Austin foodies saw an influx of microrestaurants—restaurants with small dining areas that tout an intimate, elevated experience—open in 2023.

Several of Austin’s new microrestaurants embraced the omakase concept, a Japanese-style dining experience wherein the chef curates the menu for guests. Omakase bars seat about 10 people and offer a view of the chef preparing each course.

The context

The uptick in smaller, customer service-oriented restaurants is in contrast from the QR codes and bus-your-own-table policies that emerged in local restaurants during the height of the pandemic.

Following the pandemic, Austin restaurateurs learned customers crave community, connection and new experiences while dining out just as much as good food, Community Impact previously reported.

Quote of note

“With Underdog, we wanted to create a relaxed environment where our neighbors can get an impromptu happy hour with friends then find themselves staying for a full-course dinner or circling back for a nightcap glass of wine,” said Claudia Lee, owner of Korean restaurant and wine shop Underdog.

The other side

The exclusive experience of a microrestaurant often comes at a high cost, as many of them only take reservations and require a deposit beforehand. A 90-minute omakase experience at Sushi Bar ATX costs $155 per person before the required 22% service charge. A seven-course experience at plant-based fine-dining restaurant Fabrik goes for $80 per person. West Campus ramen spot Daiboku offers a more affordable experience at $39 a person for a five-course meal and drink pairings at its six-seat omakase bar.

Craft OmakaseDaiboku

Ramen spot Daiboku opened in West Campus in May. (Courtesy Daiboku)

Fabrik, which representatives are calling Austin’s first 100% plant-based fine-dining restaurant, opened in August. (Courtesy Fabrik)

Sushi Bar ATX
Sushi Bar ATX's renovated 10-seat omakase bar opened last spring. (Courtesy Sushi Bar ATX)