The 8 best new Austin restaurants of 2023

Ember Kitchen is a Latin-inspired spot that opened in February and turned heads for its sprawling, industrial-chic interiors. | Credit: Jane Yun
A cherry tree, velvet upholstery, and warm walnut tables make up the interiors at Ember Kitchen in Austin

Austin’s restaurant scene always sizzles with top-notch Tex-Mex and next-level barbecue, but 2023 brought innovative new spots that combine Lone Star State swagger with global accents. 

These debuts were beloved by diners and critics alike, like a New American hotspot by a six-time James Beard Award nominee or a Latin-inspired, live-fire dazzler that earned a nod from the Austin American-Statesman. Read on for a guide to the eight reservations you need to make at Austin’s hottest 2023 restaurant openings.

Ember Kitchen (Downtown)

A pork chop with spiced ash, citrus supremes, and mojo at Ember Kitchen in Austin
Ember Kitchen is known for standout Latin-inspired charcoal-grilled delicacies. | Credit: Jane Yun

This sprawling Latin-inspired restaurant made its Downtown debut in February and quickly scored praise from local publications for its agave-lined basement lounge and industrial-chic aesthetic—an ode to its historic Seaholm Power Plant address. Not to mention a phenomenal, always-changing fire-kissed menu that could include delicacies like dry-aged Texas ribeye with birria and a popular caviar-topped spin on sopes.

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Ezov (East Austin)

The Texas-meets-Tel Aviv dishes at Ezov include smashed cucumber with labneh and nigella seed. | Credit: Chris Praetzel

When the hit-making Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group opened its eighth restaurant in April, it paired its signature local-first philosophy with a modern Middle Eastern menu. The result is a Texas-meets-Tel Aviv destination that excels at dishes including smashed cucumber with labneh and nigella seed, plus Mediterranean faithfuls like falafel and chicken shawarma. Add a vibrant pink-and-red space with graffitied lampshades—an ode to Tel Aviv’s famous markets—and you’ve got one of Austin’s boldest 2023 debuts.

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Uchiba Austin (Downtown)

Austinites were thrilled to welcome a more laidback sibling to award-winning chef Tyson Cole’s high-end Japanese icon, Uchi, when Uchiba opened its doors in September. The hotly anticipated izakaya pours Japanese whiskeys and high-ball cocktails, best paired with snacks like yakitori, baos, and dumplings. Even the seemingly casual bites here get Cole’s intricate touch, and the menu makes room for certain Uchi blockbusters like the Hama Chili—a legendary yellowtail crudo in a citrusy and spicy marinade. 

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Luminaire (Downtown)

A fully loaded charcuterie platter at Luminaire in Austin flanked by a glasses of red and white wine
Luminaire’s meat-heavy menu takes cues from Mexico and the Mediterranean. | Credit: Richard Casteel

Six-time James Beard Award nominee Steve McHugh made his Austin debut at the Hyatt Centric Congress hotel in February. Luminaire is a lively, meat-forward restaurant that’s just as inspired by the Mediterranean as it is Mexico. McHugh wows diners with fresh empanadas and the crowd-favorite skinny chops served on a sturdy sourdough slice, designed to soak in every drop of savory jus. For a quieter experience, head up to Las Bis, the hotel’s terrace bar and lounge where McHugh serves a lighter, drinks-friendly menu that’s heavy on the tinned fish.

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Fabrik (East Austin)

Austin’s first fully plant-based tasting menu restaurant opened in August and draws crowds for a high-end vegan lineup that’s already earned three stars from Texas Monthly. Dishes star locally sourced flour, herbs and flowers from hydroponic gardens, plus housemade tofu, vegan cheese, and more. Chef and owner Je Wheeler spent years training in international kitchens, which explains her menu’s Japanese, Italian, and Nordic twists. You can feel extra good about dining at this game-changing newcomer: Fabrik aims to use up every piece of food in dishes or compost, underscoring its status as an up-and-coming sustainability star.

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El Raval (South Austin)

A globally influenced tapas lineup at El Raval in Austin featuring wood-roasted mushrooms with sunchoke miso hummus and cured egg yolk, and roasted cauliflower with onion and zucchini confit, among other dishes
Chef Laila Bazahm gives Spanish small plates the cosmopolitan treatment at El Raval. | Credit: Jane Yun

Chef Laila Bazahm, who spent much of her culinary career in Barcelona’s multicultural El Raval neighborhood, is the force behind this relaxed and trendy tapas bar. Her latest restaurant took over an older tapas spot (Barlata) in May and stands out for an exceptionally cosmopolitan approach to Spanish small plates, which weaves in global flavors like French vadouvan masala and Filipino escabeche. Also go for a dynamic drinks menu by Moe Aljaff and Juliette Laroui, the duo behind Two Schmucks, a Barcelona dive bar that claimed a spot on 2022’s World’s 50 Best Bars Lists. It all adds up to a one-of-a-kind restaurant that’s an extension of the edgy Spanish neighborhood it’s named after.

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Bureau de Poste at Tiny Grocer (South Austin) 

Top Chef alum Jo Chan graced Hyde Park with this quaint French bistro when she took over a historic post office in October. Bureau is where you go for expertly executed classics like onion soup and duck cassoulet, and scores bonus points for a weekday plat du jour—lobster frites, anyone? A small but clever wine and beer list rounds out the offerings at this French comfort food pro. Plus, the restaurant shares space with the newest outpost of a locally loved boutique grocery store, so count on shopping for gourmet pantry essentials (fresh produce, wine, and more) before or after your meal.

Underdog (Bouldin Creek)

When an ex-Majordomo sommelier dreams up a full-fledged wine bar, you get one of the city’s most prized hangout spots. Co-owner Richard Hargreave once oversaw the wine list at restaurateur David Chang’s acclaimed Los Angeles noodle spot. In May, he opened Underdog, which specializes in Korean snacks (crispy fried chicken, scallion pancakes) and an ever-changing wine selection that includes plenty of natural and sustainable options. A friendly and knowledgeable staff means there’s always someone to help you choose—and casually learn—as you sip and snack at this hot new Austin addition. 

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

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

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