Bess Bistro
Bess Bistro

Bess Bistro

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.bessbistro.com/
  • Phone: 5124772377x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Dinner: Sunday-Thursday 4:30pm-10:00pm;
    Friday-Saturday 4:30pm-11:00pm

    Happy Hour: All night Sundays & Mondays in the bar. Tuesday through Friday 4:30 - 7pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Contemporary French / American, Creole / Cajun / Southern
  • Executive Chef: Roman Murphy
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Area, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Smoking Area, Smoking Area (patio only), Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Facilities: Bess Bistro offers two private dining options.

    Our Library offers a semi-private dining experience that seats up to 16 and features our luxurious fresh-water fish tank, flat-screen television and the comfortable warmth of a private wine room.

    The upstairs Terrace Lounge, seating up to 35, can be reserved for private events and offers a mélange of options including small bites, cocktails and formal dining, with spectacular views of west 6th street.
  • Private Party Contact: Lindsey Gerson 5124772377x

Getting there

  • Cross Street: San Antonio
  • Public Transit: Accessible by Capital Metro Bus Routes
    #4 Montopolis & #21 Exposition
  • Parking: Valet
  • Parking Details: Tuesday-Saturday 5:30pm - 11:00 pm
    $7 per car
A word from Bess Bistro
Bess is an authentic bistro in the Stratford Arms building at 500 West Sixth Street, Austin's Old Pecan Street. Originally the Stratford Apartments built in 1918, the vintage building's old bank vault is Bess' kitchen today. Hand-crafted beers, wines and liquors are served from a stunning pewter bar custom-made in Montbazon. The ambiance provides a unique blend of casual elegance, cheeky ease, and European flair. The menu deliberately defies classification, serving eclectic fare such as Creole inspired Shrimp Bess, Mussels from Prince Edward Island, Steak Frites and old-fashioned Mac & Cheese. Natural, organic and local, the menu's common thread is the passion of the chef.
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerRomantic
Bess Bistro reviews from OpenTable diners
114 reviews since May 24, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.2
    Service4.5
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
88% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
romantic (83)special occasion (81)fit for foodies (58)neighborhood gem (31)notable wine list (26)good for groups (21)late-night find (9)hot spot (8)great for outdoor dining (5)great for lunch (5)great for brunch (4)vibrant bar scene (3)scenic view (2)kid-friendly (1)Show More
  • Receptionist tries to spoil evening
    PutzarelliVIP
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    The receptionist tried to seat my guest and I in a table sandwiched between the bar and a service aisle with very heavy foot traffic. Eating there would have been like trying to down a sandwich before boarding a subway train. When asked to be moved, the receptionist coldly replied that the restaurant was "full up", but that "[she] would try to see what [she] could do". The reality was the restaurant was trying to close a section that at the moment held three far more desirable tables. Acquiring a seating in this section was achieved by enduring another helping of receptionist attitude. Oh well. The rest of the service was very good. The dinner was very good. The wine list middle of the road.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent new Fall menu
    Browner56VIP
    Dined on 9/11/2014
    Went with another couple who had never been there. It has an interesting cocktail selection and starters. We all enjoyed the Arrancini with onion jam. Had 3 different entrees - scallops, duck breast and short rib. Everything was great and we had forgotten how charming the interior is with the exposed brick, cozy booths and below ground location. My only slight fault is that it is priced on the high side so for us it will remain a special occasion restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Good Food, but So-So Value
    Austintatious
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    The atmosphere was interesting but loud, the service was top-notch, and the food was great. However, I don't think the food (or alcohol) warranted the prices for what we received, as I've had food and drinks just as good at lower prices at several other restaurants. The Wagyu burger and steak were delicious, as was the escargot, but the drink selection leaves something to be desired. The value just wasn't there for me. They accommodated a reservation modification with no problem.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We Loved Bess!!
    Foodies2
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    My husband and I chose Bess to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. At first we were a bit put off by the menu, which is very unique and not your usual fare. But our waiter, Samuel, explained everything and that helped. The breads were delicious-especially the jalapeño cornbread; and the salads and entrees were delicious! Our dessert was the Peach Upside Down Cake, and it was also delectable. The portions were just right. All in all we enjoyed our dinner, and Samuel's great service enhanced the occasion greatly.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful meal and service
    Yammie
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    Terrific location, beautiful decor and top notch food. With service over the top this is now a favorite place and we will come back:)
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not what I expected
    Ndi60VIP
    Dined on 9/2/2014
    Seems to me that the oprice have risen and the quality has degraded. I do not plan to go back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • An Austin treasure
    DrAl
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    The food is a wonderful mix with southern and Texas overtones. If you want a great place to dine, this is it. We loved the service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Happy Anniversary
    MidnightDave
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    My wife and I celebrated our 17th anniversary here and they were very accomodating, seating us in the corner, our waiter, Samuel, greeted us by name, and was just fantastic. He was knowledgeable, attentive yet not intrusive, and witty. The food, as expected was fantastic in quality, presentation, and (important to me b/c I love to eat), quantity.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Shrimp Bess Great, the rest not so
    LongtalltexicanVIP
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    I went here for dinner with a foodie-friend. I have usually gone for lunch and have liked it. I was frankly shocked by the poor food quality. Service was good but not great and the ambiance is great. The Shrimp Bess, thanks to tons-o-butter, is great and the shrimp portion was quite generous. The bread was completely pedestrian in a town of great bakeries. My friend got the squid-ink cured diver scallops @ $25 that had only two scallops! Unbelievable. I had the fish special (which I cannot remember the name of and was unfamiliar with) and it was almost inedible. Part was thin and dried out and the other part was thicker and I nibbled on that. Place was 1/3 full at 8:30 at night but apparently they aren't getting it.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Must Try At Least Once
    eljefe
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    The place lived up to its reputation for ambiance, providing a lovely intimate setting for dinner with my wife. The service was a little uneven, but acceptable. The menu items, though innovated and intriguing on one hand, lacked a certain breadth of choices in my opinion. The scallops I had were beautifully presented, but fell a bit short in exciting my gustatory senses (a little too salty and thin on the seasoning). My wife gave her pan-seared branzino fish dish a solid thumbs up, though. My fried green tomatoes appetizer was outstanding. My waiter made good suggestions for wine, but was a tad tardy with timely delivery of it with my meal (wine is an important accessory for my dining experience). Dessert was more than adequate.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing dinner experience
    nativeaustinite
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    Unfortunately, our recent experience at this usually superb restaurant was a real disappointment. Two of us ordered the Surf and Turf special, but the lobster tail was so tough it could hardly be cut and was flavorlessly chewy. One of us ordered pork shoulder, but it was 90% fat, therefore inedible as well. The wait staff and manager were gracious enough to replace the dishes, but the lobster replacements were still lacking. We did appreciate the complimentary dessert to share for our inconvenience, but overall it was a dismal dining experience.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Service was amazing.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    The service and ambiance were absolutely spot on. So were the drinks and appetizers. But my fiancé and I weren't exactly pleased with our entrees considering how much they were. Would definitely go back for appetizers and drinks, though.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Worth making a reservation!
    ValleyVisitors
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    Make time for this bistro on your next trip to Austin. Totally worth the price. Everything is cooked perfectly and we were given impeccable service. Will definitely be back and recommend this place to friends and family.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Rare Find
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 8/14/2014
    Truly and Eddie Vs were booked and we got a table at Bess immediately. Loved it !
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Unique food, with a private feel
    DDNEVTEX
    Dined on 8/14/2014
    I met a friend here for dinner who I had not seen in a while. We did not feel rushed at all by our waitress. We had lots of time to visit before ordering but were well taken care of. The restaurant seems small and very intimate. We had not trouble having a conversation without it being loud despite the fact that all the tables near us were full. The food was very good although be prepared it is not cheap but I feel it was a good quality for the price. I had the roasted chicken and it was perfectly prepared and just the right amount. My friend had the burger and she said it was good but the fries were her favorite.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • To Dine For
    anappetiteforaustin
    Dined on 8/13/2014
    Great food--original and tasty fare by a talented young chef. Great Ambience in an historic old building. Be sure to get a table tucked away in one of the alcoves.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Incredible Happy Hour
    AJ512
    Dined on 8/10/2014
    My daughter and I went to Bess Bistro for an early dinner after a Zach Scott play. The food was delicious, but because we were there during Happy Hour, we got half off a bottle of very nice wine. We both ordered the flat iron steak and a side of mashed potatoes. So so good. Then the beignets for dessert. Incredibly light and delicious. The service was outstanding and ambiance was lovely. Will be going back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very Nice
    goodgrub
    Dined on 8/8/2014
    Food was wonderful in taste and presentation. Very nice and out-of-the-ordinary setting. Attentive waitstaff. All-in-all a special evening. Will def return. Love the actor, love the food.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cheesecake Factory Dining
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Waitress was great. Seated 6 inches away from the couple next to us. Felt like being at a Cheesecake Factory. If I'm going to spend over $50 a plate I'd expect a bit of privacy. Ordered the rib-eye (rare) with an extra char. Couldn't do the char because they didn't have the "right equipment". I simple torch would have been sufficient. Steak is brought out medium. Broke my own rule of never ordering steak unless I'm at a steakhouse but thought I'd give it a try. Burned again.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful
    LisaVIP
    Dined on 7/28/2014
    We loved the ambiance and the food was great. Service was great also! I was not feeling well when the meal came and did not really eat it. They took it off the bill even though it was not their fault at all and we did not ask them to. My husband and daughter LOVED everything about the food.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Enjoyable
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 7/27/2014
    Our server, India, was bubbly and welcoming; a sheer delight. She was very knowledgeable and offered appropriate suggestions without being too pushy. It was nice to be able to carry on a conversation at our table without having to yell over all the noise that seems to be all too common at other restaurants. The sauces are outstanding. (Grab a spoon and dig in.) The mussels were tasty, but a little on the small side. The entrees were well portioned and flavorful.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Food was ok
    Eerangel
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    We went with a scallops and pork belly dishes. Pork Belly was dry. Scallops were ok but small plate. Good gazpacho.
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great service & venue, food okay
    PhydeaudeauxVIP
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    We had a wonderful waiter and the ambiance was great. The food was very expensive relative to the value received... e.g. $9 for four little beignets was indicative of the rest of the menu. Good wine list, though, and it wasn't priced too out of line with other similar restaurants.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great first experience
    JTeam
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    On a recommendation from a co-worker, my wife and I wanted a "date night". Looking for an adult atmosphere with little distraction, we found it here. The waiter was super nice and patient as we discovered the menu for the first time and didn't know all of the language written. The matre'd from across the room could read our body language when we appeared to look for our server and was at our table for excellent service. Without a doubt first impression was superior and pricing was not break the bank too high either. Not sure if it was timing but parking was closer than 50' from the door with no hassles and wasn't a busy street to cross. This location was well thought out and everyone from greeting to paying the tab was professional.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Special Celebrations
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    One of the best places for special celebrations. The food is great. Offers vegaterian dinner. Something for everyone.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • wonderful ambiance
    SusanDC
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    Absolutely beautiful ambiance. Crispy artichokes are to die for. Wonderful service from surprisingly hunky male staff.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • 11Yr Anniversary Dinner
    Greyghost
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    Me and wife visited Bess on a Friday night with a reservation. The restaurant was not overly crowded and we were sat immediately in a very nice somewhat secluded booth. Waitstaff was very friendly and helpful. The food was only ok simply because of a bad cut of steak and everything else was great. The manager was very helpful though and offered to do whatever was necessary to make it a great experience. We love the atmosphere and will definitely go back.
    Special Features:
    romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A FOODIES PARADISE
    Food4Thought
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    From the moment you walk in you know that you are in for a treat. No detail was spared on this French Bistro cozy underground find. The service is top notch (Ask for Samuel). The wine list carefully chosen with enough choices to satisfy everyone. The food is great. We enjoyed the fried artichokes, rib eye and roasted chicken. Lastly the desert, olive oil short cake with fresh berries was amazing! We will return.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Smithm
    Dined on 7/14/2014
    Delicious food, great decor, intimate setting and friendly staff.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • food, ambiance, mood good, but slow
    daviddiner
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    the setting, the mood, the ambiance, all a good feeling. excited about being there. started with great attention, but it was too long between salad and main course. long enough that we lost the mood.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Absolutely phenomenal
    Tyler
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    Everything was absolutely amazing. My wife and I went her for her birthday and we could not have been more pleased. I was worried with it being on 6th that it might be crazy but it wasn't. It was a fantastic quiet romantic dinner for the two of us. We got the streak with the duck liver on top and for appetizers my wife got a delicious salad with peaches and I got the escargot. Both were fantastic. The good was chopped perfectly and tasted divine. And the bread! Wow delicious with the 3 different kinds of salt to choose from which enhanced the already delicious bread! Everything was the best of I've ever had on all categories. Definitely recommend!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Just Visiting
    Steve
    Dined on 7/2/2014
    On a quick business trip and it was a nice and elegant dinner withing walking distance of our office on Congress. Very good food.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Bess Bistro
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    Amazing! We had the best time. Great food, great atmosphere, and great drinks! Definitely will be back!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fabulous dinner
    SouthTXFoodie
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    Bess Bistro in downtown Austin was amazing. The staff was attentive, food timing perfect. The quality of the ingredients was top notch and mostly local. We had a great time and will most certainly be back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great for first date
    Deuceump
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    This was our second date, great time awesome food.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, scenic view, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • BessTie
    Dined on 6/22/2014
    I continue to love Bass Bistro. The escargots and scallops were excellent. I wish they weren't out of the mussels as they are my favorite. The hostess was very acommodating to me and my out of town guests. Our server was so polite and knowledgeable and very attentive that I didn't want our evening there to end. Thank you team Bass.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, great for lunch, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Quite good overall
    JustMe
    Dined on 6/22/2014
    The food we ate was delicious, as always. And, we very much appreciated the half-priced bottle of wine offer, particularly because we were able to take what was left home. However, the restaurant was already "out" of an appetizer just 30 minutes after the restaurant opened, which was disappointing. Also, the desserts were so "exotic" (and few) that we went elsewhere for that.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Made for nice night
    Amber722
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    We enjoyed our dinner here. Server was prompt and on too of everything. Food was great. I think it was slightly over priced for what it was but the feel made it worth it. Did get a little loud towards the end but that's to be expected for a downtown restruant.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Business dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 6/18/2014
    I love Bess and have been in more times than I can count. Unfortunately, I had my first bad experience there this week. Samuel, our waiter was PHENOMENAL but the food was just not good at all. Disappointing for sure. Hopefully kitchen just had an off night.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful meal
    SuSu
    Dined on 6/17/2014
    Lovely ambiance, fantastic service and wonderful meal. Steak frites, scallops and pork chop were all delicious.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet