In most cities, impressing a date involves slipping on your Sunday best, heading out to a swanky restaurant, and conjuring a mutual spark. And while Austin has long been rife with opportunities for romantic rendezvous, dressing to impress looks a little different here. More often than not, it’s making the most of jorts, Birks, and a YETI T-shirt, but we digress…
The good news is that there are a range of options catering to our increasingly diverse date night-seeking crowd, from upscale indoor eats perfect for busting out your best closed-toed shoes to pretty patios strewn with twinkling lights and live music. No matter if the weather’s stormy or clear, if your date is a dapper gent or a country gal, or whether they fight the heat or embrace humidity, these swoon-worthy restaurants are sure to know the way to your beloved’s heart-through their stomach, of course.
Downtown When a trip to the Four Seasons is on the agenda, you know there’s serious romance in the cards. Chefs Richard Sandoval and Gerardo Lopez cook up modern Texan cuisine infused with Latin flavors, served either indoors by candlelight or at your outdoor table overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Every dish is a visual masterpiece, and mains like the flambeed Texas Wagyu Tomahawk wows in terms of both presentation (spoiler-an open flame is involved) and taste. The shareable Vanilla & Cacao Nib Bon Bons are the sweetest note to end on, made with Amy’s beloved Mexican vanilla ice cream. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
South Congress The Chicago-based import from Top Chef alum CJ Jacobson opened here in 2020 and has since become a lovers’ go-to thanks to its scenic location on Music Lane, Cali-cool vibe, and delicious mezze-style shareables. Their Mediterranean-led menu offers inventive takes on Israeli, Lebanese, Greek, and Turkish dishes like Crispy Short Rib Hummus, Muhammara (roasted pepper, chili, walnut, and pomegranate molasses), Lamb Wrapped in Eggplant, and Grilled Cauliflower Kebab. Meanwhile, drinks experiment with similarly regional ingredients, like a Mediterranean Mule with herb-infused vodka, almond, Galliano, ginger, and lime. Booze-free ‘zero proof’ cocktails are also available for those abstaining from the liquid courage. How to book: Reserve via Tock or order take-out online.
Downtown Garrison transports you out of Austin and into a swanky Manhattan date spot, minus the commute. You’ll fine-dine within gorgeous dark wood interiors lit by chandelier and candlelight, either facing mastery in the open kitchen or a grand wine cabinet from which bottles are selected. Menu highlights include Grilled Swordfish and Cucumber Gado Gado (and Garrison Reserve Caviar, if you’re going all-out). There’s still a hint of Texas here, don’t worry-look out for the Eye of Rib from local purveyor Ranger Cattle, and the Austin Fields section, a collection of sides spanning garden-fresh Blistered Snap Peas and fragrant Black Truffle Tater Tots. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
East Austin For a true Lady and the Tramp experience, it has to be Italian, right? Intero is the best of the bunch, with saucy handmade pastas for you to slurp on till you “accidentally” kiss. They also have pizza and meat-focused dishes like Wagyu Steak and Charred Quail, though ingredients may vary due to seasonal availability. Local chocolatier Krystal Craig is in charge of dessert. Try her famous chocolate truffles in daring flavors like Earl Grey Tea and Peanut Butter and Honey. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.
Downtown Let the music navigate your evening and book a table at Geraldine’s. A live act is scheduled every night of the week here, and it’s always a stellar act. The food is a nod to classic Texan cuisine made with fresh local ingredients, starting with small plates like Smoked Carrots and Hamachi Crudo and progressing to heftier spreads like a Half-Roasted Chicken graced with heavenly crispy potatoes. A bar extends from the restaurant to a rooftop pool-ideal for post-show conversation. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
South Lamar James Beard-nominated chef Iliana De la Vega leads culinary expeditions to Mexico City via her incredible culinary chops. The housemade tortillas use heirloom corn imported from different regions of Mexico, the bread is baked daily, and the vegetables and herbs are selected fresh locally. Kick things off with a Mezcalina (mezcal, serrano, basil, agave, pineapple), and then get right into it with duck or sauteed shrimp doused in multilayered mole negro. A street food menu is also available if tacos are calling your name. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via ChowNow.
East Austin One of the things that makes Justine’s so appealing is its dimensionality. Yes, it’s French, but it’s also not just French. It’s a place where old soul songs are played on vinyl, where they put up a yearly “Winter Tent” and throw a party in its honor, and where you can enjoy espresso martinis on a light-strung patio for hours on end. Order some Steak Frites (with a side of extra frites), and allow yourselves to soak up the ambiance and each others’ company. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.
Brentwood Between the Saltillo tiles, the soaring ceilings, and the vividly colorful artwork, Fonda San Miguel has all the trappings of a memorable date night. Sip a couple of top-shelf margaritas at the bar before slipping over to a corner table. Crowd favorites include Angels on Horseback (bacon-wrapped shrimp) and the ever-popular Ancho Chile Relleno San Miguel, but definitely make sure you leave room for dessert (AKA crepes sauced with rich goat milk, caramel, and toasted almonds). How to book: Reserve online or order take-out via Toast.
South Lamar & Cedar Park Executive sushi chef Andy Chen brings unexpected flavors together to make the perfect bite-think Truffle White Salmon, Tuna Foie Gras, and Grilled Chilean Sea Bass accompanied by fluffy rice and asparagus. If you can time it right, swing by the daily happy hour which runs at select times Tuesday to Sunday and all-day Monday for deals on cocktails, appetizers, sushi, and makimono. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.
Central Austin A lush backyard with an enormous oak tree, an upstairs terrace, and a dining room bathed in natural light all add up to make Olive & June a romantic retreat away from the busy street corner on which it sits. They proudly house the largest Italian wine list in Austin, not to mention a fabulous Prosciutto and Cheese Board to enjoy with it featuring Robiola Bosina cheese, olives, almonds, and giardiniera. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out online.
East Austin & Burnet Inventive pan-Asian dishes backed by an outstanding music selection make Old Thousand a playful and delicious date night option, now with two locations. Everything on the relatively short menu is tempting, from Brisket Fried Rice (house-smoked brisket and Chinese sausage) to the Mala Fried Chicken (Szechuan spices, chili oil), and they also have a solid selection of vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives. Settle in for a few glasses of wine and some dumplings while a Biggie throwback echoes over your heads. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via Toast (E. 11th Street, Burnet Road).
South Austin This massive residential home-turned-restaurant is about as opulent it gets, thanks in no small part to the peacocks that roam the grounds. Date night is a genteel affair whether you’re seated comfortably inside or parked under the sweeping trees, while the Southern-leaning menu is peppered with decadent items like Andouille and Duck Gumbo, Tender Belly Grilled Pork Ribs, and their unmissable Buttermilk Biscuits slathered with seasonal butter and Texas honey. Mattie’s also does a gorgeous brunch if daytime festivities are more your thing. How to book: Reserve via Resy or order take-out online.
South First The menu may change every week, but Lenoir’s ambiance remains the same. It’s a spot where friends can laugh over a shared bottle and some snacks, or leisurely lovers can spend hours sampling the five-course daily prix-fixe with optional wine pairings. Every plate is a profusion of flavors, with seasonal samples spanning Texas Stone Crab with Fazzoletti Pasta, Lenoir Vindaloo Lamb Ribs, and Roasted Eggplant Lasagna laced with ripe summer squash and tomato dashi. How to book: Reserve via Resy or order take-out online.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.