Annual Session Restaurant Guide: TAFP staff picks

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

To welcome you to our hometown for the 63rd Annual Session and Scientific Assembly at the Hilton Austin Hotel July 11-15, the TAFP staff compiled a list of our favorite downtown restaurants. From elegant to home cookin’, there’s something for everyone! See the list below for each staff member’s recommendation, organized by distance from the Hilton Austin Hotel.

>> View more top downtown Austin restaurants as profiled previously on our blog by our multimedia intern and downtown authority, Haley, at

504 East 5th Street (between Neches and Red River)
(512) 477-7497
Cuisine: Italian
Distance from the Hilton: 1 block or 285 feet

Located across the street from the Hilton Austin in the historical Old Depot Hotel, Carmelo’s has presented genuine Italian cuisine to Austin for 27 years. It offers a stunning atmosphere along with traditional and contemporary Italian dishes created with authentic Italian products. They offer an amazing wine list as well, with a menu to treat anyone’s appetite. I recommend the Colorado lamb chops or lobster ravioli for dinner, but make sure you save room for one of their cooked tableside desserts – bananas foster or crêpes suzette.

Jessica, Director of CME and Compliance


Chez Nous
510 Neches (between 5th and 6th Streets)
(512) 473-2413
Cuisine: French
Distance from the Hilton: 1 block or 400 feet

My favorite dining experience in Austin is less than 500 feet from our conference hotel. For 30 years, this cozy, casual bistro has served Austinites an authentic taste of France, and what an elegant taste it is. For lunch or dinner, Chez Nous offers a simple yet delectable menu, an expertly curated wine selection, and exquisite service. For dinner, I suggest treating yourself to the menu du jour. For less than $30, you can enjoy an elegant three-course meal at one of Austin’s most beloved tables. Reservations are only accepted for parties of six or more. Bon appetite!

Jonathan Nelson, Director of Communications


Eddie V’s Restaurant
301 East 5th Street
(512) 472-1860
Cuisine: Seafood and steak
Distance from the Hilton: 3 blocks or 0.2 miles

For a more formal dining experience, I would suggest Eddie V’s. The atmosphere is warm, pleasant, and quiet. They focus on using the very best quality ingredients and they have a wonderful wine selection. My favorite dishes are the jumbo lump crab cakes and the Maine lobster and shrimp bisque. Go early to catch their great happy hour specials from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Juleah, Student, Resident, New Physician, and Membership Coordinator


Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill
303 Red River Street (between 3rd and 4th Streets)
(512) 236-9599
Cuisine: American
Distance from the Hilton: 3 blocks or 0.2 miles

Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill strives to take you back to a time when things were simpler. Comfortable and familiar, relaxed and easygoing, Moonshine boasts a family-style dining experience that encourages guests to feel like they have arrived home for the first time in years – with quite an appetite! Moonshine prides itself on its cuisine, an innovative take on American comfort food. Think homemade potato chips with warm sour cream dip, beer battered asparagus, and corn dog shrimp with blueberry mustard. Before your food arrives, you’ll enjoy cold drinks in mason jars and popcorn in buckets at your table. If you happen to be free on Sunday morning, they also do an amazing Sunday brunch. So if you’re looking for a quality comfort food classic with an Austin twist, Moonshine is sure to deliver. Welcome!

Matt, Marketing Coordinator


Iron Works BBQ
100 Red River Street (between Cesar Chavez and 3rd Street)
(512) 478-4855
Cuisine: Barbecue
Distance from the Hilton: 3 blocks or 0.3 miles

Iron Works BBQ gets its name from its founder, ironworker Fortunat Weigl Sr., who immigrated to Texas from Bavaria, Germany, in 1913 and opened Weigl Iron Works on Red River in 1935. Together with his sons, they built some of the most beautiful iron works in Texas that are still displayed around the state, including at the State Capitol. The restaurant, opened five years after Fortuant’s death, stands on the original location and has been serving real Texas barbecue in a country atmosphere ever since. Be sure to make it during the first part of your stay as it’s closed on Sundays. They’re famous for their ribs, but you can’t go wrong with anything you try.



Vince Young Steakhouse
301 San Jacinto Boulevard (between 3rd and 4th Streets)
(512) 347-8325
Cuisine: Steak
Distance from the Hilton: 4 blocks or 0.2 miles

The Vince Young Steakhouse, owned by the University of Texas quarterback who led the team to the 2005 National Championship, is a chic, fine dining restaurant just blocks from the Hilton. The food speaks for itself: Try the crispy quail, breaded and deep-fried quail served over a house-made herb funnel cake and a tangerine marmalade (their version of chicken and waffles), crab cake served with jalapeno aioli, the PLT salad, and – of course – any of the USDA Prime steaks. Their wine selection is extensive from old world wines to great Napa cabs, and each of the servers or the sommelier can assist in choosing the perfect accompaniment to a fantastic meal. Open for dinner only; closed Sunday.

Robert, Director of Accounting


Swift’s Attic
315 Congress (between 3rd and 4th)
(512) 482-8200  
Cuisine: American, tapas
Distance from the Hilton: 5 blocks or 0.4 miles

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. I recommend the kennebec frites, black bean glazed duck wings, and venison kebab.

Haley Dawson, Multimedia intern


Bess Bistro on Pecan
500 West 6th Street (between Nueces and San Antonio)
(512) 477-2377
Cuisine: French bistro
Distance from the Hilton: 10 blocks or 0.7 miles

Owned by Austin sweetheart Sandra Bullock, this French-style bistro is cozy inside with patterned tin ceiling tiles, and antique ceramic tile everywhere else. The atmosphere is comfortable, and the servers have always been friendly and informative when selecting entrées. The menu is deliberately eclectic offering natural, organic, and local ingredients where possible, and desserts are provided by Walton’s Fancy and Staple, a gourmet delicatessen and bakery nearby. If you happen to be there for brunch, try the Texas waffle. I’ve never been disappointed with anything that I’ve ordered!

Julie, NPI Registration and Product Coordinator


Violet Crown Cinema
434 West 2nd Street (on the second floor at the corner of San Antonio and 2nd Street)
(512) 495-9600
Cuisine: American
Distance from the Hilton: 11 blocks 0.7 miles

When it’s hot outside, there is nothing I like better than sitting in a cold, dark theater to watch a good movie. Downtown Austin has a fantastic new theater with a full bar, good food, and a lounge area to enjoy before or after your movie. It has reserved seating for smaller screenings and a fun film going experience. You can get your traditional movie-going fare or order something off the café menu which includes spring rolls, salads, a cheese plate, or pizza. You can reserve your seat online or buy tickets at the door, but be sure to arrive on time – though seating begins five minutes before show time, they don’t show commercials and there are a limited number of previews.

Kathy, Chief Operating Officer


Hut’s Hamburgers
807 West 6th Street (78703)
(512) 472-0693
Cuisine: Burgers
Distance from the Hilton: 13 blocks or 1 mile

Hut’s features a fun, relaxing oldies feel, with great burgers! If you want to venture from the locally purchased Texas-raised beef, try the buffalo, boneless chicken breast, longhorn grass-fed beef, or vegan veggie burger. I love the Beachboy’s Favorite or the Fats Domino burger with an old-fashioned chocolate malt, followed by a long stroll, of course!

Mary, Education Coordinator


Güero’s Taco Bar
1412 South Congress (78704)
(512) 447-7688
Cuisine: Mexican
Distance from the Hilton: 1.5 miles (a short cab ride away)

Guero’s Taco Bar is a casual eatery that’s been around since 1995 along the popular and eclectic South Congress Avenue. They have handmade corn tortillas and a wonderful salsa bar to enjoy. Start off with a hand-shaken margarita in the cantina while listening to live music. You might even see someone famous while there as it’s a hot-spot for all Austin-lovers! Shop along the historic, pedestrian-friendly South Congress before dinner if time allows to truly see why this area has a zip code all to itself! I recommend the tacos al pastor, caldo de pollo, or enchiladas.

Laurel, Director of NPI Operations


Green Pastures
811 West Live Oak (78704)
(512) 444-4747
Cuisine: French-inspired gourmet
Distance from the Hilton: 2.4 miles (a short cab ride away)

Arriving on the grounds of this quiet Victorian estate roamed by peacocks and shaded by majestic live oak trees, it’s easy to forget that you’re five minutes from downtown. This is Green Pastures, an Austin treasure featuring gourmet dishes using fresh, local ingredients, fine wine, and true southern hospitality. Dining here is like being a guest at a good friend’s home, worthy of any special occasion. Treat yourself to the Texas game sampler or the pecan salmon, with the avocado and Texas goat cheese salad or the farmhouse salad. Be sure to call ahead, just in case.

Kate, Associate Director of Communications


Hula Hut
3825 Lake Austin Boulevard (78703)
(512) 476-4852
Cuisine: Tropical Tex-Mex
Distance from the Hilton: 3.7 miles (a short cab ride away)

If you want to leave the busyness of downtown, head west on 5th Street and follow the signs for Lake Austin Boulevard. In five minutes, you can be eating chips and salsa overlooking Town Lake at Hula Hut. Known for their great views and umbrellas in their drinks, Hula Hut is “Tiki-Mex” – serving Tex-Mex delicacies with Island flair. I recommend the queso, Hawaiian fajitas, chicken tubular tacos, and fried ice cream.

Anna, Meeting Planner

– kalfano

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