Photo: Thompson Austin

This Hotel Delivers Culinary Excellence in the Heart of Austin, Texas

Austin Epic Stays
by Kayla Hui Jun 12, 2024

East and North Austin are well-known hotspots for food lovers, but one hotel is reestablishing the city’s downtown as a culinary destination: Thompson Austin. The hotel offers a variety of dining options, from Diner Bar, a dinner spot with a Southern menu crafted by two-time James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey, to the newly opened rooftop cantina, Arriba Abajo, which serves Mexican-inspired fare with a scenic view of the city.

But Thompson Austin excels at more than just its culinary offerings. An Austin resident, I recently staycationed in one of the hotel’s Upper Stories suites, a luxurious yet homey oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the city center. Whether you’re passing through town or planning to stay for a while, that kind of comfort and convenience is hard to beat in downtown Austin.

Livable suites for families and longer stays


Photo: Chase Daniels

Opened in January 2022, Thompson Austin has 229 rooms, 14 suites, and 17 Upper Stories suites, along with a 6,700 square-foot fitness center. There are rooms to suit every type of traveler, but the Upper Stories rooms were a standout. Located on the 16th floor, these fully livable suites come equipped with smart TVs, a living room, and a walk-in shower with rainfall showerheads, making it perfect for families, extended stays, or couples on a romantic getaway.

To my surprise, the Upper Stories suites also come with fully functional kitchens. In my one-bedroom suite, I found everything I needed to cook a full meal: a stove, cooking utensils, a full-size fridge, and a mini dishwasher. The kitchen connects to an open-concept living room with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering cityscape views. The suite made me feel as at home in the city as I do in my actual home in Austin. This was especially true at night — cloud-like pillows, lush bedding, and a plush rug fostered coziness in the bedroom, allowing me to fall asleep within minutes of hitting the bed.

A hotel designed for great meals


Photo: Jasmin Porter

As someone who dines out frequently, I was amazed by the number of on-site restaurants at Thompson Austin, and the amount of variety they collectively offered. The hotel has a total of four restaurants and bars. On the evening my partner and I arrived, we checked in at Diner Bar, the hotel’s Southern seafood restaurant helmed by the esteemed chef Mashama Bailey.

We started the night with house-made cocktails: Last Flowers (made with gin, creme de violet, lemon, and egg whites) and Big Gold Mine (a blended scotch cocktail with coconut milk, orgeat, lime, and yellow chartreuse). Then came the appetizers: Glacier Bay, Island Pearl, and Village Bay oysters; Alaskan crab with green goddess sauce; and buttery lobster sliders.


Photo: Thompson Austin

A New York strip steak and swordfish frites were plattered up as main courses, both seared to perfection and accompanied with potato wedges topped with sour cream, as well as sharp cheddar mac and cheese. We finished the night with a toasted pistachio affogato and Thompson’s quintessential dessert: a flourless chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse, spiced peanuts, and peanut butter ice cream. A creation of Chef Bailey’s known as the Benne Bar, the indulgent treat is reminiscent of Reese’s peanut butter cups — but in cake form.

The following day, I didn’t have the chance to get breakfast at Grey Market, located on the hotel’s first floor, or Tommie, Thompson Austin’s neighboring sister hotel, which caters to spirited and adventurous travelers. But both offer a relaxed environment to grab classic bites like coffee, granola bowls, pancakes, and guacamole toast.

A new rooftop bar in Austin


Photo: Thompson Austin

Thompson Austin’s newly debuted rooftop cantina, Arriba Abajo, opened last month. Named after one of Mexico’s celebratory cheers, Arriba Abajo is perched on the fourth floor and outfitted in lush foliage, fringe lampshades, and rattan furniture, making guests feel like they’ve been transported to Tulum. What impressed me was the restaurant’s layout. From the elevator, I was greeted by the open-air patio, which features views of the pool, the outdoor bar, and the skyline.

Inspired by Mexico’s rich and flavor-filled cuisine, Arriba Abajo’s menu includes dishes like shrimp ceviche, heirloom corn chips, chicken milanesa tortas, and carnitas tacos, paying homage to the flavors found in Oaxaca, Yucatán, and the regions in between. My personal favorites were the chorizo-infused queso and the al pastor tacos enveloped in house-made tortillas. The drink menu didn’t miss either, offering mango margaritas, micheladas, wines, and a selection of draft beers, some of which are brewed in Austin.


Photo: Thompson Austin

After a full and satisfying meal, I checked out of the hotel later that afternoon. While I may live in the city, Thompson Austin is a place I’d revisit. If you’re an out-of-towner, stay for a night or two, and if you live in Austin, the food and drinks are reason enough to visit. Then again, you might as well treat yourself to a full-on staycation.

Book Now

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.