It’s a great time to live in Austin for foodies. It seems that every few days, a new restaurant is opening up somewhere in the city. A couple of years ago it was easy to know about all of the restaurant openings around town, but now it’s almost impossible to keep up.
Now that Austin has become the place to move to for many (including entrepreneurs and restaurateurs) it feels like the city has hit a tipping point where the food scene is changing in profound ways as new flavors and cuisines are introduced.
Whether at a new sit down restaurant or trailer or food truck, Austinites have more food options than ever.
In this post we’re going explore 5 new restaurants that offer 5 different cuisines: Refined Italian fare from Trento, Vietnamese sandwiches from Banh Banh, wine + cheese and charcuterie from Henri’s, Texas BBQ from J Mueller’s, and authentic Japanese noodles from Michi Ramen.
Michi Ramen Food Truck – North Austin Trailer Yard
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been craving a legitimate sushi place in Austin.
Now foodies can rejoice! The first REAL Japanese ramen joint has finally come to Austin, Texas. The broth at Michi is prepared the old fashioned way – by boiling pork bones for a really long time with no MSG added and definitely no powder from a package.
The ramen doesn’t dissapoint – I went with a group of 10 seasoned ramen eaters (who collectively had tasted the best California and Japan have to offer) and everyone agreed that this place is legit.
Michi Ramen serve both shoyu and miso ramen, and each bowl comes standard with fatty pork slices and a variety of veggies. For a dollar or two you can purchase extras such as either a poached or soft boiled egg or extra meat. They also serve a Texas special ramen that uses Chinese BBQ pork as the meat.
For dessert, Michi serves up ice cream mochi in unique flavors such as lychee and passion fruit. Don’t skip dessert – it’s delicious.
Show up early – Michi sells out quickly for each meal service.
Trento – Refined Italian Food on 360
Trento serves traditional Northern Italian food on a level way above your neighborhood Olive Garden. In fact, the chefs at Trento formerly worked at Congress (under David Bull) and recently teamed up to open this casual Italian eatery just next to the Pennybacker Bridge on 360.
We were there for a media opening party and got to sample some of their favorite dishes including delicious cheese ravioli with lamb sausage, chicken pate with shallots and taragon, handmade meatballs, gnocchi, and frutta del mare pizza.
Trento also has a creative cocktail menu that features traditional favorites such as red or white sangria and bellinis, but they also have interesting drinks like a kumquat mojito and a blood orange margarita.
Everything I ate at Trento seemed authentic, not relying on massive amounts of sauce and cheese like most other chain style Italian places around town.
Definitely worth a try.
JMueller BBQ – South First Street Food Trailer
John Mueller, son of legendary James Beard award winner Louie Mueller has brought the family recipe to Austin, to the delight of many in 78704. JMueller BBQ only opens for lunch and much like Franklin BBQ, they sell out every day at around 1 oclock.
The brisket from the old Mueller’s is / was legendary, and this brisket does not disappoint one bit (I actually think JMueller is better now that Louie Mueller’s has changed a bit). The brisket meat is fatty, moist and delicious and is served to you by Mr Mueller himself. The pork sausage is hand made, coarse, and juicy – much like the sausage that you get in Lockhart (BBQ capital of Texas), just without the hour drive.
JMueller’s also offers pork ribs, beef short rib, and pork shoulder but the brisket and sausage are the real draw here. The sides here are also outstanding – my favorites are the beans and the baked squash (with cheese).
With lines at Franklin BBQ now pushing a 2 hour wait – JMueller is now my go to place in Austin for authentic Texas BBQ.
Go early. As of May 2012, if you go at 10:30 AM you’ll likely be the first person in line. Go at 11AM and you might have to wait 10 minutes, but go after 11:30 and you will probably have a 30-40 minute wait.
Henri’s – Wine, Cheese & Charcuterie on South Lamar
Henri’s Wine bar is a little shop on South Lamar (next to Barley Swine and the Horseshoe Lounge) that serves cheese and charcuterie plates with top quality products from around the world. Here you can grab a beer or share a bottle of wine with a friend in a cool and cozy environment.
Henri’s has the feel of a neighborhood joint and is a great happy hour spot or alternative location to a traditional, loud bar. It would also be a good place for a casual business meeting with a few people (that’s why I was there).
Henri’s has meal service during lunch, where they sere various “fancy” soups and salads. I live just across the street from Henri’s so I’ll definitely be back – even if you aren’t in the neighborhood I think it’s worth a drive.
Side note: If you are a social, single guy that likes wine and cheese – you might want to hang out here as the guy to girl ratio is skewed heavily in your favor.
Bahn-Bahn – Vietnamese Sandwiches off Barton Springs
In the Trailer food lot on Jessie street next to Flip Happy crepes is a brand new Vietnamese sandwich place called Bahn-Bahn. Much like Lulu B’s they serve sizable Vietnamese sandwiches filled with grilled meats such as lemongrass pork, BBQ pork, and lemongrass chicken.
They have only been open for about a month but the food is pretty solid. The trailer park they occupy is shared with 3 other businesses including the Ice Cream Social bus. I ate with a friend that frequents Banh Mi joints in Houston and he said this place is just as good, but more expensive (it’s about $6 per sandwich).
I’m glad this place is around because Lulu B’s keeps weird hours and Banh Banh is central south so those with a hankering for Banh Mi don’t have to drive 20 minutes north for a Vietnamese food fix.
Hope you enjoyed this roundup of new restaurants in Austin.
Until next time, Happy Tasting!
PS – All of these photos were taken with the photo sharing app Instagram. If you want to follow me on Instagram, my screen name is supertsai