South by Southwest is about to be in session. So are many schools. That means traffic, congestion, crowds, no parking and major headaches in the core of Austin. It also makes it a perfect time to explore all of the great dining options that are far enough from the action that you won't even know there are thousands of visitors wandering Austin's streets in search of the next hot band, cool movie or groundbreaking app.
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Andiamo Ristorante. 2521 Rutland Drive. 512-719-3377, andiamoitaliano.com. Classic Italian in North Austin with a family-owned vibe will set you at ease. So will the homemade ravioli.
Apis. 23526 Texas 71, Spicewood. 512-436-8918, apisrestaurant.com. Fine dining in the rolling hills west of Austin at a restaurant that features honey from its own apiary.
Asiana. 801 E. William Cannon Drive #205. 512-445-3435, asianaindiancuisine.com. Dip crackling dosas the size of a cricket bat into a robust tomato- and tamarind-filled sambar, and savor the aromatic hum of rogan josh (lamb).
Asti Trattoria. 408 E. 43rd St. 512-451-1218, astiaustin.com. Neighborhood Italian with a sophisticated touch in the middle of Hyde Park.
Barley Swine. 6555 Burnet Road #400. 512-394-8150, barleyswine.com. The nimble kitchen from multiple James Beard finalist chef Bryce Gilmore delivers both a la carte and tasting menus flush with creativity.
Bartlett’s. 2408 West Anderson Lane. 512-451-7333, bartlettsaustin.com. A yellowfin tuna burger sweetened with soy-honey glaze and apricot-glazed roasted chicken feel more comforting than anachronistic at this former Houston’s outpost.
Black Star Co-Op. 7020 Easy Wind Drive. 512-452-2337, blackstar.coop. The thoughtful pub fare at this cooperative brewpub includes one of the city’s best burgers.
Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue. 15608 Spring Hill Lane #105, Pflugerville. 512-547-4766, blackironmeats.com. Quality smoked meats serve as the centerpieces for a menu of creative and robust sandwiches.
Charm Korean BBQ. 1200 W. Howard Lane. 512-505-8513, charmkoreanbbq.com. Your server brings you a tray of raw and marinated meats, and then you flip and turn the pieces of pork belly, brisket, pork shoulder and beef ribs on your tabletop grill. Unsure of yourself? Don’t worry; the friendly staff will swoop in before you’ve overcooked your bulgogi.
Chen’s Noodle House. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road. 512-336-8889, chensnoodlehouseaustin.com. Friendly and no frills, this counter-service restaurant started by George Chen is home to some of the best hand-cut noodles in town.
Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614-2260, contigotexas.com. Juicy burgers, tawny roasted chicken, housemade charcuterie and solid cocktails are all on offer at this ranch-inspired restaurant near Mueller.
Cypress Grill. 4404 W. William Cannon Drive. 512-358-7474, cypressgrill.net. Get a taste of New Orleans and Southeast Texas at this spot that serves good, cream red beans.
Epicerie. 2307 Hancock Drive. 512-371-6840, epicerieaustin.com. Chef Sarah McIntosh puts some light touches on typically weighty Louisiana cuisine, such as the zippy remoulade and crunchy cabbage on a shrimp po-boy and the bites of smoked shrimp that dot fried green tomatoes.
Evangeline Café. 8106 Brodie Lane. 512-282- 2586, evangelinecafe.com. Deep-fried Cajun comfort and a strong sense of South Austin community pervade.
Fonda San Miguel. 2330 W. North Loop Blvd. 512-459-4121, fondasanmiguel.com. The faithful flock to this interior Mexican stalwart for dishes such as vibrant cochinita pibil and a house relleno that spills with chicken, olives, capers and walnuts.
Garbo’s. 14735 Bratton Lane. 512-350-9814, garboslobsteratx.com. The lobster rolls, their crimson knuckle and claw meat bursting from their toasty pouches, serve as the centerpiece for the restaurant that also delivers East Coast faves like well-developed clam chowder and a mean burger.
Jack Allen's Kitchen. Multiple locations.jackallenskitchen.com. Chef Jack Gilmore has created a hybrid farm-to-table roadhouse and brings that quality food to diners in Oak Hill, North Austin and West Austin.
Kome. 5301 Airport Blvd. #100. 512-712-5700, kome-austin.com. The Kome viche — salmon and mango topped with madai and sashimi and bright yuzu powder — displays the sushi evolution from owners Také and Kayo Asazu’s original trailer. Make sure to explore non-sushi items like chicken Kara-agé (fried chicken thigh meat) and the flaky and salted grilled yellowfin collar.
Le Bleu. 9070 Research Blvd. #303. 512-770-1100, lebleuatx.com. Chef Tebi Nguyen expands on his Saigon Le Vendeur trailer’s menu of Vietnamese sandwiches with a savory lamb version, along with dishes like summer rolls wrapped around grilled pork patty and chicken pho brimming with florality, herbaceousness and heat.
L’Oca d’Oro. 1900 Simond Ave. 737-212–1876, locadoroaustin.com. The Mueller neighborhood has slowly taken shape around the kind of Italian restaurant most established areas would long to have. Chef Fiore Tedesco celebrates the seasons and gives them voice in clean and smart plates and well executed pasta dishes.
Pieous. 166 Hargraves Drive. 512-394-7041, facebook.com/pieous. Husband-and-wife team Josh and Paige Kaner have created a restaurant equally loved by families and food-obsessives. And they did it on the edge of town, with the unexpected combination of puffed, steaming Neapolitan pizza and perfumed folds of smoky beef pastrami.
Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, qualityseafoodmarket.com. This elbows-on-the-bar, cold beer, fried shrimp and Gulf oysters spot will make you feel right at home.
Saffron. 3616 Far West Blvd. 512-241-1732, saffronaustin.com. Co-owner Thiniso Tashi was raised in Northeast India by a Tibetan father and Nepalese mother, and the menu at his restaurant straddles Tibet and Nepal, with one foot in India and one in China. Get the goat stew and achari chicken.
The Steeping Room. 4400 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-467-2663, thesteepingroom.com. Healthy bowls, salads and a play on the BLT using tempeh give vegetarians and healthy eaters plenty of options at these two cafes.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. 6610 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-380-9199, stilesswitchbbq.com. Brisket and beef ribs are the starting points for this Top 10 barbecue restaurant with Taylor, Texas, roots that also serves great corn casserole and a nostalgia-inducing banana pudding.
Szechuan House. 11005 Burnet Road. 512-832-8989, szechuanhouseaustin.com. Come to this bustling lunch spot (calmer at dinner) for a tea-smoked (then fried) duck that looks like tanned leather on the outside but crackles and pops when you bite into it, revealing tender meat.
Tan My. 1601 Ohlen Road 512-832-9585. The pho has depth and character, and the round eye beef, often too dry in pho, tastes like thin-sliced prime rib at Christmas. A marinade of soy sauce, garlic and a splash of fish sauce elevates the charbroiled pork into transcendent meat candy at this Vietnamese restaurant tucked behind a strip mall.
Taste of Ethiopia. 1100 Grand Parkway Ave. Pflugerville. 512-251-4053, tasteofethiopiaaustin.com. Woinee Mariam imbues her Pflugerville restaurant with an affection that warms guests as much as the ubiquitous Ethiopian berbere. Doro wot and beef tibs for the meat eaters and a veggie platter with an assortment that includes split-pea purée and mildly sweet collard greens for the vegetarians.
Thai Kun. 11601 Rock Rose Ave. 512-719-3332, thaikun.com. The Rock Rose area of Domain Northside replicates a modern downtown by way of “The Truman Show,” but there is nothing cookie-cutter about Bangkok native Changthong’s fiery Thai food.
Titaya's. 5501 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-458-1792, titayasthaicuisine.com. The fibrous snap of bamboo strips and zucchini fills a green curry warmed with serrano peppers and sweetened with coconut milk in one of several very good curries at Titaya’s, one of the most popular Thai restaurants in town.