Second Bar + Kitchen landed in downtown Austin in 2010. From pizza to burgers, weekend brunch to happy hour, Second’s repertoire is extensive. The restaurant now has three locations, including a satellite at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, so you have plenty of chances to pay a visit.
Thank you to Second Bar + Kitchen for hosting me during brunch.
Second Bar + Kitchen Adapts to Austin’s Changing Landscape
The origins of Second Bar + Kitchen began with a group of industry professionals who’d enjoyed Austin’s food scene for years and decided to pool their resources. The first location opened in 2010 in the heart of downtown.
The original goal was to be memorable, and Second Bar + Kitchen has succeeded for eight years, amid an exploding local food scene. The eatery’s team takes their commitment to patrons seriously. They’ve listened to customers, using feedback to adapt to Austin’s changing landscape. Food, drink, music, and even interiors have received updates.
Most recently, the original downtown location’s space was expanded to include Congress Hall, a customizable and unique event venue. With the renovation, an outdoor patio became a reality and Second Bar + Kitchen introduced its first happy hour! The patio has generous seating, an ideal setting for kicking back on those perfect Austin days.
When conceptualizing the new interior, the team at La Corsha Hospitality Group wanted to make sure the space felt like home for everyone–locals and visitors alike. Second Bar + Kitchen is inviting and bright, with an abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows. Modern furnishings add to the tone, while ample seating accommodates parties of all sizes. It’s easy to find a quiet corner or be in the thick of things at the downtown location.
The Food and Drinks
Second Bar + Kitchen invited me in for a taste of what makes Chef David Bull and Jason Stevens, Director of Bars and Beverage, such a formidable duo. Both individuals are extremely talented, translating their knowledge into a dining experience unique to their restaurant. The menu Bull and Stevens have created is sophisticated and creatively incorporates local ingredients.
The Congress Burger is a prime example of their creative efforts. Touted as one of the “Top 5 Burgers in Texas” by Texas Monthly, it’s made with a blend of brisket and chuck, and topped with gruyere cheese, a shallot confit, and horseradish pickles. I highly encourage adding seared foie gras or pork belly, as well as avocado. I promise it’ll take this already amazing burger to a whole new level. Also, don’t forget to get a side of truffle fries! The burger is available for lunch, dinner, and brunch.
Eating the blistered shishito peppers was like spinning a roulette wheel. Our server told me, “Be prepared to burn your tongue off.” That was both terrifying and exhilarating to hear, but fortunately everyone in my party left with tongues intact. The peppers themselves are delicious, and the accompanying miso aioli is perfect as a dip. You’ll be surprised how quickly these peppers are gobbled up.
I have a weak spot for anything with prosciutto and pears. So when I saw a pizza on the menu with that exact combo on it, I had to order it. I’m glad I did. The goat cheese, pear, and prosciutto made my day! There was a lot of silence (and crunching sounds) around the table, thanks to this pie.
While the pizza, burger, and shishito peppers are available any time, I suggest visiting on a weekend for the plates that are exclusive to brunch. A filling and delicious option is the Texas Benedict. Pulled pork, cornbread, perfectly poached eggs, and chorizo gravy are a great start to the day. The vanilla French toast, steak and hash, and shrimp and grits are winners, too.
Stevens’ drink creations are the perfect accompaniment to any dish. The Mi-Mimosa is available during brunch because what brunch would be complete without a mimosa, right?
With lunch or dinner, try the Green River, a vodka-based cocktail made with grapefruit juice, basil, and green chartreuse. It’s oddly refreshing and goes well with the shishito peppers!
If a classic cocktail is more your cup of tea, give the Southern Bourbon Sour a try. Second Bar + Kitchen adds its own touch with a housemade peach and amaro comfort mix.
The eatery also has extensive wine and beer lists, along with non-alcoholic standards like Topo Chico and coffee.
Beyond the Restaurant
Chef David Bull, in his capacity as Vice President of Culinary Operations, strives to create a family-like environment for all employees. Second Bar + Kitchen offers an impressive mentorship program, supplying hands-on experience in the front and back of the house. With this experience, employees are propelled into professional growth.
Beyond the restaurant walls, Second Bar + Kitchen is an active part of the Austin community. Bull has been the lead chef for March of Dimes for over a decade. The team as a whole participates in several nonprofit and charity benefits for organizations like The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, Central Texas Food Bank, and Austin Food and Wine Alliance.
All in all, I had a great time getting to know Second Bar + Kitchen’s food, team, and culture. The servers are friendly and helpful–they really do know the menu inside and out. There are no bad menu choices here, but they’ll guide you to a plate you’ll really enjoy. In the time it’s taken to write this article, I’ve blocked out a couple of time slots for return visits. I hope y’all head to Second Bar + Kitchen soon to try everything that made this foodie weak in the knees!
200 Congress Ave. (downtown) and 3121 Palm Way #101 (Domain Northside) – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite thing to eat or drink at Second Bar + Kitchen?