From new in town to making it onto the New York Times' restaurant list, East Austin restaurant Birdie's is what restaurant food critics are "most excited about right now."
The unranked list, compiled by the Times' food section, showcases 50 top restaurants that are exciting editors, food critics and reporters across the nation. Birdie's, 2944 E. 12th St., was the only Austin restaurant to make the inaugural list this year.
The restaurant and wine bar opened its doors in East Austin this past summer, offering simple American food with French and Italian influences—beef tartare, Spanish mackerel, Cavatelli, to name a few items—from chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel and beverage expert Arjav Ezekiel. The two owners are Texas natives from Houston who moved to Austin a couple of years ago after living in New York City.
The order-at-the-counter establishment opened at a former taqueria that has a spacious back patio perfect for this time of year. You're likely to be on a waitlist if you visit since it does not book reservations—even more so after making the NYT list.
"The reality is that relaxing on Birdie's back patio with the chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel's bright, graceful food — golden-crusted panisse, steak tartare folded with shiitakes and pecans, roasted local eggplant and peppers with stewed field peas — is to be on the leading edge of what makes eating great in this booming town," New York Times food writer Brett Anderson said.
Texas came in second for the most restaurants on the list, featuring Houston's Blood Bros. BBQ, San Antonio's Fish Lonja, Dallas' Roots Southern Table and Brownsville's Sylvia's Taqueria.
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Tech town or city of foodies?
Austin's flourishing food scene was ranked fifth for best foodie city, according to a new report by financial site WalletHub. The site compared 180 U.S. cities across 29 categories, including affordability, accessibility of high-quality restaurants and food festivals per capita.
Getting Austin so high on the list was its diversity, accessibility and quality ranking at No. 11 and affordability ranking at No. 14.
Rising above Austin were Portland, Oregon; Orlando and Miami, Florida; and San Francisco. Of the top five, Austin had a significantly higher affordability ranking.
Don't know where to get started? Austin's numerous food trucks are a great place to start for affordable options. And if you're looking to get immersed in the culinary world, Ausitn's Food + Wine Festival are just around the corner from Nov. 5-7.
Austin knows how to do food well—from traditional to the weird. Whether you're looking to try something completely new like a rabbit-rattlesnake sausage or a sweet take on a taco, Austin has all the foodies covered on a flavor adventure you might've never heard of.
Here are 9 unique dishes worth trying around town.
Lonesome Dove Bistro, rabbit-rattlesnake sausage
Created by Chef Tim Love, Lonesome Dove Bistro offers Western-inspired meals with sophistication and dare we say, lots of creativity. The rabbit-rattlesnake sausage, with manchego rosti and crème fraîche, is one dish on the must-try category of unique foods in town. The menu also features other ingredients with influences from the Goodnight-Loving and Chisholm Trails, such as duck, Texas wild boar, bison, elk and many seafood options such as trout and oysters.
Comedor, bone marrow tacos
Chef Philip Speer created Comedor, the Mexican-inspired restaurant with an innovative menu. If you're up for trying something delicious and unique the bone marrow tacos, filled with quelites, smoked butter and pecan gremolata will change up any taco game you thought you had.
Aparaci's, Hot Cheeto machete
Machetes have taken Austin by storm, so it's no surprise to already see a quirky and oh-so-Austin way of spicing up the menu with Hot Cheetos machetes at Aparacio's. The Hot Cheeto machete is one of many creations by Aparacio's, but at over 18 inches, the gigantic dish is perfect to share with a group of friends. For $11, you can order a Hot Cheeto Machete and attempt to eat the whole thing at once.
Tellus Joe, broccoli reuben
This vegan restaurant has outdone itself in creativity by reinventing traditional recipes. The early-bird sister project of The Beer Plant offers a 100% plant-based menu and organic coffee. The broccoli reuben sandwich at Tellus Joe is a must-try. The sandwich, a remake of the corned beef classic, features provolone-style cheese, mustard, mayo and horseradish on a ciabatta bun for a perfectly light and delicious bite.
Oh K-Dog, squid ink korean dog
If you've never heard of Korean hotdogs, you can try one right here in town. The Korean street food craze has made its way to Austin and Oh K-Dog has you covered with delicious deep fried rice hotdogs. You can order from over 12 different types of hotdogs, but the squid-ink with mozzarella cheese one is definitely the most unique.
Sour Duck Market, kouign-amann
If you've never tried an outrageously buttery and deliciously sophisticated kouign-amann, it's time to change that for good. The delicate French pastry originated from Brittany and can be found at Sour Duck Market. With a rustic exterior and simple ingredients, the pastry is a sugary, caramelized croissant resembling what most of us know as a muffin.
Taco Sweets, ice cream tacos
You can easily find some of the best breakfast, lunch and dinner tacos around town, but have you ever tried a dessert taco? Taco Sweets is changing the street food game with deliciously sweet and crazy good lookin' ice cream tacos. The taco truck offers eight signature tacos ranging from the cookie monster to over the rainbow themes, but if you're in the mood for other flavors, you can build your own with eight different ice cream flavors, nine syrups and an unlimited number of toppings. Yum!
Licks Honest Ice Creams, goat cheese, thyme and honey ice cream
There's nothing quite as unique as pairing goat cheese, thyme and honey in ice cream, but Lick Honest Ice Creams manages to pull it off. The creaminess and quick flavor profile of goat cheese starts getting you hooked until you realize thyme and honey are playing a huge factor into making this delicious ice cream so crave-able and perfectly sweet. This is a must try if you're feeling adventurous for a good bite, especially as the warmer weather hits Austin. Plus, you can buy a pint at your local grocery store to enjoy from home.
Russian House, Texas BBQ infused vodka
Russian House of Austin is Austin's first Russian restaurant, and with a title that important, it's no surprise that you can find over 100 different infused vodkas to try. From spicy and unique, to herbal and floral, the Russian restaurant has so many different options you'll feel overwhelmed. One of the weirdest, if we do say, is the the Texas BBQ infused vodka. You can check out the whole list of infused vodkas here. If you have a hard time deciding, the restaurant also offers some signature cocktails that might be worth trying as well as traditional Eastern European dishes.
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