There are too many instances when I would get a text from a friend asking, “where should I take ___ to brunch this weekend?” or “I have a car today! Where are some good places for dinner?” or “It’s about to be our 6-months and I have no idea what I’m doing.”
- Disclaimer #1: it’s NOT that I’ve had experiences going on dates, rather, I’m just a foodie that’s explored 100+ restaurants in the area.
- Disclaimer #2: This guide does not factor in your personal tastes, preferences, or wallet.
- Side note: I tried picking local restaurants to avoid chains and whatnots.
So, gentlemen, I have drafted a guide for where to take your lady to eat in Austin. I’ve separated this into three levels:
- you don’t even know if this is even a date yet……….
- you’re exclusively dating/in a relationship.
- major anniversary celebration / special occasion.
Level 1: “Is this even a date?”
Our generation these days can’t seem to fully ask someone out on date. We all know this is true. Plenty of people look back and confess, ‘oh, that was a date afterall.’ Gentlemen, you don’t want to ask her to go to cheap-skate places, rather, you want a classy place that isn’t too intimidating. These are great places for these wishy-washy situations, where you just want to test the waters.
Blue Dahlia – Their happy hour is wonderful. Monday-Friday 3-6:30pm is perfect time to soak up the sunset in the patio and order yourselves some tartines. Outdoor seating is fantastic, take advantage of it! (West Lake location is my personal favorite)
- Smoked Salmon Tartines
- Meat & Cheese Platter
- Belgian Waffles
- Bread Pudding
Galaxy Cafe – The food here matches the slightly above casual ambiance. Great for both lunch and dinner, and they serve an array of options from carbs (pasta, sandwiches, wraps) to burgers to salads. Plus, you order and pay up front, so you could really avoid the whole “I’m paying for you” fight over the check.
Sadly, I didn’t take pictures while eating here three times. But…here are some great stuff on the menu!
- Galaxy Fish Wrap
- Buddha Bowl
- Asian Seared Tuna Salad
Hillside Farmacy – Located in East Austin on 11th street, this is a super cute and dainty place for brunch or late lunch. Their menu is nicely condensed so you don’t have to spend time mulling over what to order, and their options suit meat eaters and vegetarians!
Pictured is the Fried Egg Sandwich (I hate bacon, but I LOVED the crispy bacon that they put in there). PLUS, they serve Coolhaus as part of their dessert menu, nomnomnom (sea salt caramel & coffee oreo pictured)
Foodheads – Another cutesy, patio-seating Austin place, this cafe is known for its delicious, specialty sandwiches. Another order+pay upfront style, leaving ease for the conversation to flow. Plus, their outdoor seating options > indoor seating, so enjoy the breeze, the sunset, or whatever the weather is throwing at you that day.
- Fish Torta
- Chicken Special
Level 2: “We’re dating.”
YAY, now you’ve got the lady, and you want to take her out to eat on Friday nights. You’re treading smooth waters at this point, but you still want to keep up your food standards.
Tbh, this is the easiest time to take someone out to eat. You should already know she likes, what she doesn’t like, and what she’s allergic to. Plus, as long as you are great company and she doesn’t get food poisoning, all is well.
Cho Sushi – near Lake Travis (Steiner Ranch location), the drive to this place…is breathtaking! You get to spend 30 minutes enjoying the view of meandering mountains, curvy roads, and hopefully not too dampened by the Austin rush hour traffic. BEST SUSHI IN AUSTIN (in my opinion + a dedicated sushi post coming in June!)
Their happy hour has the best deals! You can be full without breaking your bank =)
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill – Can’t go wrong with the menu, something to cater to everyone’s tastes! Their portions are pretty big, perfect reason to share so you can try different things. Indoor seating is a little chilly and dark, but you can request outdoor seating and risk the mosquito attacks.
- Buffalo Meat Pie (I hate meat, but I looooved this + it served me for two meals!)
- Green Chile Macaroni
Downsides: Be prepared for the 90+ minute wait, especially on a Friday night. I came here with one of my best friends, and we had plenty to talk about during the wait. Plus, parking is a pain, so practice your parallel parking skills so you don’t embarrass yourself =)
Le Cafe Crepe – if you’re looking to achieve the Parisian vibe with the decor and cramped space, you got it. Granted, they expanded their outdoor seating, so you have a chance to sit under cute red umbrellas and enjoy the downtown view. Their food portion is pretty big and shareable, so you can try different types of sweet and savory yumminess.
- Chloe’s Crepe (Nutella + Strawberries!)
Level 3: “We’re celebrating.”
Serious could mean a lot of different things to different people. Let’s say, you want to celebrate your one year anniversary, or your significant other’s acceptance to law school, or her birthday.
Finn & Porter – This is on the quieter side of Downtown, nested in the Hilton. Perfect for a low-key event. Fantastic service – the waitress recommended all the house specials and checked on us frequently. The restaurant is designed in two stories, with the sushi bar at the first floor and the full bar on the second. Once again, wonderful bathrooms.
- Appetizers: Grilled Gulf Oyster // Duck Rillete
- Entrees: Sea Bass // 16 oz NY Strip
- Dessert: Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse // Goat Cheesecake
- Drinks: Mojito (a tad more delicious than the ones I had in Mexico)
Personally, I came here with a small of friends for one of their 21st birthdays. Hence, the fantastic service + complimentary starter champagne + complimentary dessert.
Willie G’s – Located on 4th and Congress, it’s a beautiful place to dine indoor or outdoor. The year-round stringed lights on the trees make it seem like the holidays everyday (personal favorite). Ambiance inside set a romantic tone, but we saw multiple groups of all ages – dressed well of course. Bonus: the bathroom is so nice.
- Appetizers: Crispy Calamari // Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
- Entrees: 8 oz Filet Mignon // Blackened Scallops
- Dessert: Creme Brulee // Macademia Nut Brittle Cheesecake
Personally, I came here with a group of friends (actually the same group as Finn & Porter) for my 20th birthday dinner. We were all dressed for the part, and yay for double the complimentary dessert!
The Bonneville – Love, love, love this location! Sits on Caesar Chavez and Guadalupe and overlooks Lady Bird Lake – perfect opportunity to go for a romantic walk afterwards. Their menu is kind of Asian-fied which is really cool, and their prices are quite reasonable for the quality of food served.
- Appetizers: Mussels Steamed in Spicy Red Curry-Coconut Broth
- Entree: Seared Diver Scallops with Scallion Rice Cake & Grapefruit Nage
- Dessert: Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart
Now go eat your way through Austin =)