February!! It’s the shortest month of the year yet somehow I know someone who has a birthday every single day of the month. It’s no secret that I’m a ridiculous birthday obsessor and celebrate mine (February 9) – all month long. The reason is pretty obvious— I love any excuse to see all my favorite people in a room or at a dinner table and I enjoy planning a memorable party with an overload of desserts. It’s something I take very seriously (but for fun). Therefore, with all the newly opened Austin restaurants, here is a guide to the best restaurants for a group birthday dinner for every type of celebrator or meal period in no particular order:
- Fancy Pants – Hestia – This is the new live fire restaurant by the Emmer & Rye team. It’s dark yet bright from the kitchen at the same time. The chefs are your “servers” and the presentation is incomparable to another restaurant. To me this is an experience and something unique on your plate, yet familiar at the same time.
- In the Know – TenTen – Eating at a new restaurant during the month it opened always creates a thrill and spark in the air. I like the vibe here which feels like a tamed down Vegas or NYC Meatpacking restaurant. Go for the hamachi carpaccio, bbq toro roll, and drink chablis. If you are looking to ball out at the freshest sushi in town then try Musashino.
- Romantic – Lenoir – This is one of my top 5 favorite meals solely because of the Roasted Whole Fish with Goan Crab Curry. It’s bursting with flavor, topped with greens, and makes my tongue dance. They have a great wine garden and private room next door called Petite Maison if you need something larger.
- Casual Flirty – Il Brutto — I like to eat and drink at bar area here. The drink program never ends with a whole menu full of amaro, vermouth, and complimentary, housemade limoncello that has been infused onsite for months to end your meal with a sweet kick. They have great affordable packages for pizza parties in the PDR, too. Also, if you haven’t bought my book, do so HERE to get your 10% off discount for large parties.
- Separate Bills – ABGB – Pizza, Beer, Music. Be more Austin…
- Private – The Apartment – This fancy spot above Jeffrey’s in Clarksville seats around 20 people at one long wooden table. I had my 30th birthday here, and there are several family-style menus to choose from. I dig the roast chicken, and you also get your own bartender, record player, or compatibility so you can use a Spotify playlist. Save this for an intimate, special occasion.
- Drinks Only – Central Machine Works – By far the hottest bar/beer garden in town for singles, hot dads, babies, and dogs. Have a day party here and enjoy the live music. Drink the Blackberry Smash.
- Scene – Justine’s or Comedor – Both of these spots are where I go when I want to feel the rhythm, look around, dress nice, and eat and drink well. Justine’s is far east and the wait is always 2 hours, however, if you have a party of 6 or larger, snag that reservation in advance. Comedor has high ceilings, feels industrial yet LA and Mexico City style. I like looking out at the outdoor area and greenery crawling up the walls. Nice seafood in Mexican flavors and great homemade tortillas on your plates.
- With the Parents – The Peacock – The Austin Proper hotel just opened in December 2019, and the famous Kelly Wearstler put her extravagant touch on the design. This is the best pita I’ve ever had, and the airy and colorful room somehow makes the Mediterranean dishes taste even better. There is enough for the adventurous eater and the simple eater. It’s comfortable yet refined, and you’ll want your parents to pay for it.
- Surprise – Eberly – There are so many spaces in Eberly that it is the best place to pull of a surprise because the guest of honor will never see you! Have dinner in the main dining room’s cozy wrap around booths, post up at the Cedar Tavern bar which has a great happy hour and the original New York wooden bar from 1866. For something more high end and closed off, choose the Cannon Room which is hidden behind Cedar Tavern, and offers a giant room all to yourself with a private bartender. More importantly, if you want to host your own karaoke party, you can.
- Subterranean – La Condesa – I LOVE the downstairs Flour House at this 2nd Street Mexican spot. Chips, Guacamole, Salsa, the best Elotes you’ve ever had, and Tuna Tostada. Book this room for up to 20 and hire your own tarot card reader or musician. Also, there is a discount in my book for large groups here, and I’ll give you my own discount on the book. For 15% off, use DOINGTHINGS code at check out.
- Boozy – Nickel City – My favorite dive bar in town. Tater tots and aperol spritz on tap with crushed ice.
- Lazy Susan’s – Din Ho Chinese BBQ – Head up north with every person you know and crowd around the tables all for the Peking Duck.
- Old School – Vespaio– Located on South Congress, go for the old, authentic Italian food and wine. Pretty easy to get a res if you book at least a week in advance.
- Close to a Downtown Music Venue- Backspace – I love celebrating at concerts, but it’s hard to find a place to eat on Dirty Sixth near The Parish, Cheer Up Charlies, Antone’s, etc. This is your spot for veggie-full antipasti, pizza, and wine.
- BBQ Catering – LeRoy & Lewis – The most unique BBQ sides and above average brisket. I’ve hired them for two birthday parties off site, and their catering is stellar!
- Bros- Odd Duck – The menu always confuses me, but the plates always put a smile on my face. Not as heavy as you’d think, and just right for a guy’s night out.
- Brunch – Chez Zee – Old school brunch with creme brûlée French Toast!
- Affordable– Hank’s– No one will complain when the bill comes, and you can sit outside on the patio or be loud in the oversized restaurant.
- Vegan– The Beer Plant– Beer, wine, vegan food.
WHERE TO GET THE BEST SWEETS:
Thai Fresh (s’mores and ice cream)
Russell’s Bakery (traditional cakes)