Fermín Núñez's Austin City Guide

The 2021 Best New Chef sings the praises of tacos, carne guisada, and new-school barbecue in the live music capital of America.

Learn more about the 2021 class of Food & Wine Best New Chefs.

Destination Barbecue

"There are so many people who are doing barbecue great, such as Franklin Barbecue, Kerlin BBQ, La Barbecue, and Distant Relatives. But I think the person that truly takes traditional barbecue and flips it on its head, with the proper respect it deserves, showcasing the city for who we are, is Evan LeRoy of LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue. His way of cooking new-school barbecue shows the talent we have in Austin. He knows the rules, and he knows how much he can bend them."

Best Breakfast

"The carne guisada at Joe's Bakery is the best way to start any morning, but especially Sunday morning, because that's usually the beginning of my weekend! Their flour tortillas always remind me of the ones I ate growing up in northern Mexico."

Wine & Dine

"Beverage director Alex Bell at Aviary Wine & Kitchen describes wine with such grace and approachability, it just makes you trust him. You know anything he offers is something he would want to drink himself. Chef Andre Molina speaks the same language in the kitchen, and the food and wine complement each other in a way that every wine bar should always strive for."

Day Drinks

"At Kalimotxo, I always start with the Café de Noche, which reminds me of a carajillo, with vodka, coffee, toasted bran caramel, and chocolate mole bitters. It sounds like a lot but is extremely balanced and a great pick-me-up. Another must is the Clear As Day, with mezcal, Dolin Blanc, Falernum, and orange bitters. It's a clear drink that looks like water and is the perfect refreshing beverage. I wish I had it on tap at my house! All of the cocktails are world-class and extremely crushable, balanced, and elaborate without being intimidating."

Secret Spots

"The tacos at Cuantos Tacos taste like some of my favorite taquerias in Mexico City, which are hard to find on this side of the border. Nixta Taqueria takes the taco and gives it back to you through the eyes of a chef; Edgar Rico knows what he's doing, and I'm here for it. Bad Larry Burger Club is the blueprint for the types of burgers I want to eat after a long day in the kitchen, paired with a cold beer."

Market Haul

"Every Saturday morning, I go to the Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market Downtown. That's where we get a big haul of ingredients for the restaurant, and I'm able to stock up my personal kitchen with great pastries and kombucha."

Fancy Pants

"Chef Yoshi Okai's omakase restaurant Otoko is without a doubt my favorite spot for a fancy night out. The pro move is to arrive early and get a cocktail or two at Watertrade, the Japanese-style cocktail bar attached to Otoko."

Gift Giving

"Take Heart is the kind of shop you walk in to get a gift for someone else and end up buying something for yourself as well. I'm a sucker for a good quality candle."

Making Memories

"Go to Justine's Brasserie, drink some wine, and take a moment to have a tintype portrait taken from Lumiere, a tintype photography studio located at Justine's, to remember the fun times spent with friends in Austin."

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