Rosedale.
Galaxy Cafe – Another one of these breakfast, lunch and dinner spots – that I consider more of a breakfast spot than anything else. Tons of items to choose from on their menu and the portions are generous.
Julio’s – mentioned below.
Foodheads – great neighborhood lunch spot. Although, they serve breakfast and dinner, too (only Thursday through Saturday for dinner, and it’s byob.) Love that it’s in an old house. Plenty of outdoor seating in nice weather. Recommend getting there early for lunch because the place fills ups. I love the veggie sandich with zucchini and eggplant. Mike loves the Gypsy with port tenderloin and fried egg.
Little Deli - Tiny and authentic Deli in the Brentwood shopping center (which is pretty neat in its own right. They have a great old grocery store and pharmacy across the street from LD.) Also a good spot for dinner and it is also byob. Nice outdoor seating at picnic tables. Makes for a fun dinner on a nice evening when it’s not too buggy or hot.
Epicerie - this french/cajun cafe is good for lunch and dinner (they also serve breakfast/brunch on weekends.) Both sandwiches and entrees are delicious. For dinner, you can choose from a hand selected variety of wines artfully displayed in the built in counters. They also serve local beer on tap or in 40 oz. bottles. Insider secret tip: they sell the best smelling hand wash.
Julio’s – located in Hyde Park, this is another good lunch or dinner spot. It is also my favorite brunch spot on the weekends. Right next to Dolce Vita and across from Asti (which I’ll mention under dinner.) Julio’s will always be one of my favorites for simple, good Mexican food. They also serve really good margaritas and don’t seem to have a limit on Mexican martinis like some other restaurants in town. Consider yourself warned. [cash only.]
Texas French Bread - great lunch place near campus that in the last few years has also been serving dinner (byob).
Avenue B Grocery – this is a must do in Austin. Located in Hyde Park, this old-timey store is not a real grocery store anymore, but is a fun place to unwind on a nice day. Check for their weird hours.
Now for the really fun recommendations. Almost all would be good places for a date night. In no particular order:
Central Market cafe – Like many places on this list, CM can be a great breakfast, lunch or dinner spot. But, what I like about it for dinner – especially in the warmer months – is the opportunity to eat outside on a picnic blanket, wine bottle in tow, listening to live music. Check the schedule for frequent and free concerts.
Asti – Another gem in Hyde Park, Asti has been around forever. It’s the sweetest little Italian restaurant, and there is something about the lighting that could remind you of a nice dinner outing in any of the bigger cities like New York, Boston, Chicago…you get the point. Mike and I went on our first date here.
Fino - Asti’s sister restaurant. Fantastic to eat outside on a nice night. The lounge sofas are also great for a happy hour gathering. Delicious tapas style plates and unique wine and cocktail options make this a great date place.
Vino Vino - Ahhh, the best. This is Mike and my go-to romantic dinner spot. Everything about this place is right up our alley. Knowledgeable and friendly staff, delicious food, great wine and cocktails, cool music and great atmosphere. We usually end up here for hours and have occasionally closed it down enjoying a night cap with one of the waiters.
Apothecary – Another great wine bar, and another one of our favorites. Apothecary is smaller (read: cozy) with some large sharing tables, some private dining tables and a bar. The food changes seasonally (as do many restaurants in Austin) and each week there is some new fun special the chef likes to try out on diners. Love the staff here. Can get lost in a good conversation and lose track of time.
Gusto - Nice Italian option just down the road from Apothecary. Enjoy sitting up at the bar here and ordering dinner. Very friendly staff and good food.
Maru – The neighborhood spot for sushi, unless you want to wait, and wait and wait at Uchiko just down the road. Family run business, no frills, but really decent sushi.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken – A newbie to the neighborhood. Just a fun spot with indoor/outdoor dining for some comfort food and interesting cocktails. And, if cold beer is what you are craving, they have plenty of that too. Make it a night by checking out Ginny’s Little Longhorn just a few steps away.
Drink.Well - On North Loop is a fun, happening spot. It does draw crowds for its signature cocktails. Try the Kobe burger with kimchi. I think it’s one of the juiciest in Austin.
Foreign & Domestic - For that really special outing, try F’n'D. Some super interesting food combinations and wine in a former junky vintage shop. It’s amazing to see the transformation this place took from moth-ball smelling store to welcoming, modern and romantic restaurant. If they are still offering them, try the popovers that they bake in empty soup cans. A block from Drink.Well.
Pharah’s – So glad this place is around. Way back in the day, my favorite restaurant in Austin was Ararat (which is still around, but in a different iteration on the east side.) Pharah’s lives up to the old Ararat quality of Mediterranean food in the old Ararat location on North Loop. Although the interior has changed a little, the exterior has changed a lot – now offering much more seating outside and a larger stage for the belly dancing show and hookah smoking. You don’t want to miss.
Titaya’s – The. Best. Thai in Austin. It just returned after a long hiatus getting remodeled. Have not been back to it since it’s opening a couple weeks ago, but a much anticipated take-out dinner will be in the works soon.
Salvation Pizza – Right near Foodheads, in another adorable craftsman home, this pizza spot is a great date night or a night-out-with-friends pizza joint. Wonderful atmosphere.
Some other notable establishments:
Crown and Anchor – Near campus, this long-standing bar serves up a deliciously greasy burger and frosty beers. Great place to hang out outdoors, watch a sporting event on TV or play pool, darts inside. Dog friendly. Nickname, the Cranchor.
Draught House - Nickname, the DH. The best pub in Austin hands down. Full stop.
Mother’s – Great for vegetarian/vegan lovers. Just a fun all meal kind-of-restaurant in Hyde Park.
Antonelli’s Cheese Shop – Sample some fresh cheeses from all over the U.S. and Europe. Enjoy some beer pairings, too on selected dates. You’ll feel like a happy tourist here.
Breed & Co. – Go for the chocolate. Get your hardware somewhere cheaper. When you visit, take an immediate right to see the cases filled with amazing chocolate. Choose from such selections as lavender infused or basil infused dark chocolate to scrumptious truffles.
People’s Pharmacy – On North Lamar across from the Central Market shopping area, People’s is a home-grown pharmacy with a food counter serving fresh smoothies, salads, sandwiches and breakfast tacos.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list – which is still not exhaustive – of all that north central Austin has to offer a hungry person. Feel free to comment on what you enjoy in the neighborhood, too.