Restaurant of the Year: Launderette
Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki found a new home with their long-anticipated neighborhood cafe, Launderette. The menu is full of dishes with Mediterranean spins where flavor is king, from the snacky bits and filling weekend brunch to Sawicki’s craveable desserts. Everything is served in a relaxing and stylish setting, where diners feel like they’re hanging out in a friend’s cool apartment.
Chefs of the Year: Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas
Food is Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas’ first priority. The two took what they learned from working at Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, mixed in their own philosophies and approaches, and ended up with Olamaie. Their constantly changing menu never sits still, depending on whatever produce, meat, and ingredients are currently available from Austin farms and ranches. Despite always being kept on their toes, the duo still creates dishes that blow diners away.
Best New Bar: The Townsend
After winning the 2014 Eater Award for his work with Qui, Justin Elliott opened up this downtown bar, a safe haven for those seeking good cocktails with a little side of music.
Pastry Chef of the Year: Janina O'Leary
Janina O’Leary left LaV last month, but her delectable takes on desserts, from brioche doughnuts to the blue cheese ice cream, won’t be forgotten. Austin is keeping an eye out for whatever she does next.
Stone Cold Stunner: Juliet
There’s no question that Juliet is beautiful and well thought out, devised by noted restaurant designer Joel Mozersky. The spacious bar room is invitingly bright and airy with the bold marble-topped walnut bar as the centerpiece. There are many other rooms to explore, too, including the dimly intimate dining room in the back with mirrored walls, group-friendly side room facing Barton Springs, and expansive patio filled with greenery.
So Hot Right Now: Fukumoto
Austin got a brand new izakaya and sushi bar with the opening of Fukumoto this fall, much to everyone’s delight. The always enthusiastic owner and chef Kazu Fukumoto, who worked at Musashino, creates perfectly tasty sushi and excellent yakitori with all manners of chicken parts, all paired with an equally excellent sake list.
Bartender of the Year: Justin Lavenue
Justin Lavenue knows his cocktails, after working at Whisler’s, Drink.Well, and Half Step. Now he gets to shine with The Roosevelt Room, before he and co-owner Dennis Gobis turn the West 5th bar into a three-story drinking destination next year. For now, though, the Roosevelt Room is his drinking playground, where he explores every iteration of the cocktail, from past to present.