The Westlake area has seen several specialty destination restaurants open over the past year, including Sway’s third location, The Wayback and seven new restaurants that opened with the recently renovated Barton Creek Omni Resort & Spa. A second Salt Traders Coastal Cooking is also set to open this fall. Click any of the images above to enter the photo gallery.
Sway West Lake Hills
Considering Bee Caves Road is an east-west arterial between MoPac and Loop 360, few commercial spaces become available, said Patrick Jeffers, a partner with New Waterloo, of Sway’s latest location in West Lake Hills.
“Especially a stand-alone location that has a presence to it,” he added. “On this road there’s just not another like this—most everything is in strip centers.”
The restaurant opened in December and aims to address a localized need for an adult, sit-down, dine-in restaurant, Jeffers said.
“Being at the top of the hill here with amazing views of downtown is a unique opportunity,” he said. “We did some things differently at this location we haven’t done at other Sways to really capitalize on that. It was a multiyear process to get this open and ready.”
The major component that sets the restaurant apart is the rooftop bar, which has a different feel and dynamic than the downstairs indoor dining, Jeffers said. The ability to host events on the rooftop and more extensive happy hour programming is specific to that location.
The restaurant is lively at dinnertime, but patrons interested in shorter wait times can check out lunch and brunch options, Jeffers said.
“You don’t always think of Thai food for brunch, he said. “It’s fabulous; everything feels like a familiar brunch food but with a unique Thai twist.”
Menu items include a Thai version of chicken and waffles, Thai French Toast, a pulled pork dinner menu staple reinvented into a brunch concept, a bloody mary with Thai spices and more.
The Wayback Cafe & Cottages
The Wayback Cafe serves locals along with guests staying in the on-site cottages.
The menu offers classic French bistro items with a slight Southern twist, co-owner Vicki Bly said. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served along with Sunday brunch. The space is available to rent for corporate gatherings, weddings and other events. The indoor seating flows onto an outdoor patio and into the expansive yard, which includes a fire pit.
There is also a drive-thru coffee shack on site open during the work week, serving biscuits and bacon to go.
Thursdays are family night, with specialty pizzas on the menu and live music in the yard. Many people bring blankets and relax on the lawn with a bottle of wine, according to co-owner Sydney Sue, Bly's daughter.
The Wayback’s wine list is well rounded with organic options from around the world and a few from Texas, Bly added. Her favorite dish is the beet salad for its explosion of flavor in every bite. Sue said she loves the halibut at dinner.
Chef Richard Roettgen said he works to get the best ingredients from as close as possible—both vegetables and meats are sourced from various farms around Central Texas.
Barton Creek Omni Resort & Spa restaurants
Seven restaurants is a significant selection for a resort that houses 500 guests, said Todd Raessler, Barton Creek Omni Resort & Spa general manager.
“We have more than you would typically add, and that’s because we wanted to have more offerings not only for our guests but also for the country club and local area,” he said. “We think there was a real need and opportunity to provide a lot of different dining options.”
The resort, which reopened in early May after extensive renovations, intentionally and strategically created a variety of cuisine and atmosphere types, Raessler said.
The public is welcome at all restaurants, with the final of the seven, Blind Salamander, opening June 17. Nopales and Blind Salamander are the two most family-friendly spots, Raessler said. Nopales has indoor and outdoor seating that overlooks the pools, and Blind Salamander has stairs leading from the patio to the lawn so kids can play.
Other restaurants include Bob’s Steak & Chop House, Crenshaw’s Bar & Eatery, Jim Bob’s Lobby Lounge for lighter fare, Texas Spice for breakfast and Velvet Joe’s Coffee House.
Raessler said there is great artwork throughout the property, and locals can make an afternoon of coming for a meal and checking out what else the resort has to offer.
“We want people to come, stay a while, relax and enjoy the views,” he said.
Salt Traders Coastal Cooking
The Salt Traders team is on target to take over its new location at the end of August, co-partner Jack Allen Gilmore said.
“We’re looking at an early to mid-September opening,” he said. “The hard part is done—we’ve gone through the city for permitting, hired contractors, and it's been under construction.”
Allen said he learned a lot from the Round Rock restaurant and built the second one accordingly. The fish-cutting room will be bigger, and there will still be a substantial raw bar selection. There will also be a lunch menu and more steak options.
“We knew we didn’t want to be downtown but wanted to get pretty close and be on the edge of the Rollingwood and West Lake Hills communities,” he said. “We got everything we asked for in one building. There’s easy access to it coming off MoPac both ways and from Bee Caves Road.”
He said the location is convenient for anyone who lives downtown, in a nearby neighborhood or is commuting home.
“And there’s plenty of parking,” Allen said. “That’s key.”
The goal is to make patrons feel like they are on a coast. They will not realize they are on MoPac once inside, Allen said, but they will know they are in a seafood restaurant.