18 Best Upscale Special Occasion Restaurants in Austin

In the last decade, Austin has become a really fun place for special occasion restaurants. We have no shortage of high-end, upscale, and downright fancy restaurants. From steak to sushi, these 18 restaurants on my list of Austin’s Best Special Occasion Restaurants will help you make the perfect dinner reservation for your next big night out. 

Although there are loads of great casual taco spots and food trucks in Austin, this article is going to focus on the restaurants where you can splurge a little. If you’re hoping to find the perfect place to celebrate your birthday, a big wedding anniversary, or just a really nice night out in Austin, read on. 

Interior of Simi Estiatorio in Austin

My research comes from living in Austin and trying out fancy restaurants with my husband. In the past decade we’ve celebrated dozens of anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, job promotions, and special dinners with guests. Special occasion restaurants should include a beautiful setting, flawless presentation, and excellent food. I also feel that an upscale restaurant in Austin should have service that makes you feel special and cared for; after all, that’s why you’re splurging on a nice night out! 

18 Best Upscale Special Occasion Restaurants in Austin

1. Hestia

interior of Hestia Austin

I’m starting this list with one of the most impressive special occasion restaurants in downtown Austin: Hestia. It’s a live-fire concept from the team that also does emmer & Rye (number 7 on this list.) In order to get to the restaurant, you’ll walk through a small wine bar called Kalimotxo (pro tip: get there 45 minutes early to enjoy a glass of wine and some pintxos.) The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlook Shoal Creek Trail and soaring ceilings that give it a luxurious, spacious feel. Food is prepared on a custom-made 20 foot hearth, so many of the dishes has a yummy smoky flavor. The menu changes, but this is an excellent place to splurge on a pork chop or a wagyu bavette, and be sure to save room for dessert. 

Hestia

607 W 3rd St #105, Austin, TX 78701

(512) 333-0737

2. Fonda San Miguel

Fonda San Miguel in Austin

One of the oldest special occasion restaurants in Austin, Fonda San Miguel has been wowing its guests since the 1970s. This is a sophisticated upscale restaurant that serves interior Mexican cuisine in a bright, lively environment. Expect freshly made margaritas (choose from a robust tequila list), handmade corn tortillas, flavorful enchiladas and fish dishes and moles, and the best chile rellenos you’ll find in Austin. This is an excellent Austin restaurant to celebrate a special night out with a group! 

Fonda San Miguel

2330 W N Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

(512) 459-4121

3. Justine’s

Upscale restaurants in Austin: Justine's French Restaurant

I often call this the “sexiest restaurant in Austin,” and I stand by that. Justine’s French restaurant in east Austin is dark, sultry, and tucked away behind a wall of greenery. It’s an excellent spot for a fun cocktail and then splurging on a good bottle of french wine. The restaurant itself is a little bungalow with dark ceilings and red walls, but my favorite way to enjoy Justine’s is under the twinkly lights on their outdoor patio. 

Justine’s

4710 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702

(512) 385-2900

4. Comedor

Comedor in Austin

For some truly phenomenal modern Mexican cuisine in downtown Austin, book a reservation at Comedor. The architecture of this restaurant will definitely impress you: what looks like a plain black building from the outside is actually a sleek, light-filled space with both indoor and outdoor seating options. You’ll find creative takes on Mexican food, like their famous bone marrow tacos or potatoes in mole verde with trout roe. The menu changes, but the ambiance and service always remain top notch. 

Comedor

501 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701

(512) 499-0977

5. Dip Dip Dip Tatsu-ya

Dip Dip Tatsu-ya
Dip Dip Tatsu-ya

Do you want an interactive restaurant in Austin for your next special occasion? Dip Dip Dip Tatsu-ya is an elevated Shabu Shabu restaurant in north Austin. Each guest gets their own bowl of broth in which they dip and cook various meats and vegetables. You can choose to order meat a la carte, or do the chef’s tastign Omakase experience. It’s around $100-150 per person. This is a fairly expensive restaurant in Austin, but it’s phenomenal and such a fun experience for a really great night out. 

Dip Dip Dip Tatsu-ya

7301 Burnet Rd Ste 101, Austin, TX 78757

(737) 701-6767

6. Barley Swine

12 gorgeous farm-to-table restaurants in Austin Texas

If you love small plates, farm-to-table American fare, and a seasonal chef’s tasting menu, you must book a reservation at Barley Swine for your next fancy dinner in Austin. It’s from the same team as Odd Duck (number 17 on this list), but it’s a tasting menu restaurant….which is perfect for diners who don’t want to have to make menu selections. Barley Swine is a comfortable, trendy restaurant that’s been in north Austin since 2010. They work with local farmers and growers, so the food is sustainable and super fresh. I had one of my favorite Austin birthday dinners at Barley Swine! 

Barley Swine

6555 Burnet Rd #400, Austin, TX 78757

(512) 394-8150

7. Emmer & Rye

Emmer & Rye pasta

Although it’s located on Rainey Street, which has become quite the party street among tourists and young Austinites, Emmer & Rye is sophisticated, upscale, and completely worthy of a special night out. Named after two ancient grains, this farm-to-table restaurant mills their own flour and makes their own bread and pasta. The plates are creative and constantly evolving. This food is wild enough to be enjoyed by foodies who love to discuss the intricate flavors and textures, yet simple enough to be appreciated by those who prefer to eat uncomplicated meals. (What I’m trying to say is this: if you have a total foodie geek AND a meat-and-potatoes guy in your dining party, they’ll probably both enjoy Emmer & Rye.) 

Emmer & Rye

51 Rainey St UNIT 110, Austin, TX 78701

(512) 366-5530

8. Jeffrey’s

Jeffrey's Austin

Often referred to as “the original fine dining restaurant in Austin,” Jeffrey’s is an institution. It is white tablecloths and cold martinis and caviar. It is the highest quality steaks and truffled devilled eggs and a 40-page wine list. It is not a place where you try to eat on a budget. 😉 If you’re looking for a very high-end restaurant in Austin for a special occasion, you can’t get much fancier than Jeffrey’s in Clarksvile. {Photo: Jeffrey’s}

Jeffrey’s

1204 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703

(512) 477-5584

9. Sammie’s

Indoor bar at Sammie's Italian in Austin

Sammie’s opened in a flurry of excitement in 2021, and it’s been bustling ever since. This fine dining Italian restaurant is made to mimic the old-school feel of an east coast white tablecloth Italian restaurant. The ambience is perfect for a fancy date night in Austin: dim lighting, black and white photographs on the walls, nostalgic checkered floors. While the red sauce is phenomenal (try the lasagna or veal parm), a big part of what makes Sammie’s is the atmosphere. 

Sammie’s

807 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703

(512) 474-2054

10. Uchi

upscale restaurants in Austin: Uchi

Easily one of the most recognizable restaurants in Austin, Uchi has been one of the best upscale restaurants since 2003. It means “little house” because that’s where Uchi Austin is located: a small, renovated house on South Lamar. If you want a sushi restaurant for your next special occasion spot in Austin, it’s hard to beat Uchi. Go here to delight in flavors, textures, and the chef’s creativity. Also, go here to spend money. It’s expensive, but truly worth it for the best service, a fancy environment, and some of the best sushi in Austin.

Uchi Austin

801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

(512) 916-4808

11. Suerte

Upscale dinner restaurants in Austin: suerte
Upscale dinner restaurants in Austin: suerte

We’ve already talked about one modern mexican restaurant (Comedor, #4 on this list), but for another option that’s slightly more casual, try Suerte. It’s still an upscale restaurant, but it’s a little less sexy and sophisticated and a bit more colorful and fun. Suerte has some of the best tacos in Austin, so be sure to try those. They also have an excellent cocktail program, and tons of fun small plates that are great to share. I’ve eaten at Suerte on a date with my husband, and while it was fun, my favorite way to enjoy Suerte is with a group of 4 or 6 people so we can just order a bunch of food and try everything. 

Suerte

1800 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

(512) 953-0092

12. Juniper

Juniper Austin
Juinper Austin

Juniper is northern Italian cuisine, and it’s a very fun place to do a prix fix menu. (Another option I mentioned for upscale prix fix in Austin was #6 on this list.) It’s a modern setting in east Austin with both indoor dining and patio tables. They also offer seats at the chef’s table so you can watch the food being prepared in the open kitchen concept – great for a date where you’ll need something to talk about if the conversation goes stale. 😉  Also, as you might be able to guess based on the name of this restaurant, Juniper has a pretty good gin list. 

Juniper

2400 E Cesar Chavez St UNIT 304, Austin, TX 78702

(512) 220-9421

13. Lenoir

Best upscale restaurants in Austin: Lenoir
Best upscale restaurants in Austin: Lenoir

A truly unique upscale dining experience, Lenoir is a restaurant in south Austin that serves “hot weather food,” aka food that grows well in our Texas terrain. The restaurant itself is a tiny space that only seats a handful of guests, but the outdoor wine garden is also beautiful. It’s shaded by giant Live Oak trees and hanging lanterns, and there’s it’s located right by the creek. Lenoir has a rotating menu so you’ll rarely try the same thing twice, and they have a natural wine program. If you and your date are adventurous wine drinkers, you’ll find something fun here. 

Lenoir 

1807 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704

(512) 215-9778

14. Aba

Best upscale restaurants in Austin: Aba

If you’re looking for a beautiful ambiance at your Austin restaurant, I can’t recommend anything better than Aba. It’s a truly stunning outdoor patio where you can enjoy cocktails and Mediterranean classics like kebabs, the best hummus, and other favorites like black garlic shrimp scampi or crispy pork belly with harissa honey. This popular South Congress restaurant is the second location (the first is in Chicago) and Austin has been crazy about it ever since it opened in 2020. 

Aba

1011 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

(737) 273-0199

15. Simi Estiatorio

Interior of Simi Estiatorio in Austin
Kebab at Simi Estiatorio in Austin

This new Greek restaurant in downtown Austin is the newest upscale place to grace the dining scene. Dazzling seafood plates, grilled steak, and a raw bar with selections that are flown in fresh daily. It’s located on the first floor of the Littlefield Building, a historic building on Congress Ave. The space has been completely renovated and it’s white, bright, and elegant. 

Simi Estiatorio

601 Congress Ave Suite #110, Austin, TX 78701

(512) 886-0999

16. Red Ash

Special Occasion restaurants in Austin

Red Ash is a very popular Italian grill in downtown Austin, and it’s a great option for a special occasion dinner. The freshly made pasta dishes are perfect, but the grilled meats are where Red Ash really shines. While Red Ash is a local Austin restaurant, it does have a sort of “corporate” feel to it…which is not good or bad, just something to note. If you prefer a more farm-to-table or local sort of vibe for Italian food in Austin, try Intero in eat Austin or Juniper (number 12 on this list.) If you’re someone who enjoys that  “big city feel” in a restaurant, you’ll love Red Ash. 

Red Ash

303 Colorado St #200, Austin, TX 78701

(512) 379-2906

17. Odd Duck

Odd Duck

For an iconic farm-to-table special occasion restaurant in Austin, go to Odd Duck! It’s an iconic Austin restaurant that started as a food truck back in 2009 before opening their South Congress brick-and-mortar. This is a small plates restaurant, so your server will recommend that you order a bunch of plates and share everything. The delicate dishware is vintage and mismatched, the menu is all sourced locally, and the cocktails are really fun here. Odd Duck has a fun and fast energy, and it’s one of my favorite places in Austin for a special occasion dinner. 

Odd Duck

1201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

(512) 433-6521

18. Neighborhood Sushi

Upscale restaurants in Austin: neighborhood sushi

If you want to eat at a sushi restaurant in Austin and Uchi is fully booked, see if you can get a table at Neighborhood Sushi on South Congress. It has the perfect date night setting: a dark and intimate entrance through the back parking lot (you can’t enter the restaurnaat from the front door on South Congress…), an attentive and friendly staff, and some of the freshest and most creative sushi dishes in Austin. 

Neighborhood Sushi

1716 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

(512) 579-0939

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Faithe Zoda
Faithe Zoda
29 days ago

This is a great list! I am visiting Austin with my husband in December, and can’t wait to check out some of the places listed here. Thank you!

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