|When you visit Austin, or if you decide to live here, you'll have no shortage of interesting and satisfying places to eat. Austin's restaurants are a feast for the mind and the palate. The listings below are only a sampling of the diverse and plentiful Austin restaurant scene. |
Austin has many high-end, destination restaurants, but it also has many high-quality, unique, and inexpensive restaurants where the locals eat, drink, and socialize every day (all day). It's a town built for living in, and the affordable, excellent restaurants show it. Just so you know you're in Texas, Austin has a large number of places serving Texas Barbeque and Tex-Mex; many of them are venerable, famous, and exceptionally good eating.
Be aware that Austinites love to eat out for breakfast on the weekends, and you will often encounter long wait times whether you go to Denny's, a Tex-mex joint, or a local eatery.
• The Bakehouse. A South Austin tradition. They have one of the most inexpensive and hearty breakfasts around. Their fresh fruit and texas toast sitting next to your eggs make it worth waking up in the morning.
• Kerbey Lane. Several locations. Open 24 hours. Breakfast all day. Arguably the best pancakes in Austin. Also try Dave's enchiladas.
• Magnolia Cafe. Two locations, South Congress and Lake Austin Blvd. Great place to get a short stack for breakfast. The dinner specials are pretty tasty and fairly inexpensive. Open 24 hours.
• Juan In A Million. On Cesar Chavez in East Austin. Mexican restaurant serving a great and inexpensive breakfast popular with the college crowd. The owner, Juan, is always there to shake your hand. Try his namesake, the Don Juan.
• The Salt Lick. Technically outside of Austin. You'll get to drive through some beautiful hill country before arriving at the sprawling restaurant. It is BYOB and cash only, but they have an all-you-can-eat menu option that will have you staggering back to your hotel. If you've got withdrawal symptoms, and need your maintenance dose, Salt Lick barbeque is available shipped worldwide!
• Sam's BBQ. Killer BBQ! It's in a "bad" part of town, but well worth going. Open till 3am, which works well after leaving 6th St.
• BBQ World Headquarters. Some of the best bbq in all of Texas. On north Burnet past 51st, just look for the giant pig.
• Artz Rib House. Excellent ribs, as the name implies. Often has live bluegrass music.
• Stubb's BBQ. Quintessential BBQ joint located near downtown at 801 Red River. In addition to the great BBQ, the kitchen turns out some great side dishes, which are often overshadowed by the smoked meats. This unique venue has two concert venues, one indoor and one outdoor that can accommodate over a thousand people.
• Iron Works. Decent BBQ at 100 Red River, very close to the Austin Convention Center downtown. BBQ plates, sandwiches, and side dishes.
• Ben's Long Branch. Excellent BBQ. Magnificent mutton! Plates, meat by the pound. Just east of I35 on 11th.
• Rudy's Country Store & BBQ. Butcher shop style BBQ. Two locations in Austin. Famous for their BBQ sauce and baby back ribs.
• Matt's El Rancho. South Lamar. The quintessential Tex-Mex place in Austin. It's been around for over 50 years and for good reason. Watch out for the strong margaritas!
• Maria's Taco Xpress. 2529 South Lamar Blvd. South Austin institution with funky decor, excellent food, and live music. It's more Mex than Tex, but their tacos are authentic and delicious.
• AusTexMex. 26th & IH-35. Real authentic stick to your ribs Tex-Mex. When Texans think of Mexican food this is it, it's heavy on the chili con carne and cheese. Great beer drinking food. Review and Description
• El Rey. If you don't think Tex-Mex should resemble the Taco Bell menu, check out El Rey. Good Mexican food right next to Trudy's SouthStar location, and they hardly ever have a wait.
• Chuy's. 3 locations (two North and one South) Austin institution with great Tex-Mex food. The North Lamar location is somewhat out of the way, but also tends to have the shortest wait times. Call ahead because the wait can sometimes be extremely long, though there are free chips and salsa to help make up for it.
• Trudy's. 3 locations in Austin (NorthStar, Central, and SouthStar). They're generally regarded as the favorite for Tex-Mex food in town, but this also means they are generally incredibly crowded and loud.
• Maudie's Tex-Mex. Just what it says. Good, down-home Tex-Mex with something for everyone. Try the Strait Plate, if you need breakfast and lunch at the same time. Freshly made tortillas and tortilla chips. Multiple locations. 2608 W. 7th - Original; Maudie's Too!, 1212 S. Lamar - Near Saxon Pub. 3 more locations.
• Little Mexico. This restaurant has some of the finest enchiladas of a Tex-Mex style. Nothing at all bad on the menu either. It's one of those places mostly only the locals go to so keep it quiet. Also a good place to spot hungover Austin luminary musicians easing that Sunday morning pain. Little green and red building on the West side of S 1st, just a bit north of Oltorf. Good margaritas, Negro Modelo and XX are available. Good homestyle interior Mexican dishes as well as Tex-Mex. If you want to be trendy go to Guero's, if you want to eat, check it out and you won't be disappointed. Live music on Thursday nights. Review and Description
• El Gallo. Tex-Mex. They still have cabrito as well as all the normal fare. Yummy and relatively inexpensive. South Congress across the street from St. Edwards University.
• Enchiladas y Mas. As the name implies this restaurant has enchiladas, and they are some of the best north of San Antonio. "y Mas", as it is called by locals, has a broad selection of Tex-Mex fare including flautas, soft and crispy tacos, migas, burritos, and fajitas. This is a must try on the Tex-Mex trail in Austin. They are closed on Mondays and the lunch crowd starts early, so be prepared for a short wait between 11:00a and 1:00p. y Mas has the best motto in town, "Never trust a skinny cook!". They are located in North Austin at 1911 West Anderson Lane just east of Burnet road.
• Curra's Grill. An Austin original, this restaurant brings outstanding traditional interior Mexican food to two locations. Some of the best pork recipes around and you will not find better Mexican style seafood dishes anywhere in the city. The south eatery is at 614 East Oltorf and the north location is at 6801 Burnet Road.
• Serranos. A homegrown Tex-Mex restaurant with six locations around town offering a great selection of tasty Tex-Mex dishes. The food and service are consistently good for a reasonable price. For something different try the enchiladas con huevos.
• Guero's Taco Bar. High-class, sit-down Tex-Mex in the middle of the South Congress maelstrom. Always busy, always Austin. Lots of musicians frequent the place when they're in town. Many famous Austinites, and wanna-be Austinites have visited, including President Clinton, (then-)Governor Bush, and the rest of the Bush clan. Has live music.
• Cafe Mangu, 15200 FM1825, look for the little yellow house. Open Tue thru Sundays. Caribbean fare featuring Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican flavors. Excellent food, large portions, friendly staff, authentic atmosphere. For appetizers don't miss the mariquitas (fried plantain with a garlic dipping sauce) or yuca frita (fried yucca). For the main dish try the Asado de Res (flame broiled flank steak), Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in a delicious sauce), Lechon Asado (roasted pork), or Pescado a la Criolla (fish in a creole style sauce). Side dishes include all the typical Caribbean favorites such as rice & beans, tostones, or congri. Maduros (also known as amarillos) are sweet ripe plantains, and although not on the menu are usually available if you ask. If you still have room for dessert, the Tres Leches cake is delicious, drenched in a creamy sauce. Review and Description
• Cuba Libre (Downtown).
• Gilligan's, 407 Colorado. Caribbean cuisine with some Pan-Asian overtones but also some Southwestern touches such as mesquite grilling and a bit of Mediterranean thrown in the mix. If you like seafood there is something you will like here. Nice fusion restaurant. Moderately expensive.
• Habana (Just moved to East Sixth Street one block west of the I-35 bridge.). Cuban and Puerto Rican families eat there a lot. Lotsa fried stuff, lotsa pork. Spiciness. Plantains. Yummy. Everything from Cuban sandwiches to Bisteca Milanese, a steak wrapped in ham, breaded and fried. Also try the Lechon Asado, a great dish with slow cooked marinated pork loin, and the Ropa Vieja, delicious strings of mildly spiced beef in a Cuban tomato sauce.
• Burger Tex, 29th & Guadalupe. Just north of UT. Don't let the ragged building fool you, this place has the best burgers in town. Big and thick with a condiment bar that has the usual lettuce and tomato, but also pico de gallo for those that like it a little bit spicy. The menu also features bulgogi, a Korean dish of marinated beef that doesn't have a great sounding name but it delivers on the palate.
• Hut's Hamburgers. A great, inexpensive 50s diner style hamburger joint on 6th St. near downtown. Every burger available with regular beef, bison (buffalo), chicken, vegetarian, or Hawaiian. Usually packed after a football game. Once you have completed your sinning here, the Whole Foods flagship store is right down the street.
• Dan's Hamburgers. Lamar & Koenig in North Austin, Manchaca and Ben White, in South Austin. Big, greasy burgers and tasty milkshakes. Choose your burger size: Small, Medium, Large. Choose single or double meat. There is also Fran's Hamburgers, and the story is that Dan & Fran divorced and each took part of the franchise. Review and Description
• Dirty Martin's Kum-Back Place. 27th & Guadalupe, on the Drag. A staple for hungry football fans after UT home games, Dirty's has been in the same building since the 1920's. Still has a simple old-time feel, and you can watch the burgers grilled right in front of you at the bar.
• Din Ho. 8557 Research Blvd, 512-832-8788. Lunch and dinner. Some of the most authentic Chinese fare in town, specializing in Cantonese and seafood dishes. Chinese BBQ pork and whole roast duck are available for take-out as well. Open till 1am most nights. Don't bring Caucasian friends who are squeamish about real Chinese food - take them to Chinatown instead (see below).
• Chinatown. 3407 Greystone Drive, 512-343-9307. Authentic Chinese flavor with a modern twist. Not really fusion, not really traditional either, but very delicious. The restaurant is located upstairs in a two-story building; the bottom floor houses Musashino (see Japanese/Sushi below).
• Wanfu. Just east if I35 on Oltorf. Fabulous food till 4AM. Smoked duck dishes to die for. Amazing lettuce wraps (tofu or chicken). Wanfu too on Barton Springs has a cut down version of the menu. The original is still the best place to be for a late night crab rangoon craving.
• Marco Polo. At I-35 & Oltorf. Mediocre buffet during the week, but excellent dim sum on weekends.
• T&S Seafood Off Lamar a few blocks south of Braker Lane. Traditional Cantonese fare - open late. Dim Sum on weekends.
There are numerous Japanese restaurants in town. For a complete list, check out http://www.austinsushi.com. For Japanese fast food try Wiki Wiki Teriyaki on Congress a 1/2 a block up Congress from 6th street; they also have a location in the Arboretum shopping center in Northwest Austin.
• Korea House 2700 W. Anderson Ln. #501, 512-458-2477. Located in the Village Shopping Center and can be a little hard to find; the entrance faces towards the inner courtyard area of the shopping center. They have a decent sushi offering but the Korean dishes are delicious and authentic.
• Koreana 12196 North MoPac Expwy., 512-835-8888.
• Hai Ky. Consistent fresh, high quality Vietnamese food with great bowls of pho, delicious stir fries and noodle dishes, bubble tea and friendly service. At 1931 E. Oltorf about 3/4 mile east of I-35 in a strip shopping center on your right just past the Whataburger. Locals in the know and Asian students yearning for a genuine taste of home frequent this small restaurant. Great electronic music adds to the casual ambience. Best Vietnamese food in Austin. Very affordable and now serves imported beers. Great staff w/ mellow ambiance. Two thumbs up.
• Lamar Blvd.. Several Vietnamese places are scattered in strip malls both north and south of US-183 on Lamar Blvd. Notably Le Soliel, Saigon Pho, and Kim Phung.
• Romeo's. Italian food. One of the few restaurants that is casual and romantic. Has a great outdoor patio.
• Frank and Angies. Pizza and Italian food. Supposedly Quentin Tarantino's favorite restaurant in Austin. Right next to Hut's Hamburgers.
Austin is coffee mad. The coffeehouse culture is strong and growing here in Austin, and you can hear poetry and live music at quite a few of these places, as well as getting light eats. Coffeehouses are where the liberal heart of Austin beats for all to see.
| • Spiderhouse |
• Cafe Mundi
• Green Muse
• Little City
| • Ruta Maya |
• Cafe Caffeine
• Bouldin Creek
| • Lava Java |
• Anderson's Coffee Company
• The Hideout
• Progress Coffee at the 501 complex
• Scholz Garten is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Texas, and also the oldest business in Texas. It was started just after the war, the Civil War. Good German and other hearty fare. As the name implies, Scholz Garten also has a beergarden, and serves many different types of beer. A traditional Democratic party hangout, it's where Ann Richards is supposed to have plotted her successful run for governor. In the middle of it all, the Capitol is a few blocks away, and the University of Texas is just north. 1607 San Jacinto.
• Texas Chili Parlor. Get your red on. Serves the national dish of Texas, chili, in all heat ranges, as well as other great Texan-American fare. This downtown neighborhood chili parlor is reportedly the local Republican hangout, when "The Lege" is in session. Near the Capitol, and South of UT at 1409 Lavaca Street.
• Threadgill's has two locations, one just south of downtown and one on North Lamar. The menu focuses on southern comfort food. The chicken fried steaks, salads, and peach cobbler are all especially good. Both locations are famous concert venues, starting the likes of Janis Joplin. Weekly gospel brunch at the south location on Sunday, for which you might want to call for reservations.
• Amy's Ice Cream has several locations around town. The atmosphere is lively and the stuff is entertaining. Add a fruit or candy "crush'n" to your ice cream for even more flavor.
• Catfish Parlour, 4705 E. Ben White, +1-512-443-1698. 11AM-10PM every day. All-you-can-eat catfish with hushpuppies on the side is a true Southern experience. $15-20 ($12 all-you-can-eat special).
• Most supermarkets such as Randall's, HEB and Wal-Mart offer inexpensive prepared food.
Austin's main strip is on 6th Street downtown. But like most entertainment districts that get raves in the media it's a little overhyped. Check out the nearby Warehouse District and Fourth Street if you don't want quarter wells and million-dollar sorority girls.
• Opal Divines Freehouse, 700 West 6th Street, 512-477-3308. 11AM-2AM every day. This place serves great pub food and has an excellent beer menu. They have an enormous wrap around patio that affords an excellent view of drunk Austin staggering past.
• Maudie's, 2608 West 7th Street, 512-474-7271. Austin as Austin can get. A staple Tex-Mex favorite with five locations around town. Great salsa and better margarita's. If you crave cheese enchiladas get the "Hernandez Enchiladas."
Gay and Lesbian
Most gay and lesbian bars and night clubs are located downtown with the highest concentration in the Warehouse district.
• Oilcan Harry's
• Rainbow Cattle Company
• Chain Drive