Making the Most of Austin Restaurant Week

Austin Restaurant Week LogoIt’s that time again when all Austin Food Lovers loosen their belts and get ready to experience some of the best dining our wonderful city has to offer: Spring 2010 Austin Restaurant Week. The group of participating restaurants includes some time-honored favorites as well as some wonderful newcomers. Because Austin Restaurant week is rooted in the belief that dining out doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s cost effective too. Every participating restaurant offers a 3-course prix fixe menu with dinners for $25 to $35 and some lunch menus for $10-$15 dollars. When you dine out during Restaurant Week you’ll also be supporting our local Sustainable Food Center, a non-profit dedicated to cultivating a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food.

Restaurant week runs for eight days total over two weeks:

  • February 28 – March 3
  • March 7 – 10

A complete list of restaurants, their menus, notes about special offerings like gluten-free or vegetarian, and information on how to make reservations is available on the Austin Restaurant Week site.

The Best of the List

If most of the restaurants on the are new to you, or you’re a visitor to our lovely city during Restaurant Week, I’d recommend three restaurants from the list of those participating as the standouts you shouldn’t miss. To me these spots represent what’s exceptional and unique about Austin dining right now and if you haven’t been to them yet, now is the time to go. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order because they are all equally great in my humble opinion:

  • The Carillon I’ve said before in many venues that I think Chef Josh Watkins is making some of the best food in town and I’ll say it again here. His menus are exquisite and his presentations unforgettable. While the Carillon is a bit of a hidden gem, located in the AT&T Conference Center at the University of Texas, don’t let the setting fool you. You’ll have a meal to remember when you put yourself in Josh’s hands.
  • Parkside – Chef Shawn Cirkiel combines fresh ingredients with simple yet refined preparations to serve up an amazing meal any time you visit. His raw bar offerings are extensive and his main dishes creative. Don’t forget to try the doughnuts for dessert.
  • TRIO – If you follow me at all on Twitter you’ll know that I love TRIO in almost unwholesome ways. Chef Todd Duplechan creates amazing menus and the entire experience from the time you leave your car with the valet to the last sip of wine expertly paired with your dinner by sommelier Mark Sayre (one of the most accessible wine experts in town, by the way) is all you would expect and more from the Four Seasons. Their view of the lake is beautiful, so if the weather permits, be sure to arrive early to enjoy a drink on the patio.

Narrowing the Options

There are ~60 restaurants participating in this year’s Spring Restaurant Week and only 8 days during which to take advantage of their special menus, so experiencing them all probably isn’t particularly practical. When faced with the dilemma of too many great restaurants and not enough time to enjoy them all, I narrow down my list with this approach:

  • Try new spots or old favorites I haven’t been to in a year or more. While many of my regular favorite restaurants are on the list this year (Eddie V’s, Truluck’s, FINO, and Bess Bistro just to name a few), I’m very familiar with their chefs and their offerings. Rather than go back to what I know well, I want to branch out. Most restaurants take a tasting menu approach to their Restaurant Week offerings to give guests a real feel for their style, so I’ll use this time to investigate new spots or re-acquaint myself with former favorites I’ve recently neglected. My short list for this year includes:
  • Don’t forget about lunch. A few of the restaurants participating in this event have special lunch menus in addition to their dinner menus. Lunch during restaurant week is more budget-friendly approach to trying a really great restaurant and it’s another dinning opportunity on any given day. I currently have these restaurants on my possible lunch list because I haven’t visited them before and they have lunch offerings:
  • Explore your own part of town. While many restaurants are downtown, there are several options in the Arboretum and Domain area (Cru Wine Bar Domain, Daily Grill, Eddie V’s Arboretum, McCormick & Schmiks Domain, Roaring Fork Stonelake, Truluck’s Arboretum). Both County Line on the Hill and at the Lake are featured as is Fortune Chinese Restaurant on North Lamar and Chinatown on Mopac, so if they are in your part of town, consider staying close to home. The standouts for me in my neck of the woods (Steiner Ranch/Lakeway area) include:
  • Go casual. Not every restaurant week experience has to be centered on find-dining. Austin has some incredible casual spots, several of whom are participating in Restaurant Week. As an upside, their menus are less expensive both during and after this event, so they are good places to get to know. A few I’m considering are:

Clearly I won’t make it to every place I’ve listed here, but at least my collection of possibilities is smaller now. I expect my waistband wll needto be bigger however before Restaurant Week is over.

How do you navigate Austin restaurant week? Which menus on the list are your favorites? Which experiences wowed you? I’d love to hear more in the comments.


  1. Green Pastures never fails me- been 3 ARW’s in a row, always good. I’m having a hard time choosing where to go this time. thanks for the help!

  2. Nice that you included the non-downtown spots! Austin’s suburban areas have some great locations (although SW desperately needs more!).

  3. We’ve already booked our table at Mizu for Sunday night. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be nice enough to sit out on the patio and enjoy the view!

  4. So many places to dine!!! Having the ARW map on you at all times is a must!

  5. Austinmamadrama /

    Love options that are outside of downtown. Great for a weeknight during ARW!


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