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–Leslie Brenner,
Dallas Morning News
Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10:00pm
Fri 5:30pm–11:00pm
Sat 10:30am–2:30pm
Sat 5:30pm–11:00pm
Sun 10:30am–2:30pm
Sun 5:30pm–9:30pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


South Lamar
2043 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 804-2700
A lovely cathedral absolving skeptics of their fears, and omnivores of their dilemma

As “sole” food dining (sustainable, organic, local, and ethical) becomes a febrile religion in Austin, Olivia appears more and more to be its main basilica. Certainly the soaring architecture of its glass-and-wood Michael Hsu building adds to this feeling, although it might give the impression that you’re not welcome inside with shorts on and less than $50 to spend. You certainly are, and that generosity and range of experience is one of the greatest things about it. You may enjoy an interactive chef’s tasting near the open kitchen; or sit on the patio near the lovely lawn and enjoy some outrageous happy hour specials, like 30% off featured small plates, and barely marked-up bottles that sometimes include the most respected small-production wines around.

Whatever vegetables don’t come from local farms are harvested in the garden outside. Although some dishes play it safe, there are often those that challenge diners’ claims to adventurousness, like lamb’s tongue, bison heart, and spicy fried lamb testicles; these almost always make believers out of skeptics. Many items are made in-house, and the kitchen often even dry-ages its own bone-in, local ribeye. Olivia also serves the best brunch in Austin: skip the omelettes and order the featured Benedict or a pig’s ear sandwich, and a plate of cold fried chicken to share with the table. Then expect to return religiously, shorts or no.

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