A Texas-Based Australian Chef on the Top Places to Dine in Austin

Dai Due Austin Texas restaurants

Austin, Texas was once the fastest-growing city in the US. Thousands of Americans flocked to the city, causing a population boom that rippled into the city’s dining scene.

Today, Jess Pryles, an Australian chef based in Austin but joining Vivid Fire Kitchen this year to lead demonstrations on barbecue, meat and smoking techniques, says the city’s dining scene has mainly changed by the sheer volume of new eateries. She describes it as an eclectic mix of old-school American favourites, like barbecue, Tex Mex and burgers, created by some amazing local chef talent.

“Austin was the place that started the food truck revolution — where smaller entrepreneurs could sling some really creative dishes without having to afford a brick and mortar,” says Pryles.

Those food trucks are still around, popular for start-ups, but Pryles says the city is also seeing more refined restaurants popping up. Ahead, she shares some of her favourite restaurants in Austin. From an elevated Mexican seafood spot, to an institution Japanese restaurant, these are the places to dine the next time you’re in Austin.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

“Yeah, I know it’s weird to try Japanese food in Austin, but Ramen Tatsu-Ya is an institution,” Pryles says. “The noodles are always fresh with the perfect chew. My go-to is the “OG” – tonkotsu with chashu pork, and I always add an extra ajitama egg.” 

InterStellar BBQ

“Former chef-turned-pitmaster John Bates is cranking out some of the best ‘cue in the world at InterStellar BBQ. Peach Sweet Tea Pork Belly burnt ends are a must, along with brisket, of course. He also has amazing smoked lamb as specials on some weekends. Be aware – most barbecue in Texas is a lunchtime deal. If you arrive too late, they’ll be sold out for the day.”

InterStellar BBQ
Image: InterStellar BBQ


“I absolutely adore dinner at Este, an elevated Mexican seafood restaurant from chef Fermin Nunez. The Camarones ‘El Ricas’ are grilled shell-on shrimp with an earthy chilli adobo mop. The shells crisp up over the grill and are designed to be eaten. So simple, and so good. Their ‘Hoja Blanco’ cocktail also features an amazing fragrant Mexican herb called Hoja Santa.”

Dai Due

Dai Due focuses on wild game use, so you never know what sort of meat you may get to try. It might be Nilgai antelope, Texas wild boar or Aoudad. Their menu is constantly being rewritten and updated, but one of the best ways to experience their wild flavours is at their famous Sunday brunch.”

Dai Due
Image: Dai Due


“Don’t come looking for breakfast burritos in Austin — we’re all about the breakfast tacos, and Veracruz is one of the best. They have a couple of food truck locations around town, and you should definitely order two or three in a serve — they’re smaller than you may be expecting. I love their egg and chorizo, and their green salsa is the perfect hit of spicy tartness.” 

Vaqueros Tex Mex

“Wagyu fajitas? Stuffed fried avocado? Flaming gooey melty queso? If that sounds like your jam, Vaqueros is your spot. If you grew up with Tacos Bills as your only reference for Mexican food, this will set you straight. Their portions are enormous and served on bright Fiesta ware plates, plus there’s free self-serve soft-serve on the way out.”

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