Birdie's is a forward thinking concept we like to call "fine-casual," which means you can expect that we take the same care in sourcing and preparing your food and curating our wine as a fancy joint, but in a no frills, counter service setting. Our family-owned and operated restaurant model is deeply rooted in the idea that restaurants ought to be a place where people can pursue long and meaningful careers. We advance this philosophy by paying our team fair wages and offering them benefits including paid family leave, health insurance, and four weeks of planned and paid vacation every year.
We are also a restaurant that deeply appreciates the contributions of the farmers, artisans, and winemakers that allow us to do our work in a meaningful way.
Food and Drink
Birdie’s is a little, counter service neighborhood restaurant and wine bar on the corner of 12th and Harvey that serves a menu that changes daily. You can expect simple, seasonal, American food inspired by the cooking of France and Italy.
Our wine list is a thoughtful mix of classic and new producers with an emphasis on mindful farming and minimal intervention in the cellar. The list evolves with what Tracy’s cooking and the weather outside.
Birdie's does not accept reservations and is first come, first served.
First Time Dining With Us?
1. We are a high-low, counter service, first come first served restaurant. You can expect dishes you might expect at a high-end restaurant, but they might come served on a plate that’s chipped and with paper napkins instead of pressed linens. We are a scrappy, family-run business and we hope your evening feels like it’s a dinner party at a new friend’s home. The music is louder than most restaurants and the energy is higher!
2. We suggest a group of 2 people orders 5-7 dishes depending on how hungry you are. (We'd suggest also scrolling down to read our FAQ's!)
3. We have an extraordinarily small kitchen for the volume of food that we do. We prep and cook in our small space (which is why we don’t have a lunch service). Only three people work the kitchen line on any given night whether we feed 70 people or a 170. It’s why the food comes out as it’s ready and we are unable to bring out all your food at once.
If several guests want to order separately, and pay separately, or you’re part of a large group, we might not be able to get everyone their food at the same time. We promise to always do our best to get you dishes as quickly as we can but if there’s a new and special dish on the menu for the day or we’re particularly busy you might expect to wait 15-20 minutes between your courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
QUESTION: Why is Birdie’s counter service?
Birdie’s is a counter service restaurant very much as an attempt to “reset” the restaurant model after the pandemic. The traditional restaurant model is a broken one where most restaurateurs (especially us small ones) operate on razor thin margins (on average 3-5%) and don’t have the resources to provide benefits and equitable pay to their teams. Counter service was an opportunity to have a lean labor model, which allows all hourly team members on our team to participate in a flat tip pool regardless of whether they work in the kitchen, the dish station, or in the dining room. If someone deserves a raise, the business gives it to them, rather than allocating a larger proportion of the tip pool to them as is standard in most restaurants with “point” systems.
QUESTION: What is the 3.5 % health and wellness fee? How do you use it?
The pandemic taught us all that restaurant workers, are indeed essential workers, and play a critical role in supporting our local economies and nourishing our souls. We highly value the health and well-being of our team so we add a 3.5% health and wellness fee to all checks to support the cost of health insurance, subsidized mental health care and therapy, four weeks of paid vacation a year (2 weeks in the summer, 2 weeks in the winter), and paid parental leave.
QUESTION: Explain how you price your food?
We source the best ingredients we can find. We buy almost all our meat, milk, eggs, and produce locally from incredible farmers and with that comes a responsibility to make sure we can sustain the foodways that are truly important to us. The finishing olive oils we use cost $30-$50 a bottle; our vanilla costs a $100 for a tiny jar. Operating a restaurant is expensive, especially when you care about the people and the community who are growing and raising your food in a way that is sustainable. That cost is reflected in our prices as is the cost of paying our team a fair and livable wage.
QUESTION: How big are your portions?
The "Snacks" section of the menu are 4-5 bites, the "Small Plates" more closely resemble a primi at an Italian restaurant, and the "Larger Plates," are slightly smaller than a traditional entree usually 4 oz of protein. We suggest 5 - 7 dishes for two people depending on how hungry you are.
QUESTION: What's the deal with Aiello's and some of the other pop ups you do?
When we opened Birdie's we really wanted it to be a restaurant that was alive and that could change. It was important to us, to keep the whole team's creativity alive, and from time to time challenge all of us professionally. So a few times a year, we change everything at Birdie's for a week or two. The menu, the wine, the music, the decor--all in keeping with that spirit, so we can discover something new about ourselves as a team, and as a restaurant. As an added bonus, it's a whole lot of fun!
QUESTION: Why don’t you have a phone number?
As a small restaurant, providing our full attention to guests is our top priority which is why we don’t have a phone number. If you’d like to get in touch with us you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org, use the contact form available on the website, or DM us on Instagram @birdiesaustin
QUESTION: I was disappointed to see that you were sold out of the pasta dish I really wanted. Why?
We know it can feel like a major bummer when we sell out of an item, but as discussed above, we are have an incredibly small kitchen and have a limit to how much food we can produce on a given day. On incredibly busy nights, we may run out of some dishes but we do our best to update the menu at the front door so that you’re aware of what we do and don’t have available before you walk through the door or hop in line.
QUESTION: You posted a dish on Instagram last week but I don’t see it on your menu. Why?
We pride ourselves in being a really dynamic kitchen, so you can expect our menu to change frequently-- sometimes every day--driven by the seasons and what our farmers bring us. If you see something you really want to eat, we suggest hitting us up ahead of time to make sure we have it that night.