Many Austinites enjoy transforming their home to entertain 10-20 guests. But a few ambitious entrepreneurs have taken hospitality to the next level, recreating entire houses into restaurants.
The idea, common throughout history, makes sense. People have operated restaurants out of their homes for centuries.
After modern zoning codes made the business of home cooking for cash a bit more complicated, many restaurants, whether in a strip mall or a luxury resort, have tried to project a cozy, homey feel to evoke some of the warm nostalgia many people have of family dinners.
Other restaurant owners have gone the truly authentic route to home-style serving — redesigning a home to make it a restaurant.
Austin has more than a dozen restaurants operating in what were once residential homes.
Here’s a look at four relatively recent transformations that are also among Austin’s top-rated restaurants.
Licha’s Cantina: This 1,464 square foot bungalow built in 1919 has housed a few restaurants since it became part of an increasingly popular restaurant and bar district. Today, its cozy interior hosts hundreds of interior Mexican food enthusiasts. Licha’s Cantina has retained its bungalow look so well that sometimes people walk by without realizing it’s a restaurant during the day. But in the evening the packed patio area makes it an unmistakably popular hot spot. The property in East Austin has previously been home to Papa Tino’s restaurant and the Typewriter Museum, which hosted many small, underground concerts over the years. Check out the restaurant’s exterior here.
Fabi + Rosi: Housed in a craftsman bungalow built in 1903 not from Deep Eddy, Fabi + Rosi has an expertly-designed interior that retains the warmth of a home and adds some modern touches to give it a clean dining feel. They’re known for their European-influenced gourmet meals. Check out Fabi + Rosi’s exterior here.
Uchi: Perhaps Austin’s most celebrated restaurant, Uchi is house in an unassuming 1930s bungalow on South Lamar in the Zilker neighborhood. Check it out here. The restaurant is famous for its exceptional and creative Japanese cuisine.