1. Demi Epicurious
Chef Robert Barker serves buttery lobster shooters (made with roasted corn and a carrot-lobster broth) and an innovative Study of Texas Rabbit with giblet bread pudding (311 W. 6th St.; 512-478-2200).
2. El Meson
A counter-service taqueria where the food is serious. The chef, Marisela Godinez, is from Mexico City, and her regional home-style food includes tamales Veracruz, made from fresh Mexican white corn, and chiles en nogada, with a creamy walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds (5808 Burleson Rd.; 512-416-0744).
Chef Stewart Scruggs and pastry chef Mark Paul are loyal to local products, and they're clever too. The menu might make you think you're in Berkeley, California—but for the goat cheese from Dripping Springs, Texas (1014 N. Lamar Blvd.; 512-482-8868).
As chef Lou Lambert's beef salpicon with avocado salsa and ancho-lime vinaigrette shows, he's big on Texas ingredients. Try his riff on hummus: achiote-seared chickpeas (1716 S. Congress Ave.; 512-383-8877).