These are certainly interesting times for eating out in Austin, Texas. The former sleepy college town is well on its way to becoming a cosmopolitan city, and the attendant growing pains are vividly on display in a dining landscape previously dominated by tacos, burgers and barbecue. New, ambitious eateries have revitalized the scene, but, like a teenager with a new car, they’ve been all over the place, with varying levels of ambition and success (for a while it seemed as if three restaurants closed for every one that opened). The places listed here, though, both classics and newcomers, seem to have found their niche in an ever-changing environment by keeping things relevant, delicious and, yes, a little weird.
Occupying a handsome, understated building in Clarksville, just west of downtown, Austin’s grande dame of fine dining elegantly treads the line between special-occasion destination and comfortable neighborhood haunt. Slip into a sumptuous blue velvet banquette in the cozy bar or make your way to the posh country-French dining room, complete with wood-burning oven and flower bouquets worthy of a royal wedding. Roaming martini carts and Petrossian caviar set the stage for Texas-size steaks, like a 26-ounce, bone-in wagyu rib-eye, and luxe seafood dishes, like creamy risotto bathed in uni butter and bedecked by wood-roasted lobster, king crab and various other marine creatures. The wine list is impeccable (and half price on Sundays). Also check out Josephine House, Jeffrey’s more casual sister next door, where white shiplap and marble counters make a perfect setting for a California cuisine–style lunch or brunch.
1204 W Lynn St. Tel. (512) 477-5584