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Posted: 9:34 a.m. Thursday, March 6, 2014

Restaurants that have opened since last year in the SXSW core 

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23 restaurants near the SXSW action that have opened since 2013’s festival
Calabrese Pizza at Bufalina, which serves the best Neapolitan pizza in Austin.

By Matthew Odam

Arro: The team behind the popular 24 Diner and Easy Tiger delivers comforting French food and a smartly curated wine list. Try the croque monsieur or frog legs in brown butter. (601 W. Sixth St. 512-992-2776, arroaustin.com)

Austin Beer Garden Brewing: Craft beer and pizzas with bubbled, chewy crusts in a warehouse-style setting with plenty of outdoor seating. Feels a bit like a hybrid of Old Austin and the Pacific Northwest. (1305 W. Oltorf St. 512-298-2242, TheABGB.com)

Barlata: About 10 variations of paella, two dozen hot small plates and a convivial atmosphere at this Spanish tapas restaurant owned by chef Daniel Olivella, who also owns Barlata and B44 Catalan Bistro in the San Francisco Bay Area. (1500 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-473-2211, barlataaustin.com)

Benji’s Cantina: The beef tenderloin fajitas may give you sticker shock, but the regular skirt steak fajitas are excellent, as are the margaritas. Rooftop seats will offer some of the best views of the madness of West Sixth Street. Now open for lunch. (716 W. Sixth St. 512-476-8226, benjiscantina.com)

Bufalina: The best Neapolitan pizza in the city and a great Italian wine list at this little East Austin restaurant make the wait worth it. Also try the hand-pulled mozzarella and charcuterie plate, sourced from places like Iowa’s La Quercia. (1519 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-2523, bufalinapizza.com)

Chavez: 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. The menu features homemade tortillas, tamales and sharable plates of grilled meats and fish. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (111 E Cesar Chavez St. 512-478-2991, chavez-austin.com)

Daruma Ramen: Four variations of ramen, including vegetarian, from the folks behind Airport Boulevard Japanese restaurant Kome. One of the best bets on the strip of Sixth Street between Congress Avenue and Interstate 35. (612-B E. Sixth St. 512-369-3897, darumaramen.com)

Dolce Neve: The shop, owned by a trio of Italians, serves gelato made daily with locally sourced seasonal ingredients, organic fresh milk and no artificial flavorings, preservatives or thickeners added. (1713 S. First St. 512-804-5568, dolcenevegelato.com)

Due Forni: The restaurant, founded by chef Carlos Buscaglia and University of Texas alumnus Alex Taylor, serves Roman and Neapolitan pizzas, using two separate Napolitano ovens (hence the name). That means one group of pies with a thicker, fluffier edge and another with thin, crackery crust. Happy hour includes meatballs, charcuterie and cheese, and gnocchi for $5. (106 E. Sixth St. 512-391-9300, dueforni.com)

El Chile: The original opened more than 10 years ago on Manor Road and moved to South Austin in 2013. The Tex-Mex-meets-interior spot is known for its enchiladas, quesadillas, chile rellenos, conchinita pibil, brunch offerings and diverse cocktail menu. (1816 S. First St. 512-401-3161, elchilecafe.com)

Gus’s Fried Chicken: In a short period of time this Memphis import has made a case for being considered the best fried chicken in Austin. Throw some hot sauce on it to kick it up another notch. (117 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-474-4877, gusfriedchicken.com)

Haymaker: The sister restaurant-bar of South Lamar’s Black Sheep Lodge, this place serves big ol’ open-faced sandwiches (several covered in cheese sauce), burgers, and about 40 draft beers and another 100 in bottles and cans. (2310 Manor Road. 512-243-6702, haymakeraustin.com)

Hightower: This neighborhood spot delivers competitively priced comfort dishes like fried boudin and steak frites in a laid-back, friendly and loud setting. The patio will be a prime people-watching spot during SXSW. (1209 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1448, thehightoweraustin.com)

Jeffrey’s: The Austin institution was revamped and redesigned by successful restaurateurs Larry McGuire and Tommy Moorman. The restaurant, with an elegant main dining room and a bar that feels plucked from Manhattan, serves old-school classics such as lobster thermidor and a roster of juicy dry-aged steaks. (1204 W. Lynn St., 512-477-5584, jeffreysofaustin.com)

LaV: An elegant new addition to the scene from managing partner Vilma Mazaite and chef Allison Jenkins, both veterans of Aspen’s Little Nell, LaV serves rustic, Mediterranean-influenced cuisine and boasts an impressive wine list. The restaurant opened this week. (1501 E. Sixth St. 512-720-8112, saylavaustin.com)

Licha’s Cantina: This venture from former Mettle general manager Daniel Brooks specializes in Mexican street food like huaraches and tacos in a rustic setting with a large outdoor space. (1306 E. Sixth St. 512-480-5960, Facebook.com/lichasaustin)

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

Mettle: A lunch menu of sandwiches and salads gives way to bistro fare like duck leg confit and braised pork shank at this East Austin restaurant. Try the beef tongue tacos with homemade tortillas and escabeche. (507 Calles St. 512-236-1022, MettleAustin.com)

No Va: Comfort food like bacon-and-egg pasta and a nice selection of vegetable dishes served in a chic space amidst the Rainey Street madness. The patios on the ground and second floor should offer a nice glimpse of the SXSW insanity. (87 Rainey St. 512-382-5651, NoVaOnRainey.com)

Odd Duck: Chef Bryce Gilmore came to attention with his similarly named trailer that focused on farm-to-table dining. He has since gone on to earn recognition from the James Beard Foundation with his restaurant Barley Swine. This window-wrapped restaurant up the street from the exceptional Barley Swine serves haute bar food, and the focus remains on local and seasonal ingredients with dishes like goat heart salad and boudin with grits. (1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, OddDuckAustin.com)

Qui: The opening of “Top Chef” winner Paul Qui’s eponymous restaurant was greeted with more expectations and excitement than any restaurant in recent history. Qui has helped introduce many Austinites to Filipino cuisine such as dinuguan (pork blood stew), here topped with toasted gnocchi, and the chef and his team deliver imaginative creations like Rabbit 7 Ways. The small bar, which also serves a sizable outdoor patio, puts out some of the best cocktails in town, as evidenced by the staff’s recent victory in the Drink of Austin contest. (1600 E. Sixth St. 512-436-9626, quiaustin.com)

Searsucker: Celebrity chef Brian Malarkey expanded his West Coast demi-empire to Austin and here marries coastal cuisine with Texas flavors (drunken mahi and double-cut pork chops) at the massive restaurant on the edge of the Warehouse District. (415 Colorado St. 512-394-8000, searsucker.com)

Teji’s: Teji’s started in Round Rock and now offers solid Indian food on the Drag across from the University of Texas campus. Try the goat korma — a sweet and creamy dish with mild spice featuring tender bone-in goat. (2100 Guadalupe St. 512- 215-0307, tejifoods.com)

Matthew Odam

About Matthew Odam

Matthew Odam is the restaurant critic and reporter at the Austin American-Statesman, where he also covers the local film scene and writes film criticism.

Connect with Matthew Odam on:Twitter

Send Matthew Odam an email.

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