Top Austin Restaurants for SXSW, According to TripIt Users

No bones about it: Austin has some of the best cookin’ in the country. It does regional classics such as BBQ and Tex-Mex to perfection, and a swath of up-and-coming chefs are making names for themselves and their city in more inventive, foreign fare. As techies, music lovers and cinephiles make their annual pilgrimage to SXSW (occurring in 2013 from March 8-17), we at TripIt want to ensure attendees are kept both organized and well-fed – so we launched a search for the TripIt community’s 10 most popular Austin restaurants.

The list, like a great meal, is well balanced: there are options for formal and no-frills; ribeye and raw oysters; even American and Asian fusion – to help you make the most of your SXSW experience.

Best of all, you can book an online reservation for yourself and load it into your own TripIt itinerary to keep everything organized. Which of our top picks will you choose?

Top 10 TripIt Restaurants in Austin:

1 & 2. Uchiko & Uchi – Tyson Cole’s two flagship restaurants* offer inventive sushi and either farmhouse (the former) or contemporary (the latter) Japanese cuisine to satisfy every palate. Our users overwhelmingly agree – these Austin institutions are not-to-be-missed.
[*Though Top Chef winner Paul Qui no longer helms the kitchen at Uchiko, his new restaurant, QUI, is slated to open by SXSW should truly loyal fans opt to hunt it down.]

3. Parkside – Right in the heart of downtown, celebrated Austinite Shawn Cirkiel serves up a killer raw bar alongside gastropub fare from steaks to rabbit. It’s adventurous food for serious eaters – but fear not, comfort-foodies: the burger gets rave reviews as well.

4. Lambert’s Downtown BBQ – What trip to Texas is complete without authentic barbecue? Your time at SXSW is valuable, so save yourself the drive to the country or the wait in an hours-long line and book a table here.

5. Perla’s – Seafood and oyster bar in a land-locked city? Believe it. Fresh fare flies in from both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico daily, making Perla’s a seaworthy café in the South Congress district.

6. Congress – Upscale fare in the heart of downtown offering three- or seven-course menus that change nightly. A great place to splurge on a dinner companion or business acquaintance you seriously want to impress.

7. Wink  – If any city could pull off “unpretentious fine dining,” it would be Austin. Head to Wink to see the oxymoron come to life.

8. Midnight Cowboy – Built in a former brothel, this tongue-in-cheek speakeasy is cocktails-only, reservations-required.

9. The Salty Sow – This Austin-based “swine dining” restaurant expands to Phoenix next year, so put it on your list now while it’s still a Bat City original.

10. Olive and June – Another celebrated restaurant from Parkside’s Cirkiel, this one featuring classic yet sophisticated Italian fare (a cuisine unexpected in the wilds of Texas). Need a respite from the hobnobbing and networking? Head here on the 10th for family-style Sunday dinner.

Have we missed any of your favorite Austin eateries? Let us know what spots you’d add to the list. Cheers to a successful – and delicious ­– SXSW!

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