From food trucks to haute cuisine and craft cocktails, Austin’s eating scene is a foodie’s dream. If you only eat three meals per day here, you’re doing it wrong.
TOP TACOS & AMAZING MEXICAN FOOD
There’s really no way to go wrong with a taco in Austin. Try a migas taco and an agua fresca from female-fronted Veracruz All Natural. Find fiery authentic al pastor at Vaquero Taquero and savory wood-grilled chicken at Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon. Tacodeli and Torchy’s Tacos both have huge menus of imaginative tacos and cult-like followings. Head to South Austin for a brisket breakfast taco at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, where you’ll wonder why you’ve never had brisket for breakfast before.
It’s always hard to choose between Mexican restaurants in Austin, because there are simply so many. One of the best is Comedor, named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants for its inventive take on traditional dishes. James Beard semifinalist Suerte employs traditional Mexican cooking and has an in-house masa program. Nixta Taqueria is also focused on using heritage grains, but has a more modern menu. The restaurant is small, so make sure to call before you go. El Naranjo is Interior-forward, with a bright, sunny atmosphere and excellent mezcal cocktails. Bachelorette parties and Instagrammers are obsessed with the all-pink-themed Taquero Mucho, where you’re surrounded by foods and decor in shades of blush. Discover more of Austin’s tantalizing tacos and other foodie delights.
For interactive dining, make a reservation at DipDipDip Tatsu-ya, an upscale Japanese hot pot experience. You don’t need to call ahead to the adjacent sweet spot, DipDipDip Ice Cream, but take a look at the menu first to decide between flavors like black pepper yuzu and miso peanut butter-and-jelly. The totally hip TenTen serves up modern Japanese with an emphasis on sushi and robatayaki, while Uroko is the go-to spot for temaki and a memorable omakase. For a different Asian take, combine a craft cocktail with a contemporary Korean dinner at Oseyo.
Austin is a barbecue lover’s dream. Stand in line for the famed Franklin Barbecue, because it’s so worth it. An easier option is to dine at Loro Asian Smokehouse and Bar, where you’ll get a new take on the Franklin ‘cue without the queue. Devoted locals head to LeRoy and Lewis or la Barbecue for their brisket fix. Pull up a picnic bench and get sausage by the pound at Micklethwait Craft Meats. Or if you’re hankering for a cold one, try Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew.
For a fresh-baked breakfast, stop in at Swedish Hill, where the sweets and sandwiches are made daily. A true culinary mashup, Vixen’s Wedding marries flavors from India, Portugal and Texas in incredibly unique dishes you won’t find anywhere else. Sixth and Waller also takes a new approach, fusing diner food with international fare. James Beard finalist Barley Swine was first in the city to do locally sourced small plates and remains one of its most innovative restaurants. Bon Appétit has applauded Emmer & Rye’s approach to dishes made with local, sustainable and foraged ingredients. Their newest venture is Hestia, a modern grill house where every plate is both food and art. Austin Proper Hotel houses The Peacock Mediterranean Grill, where the menu reflects the full gamut of Greek, Israeli and Turkish fare. Part-bike shop, part-coffee shop, part-pizzeria, The Meteor is where you can have a slice and glass of bubbly or take a bottle to go. If you prefer something hoppy with your pizza, stop by Oddwood Ales for a pie and a pint. Meat lovers should follow their nose to Southside Market & Barbeque for generous servings of smoky meat, while those in search of seafood will love the selection at Salt Traders Coastal Cooking. You can’t pick a wrong dish at Launderette, a lovely all-day cafe serving New American fare. Try to time your visit with their annual birthday cake ice cream sandwich offering. And for the traditionalist, Olamaie’s sweet Southern style extends far beyond biscuits to a James Beard-nominated menu. But really, do try the biscuits.
7 Offbeat Food Fests in Austin
- Eat like a kid again at the Austin Mac & Cheese Festival.
- Dip your chip during the annual Quesoff.
- Get spicy at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival.
- Go all in on cocktails at the Official Drink of Austin.
- Get your pork and vino fill during Wine & Swine.
- Watch top chefs and bands jam at Hot Luck.
- Taste a bounty of briny bivalves at the Austin Oyster Festival.