Nestled in a pocket between South Congress Avenue and William Cannon Drive, The Little Darlin’ bar and restaurant was designed to bring a little bit of South Austin back to South Austin, co-owner Brian Buscemi said.
“There was a lot of ‘Keep Austin Weird’ in the ’90s, and to me, at that time things were really weird,” Buscemi said. “Sometime over the past 20 years or so the whole idea of keeping Austin weird [became] manufactured and almost commercial in a way. We felt like if we were gonna open a spot it would be the kind of place we grew up hanging out in.”
Buscemi opened The Little Darlin’ in 2016 with co-owners and longtime friends Mimi Rose, Mike Sanchez and Karinne Sanchez. The group met in Austin in the 1990s, Buscemi said.
“For the four of us it was just time to do it,” Buscemi said of opening the restaurant. “We didn’t have any real plan other than we knew we wanted to create a space where the four of us would want to spend our time.”
One of The Little Darlin’s biggest draws is its dog-friendly patio and outdoor area, which has capacity for 500 and includes covered seating, lawn games and a stage for live music, Buscemi said. The venue also features local beers on tap, house-infused liquor, a menu focused around local and organic ingredients, pool tables and dart games.
Rose said one of the biggest honors is seeing a wide range of area residents enjoying The Little Darlin’s menu, beverages and atmosphere.
“Everyone is represented,” she said. “I feel like we are a staple of the South Austin community.”
The menu is just as eclectic as its clientele, with offerings including soups and salads, burgers and fried steak, vegan options and a full brunch menu.
“We wanted to have simple food that fit in well with nightlife, but we didn’t want to have crummy bar food,” Buscemi said. “We wanted to have high-quality, simple food; local ingredients; [and] as much organic and local stuff as possible.”
The restaurant celebrates its third anniversary in April.
“It seems like we keep having our busiest day ever. It just keeps happening,” he said. “I know that South Austin desperately needed this place.”
The Little Darlin’
6507 Circle South Road, Austin
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily