AFBA 2020 City Guide: Central to North Austin Restaurant Round-up

Don’t forget to check out the entire Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for more great info on food you want to eat!

As a resident of Northwest Austin who often has visitors in town, I’ve been asked for “where to eat” advice quite a bit, but as a home cook food blogger who eats out at some great restaurants, it quickly became my mission to put together a solid round-up of places near me, and for any type of eater.

I’ve gathered my list of must-try places originally in 2018, and have updated for 2019 and 2020. This is the culmination of my culinary exploration and I hope that it inspires tourists from all over, including my own neighbors. If you see something that needs correction, please email me or comment at the end of this post!

Without further adieu, and in no particular order, here’s what I’ve selected.

Nosh & Bevvy

8440 Burnet Rd #100, Austin, TX 78757

Nosh & Bevvy is a no-frills London-themed dive bar with the best bartenders around. After my first visit, they knew what I liked and how I liked it and I rarely had to specify what I wanted, unless I changed it up and explored the menu more. However, with the curry on the menu, that was rare. Order it with mixed vegetables added, extra raita and a basket of chips (french fries) to dip in the sauce. You can thank me later. The Shepherd’s Pie (well, technically Cottage Pie, as Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, but who’s counting) is also lovely and comes covered in cheese, which I wanted to be mad at but just couldn’t be.

Fat Dragon

8650 Spicewood Springs Rd #109, Austin, TX 78759

All the rage amongst the neighborhood, this new little gem popped up quietly in its magical little strip mall (El Camino Real, UZ Eats, Asia Cafe are all there too). The dumplings are the stuff of dreams, including soup dumplings made daily in-house. They also have the cutest little dessert dumplings and an adventurous Asian menu sampling dishes from all over the map and a robust list of Sichuan Style dishes. The owners are very sweet and passionate about their food.

Toulouse Cafe & Bar

3120 Palm Way Suite 150, Austin, TX 78758

This lovely French spot in The Domain features an array of truly French dishes, presented beautifully, along with gorgeous cocktails and a great wine and spirits list. If you like pretty food, check it out. Pictured here are the frog legs, escargot, and carpaccio.


11501 Rock Rose Ave #100, Austin, TX 78758

Admittedly I’ve only had cocktails here. But you can see why. They were as fragrant and refreshing as they were beautiful. The food is Thai, and the atmosphere feels fresh and organic to everything the menu.

Second Bar & Kitchen

3121 Palm Way #101, Austin, TX 78758

Another spot where thus far I’ve only had cocktails, but the menu looks promising and interesting. The space is bright and big and light and bustling.

The Roaring Fork

10850 Stonelake Blvd. Austin, TX 78759

Good for dinner, happy hour, a cocktail, anything. The happy hour is excellent and generous, but in general, they do everything the way I would if I owned a place. This is a higher end place and so is their queso. It has pieces of pork in it that they slow cook for their green chili. I love this place. This location is in a very pretty setting looking over Quarry Lake, and the restaurant itself is beautiful. Excellent steaks and salmon. They know what they’re doing with green chili too, which if you know me, you know is a big plus in my book.

Napa Flats

8300 N FM 620 #100, Austin, TX 78726

I considered taking this place off of my list due to the service being well below par the last few times we went…but then we do keep going back because the place serves really great food, and although slow service at the bar annoys us, we love the food and it feels fancy enough for a date night without being over-the-top price-wise.

County Line BBQ

6516, 5204 Ranch Rd 2222, Austin, TX 78731

County Line sits right on the lake and is very enchanting. Depending on the weather you can sit outside (even in rain because of the covered dining area), and kids can feed the gazillion turtles that swim up to the bank. The food is incredible (get bread!!!) and the fave among my camp is the Beef Rib, so get one! The indoor seating is great too, as it features windows over the water. – BBQ


11680 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78759

This is the original city where Chuy’s started, and from what I hear about the chain expansion, it is best right here in Austin. Try the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas, the queso, and basically anything else on the menu.

Weekdays they have a FREE QUESO BAR during their happy hour. They provide chips, pico de gallo, salsa, taco meat, and refried beans so you can eat your weight in Queso Compuesto (means queso with stuff, basically) and the free queso at happy hour is served in a converted car trunk. I mean, that gimmick alone should draw you in. This location has a huge outdoor seating area.

Camino Real

8650 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759

This isn’t fancy, but the food is great, especially if you like old-school no-frills Tex-Mex. There are tons of combo plates, all of which show up at your table practically before you order it. Ace waitstaff keeps your chips and salsa full and huge waters, ice teas, and fountain drinks too. Yes, they have margaritas!


2408 W Anderson Ln, Austin, TX 78757

Bartlett’s combines high-end food with elegant atmosphere and service. A good option for a higher end dinner, but try it out for a happy hour to get the quality bites for a sampling/sharing price. They have amazing steaks, and everything I’ve eaten there is incredible. They also have lots of great unusual cocktails.

Texas Chili Parlor

1409 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701

A divey place near the capitol. Great bloody marys and migas for breakfast. I LOVE THIS PLACE. The senators and mostly locals hang out at this place. Everything about the Texas Chili Parlor is classic dive (in the best way) from the salty but sweet waitresses and bar staff to the cluttery decorations, stickers, and graffiti on the walls.  They have my favorite Margarita in Austin.

Texas Chili Parlor

Kerbey Lane

2120 N Mays St, Round Rock, TX 78664

Kerbey Lane is a casual diner with a definite Austin feel (although they’re just slightly north of the Austin line). They rotate their menu seasonally with Texas-inspired stuff (brisket nachos anyone?). Yum. A greasy spoon on crack, with a full bar and solid menu. The owners are great and the queso is famously one of the crowning jewels!

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

8557 Research Blvd #126, Austin, TX 78758

Arguably the best ramen in Austin. There are differing opinions out there, but I bet most of you agree. Here is the Hatch Green Chili Ramen that was a special dish and fundraiser for the victims of Harvey in Houston. It was, as expected, a spicy, flavorful, brightly flavored and nuanced ramen. Maybe someday it’ll be a regular menu item.


North Italia

11506 Century Oaks Terrace #124, Austin, TX 78758

This is a higher end Italian place where they make all the pasta same day in-house. The bread comes with sun-dried tomato butter. The food is incredible, and they have a great wine list. Try it out for date night!

Mia Italian Tapas

11420 Rock Rose Avenue #120, Austin, TX 78758

Cover 2

13701 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78750

Interesting menu. Sort of like a sports bar but with a chef’s touch. They do a bloody mary bar on the weekends. I like Cover 2 for the menu and vibe. Not much to point out besides that it is good at being what it is.

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen 

11617 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78759

Seafood. Excellent menu. Beautiful oysters, delicious savory seafood dishes including classics and New Orleans-influenced twists. Everything I’ve tried here is very good, and the staff and food feels high-end while you could get away with wearing jeans and a t-shirt. That is a winning combo in my opinion.


Pinthouse Pizza

4729 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756

Aside from having some of the best pizza in Austin…and even anywhere else I’ve lived (and that includes the East AND the West Coast of the good old USA), the beer is top-notch. Try a flight then settle into a pint of your liking. The staff will put together a flight if you don’t want to choose. The seating is grab one and celebrate you did, very democratic or…something. Long picnic tables you’ll share with your neighbors who might be pretty rad, frankly. I mean…I go there a lot (I’m here all week). Anyway they have awesome starters and salads, and the t-shirts for sale deliver the snark like nobody’s business.

The Pour House Pints & Pies

11835 Jollyville Rd, Austin, TX 78759

This is the place with the bright, colorful awnings and a big outdoor patio. They have an extensive beer menu, but they do offer a full bar as well. The pizzas are interesting and good. They also have salads and sandwiches, along with some traditional Italian entrees. Be sure to order some fried pickles and cheesy bread! The outdoor patio is perfect for chilling out, reading a book or hanging with friends on a Sunday Funday. Dog-friendly, but you have to keep your dog on the outside of the gated area. So…not perfect, but still great for doggin’. Excellent beer menu and the staff is always one of my fave parts of this hang in our hood.


Asia Cafe 

8650 Spicewood Springs Rd #114a, Austin, TX 78759

Big menu with tons of options. I’d name a favorite dish or two, but I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tried. This is in the same strip mall as Camino Real (mentioned also in this post). Bonus for both: there is also an Indian grocery store and Asian market in this strip mall too, and it is where I take my illustration classes. For a strip mall, you could do a lot worse. They also have a rewards program that seemingly wants me to have free egg rolls CONSTANTLY. How can I complain?


5408 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78756

Fried chicken…the best in Austin (my favorite, anyway). The atmosphere is casual and very southern and hipster Austiny. Cool artwork to stare at and amusing things to catch your eye everywhere…see: restrooms.

Hop Doddy Burger Bar 

2438 W Anderson Ln A, Austin, TX 78757

There is almost always a line to get in, but they bring you drinks and hand out samples of milkshakes! Get a “Skinny Dip” — a mini Corona beer tipped over into a frozen margarita. That line will get shorter in no time for one of the best burgers you’ll ever eat.’ They even have the “Impossible Burger” which I just recently tried and was very encouraged that fake meat is improving by leaps and bounds compared to when I was a vegetarian for about fifteen years. They’ve made some recent changes that I don’t mind, including a few updated burger choices. This is a fun place to take the in-laws or make a weekend dinner excursion into a buzzy good time.

Sip Saam Thai

6301 W Parmer Ln #505, Austin, TX 78729

Thai food with a menu metaphor for those who love movies. This restaurant took over the previous Thai place and after several months they also expanded to the next door space. The decor is clean and fresh. The menu has style and the food is a delightful combo of comforting curry and noodle dishes with all the magic of fresh herbs and citrus. This has become a staple in our eating out habits since it opened. The yellow curry….mmmm. Choose your spiciness preference on a scale of 1-10, and beware!

Balkan Cafe & Grill 

11800 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

If you’ve never tried Balkan food, now is the time! The salads are incredible, the cocktails are interesting and delish. I found the staff to be very warmly educational about the food. Nothing like a serving of kindness to go with an informative and thorough answer to what could have come off as a bunch of dumb questions! Excellent salads and lots of seasoned meats. Great for sampling and sharing.

Caspian Grill

12518 Research Blvd Ste. J, Austin, TX 78759

The food here is both gorgeous and very well thought out. The bright colors of the rice and fresh, ice cold salads and veggies contrast with the deep, rich flavors of the Persian grill and spices. The stews surprise with flavors that I personally wouldn’t have thought to combine. The staff members are like ninjas showing up just when you’re ready, and with plenty of enthusiasm and knowledge about the dishes. I always have questions, and they always have answers that help me select something amazing.

Oasthouse Kitchen & Bar

8300 N FM 620 e, Austin, TX 78726

The Oasthouse…what can I say? Every single bite of food I’ve eaten here has been outstanding. From the killer happy hour selections to the carefully curated seasonal menu, they are knocking me out. The pork ribs can’t be beaten. The scallops are cooked juuuuust right (and I’m picky about scallops), and the shared plates are gorgeous and disappear fast. Great wine and cocktails that come with advice, should you request it. Infused vodkas…just nothing bad about this place.

Quality Seafood

5621 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

If you know inland seafood, you know that it can be disappointing. Quality Seafood to the rescue. In fact, they provide a major share of seafood to the other Austin area seafood retailers. They’ve nailed it. Not only a great, east-coasty feeling lo-fi seafood haunt but a market where you can pick up the freshest, best seafood in Austin for your home cooking. I referenced QS in my second cookbook due to the incredible advice one of the mongers gave me about making Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew.

I don’t know about you, but I like a salty barkeep, and the women slinging booze here deliver. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for the personality of the place…but the Monday night ALASKAN KING CRAB SPECIAL sure doesn’t hurt either. Live music. Great seafood. Awesome staff. Gitcha some!

NXNW Restaurant & Brewery

10010 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78759

I love the chill, but clean and cool vibe of NXNW. The burgers rock. There’s a great fireplace to cozy up and enjoy. The staff is a crew of very conversational and interesting folks. They’ve got boss beer and something for everyone on the eclectic menu. Pretty great location for central meet-ups this far north with access to a whole mess of neighborhoods and roads.

Lupe Tortilla

10515 N. Mopac Expressway NB, Austin, TX 78759

This is my favorite spot for Tex-Mex fare when we have an evening to enjoy out. The spices knock me out. They’re doing it right. You can get anything from insanely flavorful seafood dishes (this can go so wrong in Tex-Mex, it is worth mentioning), and if you love a good carne asada, well, here’s your chance. The fajitas make an excellent choice for a catered event, and the margaritas are choice. Not one complaint. Not even the 20-minute wait that they said could be 45.

Poke House

11150 Research Blvd #216, Austin, TX 78759

For a counter service place in a strip mall, this is a gem. They’ve nailed the Subway or Chipotle-like assembly system of making poke your way. Everything is fresh, cold-AF (pardon my French, but nobody wants to question the temp of poke), and the place is clean, bright and professional. They have ahi, but you can also try out the salmon! Love that. Not everybody wants or can have seafood with high mercury content. Solid lunch or quick dinner.


Kura Revolving Sushi Bar

6929 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

I mean, who doesn’t love a gimmick? Maybe you? Well…that’s your issue. I love a good gimmick, always have. And revolving sushi places make me quake with gimmicky passion. Hurry! You might miss that spicy tuna roll! Plus, this place, along with all the other great revolving sushi bar gimmicks, has a prize system. Just go try it. Trust.


Great happy hour. Seating with a pretty view from the outdoor patio. Try the queso…in a town that does queso right, they’re still beating most of the rest.

The remaining list (below) will be supplemented with photos as I gather them. I didn’t want to leave them out of my compiled list of favorites, so be sure to check these out too! As I locate photos, I’ll flesh out my descriptions of these spots as well:

La Madeleine

9828 Great Hills Trail #650, Austin, TX 78759

This is a chain, but the food and coffee are superior. The French Dip is my go-to, and replace the side dish with French Onion Soup for a dipping alternate to au jus. The buffet-type line opens into a cozy little European feeling coffee shop with nice windows and natural light. Oh…and they serve wine too.

UZ Eats

8650 Spicewood Springs Rd suite 119, Austin, TX 78759

Thanks for checking out my list of favorites! What did I miss? Did I cover something you disagree with? Comments welcomed! I hope to hear from anyone who found my post helpful. Don’t forget to check out the entire Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for more great info on food you want to eat!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s