The new spots we checked out—and loved.Less
The restaurant group behind the likes of Clark’s, Pecan Square Cafe, Swedish Hill, Sammie’s, and Perla’s has some very big plans for the corner of Blanco Street and West 6th in Clarksville—a mixed use hub including multiple restaurants and a hotel. But for now, we can all enjoy one of their latest projects tucked away on Blanco: Rosie’s Wine Bar, an intimate and tiny space, of which there really aren’t that many like this in Austin.
Parked next to Revival Coffee on East 7th, Pinches Tacos joins the ever-growing scene of East Austin tacos trucks with a menu that spans pretty much the entire tortilla-based spectrum, from breakfast tacos to birria tacos, and everything in between (plus tortas). And while there are a couple of more “classic” meat fillings—including grilled chicken and carne asada—it’s when they offer things like braised beef “trompo” al pastor that they fly to savory new heights.
At Este, you’ll find masa battered fried swordfish tacos and tuna carnitas that you’ll very much want to get acquainted with. The charcoal-fired grill also adds a depth of flavor to a wide range of dishes, including the charred and smokey pescado zarandeado that’s marinated in an annatto red chile marinade. Este is unsurprisingly booked nearly solid every night, so plan ahead—or walk in on the early side.
Bringing an entirely new combination of flavors to Austin (and maybe the world?) is KG BBQ—a barbecue trailer specializing in Central Texas-style smoked meats with Egyptian and Mediterranean influences. That means dishes like sticky pomegranate glazed pork ribs, rich brisket shawarmas, and smoked lamb chops with zaatar that you’ll want to grab by the bone, to pick off every last shred of tender, savory meat.
At La Plancha on East MLK, they seem to follow a loose interpretation of what constitutes a torta. Because while you can get one stuffed with more classic fillings like brisket barbacoa or pulled pork carnitas, you can also get varieties with Buffalo fried chicken or wagyu beef patties that forego “rules” for the greater good. Whatever you want to call them, the sandwiches are tasty—packed full of meat on a warm crusty bolillo roll, and served with pickled jalapenos and escabeche.
The sandwiches are all very precise, exacting, and most importantly, very delicious. Made with a pillowy soft milk bread, options include savory classics like tamago and pork katsu, and more fun, creative versions made with ingredients like yuzu smoked salmon. The sushi boxes can clock in on the pricier side (north of $30), but the quality of the fish is exceptional, rivaling what you’d find at any of the city’s best sushi restaurants.
There are only two things on the menu at Oye Chico, a tiny trailer parked at Better Half’s patio in Clarksville: A cafecito and a Cuban sandwich. It’s made with all of the classic ingredients here—pork butt, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard—with an execution that’s best in class. The meat is juicy, the pickles thick and tangy, and the cheese is plentiful. Its inclusion on our list of The Best Cuban Sandwiches In Austin is one of the easiest decisions we’ve made all year.
There’s a reason why people line up right before Bamboo House opens for lunch and dinner: their specialty peking duck. The moist and flavorful duck is phenomenal, with a crispy, lacquered skin. Served in a duck-shaped plate, it comes with super thin flour pancakes, which are not nearly as filling as steamed buns (so you get to eat more duck). There’s also a full menu of very good Szechuan dishes like twice-cooked pork, boiled fish filets in chili sauce, and mapo tofu.
Pinthouse Pizza, with three locations around the Austin area, has long been known for their beers—the Electric Jellyfish in particular—and their round, New York-style pizzas. In early 2021 they opened Pinthouse Brewing, a massive brewhouse on Ben White Boulevard. Recently they launched a new pizza menu there, with Sicilian style pies, featuring a square shape and a fluffy sourdough crust.
You should check out Pecan Square for the space alone—airy, light-filled, and high on design, it feels like it’s been there forever. Inspired by the California coastal community of Sea Ranch and San Francisco's Zuni Cafe, the food here is casual and seasonally driven. Where the restaurant really shines are the outstanding handmade pastas like the tender goat milk ricotta-filled agnolotti with dandelion greens or the tagliatelle with a bright and spring-y pesto.