Annual Session Preview: Restaurant Guide

Tags: restaurant, entertainment, members, annual session and scientific assembly

By Haley Dawson

Austin has become known for its unique and exquisite dining experience. Adhering to the “Keep Austin Weird” philosophy, Austinites are serious about supporting local business. As such, you’ll find restaurants in Austin unlike any others you’ve visited before. Because this year’s Annual Session takes place in the heart of downtown within walking distance of many top-rated eateries, why not spend an evening or two taking advantage of all the capitol city has to offer? Whether you dine on interior Mexican, authentic Italian pizza, or fancy barbeque, you’re sure to leave with a fully sated palate. Listed below are just a few restaurants of the dozens to choose from.

1. Chez Nous

510 Neches (6th and Neches)
(512) 473-2413
Cuisine: French
Price range: $$$

A self-proclaimed casual French bistro, Chez Nous has provided Austinites with authentic French fare since 1982. Choose between a prix-fixe or full menu dining experience.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 1 block or 423 feet

Must-try: salade lyonnaise ($7.50), escargot de bourgogne ($9.50- $13.50), duck confit ($24.50)

2. Second Bar + Kitchen

200 Congress (2nd and Congress)
(512) 827-2750
Cuisine: American
Price range: $$$

Little sister to Chef David Bull’s award-winning Congress restaurant, Second Bar + Kitchen is located right next door, on the corner of 2nd street and Congress Avenue. Dishes range from casual to sophisticated. Munch on a burger and fries, share a couple small plates with a friend, or enjoy one of the well-crafted large plates.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 7 blocks or 0.4 miles

Must-try: the congress burger ($12), blistered shishito peppers ($6), braised beef short rib ($22)

3. La Condesa

400A W. 2nd Street (2nd and Lavaca)
(512) 499-0300
Cuisine: Interior Mexican
Price Range: $$$

La Condesa serves up authentic contemporary Mexican cuisine with regional influences. One step inside and the vibrant décor will have your mouth watering for a habanero margarita.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 10 blocks or 0.7 miles

Must-try: tuna tostada ($12), elotes ($3), chile relleno ($20)

4. The Backspace

507 San Jacinto (between 5th and 6th)
(512) 474-9899
Cuisine: Italian, Pizza
Price Range: $$

Wood-fired pizzas and classic antipasti are the name of the game for this classic Italian eatery. The Backspace is a great place for a cozy, casual meal after a day’s activities. Be sure to make a reservation—the intimate spot only seats about 20 people.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 5 blocks or 0.3 miles

Must-try: summer squash ($6), lamb and pork meatballs ($7), pizze bianca ($15)

5. Piranha Killer Sushi

207 San Jacinto
(512) 473-8775
Cuisine: Sushi, Japanese Fusion
Price Range: $$

With the giant sushi bar located in the center of the restaurant, Piranha Killer Sushi makes it clear what their main focus is: creating, for lack of a better word, “killer” sushi! Enjoy your meal at a table or grab a seat at the sushi bar to watch the masters at work.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 4 blocks or 0.2 miles

Must-try: crawfish beignets ($8.95), “forget about it” roll ($10.95), salmon sashimi ($12.95)

6. Trio

98 San Jacinto (Cesar Chavez and San Jacinto)
(512) 685-8300
Cuisine: Steak House
Price Range: $$$$

Located on the bottom floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, Trio serves up seafood and steakhouse classics. Relax with h’ors d’ouvres and a cocktail against the backdrop of beautiful Lady Bird Lake, or enjoy a well-prepared meal and top-notch service in the dining room.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 6 blocks or 0.4 miles

Must-try: truffle mac ‘n cheese ($8), grilled Texas quail ($12), redfish tempura ($26)

7. Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

401 W. 2nd Street (2nd and Lavaca)
(512) 494-1500
Cuisine: Barbecue
Price Range: $$$

Lamberts serves “modern Texas cooking”, crafting classic southern cuisine with the finest and freshest ingredients. Wash down fancied-up comfort food with a craft cocktail or a glass-bottled Mexican Coca Cola, and thank your lucky stars that you’re in Texas.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 10 blocks or 0.7 miles

Must-try: fried green tomatoes ($14), natural black angus brisket ($16), maple bourbon bread pudding ($8)

8. Swift’s Attic

315 Congress (between 3rd and 4th)
(512) 482-8200
Cuisine: American, tapas
Price Range: $$$

Located on the top floor of the historic Swift building, this appropriately named restaurant offers an eclectic menu of shared plates. From locally-sourced salads to fresh seafood and wild game, each dish arrives at the table with a unique and carefully crafted presentation.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 5 blocks or 0.4 miles

Must-try: kennebec frites ($5), black bean glazed duck wings ($10), venison kebab ($17)

9. Mai Thai

207 San Jacinto (2nd and San Jacinto)
(512) 482-8244
Cuisine: Thai
Price Range: $$

Enjoy authentic Thai dishes such as tom yum soup, fried rice, a noodle bowl, or Pad Thai. Friendly, fast service and fresh ingredients provide for a delightful, laid-back meal.

Approximate distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel: 4 blocks or 0.2 miles

Must Try: tod mun pla ($6), papaya salad ($13), duck curry ($15)

10. Austin food trailers
In the mood for a more casual dining experience? Hop onto Austin’s latest trend and grab a bite from one of the many food trucks speckling the downtown area. Take a short walk in any direction, and you will find an array of inexpensive meal options.

However you wish to spend your evenings while at this year’s Annual Session, you’ll be sure to enjoy it in downtown Austin. Find more information about this year’s conference at

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