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20 Austin Restaurants Not to Miss

20 Austin Restaurants Not to Miss

Living in a city that’s become such a hot destination spot has many perks — one of the best being that there are now endless options for fantastic food in Austin. But how do you sort through the clutter when there’s a new “hip” and “must-try” restaurant on every corner?  Here to help you out is our iGnite team of Austin locals, sharing our favorite spots.  Go with one of these the next time you’re visiting Austin, or, if you’re a fellow local, the next time you’re looking for a great meal or place to take your out-of-town guests, and you can’t go wrong!

Dinner & Drinks

Vino Vino

Vino Vino: “Easy to get to and easy to park, this cozy eatery has the absolute KINDEST staff you will ever meet in your life. They have known you forever from the moment you walk in the door, and the food is fresh and unique, with flavors and textures that dance on your tongue. The wine choices are diverse, and my husband and I go crazy, ordering and splitting delicious things. I love this place…ask to say hi to Kelly, the manager, because he will make you happy that you have just made a new friend.”
Cary

Justine’s Brasserie

Justine’s Brasserie on east 5th: “Such a treat! It has a great inside vibe and a wonderful outside atmosphere as well. Totally delicious French experience, but with a casual Austin flare. The food is delicious and their specialty bar drinks are fantastic! For a cocktail, try the refreshingly lemony French 76. They have wonderful appetizers — I recommend the smoked salmon, then go for a classic, Steak Frites! They also have one of the best burgers in town!  Take your time and enjoy the evening 🙂 ”
Sha

Launderette

Launderette: “This darling restaurant is located in an old laundromat in East Austin. It has an extensive veggie section to the menu with yummy brussell sprouts, zucchini salad, cauliflower gratin and more. It is portioned to share, so it’s perfect for date night or to go with girlfriends!”
Delaine

Perla’s

Perla’s: “One of my favorite “fancy” spots! I love seafood, and I think Perla’s has a wonderfully varied menu. Plus, the champagne cocktail and hushpuppies are amazing!!”
Molly

Second Bar + Kitchen

Second Bar + Kitchen downtown at 2nd & Congress: “This place is great for high quality late-night dining. I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve gotten here. Unlike most restaurants, they serve dinner until 11:30pm Sunday-Thursday and until 1:30am Friday & Saturday! It’s the perfect fun place to grab a really great meal after doing something fun downtown when you want to stay in the thick of everything! With everything from black truffle pomme frites, to cheese boards, yummy small plates, soups, salads, incredible pizzas, steaks, seafood and a huge drink menu, you really can’t go wrong 🙂 We go here every time my in-laws are in town because they just can’t get their last meal there of their minds!”
Catherine

 Zax Restaurant & Bar

Zax is definitely at the top of my list because it is centrally located, has great quality and a great variety of food, and it’s one of the few places that all 5 of my family members love! Thus it has become our Easter brunch spot (they have GREAT brunches), nice family dinner spot and great place to take out-of-town guests. I can order Zax Salad with jerk salmon, my husband can get the Sesame Crusted Tuna, my son Mitch always gets the Classic Burger, daughter Maggie goes for the Chicken Quesadillas and daughter Sarah loves the Frenched Pork Chops. Also, Zax is my favorite spot to meet a friend before going to A Christmas Affair at the Palmer Events Center….their Tortilla Soup and Salad are the perfect pre-shopping meal in November!”
-Amy

Mexican & Tex-Mex

Matt’s El Rancho

“We LOVE Matt’s El Rancho. From the placemats with pictures of the 1950’s unlikely young athlete who started the restaurant, to a window into the tortilla-making room (awesome for keeping the young ones intrigued)…Matt’s is just a happy place. Every time we are there, at least three tables around us break into the happy birthday song, and (I swear, just look around), EVERYBODY is smiling. Try the fish tacos…very fresh with a delicious sauce…and the traditional basket of gigantic chips is my warm blanket. When I recently took some friends who don’t get the whole “basket of chips” thing where they live, I realized, for the first time in my life, that I probably eat at least four full tortillas before I actually get my meal at Matt’s…which is really okay…it is…it’s just what we do!
Cary

Fonda San Miguel

Fonda San Miguel is at the top of my list for best interior Mexican food, beautiful decor, always delicious, fresh and dependably good dishes and a great place for happy hour with the hubster or girl friends!  I love their margaritas, salsas, Ceviche las Brisas and redfish!”
Amy

“An oldie but a goodie! I love to go meet girlfriends here for happy hour in the lounge/bar area. Wonderful atmosphere and yummy appetizers — go early on Tuesdays for half-price apps!”
Delaine

Trudy’s

Trudy’s on 30th Street has been my go-to Mexican spot for 9 years! The food and drinks never disappoint, and it’s always fun on game days. When my husband and I can’t think of where to go on a Friday night, we walk over there!”
Molly

Kid-Friendly

Hat Creek Burger Company

“Given the season of my life, my husband and I don’t find much time to go out alone and without our small children, therefore my current favorite Austin restaurant is Hat Creek Burger Company. There are many reasons why I love Hat Creek, with one being that it is totally kid-friendly. At all of their locations there are super fun and creative play areas for children, as well as an outdoor area with flatscreen t.v.’s that allows mom and dad to watch their children while sneaking some peaks at whatever sporting event they have playing. And, it’s super easy for the kids to run from the play area, grab some food, and go play some more. On top of that, the menu is simple yet delicious! They serve hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers (the Hot Dang grain burger created by my good friend Martha Pincoffs!), gluten-free nuggets, regular French fries and sweet potato French Fries (my personal favorite), salads, beer, wine and milkshakes! Does it get any better than that?! In addition, all of their meat is high quality and they are now serving breakfast. I also love Hat Creek because it’s locally owned by Austinite Drew Gressett. As a cherry on top, Hat Creek partners with Mobile Loaves & Fishes and makes 100 fresh burgers everyday and delivered free of charge to those in need in Austin. Now, that’s big time! So, for all of the reasons listed, Hat Creek Burgers is my favorite Austin restaurant 🙂 ”
Neissa

Lunch/Casual

FoodHeads

FoodHeads is my all time favorite! It is located on 34th Street close to Guadalupe. Best food ever! Great salads, amazing sandwiches and even delectable desserts!! I had a big warm brownie covered in chocolate sauce with vanilla ice cream for dessert the other day and it was SOOOO good. It is an old cozy house with indoor or outdoor seating. Very casual–perfect for lunch after workouts in your sweaty gear! The only bad thing is they are not open for dinner : ( Fresh and home made — yum!”
Kathleen

“I love the casual cafe atmosphere and the food is AMAZING! It offers unusual combinations and variations on classic Austin breakfast/brunch/lunch fare, and wholesome, nutritious, locally-sourced ingredients.  I often go with a group of friends for brunch or lunch after a morning run or workout, but I also go with my family — my kids love it too! I usually get the squash sandwich, and they make it vegan for me by leaving off the cheese and pesto and adding avocado instead. I always ask for an extra side of their home-made pickles — so good! They’re the owner Chip’s secret recipe. I also love their breakfast tacos and again they put together wonderful vegan combinations for me; oh and their homemade salsa is the.best. Finally, what I love most about FoodHeads is the people that own and run this little slice of heaven, Chip and Candi Wendt. They are dear friends of mine and just wonderful human beings, and they put their heart and soul into their cafe — they love love love their employees, love love love their customers, and take pride in every plate of delicious food that they serve.”
Alli

Galaxy Cafe

Galaxy Cafe: “The perfect girls night restaurant! Our 6pm evening group eats at Galaxy sometimes after class for a healthy and delicious dinner. When I go to Galaxy, I always seem to stay for a long time visiting with friends and never feel like the staff is rushing me to leave!”
Molly

Mother’s Cafe

Mother’s Cafe has been at the top of my list since I discovered it back in the early 80’s when I moved to Austin. It is my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Austin! It has a cool, eclectic, granola-head vibe, and every dish is wonderful and fresh. You can’t beat the Bueno Burger and side salad with the famous Cashew Tamari dressing. I go there every Mother’s Day with my family (along with other times during the year) and love to sit in the outdoor area with all the plants and goldfish pond.”
Amy

Italian

Juliet Ristorante

“A new favorite of mine is Juliet on Barton Springs Road! Excellent pasta and pizzas and a great wine list. The gluten free pasta is very tasty too.”
Betty

Pieous Pizza

Pieous Pizza is one of my absolute faves! It’s authentic wood-fired Neopolitan pizza in its purest, simplest form- so delicious!  It’s a bit of a drive — it’s right by the Nutty Brown cafe in Dripping Springs, but worth it!  They have incredible salads too, all farm fresh ingredients, homemade dressings, good wines and a fun casual atmosphere.  Get there early though because they run out!”
Jill

Southern Home Cooking

Fixe

“I love Fixe, it’s a fairly new southern cooking restaurant downtown. I love the interior and the atmosphere. The Fixe biscuits are to die for and the deviled eggs are so yummy… and the fried chicken, so if you are in the mood for Southern food and a new downtown hot spot, this is the place. Great cocktails also!”
Jill

Grab & Go

Fresa’s

Fresa’s is healthy drive-thru on Lamar! An Austin-owned restaurant where you can get fresh local chicken, homemade corn tortillas, salads, grilled vegetables, home-made ice creams and more. Their breakfast tacos are great too!”
Delaine 

Royal Blue Grocery

“My husband and I love going to pick up some fun things at Royal Blue Grocery and either taking it all for a picnic or sitting outside in their patio area and eating a casual and tasty, light meal. Their shredded chicken salad is the best in town!”
Catherine

Sushi

Komé Sushi Kitchen

“My husband and I love sushi and enjoy the experience of trying new sushi rolls, but sushi is expensive! Our favorite new spot is Komé on Airport Blvd. It’s delicious, fairly inexpensive (for two people with wine and food, we can eat for $50 total!) and a fun atmosphere. When you walk into the restaurant, all of the sushi chefs greet you out loud with a fun phrase!”
Molly

Cocktails

Garage Cocktail Bar

Garage is a small, moody bar actually hidden away inside a parking garage downtown! You feel like you’ve discovered something secret when you come here. It’s a great place to grab drinks with a group!”
Catherine


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Embrace “The Juggle”

Inspiration from the iGnite Archives

iGnite - The Juggle

As the summer is coming to an end and the shift to back to school and more activity is happening, we are embracing The Juggle.  Our inspiration is from a blog post from a few years back. We encourage you to read it again and determine your priorities and goals, set some realistic expectations and practice patience in the moments when it’s not all going according to plan.

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The Key to an Exciting Life

Live like someone left the gate open

“Never be afraid to try something new. Because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know.” (Unknown)

Point to Ponder:
Do you resist trying new things, feel stuck in a rut, or have a difficult time with spontaneity? Have you done anything new lately and experienced a jolt of revitalization as a result?

Action Item:
Say “yes” to trying something new this week.
Inspire others to do the same by sharing your experience on our Facebook page!

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Do you ever find yourself amazed how much there is to do in our sweet, little-ol’ Austin, Texas? Seriously, Austin is no longer just the weird, hippie, home of the University of Texas Longhorns. It’s a tourist’s haven, and people actually love vacationing and visiting here because of all there is to do! Which leads me to my next question: Why in the world don’t I participate in all of the cool, creative and fun things available, such as amazing restaurants, festivals, concerts, and arts? We live in a mecca of options, yet I find myself rotating through the same and often times boring, in-my-box activities.

Of course, traffic, work and children certainly dictate my level of participation and spontaneity, however, there’s always the weekend. So, last night, after spending a few hours at our favorite summer spot — the Pease Park splash pad — the Springmann family ventured to South Congress where we grabbed a bottle of wine and a few to-go pizza’s from the very popular pizza joint, Home Slice Pizza.

You see, we’ve never eaten at Home Slice or even tried their pizza. And, we never go to South Congress, so simply driving down SoCo (I feel so hip saying that-ha!) revitalized our weekend because it was something new. As for the pizza, it was delish and the customer service was excellent. In the event you’ve been living in a cave like me, and have not tried their pizza yet, I give it five stars!

How about you? Have you done anything new lately and experienced a jolt of revitalization as a result? Or, are you in need of a revitalization re-boot and need some motivation? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In the spirit of our country’s and our own independence, we aren’t just going to celebrate our freedom on the 4th of July, rather we are going to live like the gate is open throughout ALL of July with the hope this free-spirit living will inspire us to permanently live this way. I mean really, sometimes I live like I have an electric fence around my life and I’ll get zapped if I try something new. It’s ridiculous and it’s time to make some summer waves!

According to medical doctor and author Alex Lickerman, who struggles with trying new things, he reminds us that opening our minds to new things or a new way of thinking is often frightening because by definition it’s unfamiliar. Unfamiliarity often rings the alarm bell “danger—potentially unsafe.” But if you think about it, most of the things we fear don’t actually come to pass. When faced with trying something new, here are four benefits he often reminds himself of:

  1. Trying something new often requires courage. And needing to summon courage is in itself a benefit. Once it’s released it will, like its second cousin once removed, anger, indiscriminately engulf everything in its path. How wonderful to open a flood of courage and be carried on its waves to destinations of unexpected benefit.
  2. Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new. Entire careers, entire life paths, are carved out by people dipping their baby toes into small ponds and suddenly discovering a love for something they had no idea would capture their imaginations.
  3. Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored. Even I, the most routine-loving person I know, become bored if I’m not continually challenged in some way. And it’s not the new challenges I’m eager to take on that represent my greatest opportunities for growth, it’s the ones I’m not eager about.
  4. Trying something new forces you to grow. We don’t ever grow from taking action we’ve always taken (the growth that enabled us to be able to take it has already occurred). Growth seems to require we take new action first, whether it’s adopting a new attitude or a new way of thinking, or literally taking new action. Thrusting yourself into new situations and leaving yourself there alone, so to speak, often forces beneficial change. A spirit of constant self-challenge keeps you humble and open to new ideas that very well may be better than the ones you currently hold dear (this happens to me all the time).

So, I invite you to join the iGnite Team in living like the gate is open. Say “yes” to trying new things that you are unsure about or you think you can’t do, even though they make you nervous.  And, when you do try something new, even if it is just a new bottle of wine, please let us know on our Facebook page (or if you don’t use Facebook, leave a comment on this post). This sharing will be a great way to inspire one another to try different things, plus, it’ll just be fun to see what everyone is doing to live like the gate is open!

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View Your Life as a Bank Account

Image

If you allow people to make more
withdrawals than deposits in your life,
you will be out of balance and in the negative.
Know when to close the account.
-Christie Williams

Okay, okay. It’s quite possible we’ve sent mixed messages. Last month we encouraged you to say “YES!”, and this week we are urging you to say “NO!”. However, we think you know what we mean. Definitely say “yes” to the things that you really want to do, but for sure start saying “no” to the things that you really don’t want to do. For clarification and inspiration, check out our BFF, Brene Brown, as she describes her brillant “No saying” strategy…

Tell us what will help you get the courage to say ‘Enough!’ when it’s right for you. (Your comments can be anonymous)

What we Want vs. What we Get

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 5.08.08 PM

Sometimes what you want isn’t always what you get, but in the end what you get is much better than what you wanted. (Anonymous)

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

With Halloween less than 24 hours away, we encourage you to indulge and enjoy plenty of delish treats! And (unlike the inspirational quote suggests) we hope you DO get all if your favorite candy and more, as it does a spirit good.

Also, while trick or treating, beware of dancing trash bags hidden in dark allies or placed indiscreetly in your home or office…
Check out the video below, have a good laugh and Happy Halloween!!!!

Tell us what’s YOUR favorite halloween tradition ?

Make Your Own Future

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love.
– Bradley Whitford

Johanna Quaas is an inspiration, indeed!  At 86 years old, she’s the oldest gymnast in the world and man does she rock!  There’s no doubt she has infused her life with action and is living the ‘YES I CAN’ motto.

Tell Us What This Amazing 86 Year Old Woman is Inspiring You To Do! 

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Out of Every Ditch, A Path

iGniters running on one of our favorite paths in the midst of downtown Austin.

The things you think are disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.
– Hilary Mantel

As mentioned in this week’s Journal, Malala Yousafzia is an extraordinary example of courage.  She has turned a horrible situation into an opportunity to share a powerful message.  Check out this week’s inspiring video, mixed in with a little Jon Stewart humor.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION- What do stories like this inspire you to do? 

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