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 July 4, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.2
    Service4.5
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
89% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
romantic (80)special occasion (79)fit for foodies (53)neighborhood gem (36)notable wine list (25)good for groups (23)hot spot (12)great for outdoor dining (6)late-night find (6)great for brunch (5)great for lunch (4)scenic view (2)vibrant bar scene (2)Show More
  • Party of 5 - very pleased people
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    Our evening began with a nice Chardonnay and perfectly executed appetizers. Four salads and one soup later, we were looking forward to what was to come - we knew we would not be disappointed. Our waiter, Roy was very knowledgable, knew his menu and wine list well. Once he helped us select our main entrees and a few family style side dishes he suggested the perfect wine to complement our selections. We were all over the menu, from the duck breast to the burger and each of us were pleased with our selections. We loved that we never felt rushed, we arrived at 7 and ordered dessert at 10 - our choice, our waiter knew that we wanted to visit and enjoy our evening. Dessert and French press coffee were the perfect ending to a perfect evening!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • In town and loved it!
    EatItSouthern
    Dined on 10/21/2014
    I heard wonderful things from friends who dined at Bess Bistro and wanted to give it a try. The food was great and the staff was attentive. We followed the recommendations on what to order and were not disappointed in the least. I'm typically not a dessert eater but the special sounded too interesting to pass up. I was not disappointed!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Birthday dinner
    J2ez
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Perfect taste and recommendations - service was great as well
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointed
    Veeh
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    The hostess didn't ask us if we'd like to eat outside which we would have because it was much nicer, much quieter, and the weather was perfect. We didn't know there was outside dining until we asked the valet as we were leaving. Our dinner was a romantic special occasion and it was so noisy we couldn't hear each other or the waiter. When I told him I couldn't hear him he said 'yea, I have a soft voice.' The food was good; I had the red snapper and my friend had the burger. I set my expectations much higher and was sorely disappointed for the ambiance.
    Special Features:
    late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Bess food in Austin
    OleBrackVIP
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    Bess Bistro balances everything - food, service & ambiance - to create a wonderful dining experience. Just right.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Allyce Juenke
    neworleanslady
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    We were greeted by friendly staff, who led us to our cozy table in this beautiful, downtown Austin restaurant. We enjoyed a perfect Sazerac and Moscow Mule. Our server was both friendly and knowledgeable. I had the braised lamb shoulder Pappardelle and my daughter had the duck confit. It's been 25 years since I've had a meal this delicious. My daughter and I both agree, that we will remember for years to come, what we dined on at Bess Bistro. Our dishes were perfectly seasoned with fresh herbs, well balanced, delicate, and simply amazing. I can't wait to go again with the rest of my family.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, late-night find, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Overall good experience
    Foodie4lyfe
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    We were able to get a booth, which I highly recommend! Our waiter was very knowledgeable and kind. He knew how to perfectly paid our wines with our dinner. The "morsels" and "mouthfuls" had a good flavor, but the duck that I ordered seemed to be bland, and the burger that someone from my party ordered wasn't anything special either. Another person ordered the lamb and really enjoyed it. Perhaps I simply chose the wrong dish. I would come here again though and try something else.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • amazing experience
    terracetop
    Dined on 10/15/2014
    Chose this place for a quiet birthday dinner for two. Staff was more than accommodating with some suprise plans for a special night. Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable and helpful since it was our first time there. She gave us time to enjoy our appetizer before putting in the main course order. The food was incredible. Lots of flavor worth every penny! Overall walked out of there extremely happy and satisfied can't wait to try it again!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • way too loud
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/15/2014
    We came to enjoy a meal and talk w friends. We were unable to hear anything. We won't be be returning. Try ceiling baffles or curtains.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Out of Towner
    ATXfan
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    We took a dear friend, who had never been to Austin before, to dinner at Bess Bistro. She loved is and was even more overjoyed about our city. She loved the fried green tomatoes. I had the burger and it was fabulous. I will continue to bring friends to this lovely establishment.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great staff and food
    Markj0314
    Dined on 10/13/2014
    My wife and I celebrated her birthday there and had a very nice evening. Kitchen was a little slow (20 min for appetizers, another 30 for entrees) – waitress was polite and we were enjoying our dinner so we were in no rush. Manager brought over free round of drinks without being prompted and apologized for the kitchen. We would definitely eat at Bess again!
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Beta
    Dined on 10/13/2014
    The food was very good, well prepared and with beautiful presentation. Good Service and server was very friendly and professional.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • GREAT service....salty food
    bchurchin
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    This is the second time I have gone to Bess and had AMAZING service, but almost inedible salty food. Ordered the fried artichokes starter, and the crispy spinach that came with it...I couldn't continue after the first bite. The scallops were the same, but a touch less on the salt spectrum. I didn't want to tell our server, because you could tell how hard she was working, and she was really good at her job.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Still a Favorite!
    Micheladelfina
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    I had dinner at Bess last week while a couple of our east coast relatives were in town. I've been there about a half dozen times at it is always consistently good, and was even more curious this time around as I had read about a recent change in the Chef and the menu. The service remains excellent; Lara has been my server the last two or three times I've been there and has provided impeccable yet friendly service each time. The menu is geared toward more seasonal offerings now, and in spite of our recent heat wave, I decided to embrace fall with the pumpkin soup and the sweet potato ravioli. Both were excellent; fall-centric dishes can often feel heavy to me, and the ravioli was flavorful yet light. I would definitely order it again!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Perfect !!!!!!!!!
    Princesseye
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    Phenomenal !!!!!!!!!!!! We were from out of town and will not mind coming back again for the great food and customer service :) !!!!!!!!! Please keep up the good work and don't change .....Will be raving about you to friends and family even the whole world !
    Special Features:
    hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Eat here before the masses discover
    DesertChef
    Dined on 10/9/2014
    Food was great and moderately priced (most expensive thing I recall was $33) , nice portions (not too small) , food was not hidden by tons of sauce, as a matter of fact sauce was barely on the meat but more as a design on the plate to allow you to dip at will. Waiter was pleasant and knowledgeable, the bartender was outstanding.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Bess - a Good Bet
    Lizzie
    Dined on 10/7/2014
    Server was icy yet attentive except for a strange lull between appetizers and the main course when no one showed up at our table at all. However, the food was delicious and the specialty cocktails were superb! One perk- friendliest valet in town was working on October 7th! One disappointment- we indicated a special anniversary on our reservation, but this wasn't acknowledged at all.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • awesome experience !
    MJVRV
    Dined on 10/7/2014
    Our server was great, answered our many questions courteously The good was fantastic! There was even a birthday card for my daughter which was very nice
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • best dinner of my life :)
    lissa
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    me and my husband wanted to celebrate our anniversary somewhere really special, and we definitely found it at bess bistro. the food, the ambiance, the service, made for a night we will always remember and cherish. when I made the reservation, there was a spot you could put any special requests. I put that it was our anniversary. when we got there, there was a card signed by the staff wishing us a happy anniversary. it was very personal and sweet.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • 30years & still in love
    stillinloveafter30years
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    My husband took me to dinner to celebrate my birthday on October 3, 2014. The service was awesome from the moment we walked in. Our waitress Laura was very attentive. She made our evening fun! Compliments to the chef! The food was superb! I had the barbecued shrimp and grits dish; New Orleans style with smoked ham. Absolutely delicious! The shrimps were huge & the portions were just right. The dish had just enough spicy ness; not too hot. The jalapeño corn bread was a great addition. My husband had a steak and cooked to perfection. He also had cooked oysters and Brussels sprouts. The veggies were tender and delicious! To top off our special occasion, our waitress brought out a surprise birthday dessert; 4 small pastries & a birthday candle
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very Enjoyable Evening
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/1/2014
    We had a great time, with great food, drinks and service.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always enjoyable
    TCUFrog
    Dined on 10/1/2014
    Bess Bistro is one of my favorite Austin restaurants when I am visiting in town. The food is consistently delicious, fresh, and inspirational. Service is just attentive enough not to be intrusive. I love the historic building and the ambiance as well. Looking forward to the next time I am in town.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed
    jsavner
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    We had been to Bess several times and always enjoyed it. This time was a dissapoint me. They have changed their menu in the last couple of weeks so before you go be sure they still have your favorites. I was extremely disappointed that they took the Steak Frite off the menu. I had the burger which was overly expensive. My wife had the pumpkin soup and short ribs. Soup came out luke warm the first time and her dinner was under seassoned. Not sure we'll go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • perfect balance of casual elegance
    Texasgal
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Terrific service and food. For those of you who like good food that is unique and you would not make it at home but not so trendy you are not sure what you are eating this is the place for you. The atmosphere is sophisticated and casual as is the food.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Restaurant
    Foodie
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Great restaurant for a special occasion. Quiet and romantic atmosphere.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Trends ....
    MelKVIP
    Dined on 9/17/2014
    Love the ambiance of this restaurant. The service was outstanding. The food was very good to outstanding. The only reason this would not be a 5 star on this visit, is because notice shrinking portions but for the same price tag. Not liking this general trend in the Austin foodie scene – expensive but small “tricked up” plates. Seems like Bess could be on the way to joining that group of restaurants. I would prefer to see them continue serving solid and still "fit for foodies" great food with decent portions.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • 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.