Austin restaurants: Where to eat alone

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The Wink Wine Bar is a great place to dine alone. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
The Wink Wine Bar is a great place to dine alone. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The Wink Wine Bar is a great place to dine alone. (Credit: Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Regularly in Austin360 I offer a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Sometimes you just want to go to dinner alone with a book (or your electronic device). Or, maybe you’re just having trouble finding a date. I offer a list of places where I like to dine alone. Most of these places have bars – whether a traditional bar or a row of seating overlooking an open kitchen – where you’ll feel completely at home dining solo. Don’t see one of your favorites listed? Leave a comment or email me at modam@statesman.com.

Guide on the go

Take my 2014 Dining Guide — a list of my top 25 restaurants and 100 other places I like to eat — with you by bookmarking Austin360.com/diningguide on your smartphone or tablet.

Arro. 601 W. Sixth St. 512-992-2776, ArroAustin.com. The folks behind Easy Tiger and 24 Diner bring comforting French dishes such as steak frites and croque monsieur to West Sixth Street.

Austin Land & Cattle. 1205 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-472-1813, ALCSteaks.com. No pretense, just good steaks, a fun mood and a bar that serves strong drinks and excellent happy hour specials.

Backspace. 507 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-474-9899, TheBackspace-Austin.com. Neapolitan pies from Parkside chef’s small restaurant that also delivers charcuterie plates and a nice roster of antipasti.

Barlata Tapas Bar. 1500 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-473-2211, BarlataAustin.com. About 10 variations of paella, two dozen hot small plates and a convivial atmosphere at this Spanish tapas restaurant with a long, winding bar.

Botticelli’s South Congress. 1321 S. Congress Ave. 512-916-1315, botticellissouthcongress.com. Intimate Italian dining on bustling South Congress, with a small bar for counter dining. Try the homemade ravioli with butternut squash in a brown butter and sage sauce.

Bufalina Pizza. 1519 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-2523, BufalinaPizza.com. The best Neapolitan pizza in the city and a great Italian wine list at this little East Austin restaurant makes the wait worth it.

Café Malta. 3421 W. William Cannon Drive. 512-853-9584, CafeMaltaAustin.com. A nice surprise in South Austin, this neighborhood restaurant does brisk happy hour business with wine specials at its bar and serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and lamb kabobs.

Casino El Camino. 517 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9330, CasinoElCamino.Net. All reds and blacks, this Sixth Street classic has a devilish attitude and serves up fat, peppery burgers off a grill, like a garden party along the River Styx. Post up at the bar like a loner.

Chavez. 111 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-478-2991, chavez-austin.com. This sleek restaurant in the Radisson Hotel from culinary star chef Shawn Cirkiel overlooks Lady Bird Lake and pays tribute to Austin, Mexico and the Southwest. Large bar makes for good chit-chat with tourists or watching a game.

Clark’s. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297-2525, clarksoysterbar.com. Excellent crab cakes, burgers, oyster selection and entrees at this jewel box seafood restaurant from Larry Maguire’s team.

Counter Café. 626 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-708-8800, CounterCafe.com. You can almost reach over and touch the grill at this shoebox café that turns out great burgers, crab cakes with poached eggs and curried peanut sauce, and all of the breakfast classics.

Drink.Well. 207 E. 53rd St. 512-614-6683, DrinkWellAustin.com. Refined bar food like a spicy kimchi Reuben and one of the city’s best burgers at this smart little North Loop bar that makes exceptional cocktails.

El Meson. 2038 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-442-4441, ElMesonAustin.Wordpress.com. What started as a small taqueria near the airport expanded to this restaurant on South Lamar that carries on the original’s tradition of made-from-scratch interior-Mexican classics. I watched several World Cup matches alone at the tall bar.

Enoteca. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, austinvespaio.com/enoteca. Vespaio’s cute little sister, Enoteca makes very good pizza, piping hot pastas (try the ravioli with chicken confit) and solid Italian desserts.

Fino. 2905 San Gabriel St. 512-474-2905, FinoAustin.com. Mediterranean flavors dominate the menu at this handsome restaurant that features a relaxing wrap-around patio, perfect for enjoying one of the restaurant’s solid cocktails.

Foreign & Domestic. 306 E. 53rd St. 512-459-1010, fndaustin.com. The kitchen here turns out comforting and thoughtful dishes, from refined vegetarian dishes to hearty off-cuts, and the counter seating gives a nice view of the bustling open kitchen.

Frank. 407 Colorado St. 512-494-6916, hotdogscoldbeer.com. Fancy dogs like the Jackalope (made with smoked antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage, and topped with cranberry compote) at this fun spot in the Warehouse District.

Freedmen’s Bar. 2402 San Gabriel St. 512-220-0953, FreedmensBar.com. Sophistication and smoke rub elbows at this barbecue joint in a historic building near the UT campus.

Hopdoddy. 1400 S. Congress Ave., 512-243-7505; 2438 W. Anderson Lane, 512-467-2337. Hopdoddy.com. Find a seat at the bar and skip the wait for one of a dozen well-crafted burgers (that’s the doddy) and good beer (that’s the hop). Find a seat at the bar and skip the wait.

Hopfields. 3110 Guadalupe St. 512-537-0467, HopfieldsAustin.com. The French-inspired gastropub with an array of taps serves one of the city’s best burgers and a sinful French ham sandwich smeared with creamy butter.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4206 Duval St. 512-458-3168, HPBNG.com. There’s something of a “Cheers” vibe at this old neighborhood haunt known for its fries.

Jeffrey’s. 1204 W. Lynn St., (512) 477-5584, jeffreysofaustin.com. The bar feels plucked from Manhattan, and serves a menu that includes excellent beef tartare, a lump crab cake, and a dry-aged bar steak. Half-off all day Sunday and Monday.

Justine’s. 4710 E. Fifth St. 512-385-2900, Justines1937.com. A blend of style and grace, this French bistro offers a unique dining experience, whether you’re sitting at the bar in the warmly lit dining room listening to vinyl or out under the trees and twinkle lights.

Kome. 4917 Airport Blvd. 512-712-5700, Kome-Austin.com. Nigiri sushi, a variety of traditional and fusion rolls and a range of Izakaya dishes that include grilled fish and fried chicken from the couple who started with a humble trailer.

La V. 1501 E. Sixth St. 512-720-8112, saylavaustin.com. This elegant addition to the east side serves Mediterranean-influenced cuisine and an impressive wine list.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. 401 W. Second St. 512-494-1500, LambertsAustin.com. The fanciest barbecue spot in town, Lamberts smokes traditional meats such as pork shoulder and beef brisket and also has a touch with more delicate items like a smoked trout salad.

Lenoir. 1807 S. First St. 512-215-9778, lenoirrestaurant.com. Grab a seat at the bar and select three courses from the seasonal menu at this restaurant that delivers amazing food and the best value in town.

Licha’s Cantina. 1306 E. 6th St. 512-480-5960, Facebook.com/lichasaustin. This venture from former Mettle general manager Daniel Brooks specialized in Mexican street-food like huaraches and tacos.

Little Barrel and Brown. 1716 S. Congress Ave. 512-582-1229, littlebarrelandbrown.com. The menu at this South Congress spot that blends modernism with vintage 1920s touches includes smoked haddock toast, grilled quail and burgers. The bar offers plenty of seating.

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Congress Ave., 2304 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-445-0000, themagnoliacafe.com. Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes and omelets tastes good any time of the day or night. So do quesadillas.

Manuel’s. 310 Congress Ave., 10201 Jollyville Road. 512-472-7555, manuels.com. This sophisticated Mexican restaurant in the heart of downtown has delivered bright, citrusy ceviche and chile rellenos since 1984.

Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, MattsElRancho.com. A 61-year-old Austin institution offering Mexican food in a sprawling but welcoming space with a huge bar.

Maudie’s. Multiple locations. maudies.com. If you haven’t had Maudie’s Diablo Sol Food queso, you can’t really call yourself an Austinite. These Tex-Mex purveyors have recently moved to serving all-natural beef and pork and organic eggs.

Mulberry. 360 Nueces St. 512-320-0297, MulberryAustin.com. Beef, fish and bar snacks make up most of the menu at this small wine bar at the bottom of a downtown condo tower.

Musashino. 407 Greystone Drive. 512-795-8593. musashinosushi.com. You get the sense you’re eating on an old wooden ship at this sushi restaurant that’s full of character. And if you don’t like raw fish, they also serve a pretty nice tempura-fried chicken.

Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, OddDuckAustin.com. The bar wraps around a massive oven at Bryce Gilmore’s restaurant that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients and delivers plates like your grandmother might if she’s gone to culinary school.

Olive & June. 3411 Glenview Ave. 512-467-9898, oliveandjune-austin.com. Small shared plates and fresh pasta are major draws at this gorgeous multi-tiered restaurant with a bar on the second floor.

Olivia. 2043 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-804-2700, olivia-austin.com. Fancy at night, but downhome at brunch. Light pours in from the floor-to-ceiling glass, and the patio is nice if the weather isn’t out of control. (Recommend: Dandy Don goat chili with fried eggs, the Willie Nelson chicken fried steak, and French toast.)

Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, Qualityseafood.Wordpress.com. Great fried shrimp, grilled catch of the day and Gulf oysters are some of the keys to the staying power of this restaurant-market.

Qui. 1600 E. Sixth St. 512-436-9626, quiaustin.com. Keep an eye on the kitchen as they execute dishes for an eclectic tasting menu or sit at the bar and admire some of the best cocktail makers in town.

Salt & Time. 1912 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1383, SaltAndTime.com. This butcher shop sells sandwiches with fresh, quality meat and turns out magnificent charcuterie plates, a thick juicy burger and other specialties on their dinner menu.

Second Bar + Kitchen. 200 Congress Ave. 512-827-2750, congressaustin.com/second. New American on Congress Avenue puts you right in the middle of downtown. (Recommend: pepperoni soup; seared trout; fried pickles; seared scallops; cheeseburger; bleu cheese, pork belly and medjool date pizza.)

South Congress Cafe. 1600 S. Congress Ave. 512-447-3905, southcongresscafe.com. This bright and airy spot on South Congress consistently executes solid Southwestern flavors and offers a small bar separate from the main dining area.

Uchi. 801 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-916-4808, uchiaustin.com. You get a front-row seat for viewing the preparation of world-class sushi.

Vino Vino. 4119 Guadalupe St. 512-465-9282, vinovinoaustin.com. Dark wood, pleasant lighting, walls of wine bottles, helpful staff, solid bistro fare and a long bar on the edge of Hyde Park.

Wink Wine Bar. 1014 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-482-8868, winkrestaurant.com. Exceedingly friendly staff offers wine suggestions to go with strong bar menu items like truffle mac and cheese or a trio of sliders, and you can also order from the fine dining restaurant’s full dinner menu.

Zax. 312 Barton Springs Road. 512-481-0100, ZaxAustin.com. A friendly atmosphere pervades this restaurant that features a quality tap wall and solid dishes such as Caesar salad, mussels and fries, and pan-seared duck breast.

 


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