Where To Have a Last Minute Group Dinner in Austin

I’m lucky that I don’t suffer from anxiety, but I DO when I get a text on a Thursday asking “Where can I go with 10 guys Friday night for dinner?” I don’t have the OpenTable reservation openings memorized, and I sure don’t know who has seats available the day before at the best spots in town. I close my eyes, start scanning reservation openings, and then end up suggesting places I know where reservations aren’t necessary or counter service availability. Of course they all must still offer that cool Austin, laid back vibe, with comparable food. The best part about moving to Austin after NYC is the giant real estate bars and restaurants have to offer more seating areas! Below is a list of spots that will be able to take your party in mostly casual environments, but in fun areas that have some kind of music or bar component to keep the party going after din din.

  1. Sour Duck Market – This spot is less than a month old and the concept is already my favorite. Counter service in the front, biergarten in the back. The elevated food pays a nod to what the chefs are doing at sister restaurant Odd Duck: unique flavors and weird combos that work. Nothing is better than being able to pay your own check and tally your own drinks in a large group. After you order, you can go up to the bar or order from servers who are walking around and they keep everything together on your tab. Go for the chicken salad sandwich (not too mayo-y) because this thick Texas toast is the buttery best. Also, the cucumber moscow mule is my two favorite flavors combined. Winning!
  2. Loro – The fact that you can get Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin style food combined for a great price and a short wait time is still pretty unbelievable for me to accept. If the line is out the door, no problem, they set up an outside bar so you can sip on canned wine and beers while you wait for a table. This dancehall themed spot is a great taste of Texas and Asian flavors at the same time and is very unique to Austin. TV’s, frozen mango sake (get a floater!), Franklin Smoked Brisket (after 5 pm), Uchi Kale and Asian Pear Salad, and the best Chicken Karaage I’ve ever had.
  3. Le Politique – Cute pink and blue outdoor chairs and raw bar, this downtown spot is huge and feels good. I love it for brunch the most!
  4. Thai Kun at Whisler’s – This could possibly be my favorite meal in town, and it’s all coming from a food truck at the best looking bar on the East Side. Grab a fancy cocktail at the bar and then at the food truck out back, get the Cabbage Two Ways, Khao Man Gai, and Beef Panang Curry. Even when there is a line, the food doesn’t take too long, and you can pop up to the intimate Mezcaleria upstairs after.
  5. Leroy & Lewis – You probably need BBQ at some point and this old school BBQ style but new school cuts is open Wednesday – Sunday until 9 p.m. Order the brisket, beef cheeks, kale caesar, and get some cocktails inside at Cosmic Cafe
  6. Pool Burger – Tiki cocktails, frozen hurricanes, burgers, soft serve with chocolate sprinkles and junior mints, and DJ’s on Friday and Saturday. Enough said. Again, order at the bar separately and you are set. 
  7. Fareground – Now this is probably the most casual option on here BUT it has the widest variety of food options and a full bar. Favorites include Dai Due tacos, Ni Kome sushi and chicken ramen, and Henbit Monster Cookie. It’s downtown and close to lots of bars and live music. 
  8. Dee Dee at La Holly – Another awesome Thai food truck. This spot is spicy as hell and don’t miss the mango sticky rice for dessert.
  9. Better Half – On the west side close to Clarksville, it’s truly a coffee and cocktail destination at any time of the day and even a co-working space. Get the fried chicken biscuit sandwich and sit at the picnic tables outside or in the back corner booth. Then head to the legendary Donn’s Depot.
  10. Eberly – Get yo’selves dressed up! This spot is gorgeous, has beautiful skylights, an ideal fancy menu, and if it’s full in the main dining room the connected bar has food and drinks while you wait.
  11. Matt’s El Rancho – Classic Austin fools. This actually might be the largest restaurant I’ve ever seen. The rooms keep coming and the queso keeps a flowing. 
  12. The Hightower – Easy going spot that feels like a bar but has some of the best brussels sprouts in town (with peanut butter?) and is close to all the other east side bars you want to venture to after. Also, don’t miss their Smoked Beef Short Rib Tacos, it’s the sourdough tortilla that won me over.
  13. Grizzelda’s – This pink and glitzy restaurant might look like it was built for instagram, but the food is really good, and I like the vibes! I did see Rachael Ray here once, too. Go for the queso fundido, brussels sprouts, and whole fish! 
  14. Koriente – Not the chicest place for an evening (great for lunch), but definitely the most amazing, healthful Asian food. It’s a lot of food, and if you aren’t looking to drink this could be a chill spot! Go for the Obake Bowl A and add seared tuna. Also, they have party trays, so if you want them to create Curry, Papaya Salads, Salmon Wraps for your large group, do it!
  15. Il Brutto – I am partial to this patio not only because they serve my favorite drink, Aperol Spritz, but it’s one of the only sit down, full service restaurants on the east side. It’s also hopefully starting the trend of Italian food in Austin. Go for the lasagna.