Bess Bistro
Bess Bistro

Bess Bistro

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.bessbistro.com/
  • Phone: (512) 477-2377
  • 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.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
See all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerRomantic
Bess Bistro reviews from OpenTable diners
119 reviews since July 28, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.2
    Service4.5
  • Ambiance4.5
    Noise LevelModerate
88% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
romantic (82)special occasion (82)fit for foodies (62)neighborhood gem (41)notable wine list (29)good for groups (24)hot spot (15)late-night find (9)great for outdoor dining (9)great for brunch (6)scenic view (4)great for lunch (4)vibrant bar scene (2)Show More
  • Overall I was pleased.
    Millerbites
    Dined on 11/21/2014
    I wish I could have ordered every side dish on the menu but I was too full. 3 of my friends ordered the scallops, I had the snapper, and another friend ordered the duck breast. Desserts.....yum! Hazelnut marscapone ice-cream- who knew this was a thing! I look forward to trying other dishes.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Enjoyable evening
    NjwatxVIP
    Dined on 11/16/2014
    Our party enjoyed the lamb and short ribs, but the scallop dish was quite small and lacking in comparison. The pumpkin soup was very good. We were there early on a Sunday night and it was relatively quiet except for the music. The service in general was good, but surprisingly slow from the bar. All in all it was close to excellent.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • a birthday dinner
    Randyman
    Dined on 11/15/2014
    we had reservations, arrived early, and were seated promptly. Our server, Xxxxx, was attentive, knowledgeable, yet did not hover over our table. He is new there, yet he made recommendations that were suitable for us. the food was delicious and presentation very nice. Not having been there before, I did not know about the private booths. Next time I will ask for a booth.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • reservation
    wallie
    Dined on 11/15/2014
    reserved a month in advance for a certain table which we were not granted although we were seated in the exact same size table just not the one we requested. was disappointed in that but experience and food always good. been several times but this time we flew in from Nebraska to be there.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, late-night find, notable wine list, romantic, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Top of my list
    ChefKnows
    Dined on 11/13/2014
    It's not a trendy, hipster hang out. This place has style AND substance. Austin needs more places like Bess. The service was exceptional, FOH is top notch. The food was beyond words. Chef Roman and his team are killing it in the kitchen.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Hello old friend
    Truemese
    Dined on 11/13/2014
    We had not been back to Bess Bistro in a few years and we have definitely missed out. The food was fantastic, service exceptional and ambiance still as quaint as can be. Definitely worth going to and/or back if you haven't been in awhile. We will be back soon, old friend!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Such a lovely evening
    BostontoAustin
    Dined on 11/11/2014
    We had the nicest time at Bess Bistro the other night. The food was delicious, everything was exactly as it was described on the menu and by the wait staff. The service was friendly, informative, and helpful with the menu. We stayed late after we paid our bill and stopped eating, and not once did anyone try to rush us along or encourage us to leave earlier than we wanted. A lovely and delightful restaurant where we thoroughly enjoyed every morsel. Thank you for a great evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Wonderful 30 yr anniversary dinner
    Nanaloo
    Dined on 11/10/2014
    We went on a week night at 7pm. Self parking was easy. We started on the upstairs terrace with wine and toasted ciabatta and shrimp appetizer. It's lounge sitting, so cozy and romantic. Went down stairs to eat in the dining area. Our table for 2 was too close to two other tables. Lighting was perfect. Salad was tasty but small. Hubby ordered shrimp and grits which was yummy. I ordered the seared shallops with carrot risotto, which was perfect. Main dishes took awhile to be brought to us. Waiter was attentive and kept us informed. The dessert was my favorite part. The pumpkin cheesecake's presentation was so pretty. The beignets were very fluffy and served with yummy caramel dipping sauce (and a milk based sauce that was too runny)
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fabulous!
    Hamster79
    Dined on 11/4/2014
    Having spent 10 days visiting Austin from London we decided to dine at Bess on our last night as a bit of a treat. The restaurant wasn't busy, but the atmosphere was great and the staff were cheerful, friendly and helpful. Our waiter was more than happy to recommend dishes from the menu and explain what certain ingredients were. There was music playing a very odd mix of songs, from Lily Allen to Kaiser Chiefs to Duffy, that was fine for us, although a bit of a contrast to the environment. The food was delicious, I had the braised rib of beef and it was so tender, it just fell apart, beautiful! All in all I am so pleased we visited Bess and wouldn't hesitate to go again should I ever find myself in Austin again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, late-night find, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    Staff were pleasant but after it took 1 hr 45 mins and a number of apologies to get our entrees out, we were understandably underwhelmed. It was my wife's birthday and we wanted to have a nice romantic dinner and while a leisurely pace is appreciated so you don't feel rushed this was the complete opposite experience. When the entrees finally arrived at 9.45 we unfortunately didn't feel that they were particularly worth the wait and had gone past the point of being hungry. The restaurant were gracious and took care of us but ultimately it was an experience we wouldn't want to repeat
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • richtag
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    Great food!good service although time gap between courses is a bit long.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great date at Bess Bistro
    hed442
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    My wife and I enjoyed a very romantic, leisurely dinner. The flash fried artichokes as a starter were lightly battered and delicious. The shrimp and grits and pumpkin ravioli we shared for the main entrees were wonderful. Our waiter, Craig was jovial and paced the food, wine and dessert offerings with coffee to our pleasure. It was a romantic dining experience and a great date night!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Romantic Dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/31/2014
    Bess Bistro is a great place for a special date or a notable occasion. The staff is out standing and the service was top notch; the food was very good and the menu has something for everyone.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Favorite Restaurant in Austin
    HeinerVIP
    Dined on 10/30/2014
    We go to the Formula 1 race every year and Bess Bistro is a must in Austin for us on the first evening in town. As always we enjoyed the food, service and ambiance. One of the best places in Austin!
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Party of 5 - very pleased people
    Docswife
    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