12 special occasion-worthy restaurants in Austin

A table topped with a decorative succulent, orange candle, margarita, tortilla chips, and assorted Mexican plates at Bulevar Mexican Kitchen in Austin
Margaritas and modern Mexican dishes make up the party-friendly menu at Bulevar Mexican Kitchen in Arboretum. | Credit: Consumable Content

Austin loves a full-blown party, and the special-occasion restaurants in this famously quirky city are as distinct as the people who celebrate here. 

No matter what you’re marking, whether it’s an all-out graduation party—hook ’em horns!—or a romantic milestone under a sprawling Texas sky, this town’s got a spot for you. Read on for a guide to 12 Austin restaurants perfect for special occasions. 

Intero (East Austin)

A table with a flickering tealight, cup of sipping chocolate, plate of assorted truffles, and other dessert at Intero in Austin
Desserts by pastry chef and chocolatier Krystal Craig pack a punch at Intero. | Credit: Intero

Wife and husband team, pastry chef Krystal Craig and executive chef Ian Thurwachter, chose the Italian word for “whole” when they opened their East Austin trattoria in 2018. The name reflects a sustainable, zero-waste cooking philosophy, which means a celebration here is a seriously ethical one. Although the hyper-seasonal menu is always changing, there are always housemade pastas, breads, and meats from Texas farms and ranches. Sweeten any occasion with Craig’s exceptional truffles, chocolate barks, or sipping chocolate—or a pick from the restaurant’s extensive amari selection. 

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Vince Young Steakhouse (Downtown Austin)

Pitch-perfect wagyus and porterhouses headline the menu at this stylish Southern steakhouse. But Vince Young’s occasion-friendly menu also includes sleeper hits like bacon mac and cheese and an off-menu wine “milkshake” that blends vanilla ice cream with Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re leaning toward a drinks-driven celebration, the restaurant is home to one of the best happy hour deals in town—all bar and lounge menu items are $10 from 5 pm to 7 pm daily, including deep-fried Texas quail and, yes, even steak frites with chimichurri.

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Bulevar Mexican Kitchen (Arboretum)

A server holds a tray of margaritas with salt rims and lime garnishes at Bulevar Mexican Kitchen in Austin.
Bulevar Mexican Kitchen’s locally loved happy hour stretches through the night on Mondays and Tuesdays. | Credit: Consumable Content

This lively spot comes from the team behind another local modern Mexican favorite, ATX Cocina. Bulevar’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a massive patio, and you won’t find a better spot for a sunset celebration. Fuel your party with street snacks and corn tortillas, made from heirloom Oaxacan corn ground onsite—bonus points for a kitchen that’s 100 percent gluten-free. Bulevar’s high-energy bar is known for top-notch agave cocktails, plus a rollicking happy hour that stretches through the night on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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Carillon Restaurant (Downtown)

Special moments were made for this elegant New American restaurant. Carillon is ideal for a celebratory dinner before a show at the nearby Moody Center or an outdoor Sunday brunch with the family. Its burnt-orange interiors—the University of Texas color—also make the restaurant a go-to for graduation parties. Chef Kyle Barham’s Texan menu is sprinkled with fun international accents (case in point: seared sea bass with tom yum and Thai herbs), best enjoyed as an occasion-worthy three-course meal.

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Hestia (Downtown)

Oysters at Hestia in Austin
Hestia’s top-shelf ingredients like oysters are fired up in a custom-built hearth. | Credit: Hestia

Hestia’s distinguishing features, like its sleek, industrial-chic interiors and top-shelf ingredients—wagyu ribeye, king trumpet mushrooms—level up any celebration. The modern-day grill house is part of Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group and led by Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph, the award-winning duo behind other Austin hits like Emmer & Rye, Canje, and Kalimotxo. Dishes are fired up in a 20-foot custom-built hearth where they’re treated to techniques from around the world. Extra-special occasions call for Hestia’s multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings from a 400-label strong list that recently scored Wine Spectator love. 

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Taste of Ethiopia (South Austin) 

Austinites head to this informal family-owned restaurant (with locations on South Congress and Pflugerville) for an especially unique celebration feast. Taste of Ethiopia is where you ditch the silverware for spongy injera, aka flatbread used for pinching and scooping. The restaurant also specializes in meat stews, warmed with spices like cardamom and coriander seed, and many delicious meatless options like slow-simmered lentils make it a vegan favorite. Consider toasting with an Ethiopian beer—between the shareable experience and the finger food, a meal here is extra-intimate and memorable.

Uchiko Austin (Central Austin)

Sashimi garnished with jalapeño slices and micro greens at Uchiko Austin
Uchiko Austin is home to the city’s most innovative sushi and sashimi. | Credit: Uchiko Austin

There are plenty of high-roller touches at this modern sushi and sashimi shrine, including fish flown in daily from Japan and sleek private dining rooms. James Beard Award-winner Tyson Cole crafts occasion-worthy nigiri like cured Norwegian mackerel with tomato, truffle, and basil, but his massive menu has something for everyone, including a knockout omakase selection. Add some of the city’s most unique desserts—Earl Grey panna cotta with habaneros and white-chocolate crunch, anyone?—and you’ve got one inventive special-occasion spot.

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Mattie’s Austin (Bouldin Creek) 

The spectacular setting at this historic Bouldin Creek farmhouse, set on 23 acres complete with roaming peacocks, is worthy of a celebration. That plus a creative Southern-accented menu makes Mattie’s a special-occasion superstar. Celebrate over grilled pork chops with braised collard greens and fried green tomatoes with crab salad, then toast to your occasion with a milk punch made from the founder’s original recipe. Whether you book a spot inside the beautifully restored interiors or under the heritage oaks outside, Mattie’s has one of Austin’s prettiest backdrops for an epic dinner or brunch.

Ezov (East Austin)

Ezov, another restaurant from Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group, just landed in Austin this year. But the Mediterranean place is already a special-occasion hotspot for excellent Galilee, Israel-inspired dishes like DIY chicken shawarma (translation: you get to carve it), falafel, and crispy phyllo cigars with spiced sweetbreads, all made with locally grown ingredients. A lot of the northern Israeli menu is designed to be shared, so take a crew to celebrate over chef Berty Richter’s family-style feast—and don’t skip a group photo by the graffiti wall, scrawled with the Hebrew lyrics to Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” 

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Arlo Grey by Kristen Kish (Downtown)

A wagyu ribeye in a black bowl surrounded by smaller vegetable sides at Arlo Grey by Kristen Kish in Austin
Arlo Grey by Kristen Kish’s menu weaves French, Italian, Midwestern, and Texan influences. | Credit: Jackie Gilles

Top Chef winner and now-host Kristen Kish opened this festive, sun-lit gem in the LINE Hotel in 2018. The eclectic menu fuses her French and Italian training, Midwestern flavors from her childhood, and Texan swagger—think fried steamed buns with charred eggplant and caper relish and a can’t-miss coconut pistachio mousse with Texas melon, rose tapioca, and lemon meringue. Grab a perch at the roomy bar for an easygoing celebration or a table with Lady Bird Lake views for a fancier night out. 

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Fonda San Miguel (North Loop)

This long-standing Austin favorite serves a meal—and setting—that will whisk you away to central Mexico. The plant-filled courtyard channels San Miguel de Allende and is an ideal place to toast to just about anything with a freshly squeezed lime margarita. Share classics like chicken in mole and a legendary tortilla soup. A vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free section by chef Blanca Zesati makes Fonda the ultimate crowd pleaser—which explains why this transportive restaurant has hosted countless birthday, graduation, and engagement parties since opening in 1975.

Wine for the People (Central Austin) 

Sommelier Rae Wilson’s tasting room is a buzzy backdrop for birthday, bachelorette, or bachelor parties. Wilson is one of the few women winemakers in Texas and all about minimal intervention wines from local grapes. Cheese, charcuterie, and tinned fish come from Spread, the boho-chic cafe the tasting room shares a space with. For an extra-special evening, book a private guided tasting by the winemaker herself.

Claudia Alarcón is a Mexico City-born writer based in Austin, Texas covering dining, drinking, and travel since 1999.

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