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A bottle of Highland Park whisky on a table next to cocktails and plates of charcuterie and sandwiches. Javier Gonzalez

15 Austin Bars and Restaurants for Unexpected Flavors

Where to find the city’s can’t-miss cocktails and most imaginative bites.

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Austin’s on-brand mix of swagger and sophistication always seems to find its way to the city’s restaurant and cocktail menus. Here, a legion of talented culinary superstars and mixologists offer bold dishes and innovative cocktails.

From a belly-on pork chop with cider-maple jus to broccolini with yuzu cashew butter, these unique and sometimes surprising flavor combinations are an ideal match for the wildly harmonious taste of Highland Park whisky. Take in some of the season’s latest creations with your plus-one or a group of friends as you explore Austin’s food and craft cocktail scene for a few rounds of fun.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here and the state’s progress on combating COVID-19 is here. Dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers, please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Péché

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Péché is a New Orleans-style bar that serves up pre-Prohibition craft cocktails (think: absinthe) with French snacks and supper foods. It stacks its menus with dishes like chicken liver mousse and smoked duck breast charcuterie, oysters Rockefeller with spinach and Grana Padano, and pan-roasted veal sweetbreads. Order up one of the bar’s “sinful cocktails,” like a Midnight Loving, which pairs Highland Park Single Malt Scotch with creme de cassis, amaro, strawberry, lemon, honey, and egg white, and laissez les bons temps rouler.

J Carver

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This intimate steakhouse, newly opened in 2021, gets rave reviews for excellent food and service and is already a local favorite for date night. While the pièce de résistance is the selection of premium aged steaks — cut in-house daily and seared to perfection on the restaurant’s wood-burning grill — customers can also enjoy accompaniments like homegrown tomato salad, wood-roasted gulf shrimp, and sautéed Dover sole.

A table with a plate of oysters and glasses of Highland Park whisky. Javier Gonzalez

The Pub

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Nestled in the heart of Austin’s Warehouse District, The Pub delivers classic Irish favorites like bangers and mash, cottage pie, and an all-day breakfast menu that includes a traditional English breakfast of rashers, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, and toast.

Swift's Attic

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Head over to this cozy loft in a historic Congress Avenue building for date night or an intimate dinner with friends and enjoy inventive seasonal flavors. Share an order of mash-ups (panko-fried mashed potato balls with specialty fillings), lamb meatballs, or porky pies with braised pork cheeks.

A table with dishes of chicken, asparagus, cucumbers, orzo, and more. Swift’s Attic

Acre 41 Restaurant

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Located in the recently opened Otis Hotel near the UT Austin campus (with a name that winks at the school’s Forty Acres nickname), Acre 41 offers quietly sophisticated environs for kicking back with a cozy drink. This music-forward hotel features a record concierge stationed right in the lobby, and the restaurant sings with rich flavors. Start with an appetizer course of tuna wonton tacos, roasted bone marrow with tomato jam on toast, or truffle honey burrata. Then go the extra acre with an entree like belly-on pork chop with cider-maple jus, truffled spaghetti, or prime tomahawk rib-eye.

Rosedale Kitchen and Bar

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Head to Rosedale to discover the latest kitchen creations from chef Patricia Saenz and sous chef JD Solombrino. Their culinary talents and Mexican (Saenz) and Guatemalan (Solombrino) heritage make this neighborhood hangout near the Shoal Creek Greenbelt a must-visit. Stand-out dishes include rockfish ceviche in a coconut-habanero broth, grilled cauliflower steak, and braised short ribs from local Rosewood Ranch wagyu beef. Rosedale also prides itself on its body-warming cocktails — try the Noble Pecan, made with Highland Park 12 Year Old whisky and Pecan Porter cordial.

A colorful poké bowl next to a glass of Highland Park whisky. Javier Gonzalez

Roaring Fork

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Offering rugged Old West-style cooking, Roaring Fork is a classic Austin favorite with elevated rustic-chic decor to complement the menu. Toast the season with a Salted Honey Old Fashioned: Highland Park 12 Year Old whisky mixed with smoked sea salt, honey, and bitters. Then tuck into a meal of blackened redfish or Berkshire long-bone pork chop basted in dry-aged chorizo with citrus and herbs.

A table with a bottle of Highland Park whisky, two cocktails, and plates of steak. Javier Gonzalez

Austin Marriott Downtown

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The Austin Marriott Downtown opened in early 2021, bringing with it four dining and cocktail options, including American restaurant Corinne, a two-story bar called the Lobbyist (a nod to the hotel’s proximity to the Texas Capitol), and a rooftop bar, Zanzibar. Plates at Corinne burst with seasonal flavor. For example: the wild mushroom bolognese and wagyu beef tartare, with craft cocktails to round out the meal at either the restaurant or one of the swanky on-site hotel bars.

Midnight Cowboy

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One of Austin’s best secret bars is tucked away in plain sight on bustling 6th Street. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the humble red light bulb and small menu of buzzers. Ring the one that says “Harry Craddock” to gain entry to the cozy space inside, with mirrors lining the rows of private booths. Touches of vintage luxury adorn the space, and the classic craft cocktails — many of them prepared tableside — are renowned. Make sure to plan ahead: Currently, admittance is by reservation only.

Geraldine's

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Upstairs inside Kimpton’s Hotel Van Zandt just off Rainey Street, Geraldine’s welcomes guests during the winter holidays with the restaurant’s private Winter Igloos. These secluded tented dining spaces seat up to six guests each on the hotel’s outdoor pool deck. Reserve one and order shared plates while overlooking the gorgeous Austin skyline. We recommend the pork ribs (a Geraldine’s staple) made with tarragon and piquillo caramel and the grilled broccolini with yuzu cashew butter, Thai basil, and red onion. They pair perfectly with a festive cocktail like the Scottish Garland, made with Highland Park whisky, caramel, and chocolate mole bitters.

A cocktail in a lowball glass. Hannah Hagar

Half Step

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Slide up to the bar at this laid-back Rainey Street spot while your date (or group of friends) grabs a picnic table on the expansive outdoor patio. The cocktail list may look tightly edited, but don’t let that fool you: name an ingredient or two, and the friendly bartenders will shake up something special, just for you. Sip on an expertly made Highland Park Old Fashioned as you enjoy some live music or try your hand at a round of cornhole.

A bottle of Highland Park whisky and an Old Fashioned cocktail on a bar. Javier Gonzalez

Rules & Regs

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This cocktail bar, located on the seventh floor of the Fairmont Austin, offers one of the best views of downtown around. The menu celebrates fresh Mexican dishes like tuna aguachile prepared with fresh yellowfin tuna, avocado, and honeydew; croquetas de jamón, with jamón, manchego cheese, and mole verde; and Mexican chocolate and horchata pavlova for dessert. Come for weekend brunch for even more tempting options.

Nickel City

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A beloved East Austin neighborhood bar, Nickel City embraces a whisky-focused menu with approachable food like Coney dogs, wings, and tots, and a comfortable atmosphere to match. 

We’re awfully fond of our pop-ups in the ATX, and during the holiday season, Nickel City transforms into Sippin’ Santa, a North Pole/Tiki-styled bar (think: Santa in his best Hawaiian attire), with a list of seasonal concoctions just this side of the naughty list.

A table with plates of burgers and chicken wings and celery, and an Old Fashioned cocktail. Javier Gonzalez

Whisler's

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A rustic and buzzy East Austin hangout in a 100-year-old building, Whisler’s cocktail menu punches up the flavor with house-infused spirits. For fall and winter, these lean into maple and spice and fruits like pear, fig, and apple — flavors you’ll find balance harmoniously with Highland Park Single Malt Scotch. Venture out onto the patio to take your time and relax while catching up with friends.

A bottle of Highland Park whisky next to a cocktail in a lowball glass with a twist of orange peel. Javier Gonzalez

DrinkWell

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Toast to good friends and thoughtfully prepared bites at DrinkWell, located in Austin’s North Loop district. The restaurant features excellent vegan and gluten-free options, but everyone can find something to enjoy on this wellness-focused menu. Highlights include ancho chickpeas, baba ghanoush and dukkah-spiced crackers, and lamb and beef meatballs with couscous. For dessert: Texas pecan baklava, anyone? Stay tuned for regular events, such as a recent sold-out Scotch tasting featuring Highland Park 12 Year Old. Or, if you’re ordering to-go, DrinkWell also serves some of the city’s best bottled cocktails.

©2021 Highland Distillers Limited. Highland Park Scotch Whisky. Imported by Edrington Americas, New York, NY. “H” Device ® 

A table with two cocktails, a bottle of Highland Park whisky, and plates of charcuterie, salad, and a sandwich. Javier Gonzalez
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Péché

Péché is a New Orleans-style bar that serves up pre-Prohibition craft cocktails (think: absinthe) with French snacks and supper foods. It stacks its menus with dishes like chicken liver mousse and smoked duck breast charcuterie, oysters Rockefeller with spinach and Grana Padano, and pan-roasted veal sweetbreads. Order up one of the bar’s “sinful cocktails,” like a Midnight Loving, which pairs Highland Park Single Malt Scotch with creme de cassis, amaro, strawberry, lemon, honey, and egg white, and laissez les bons temps rouler.

J Carver

A table with a plate of oysters and glasses of Highland Park whisky. Javier Gonzalez

This intimate steakhouse, newly opened in 2021, gets rave reviews for excellent food and service and is already a local favorite for date night. While the pièce de résistance is the selection of premium aged steaks — cut in-house daily and seared to perfection on the restaurant’s wood-burning grill — customers can also enjoy accompaniments like homegrown tomato salad, wood-roasted gulf shrimp, and sautéed Dover sole.

A table with a plate of oysters and glasses of Highland Park whisky. Javier Gonzalez

The Pub

Nestled in the heart of Austin’s Warehouse District, The Pub delivers classic Irish favorites like bangers and mash, cottage pie, and an all-day breakfast menu that includes a traditional English breakfast of rashers, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, and toast.

Swift's Attic

A table with dishes of chicken, asparagus, cucumbers, orzo, and more. Swift’s Attic

Head over to this cozy loft in a historic Congress Avenue building for date night or an intimate dinner with friends and enjoy inventive seasonal flavors. Share an order of mash-ups (panko-fried mashed potato balls with specialty fillings), lamb meatballs, or porky pies with braised pork cheeks.

A table with dishes of chicken, asparagus, cucumbers, orzo, and more. Swift’s Attic

Acre 41 Restaurant

Located in the recently opened Otis Hotel near the UT Austin campus (with a name that winks at the school’s Forty Acres nickname), Acre 41 offers quietly sophisticated environs for kicking back with a cozy drink. This music-forward hotel features a record concierge stationed right in the lobby, and the restaurant sings with rich flavors. Start with an appetizer course of tuna wonton tacos, roasted bone marrow with tomato jam on toast, or truffle honey burrata. Then go the extra acre with an entree like belly-on pork chop with cider-maple jus, truffled spaghetti, or prime tomahawk rib-eye.

Rosedale Kitchen and Bar

A colorful poké bowl next to a glass of Highland Park whisky. Javier Gonzalez

Head to Rosedale to discover the latest kitchen creations from chef Patricia Saenz and sous chef JD Solombrino. Their culinary talents and Mexican (Saenz) and Guatemalan (Solombrino) heritage make this neighborhood hangout near the Shoal Creek Greenbelt a must-visit. Stand-out dishes include rockfish ceviche in a coconut-habanero broth, grilled cauliflower steak, and braised short ribs from local Rosewood Ranch wagyu beef. Rosedale also prides itself on its body-warming cocktails — try the Noble Pecan, made with Highland Park 12 Year Old whisky and Pecan Porter cordial.

A colorful poké bowl next to a glass of Highland Park whisky. Javier Gonzalez

Roaring Fork

A table with a bottle of Highland Park whisky, two cocktails, and plates of steak. Javier Gonzalez

Offering rugged Old West-style cooking, Roaring Fork is a classic Austin favorite with elevated rustic-chic decor to complement the menu. Toast the season with a Salted Honey Old Fashioned: Highland Park 12 Year Old whisky mixed with smoked sea salt, honey, and bitters. Then tuck into a meal of blackened redfish or Berkshire long-bone pork chop basted in dry-aged chorizo with citrus and herbs.

A table with a bottle of Highland Park whisky, two cocktails, and plates of steak. Javier Gonzalez

Austin Marriott Downtown

The Austin Marriott Downtown opened in early 2021, bringing with it four dining and cocktail options, including American restaurant Corinne, a two-story bar called the Lobbyist (a nod to the hotel’s proximity to the Texas Capitol), and a rooftop bar, Zanzibar. Plates at Corinne burst with seasonal flavor. For example: the wild mushroom bolognese and wagyu beef tartare, with craft cocktails to round out the meal at either the restaurant or one of the swanky on-site hotel bars.

Midnight Cowboy

One of Austin’s best secret bars is tucked away in plain sight on bustling 6th Street. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the humble red light bulb and small menu of buzzers. Ring the one that says “Harry Craddock” to gain entry to the cozy space inside, with mirrors lining the rows of private booths. Touches of vintage luxury adorn the space, and the classic craft cocktails — many of them prepared tableside — are renowned. Make sure to plan ahead: Currently, admittance is by reservation only.

Geraldine's

A cocktail in a lowball glass. Hannah Hagar

Upstairs inside Kimpton’s Hotel Van Zandt just off Rainey Street, Geraldine’s welcomes guests during the winter holidays with the restaurant’s private Winter Igloos. These secluded tented dining spaces seat up to six guests each on the hotel’s outdoor pool deck. Reserve one and order shared plates while overlooking the gorgeous Austin skyline. We recommend the pork ribs (a Geraldine’s staple) made with tarragon and piquillo caramel and the grilled broccolini with yuzu cashew butter, Thai basil, and red onion. They pair perfectly with a festive cocktail like the Scottish Garland, made with Highland Park whisky, caramel, and chocolate mole bitters.

A cocktail in a lowball glass. Hannah Hagar

Half Step

A bottle of Highland Park whisky and an Old Fashioned cocktail on a bar. Javier Gonzalez

Slide up to the bar at this laid-back Rainey Street spot while your date (or group of friends) grabs a picnic table on the expansive outdoor patio. The cocktail list may look tightly edited, but don’t let that fool you: name an ingredient or two, and the friendly bartenders will shake up something special, just for you. Sip on an expertly made Highland Park Old Fashioned as you enjoy some live music or try your hand at a round of cornhole.

A bottle of Highland Park whisky and an Old Fashioned cocktail on a bar. Javier Gonzalez

Rules & Regs

This cocktail bar, located on the seventh floor of the Fairmont Austin, offers one of the best views of downtown around. The menu celebrates fresh Mexican dishes like tuna aguachile prepared with fresh yellowfin tuna, avocado, and honeydew; croquetas de jamón, with jamón, manchego cheese, and mole verde; and Mexican chocolate and horchata pavlova for dessert. Come for weekend brunch for even more tempting options.

Nickel City

A table with plates of burgers and chicken wings and celery, and an Old Fashioned cocktail. Javier Gonzalez

A beloved East Austin neighborhood bar, Nickel City embraces a whisky-focused menu with approachable food like Coney dogs, wings, and tots, and a comfortable atmosphere to match. 

We’re awfully fond of our pop-ups in the ATX, and during the holiday season, Nickel City transforms into Sippin’ Santa, a North Pole/Tiki-styled bar (think: Santa in his best Hawaiian attire), with a list of seasonal concoctions just this side of the naughty list.

A table with plates of burgers and chicken wings and celery, and an Old Fashioned cocktail. Javier Gonzalez

Whisler's

A bottle of Highland Park whisky next to a cocktail in a lowball glass with a twist of orange peel. Javier Gonzalez

A rustic and buzzy East Austin hangout in a 100-year-old building, Whisler’s cocktail menu punches up the flavor with house-infused spirits. For fall and winter, these lean into maple and spice and fruits like pear, fig, and apple — flavors you’ll find balance harmoniously with Highland Park Single Malt Scotch. Venture out onto the patio to take your time and relax while catching up with friends.

A bottle of Highland Park whisky next to a cocktail in a lowball glass with a twist of orange peel. Javier Gonzalez

DrinkWell

A table with two cocktails, a bottle of Highland Park whisky, and plates of charcuterie, salad, and a sandwich. Javier Gonzalez

Toast to good friends and thoughtfully prepared bites at DrinkWell, located in Austin’s North Loop district. The restaurant features excellent vegan and gluten-free options, but everyone can find something to enjoy on this wellness-focused menu. Highlights include ancho chickpeas, baba ghanoush and dukkah-spiced crackers, and lamb and beef meatballs with couscous. For dessert: Texas pecan baklava, anyone? Stay tuned for regular events, such as a recent sold-out Scotch tasting featuring Highland Park 12 Year Old. Or, if you’re ordering to-go, DrinkWell also serves some of the city’s best bottled cocktails.

©2021 Highland Distillers Limited. Highland Park Scotch Whisky. Imported by Edrington Americas, New York, NY. “H” Device ® 

A table with two cocktails, a bottle of Highland Park whisky, and plates of charcuterie, salad, and a sandwich. Javier Gonzalez

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