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Where to eat in Austin now

Inside the food scene with Top Chef winner and local restaurateur Kristen Kish

Just a year and a half ago, Kristen Kish had never been to Austin. Now, the Top Chef winner is one of the biggest names in the city’s food scene, thanks to the opening of her first restaurant, Arlo Grey, in July.

The native Midwesterner and Boston transplant sources ingredients as locally as possible. “I love the urban farms in Austin,” she says. “In Boston, we didn’t really have that.”

Already making her mark on the city, Kish didn’t participate in the official restaurant week in August but rather donated a portion of proceeds from the menu that week to Out Youth, an organization helping LGBTQ+ young people in Austin. “I want people to come in and feel warm and welcome, but supporting and showing love and care to those around you goes well beyond the food,” she says. “Austin is now my new home and I want to share as much of myself as possible.”

Like any chef, her free time, when it exists, is at a premium. When she’s not busy in the kitchen at Arlo Grey, Kish shared with Furthermore her top picks for eating out and resetting in Austin.
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  • Olamaie

    Olamaie

    This modern Southern restaurant became a fast favorite for Kish. “The food is technically beautiful,” she says. “And the restaurant itself is homey and done really well.” Though the menu changes frequently, Kish notes that the chicken is always delicious and a recent “cornbread with cheese mousse situation, plus beautiful Texas tomatoes” solidified her fandom of Olamaie. “I don’t need a gazillion different flavors and fluff,” Kish says. “Give me something solid and tasty and beautiful. That’s how I get won over.” 
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  • Josephine House

    Josephine House

    Kish is partial to Josephine’s thanks to its charming setup in an old house. “When I have a moment to get out, I tend to gravitate to smaller places, like Josephine’s.” Kish enjoys their salads (think: lettuces from local farm Agua Dolce paired with ricotta salata, watercress, cucumber, shaved radish, and hazelnut and shallot vinaigrette) and sandwiches (options include a curry chicken salad with sunflower sprouts and lemon aioli on carrot coriander brioche). 

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  • June’s All Day

    June’s All Day

    This French cafe and wine bar (with a list curated by Master Sommelier June Rodil) is on busy South Congress, where tourists and shoppers flock across the sidewalks. Menu options include a smoked salmon Niçoise salad and roasted catch of the day served with leeks and tarragon vinaigrette. When Kish is looking to indulge, she likes their burger here with thin french fries.

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  • Emmer & Rye

    Emmer & Rye

    Chef Kevin Fink’s buzzy Rainey Street restaurant is named for the grains his kitchen mills by hand to create breads and pastas. “It’s great pasta and I love pasta,” Kish says. Though the menu changes with seasons and market availability, Kish is particularly fond of the “really beautiful pork agnolotti” served in broth. Other pastas that have been dished out: a blue crab, mango, avocado, habanero, and hibiscus leaf iteration and one with red shrimp, peanut, daikon, and holy basil. 

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  • HausBar Urban Farm and GuestHaus

    HausBar Urban Farm and GuestHaus

    Kish sources ingredients from this urban farm and bed and breakfast, run by Susan Hausmann and Dorsey Barger. “I go on my off time to play with the bunnies and taste things Dorsey picks right off the plants,” she says. Visitors can book an overnight at HausBar, engage with the animals and plants, and enroll in workshops on gardening, homesteading, composting, chicken raising, and more. 

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