I’m a lucky girl, way back I married a chef. So some of the best food in the Austin is at my kitchen table. But when we go out, I want to have it all. A thoughtful ambience that transports me to a new place or time. A varied menu pairing classics with a modern approach and local ingredients. And relaxed yet knowledgeable service that brings it all together for a memorable evening. So here’s some of my all-time favorites for a date night in Austin, Texas.
French Bistro Dining
4710 E 5th St.
Open daily from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., closed Tuesday
Reservations for parties of six or more
I’m a romantic so French cuisine holds a chunk of my heart. Marble-topped tables with market umbrellas in a treed outdoor space make me swoon. Add free-flowing baskets of crusty bread and butter and I’ll forget about the carbs. Pour me a glass of hearty red wine and I might wear a beret.
Justine’s Brasserie is all of that in East Austin. Go when the weather is at Austin’s peak or late night to dine outside. Find lights sparkling overhead, and a congenial crowd settling for a dose of France.
The menu features French classics in French with English translations. Start the evening with a Kir Royale or French 75 paired with the escargots à la Bourgainnoone.
Then savor the Steak Frites, a ribeye with beurre maître d’ and perfection fries.
Peche Sinful Cocktails & Cuisine
208 W. 4th St.
Open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to late, Saturday and Sunday from 5 p.m. to late
Come for a cocktail, come for dinner. Find a moody pre-prohibition bar that spans the length of the building. Serving up classic cocktails to satisfy a time traveler, including an impressive list of absinthe.
Make it an evening with a menu of French brasserie musts using Texas products. Standouts include the Haricot Vert Salad, a concoction of pickled cauliflower and local tomatoes with lardons mixed with feta and almonds all dressed with a creamy Dijon. Or samples the Prince Edward Island mussels or escargot for a bit of traditional fare.
Attentive staff, and the owner even works the dining room on busy nights offering drink recommendations.
June’s All Day
1722 S. Congress
Open Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Weekend Brunch 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. closing at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.
June’s All Day is many things to many people and it all depends when you walk into the door. Grab breakfast and coffee on a work day. Or stop by for a vibrant happy hour.
The All Day menu features French bistro classics, like the PEI Mussels with a creamy fennel and Pernod broth. Or sample the steak au poivre with confit garlic and parmesan fries for a French-inspired date night.
The cocktail menu favors rum and whisky. Sunday night is pub night with a Indian twist so find curries and naan. Sample the Doughnut Porfiteroles for dessert.
2027 Anchor Lane
Open Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight and Sunday Brunch form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Reservations accepted for parties of 12 or less
One of my all-time favorites for a fresh Spring evening or a crisp Fall night. The outdoor space at Contigo offers a laid-back environment with stylized picnic tables under century-old trees near the Mueller development.
For menu standouts, start with the El Pepino, a tequila-spiked cocktail flavored with cucumber, lime and a whisp of mint. Cocktails are better with something to munch on so grab an order of Crispy Green Beans for tempura-fried snappy beans.
Choose a solid burger or order lots of small plates and share. The charcuterie plates offer unique choices.
The French don’t have a monopoly on romance or date night in Austin. So sample some sushi and Japanese faves. Or take it a bit casual for some of the freshest seafood straight from the coast.
4200 N. Lamar Blvd.
Open Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The sister restaurant to Uchi, enjoy Japanese farmhouse dining in a lively yet understated dining room. For the best of the daily and regular menu, order the omakase, or chef’s tasting menu. It features 10 different courses, perfectly prepared and presented.
The tasting menu might feature shishito tempera, or tempera peppers. The hama chili featuring yellowtail is another jewel. And the hana with fried cauliflower and curried raisins fuses flavors of the Asian continent. End your meal with Ruby Red Grapefruit with aloe air and olive oil.
1303 South Congress Ave.
Open most days from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If your love loves sushi, then head to the first sustainable sushi restaurant in Austin. Start with the Brussels sprouts or the spicy edamame to liven up the taste buds. Follow with screaming fresh sashimi, inventive dumplings or try the tasting menu for host of new flavors.
A few tables along South Congress with more tables inside.
Monger’s Market + Kitchen
2401 E. Cesar Chavez
Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Closed Sunday
Seafood so fresh it dances across the plate at this happy East Austin outlet. Find a fresh seafood market and raw bar, or head to a handful of tables for the freshest of seafood. With a menu featuring the Gulf of Mexico’s bounty, sample a buttermilk-fried Gulf shrimp. Or sink a fork into a blue crab cake. And taco Tuesday is celebrated with fish tacos.