February!! It’s the shortest month of the year yet somehow I know someone who has a birthday every single day of the month. It’s no secret that I’m a ridiculous birthday obsessor and celebrate mine (February 9) – all month long. The reason is pretty obvious- I love any excuse to see all my favorite people in a room or at a dinner table and I enjoy planning a memorable party with an overload of desserts. It’s something I take very seriously (but for fun). Therefore, with all the newly opened Austin restaurants, here is a guide to the best restaurants for a group birthday dinner for every type of celebrator or meal period in no particular order:
The Peacock – [Pictured Above] The Austin Proper hotel opened in December 2019, and the famous Kelly Wearstler put her extravagant touch on the design. This is the best pita I’ve ever had, and the airy and colorful room somehow makes the Mediterranean dishes taste even better. There is enough for the adventurous eater and the simple eater. It’s comfortable yet refined, and you’ll want your parents to pay 🙂 If you are looking to glam-up somewhere afterward, the hotel’s lobby is a sight to see! Seriously, locals dress to the nines to go sit at the bar to meet people.
Vespaio– An old Austin vibe on South Congress with the yummiest Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Pappardelle with Ragu (heavy on the ragu). You will be taken care of here on your birthday, and it’s not hard to get a reservation if you look in advance (or even call right before because they save tables for walk-ins!)
Hestia – This is a more high-end restaurant by the Emmer & Rye team. It’s a pricier celebration spot, but perfect for anyone looking to spend their birthday with someone special. The chefs are your “servers” and the presentation is incomparable to another restaurant. To me this is an experience with something unique on your plate, yet familiar at the same time.
TenTen – Ball out in this casual environment (that feels like a tamed down Vegas or NYC Meatpacking restaurant) on the freshest sushi in town. TenTen is one of the only restaurants on W 6th that I think is worth going to as everything else is food trucks or bars. Go for the hamachi carpaccio, bbq toro roll, and drink chablis. If you are looking to ball out at the freshest sushi in town then try Musashino.
Lutie’s – If you’ve been saving it for a special occasion, head to Lutie’s for a romantic dinner with your partner or a vibey brunch with friends. The ambience here is the best part, with deep green hues (that particularly shine in the brunch daylight!), plush velvet seating, plants all around, and gorgeous hotel grounds to wander through outside.
Lenoir – This is one of my top 5 favorite meals solely because of the Roasted Whole Fish with Goan Crab Curry. It’s bursting with flavor, topped with greens, and makes my tongue dance. They have a great wine garden that’s very romantic and a private room next door called Petite Maison if you need something larger.
Pasta Bar – The perfect treat-yourself birthday dinner! Their 10-seat restaurant with an incredible tasting menu (including homemade sourdough and house-made salted butter) and wine pairings is a one-of-a-kind dining experience if you can snag a reservation which opens on the first day of the month, one month in advance. Or go all the way and just rent it out for you and 10 friends!
Juniper – This Italian restaurant on the East Side feels a little more upscale and also boasts a rad chefs counter where you’ll feel taken care of and have a show. The private dining room is upstairs and looks fashionable. P.S. this is the best Cacio e Pepe I’ve had in Austin.
Comedor – This is one of the darkest dining rooms downtown and designed by famous architect’s Tom Kundig. Sit in the open air concrete garden with ivy beautifully crawling up the walls or inside in a cozy booth for a sexy vibe. The Mexico City style menu is packed with vegetarian options and mostly gluten-free. Also, not a peanut in sight in the kitchen, but lots of mezcal and tequila!
Justine’s – Justine’s takes reservations, and they have all I need for the best birthday dinner: oysters, espresso martinis, steak tartar and an excuse to dress up.
Din Ho Chinese BBQ – this North Austin spot is perfect for a big group on a wintertime birthday. When it’s cold outside you can cozy up and enjoy a unique Austin restaurant that’s not too fancy or pricey.
Backspace – I love celebrating at concerts, but it’s hard to find a place to eat on Dirty Sixth near Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies, Antone’s, etc. This is your spot for veggie-full antipasti, pizza, and wine.
LeRoy & Lewis – The most unique BBQ sides that actually have some leafy greens and way above average brisket and rich beef cheek. I’ve hired them for two birthday parties off site, and their catering is stellar!
Odd Duck – The menu always confuses me, but the plates always put a smile on my face. Not as heavy as you’d think, and just right for a guy’s night out.
Chez Zee – Old school brunch with creme brûlée French Toast! Their brunch menu stands out amongst all the other breakfast tacos and egg and potato continental breakfast, so if you want to try something that has never been on your list head up here.
Hank’s – This is probably one of the largest restaurants in town or maybe the minimalist space filled with plants makes it look that way. It’s really a neighborhood spot vs. a destination and super simple menu– fried chicken or baked salmon, anyone? The best part is: no one will complain when the bill comes, and you can sit outside on the patio or be loud in the oversized restaurant.
Dovetail – This recently opened pizza spot on South First has the most crispy pizza (get the Bittersweet pie), big salads that I crave, negroni’s on draft and a chocolate torte to end the night. It’s super chill for an easy weeknight birthday and you can make a reservation for larger group.
Nickel City – This is my favorite bar in town, my go-tos are the tater tots and their aperol spritz on tap with crushed ice! You can reserve one of their bright yellow booths for big parties, and have a dog-friendly birthday party if you’re looking to get friends together without the fuss of planning a big dinner.
Central Machine Works – By far the hottest bar/beer garden in town for singles, hot dads, babies, and dogs. Have a day party here and enjoy the live music no matter what age you are celebrating. You can reserve tables and order pitchers or beer and pizza. Drink the Blackberry Smash, or my favorite, the Frozen Espresso Martini.
ABGB – Pizza, Beer, Music, Large Picnic Tables, Separate Checks. Be more Austin… and what an easy place for a big group.
Meanwhile Brewing – If you’re looking for a kid-friendly place that can manage a big party and lots of parking, Meanwhile is a great place to grab pizza at Side Eye or BBQ at Distant Relatives. On your way out, grab a scoop of ice cream or a cookie at Bésame!
Murray’s Tavern – This New York-inspired tavern opened at the end of 2023 and is such a big space for any large group with a full menu of fun cocktails, wine and pints. This is a first-come, first-serve type of place so it works best if you just need one table. They also have private event space to rent out if you want something more intimate.
South Congress Lobby Bar – I recently stepped into the lobby bar at the South Congress Hotel and was impressed by their renovations! The room feels darker and sexier for an evening out, instead of a place to work during the day like I thought of it before. This is an ideal gathering space where you can grab half-off select drinks and snacks, from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and DJ sets all week.
Worth the Private Dining Room
Il Brutto – I started working with Il Brutto right when I started my PR business and learning about Chef Erind’s life growing up in Italy really brought a sense of authenticity to the menu. The pizza dough is fermented for 48 hours making it easy to digest and the lasagna is the best in town. The drink program never ends with a whole menu full of amaro, vermouth, and complimentary housemade limoncello that has been infused onsite for months to end your meal with a sweet kick. Il Brutto is my go-to for big group parties because they have affordable packages for pizza parties in the private dining room which can be seated or a cocktail party style equipped with a bartender.
Eberly – There are so many spaces available inside the gorgeous and decorative Eberly that it is the best place to pull off a surprise party because the guest of honor will never see you! Have dinner in the main dining room’s cozy wrap around velvet navy booths, post up at the Cedar Tavern bar which has a great happy hour and the original New York wooden bar from 1866. For something more high end and closed off, choose the Cannon Room which is hidden behind Cedar Tavern and offers a giant room all to yourself with a private bartender. Fun fact, that mirror behind the bar is visible so the guests in there can see you if you are sitting in the bar, but you cannot see them! More importantly, if you want to host your own karaoke party in there, you can.
Oseyo – Hip decor with Korean food, with the “Oso Room” available by reservation and part art gallery part dining space! This private room is a dreamy, cozy space to kick off your next year around the sun, or celebrate on their outdoor patio!
The Apartment – This fancy spot above Jeffrey’s in Clarksville seats around 20 people at one long wooden table. I had my 30th birthday here, and there are several family-style menus to choose from. I dig the roast chicken, and you also get your own bartender, record player, or compatibility so you can use a Spotify playlist. Save this for an intimate, special occasion.
Qi – This is the sister restaurant to Lin Asian in Clarksville and located downtown. Decorated like a more upscale Chinese restaurant, there are two large format dining tables when you first walk in ideal for a large party. They also have a private dining room that fits up to 14 guests, complete with a TV!
La Condesa – I LOVE the downstairs Flour House at this 2nd Street Mexico City-style spot. Chips, guacamole, salsa, the best esquites you’ve ever had, and tuna tostada. Book this room for up to 20 and hire your own tarot card reader or musician. Also, there is a discount in my book for large groups here, and I’ll give you my own discount on the book.
Bar Toti – You can rent out the full space of Bar Toti to get Chef Fermín Nuñez’s Shrimp Al Ajilo, Tortilla de Patata, and Butternut Squash Pave at your birthday party. Located by sister restaurant Este, the dining room has mosaic tiles and elegant lighting, and the patio is the spot for an outdoor soiree.
Bacalar – Bacalar holds SO many event spaces for any size party. You’ll feel like you’re in Mexico City no matter where you are in the restaurant, and there’s a lot of shareable food for groups like the Whole Fish and Mole de la Casa.
RedFarm – The Austin outpost of this NYC favorite has two private dining rooms in a swanky space downtown. The food is always good — start with the Arugula and Mango Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette and Five Flavor Chicken Dumplings, and don’t miss the Grilled Prime Creekstone Bone-In NY Strip Steak.
Most importantly: see below for where to get the best birthday sweets and here for my list of the Best Bakeries and Desserts in Austin!
Feathers & Frosting (Online ordering) – I got my birthday cake here last year, and it was so fun for an over-the-top design! They book up about 6 weeks in advance though so plan ahead if you want your cake from here.
Hayley’s Cake and Cookies (South Lamar or River Place) – select designs from their preexisting list or custom design iced cookies and cakes!
Russell’s Bakery (Allandale) – Coconut Cake or their Vanilla Cake with raspberry filling and vanilla icing.
Jars By Dani (Online ordering and delivery only) – Ice cream cake layered with Vanilla Ice Cream, Vanilla Cake, Rainbow Sprinkles, Chocolate Ice Cream and topped with Cookie Dough crumbles – I kid you not when I say that I had to have a friend take this from my house so I wouldn’t finish an entire one of these by myself!
If you’re lucky, maybe you can call these restaurants and buy a whole cake that’s offered by the slice on their dessert menus.
Maie Day (South Congress) – A casual steakhouse, the highlight is when the dessert menu comes out! Their Chocolate Cake is decadent and covered in rich frosting.
Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile – You won’t usually find me eating here, but I’ll go any day for their Strawberry Cake- Grandma’s recipe to be exact!
Last Minute Party Treats
épicerie (Allandale) – You guys know I usually go for a chocolate chip cookie, but épicerie’s sprinkle cookie is my favorite in their pastry case which has a variety or cookies, croissants and other baked goods.
Sprinkles Cupcakes (Domain) – always a classic this is an easy way to pick up your birthday treat on the same day and get a mix of flavors everyone will like 🙂
Thai Fresh and Gati (South Austin) – all of their desserts are gluten free (and their ice cream is dairy free) but you wouldn’t even know. I love their S’mores Bar, Salted Caramel Brownie, Golden Milk Ice Cream, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. Hint: I ordered my birthday cake from here this year!
Thoroughbread (Zilker) – one of my favorite chocolate chip cookies in the city, this is the best kind of birthday treat 🙂
Swedish Hill (Clarksville) – Chocolate chip cookies and their Swedish Hill Carrot Cake are my must-haves here!
Capital City Bakery (Cesar Chavez) – Rainbow Sprinkle Cookie Sandwich or the Carrot Banana cake (everything is vegan).