Things to Do

3 Surprisingly Authentic Ethnic Restaurants in Austin

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Most restaurants spin their own flavor and influence into their food, but we have discovered three surprisingly authentic ethnic restaurants in downtown Austin that stay true to the original style.

1. Blue Dahlia

Blue Dahli Fruit Dessert

Photo: Kim Ackerman

The Blue Dahlia on East 11th Street has a very nice provincial French flavor to the menu. According to their website, they are a European orientated restaurant with communal style dining. All ingredients are local. The beer selection was not huge, but they offered up local beer options with the usual suspects. The food menu boasted daily specials with French provincial flavors. The tartines were a big hit right after our cheese and olive plate. For dessert, they offer some unique varieties, including a “fruit cake”.

2. Fado

Fado Irish Pub Shepherds Pie


This is a very well-known spot in the area for Irish food and cocktails. Everything on the menu, from the beer to beer-blends to cocktails, are all traditional Irish (well they do have some local and American brews if you don’t want to stray to the Irish side). The Fado’s food and ambiance reflect the authentic feel one looks for when enjoying Irish eats. The most popular choice next to the Boxtys is the Shepherds Pie. It is rich and filled with vegetables topped with a swirl of mash potatoes; goes well with Strongbow Cider.

3. Russian House

Russian House Vodka Flight

Photo: Jennifer Kennedy

We were pleasantly surprised by this restaurant and heard only one negative comment, and no, it was not regarding the restaurant. The planner of this get-together did not leave enough time for us to properly “test” the 200 infused vodka choices before our dinner reservation. The Russian House has more vodka ready to serve than any place you’ve ever been to. You can order a 4 to 8 mini vodka tasters or full size shots if you know what you like. You can also add a shot of vodka to a mixer of your choice.

TIP: If you want to taste prior to dinner, give yourself at least an hour.

We ate dinner family style. Swapping food and cocktails and stories like a Sunday dinner. We laughed the entire night debating which meal was the best. I’m not sure we ever came to a consensus about the best meal or best dessert. It was all that good, but my favorite (and not what I ordered) was the Chicken Kiev. It was moist and tender and absolutely the best Kiev I have ever had. My beef stroganoff was good, too (it was the most popular selection of our group), but I think the Kiev was tastier. No matter what you order, you will not be disappointed. We walked away happy and Thanksgiving-stuffed.