Find Caroline’s hours, location, and reservation information here
I went to try the menu and tour Caroline in downtown Austin on 7th and Congress the night before their official opening. The next morning, I told a friend about it and shared pictures of the food I tried. An hour later, he’d made a reservation for that night. He had dinner that evening, went to Upstair’s at Caroline, and ended up staying the night at the adjoining Aloft. If a dinner that turns into a full-blown weekend staycation in one building isn’t a mark of a good experience, I’m not sure what does.
Attached to the new Aloft hotel and across from the Intercontinental Hotel, Caroline opened in late July. They are set up to cater to any type of patron: early risers looking for coffee, people wanting a great meal, someone who wants to unwind with a glass of wine, and those that want to hang out in the upstairs bar with a craft cocktail for the evening.
Caroline, the restaurant, has menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The menu is made up of many locally sourced items, showcased in classically cultivated dishes. The “snacks” on the menu all sound amazing, but I was particularly taken by the Roasted Sweet Corn dip. Served with tortilla chips, it was an amazing twist that tasted like a great queso. The Ahi Tuna Poke tacos were also a big hit and perfectly matched with jicama and a vinaigrette that made the fish incredibly flavorful. All the salads on the menu are beautifully presented and all the vegetables very fresh, but the Brussels Sprouts salad was my favorite with a sweet mustard dressing, dates, walnuts, and cranberries. The snacks and salads are so good, sharing with the table might make enough for a meal.
As far as entrees go, everyone at my table raved over the Wild Mushroom Bolognese which is completely vegetarian, but looks like a meat sauce and didn’t leave anyone missing meat. The absolute best thing I ate was the Green Chili and Chicken Enchiladas. In a town that is full of great Mexican food, some people try too hard to make their enchiladas stand out, but these were some of the best enchiladas I’ve eaten (and I’ve eaten a lot of enchiladas). To finish, I’d recommend the Warm Chocolate Cake. It’s served with salted caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream, and roasted pecans. I’ve dreamt of going back for the enchiladas and cake since I first ate at Caroline.
Downstairs, Caroline also has a bar serving wine, beer, and craft cocktails. There is an onsite sommelier who has assembled an impressive wine list as well as cocktails made with local in season fruits and juices. The cocktail menu will likely change over seasons to allow other fruits to shine.
Coffeehouse at Caroline includes Austin’s Legendary Roaster, Little City, and Bulletproof coffee as well as daily baked goodies. The baker makes breakfast items for the morning and switches over to afternoon treats like cookies and zucchini bread as the day goes on. It’s a great place to stop in while walking through downtown Austin or for a quick coffee in the morning.
Upstairs at Caroline is the urban bar overlooking Congress Avenue. It feels like a backyard hangout with games like giant Jenga, shuffleboard, and cornhole amongst comfortable couches and a bar that straddles inside and out. Upstairs also has events like live music, football viewing parties, and cornhole tournaments. There are specialty drinks featured upstairs as well as local beers and wine. It’s a great place to kick back with a drink and chat with friends while the sun sets over the capital city.
Whether you stop in for a coffee while running to work, lingering for an intimate dinner, or hanging out at Upstairs, Caroline is the new downtown spot you’ll want to spend the whole day. Chances are you’ll also run into my friend who is begging for me to take him back.
All photography by Kayla Elliott