The 30 Best Restaurants in Austin, Texas
Every year, 20 million visitors flock to the live music capital of the world to experience the unique culture and entertainment on offer. And it's not just the awesome live music that keeps visitors coming back. The buzzing culinary scene in Austin is a huge draw, getting bigger and better every year. As well as the classic food trucks, which could be the best in the world, the amazing tex-mex and mouth watering barbecue, the options in the city have expanded to incorporate great Vietnamese, Italian, and for a city over 200 miles from the sea, there is great seafood to be had in Austin too!
We've searched across all cuisines and budgets to whittle down what we think are the 30 best places to eat in Austin this year. If you think we've missed anything just let us know at the bottom.
This longstanding Tex Mex restaurant and bar is something of an Austin institution. Centrally located on bustling East Sixth Street, it dishes up an inexpensive, all-day menu. Popular offerings include huevos rancheros, fajitas, and egg and tortilla migas. Choose from chicken, steak or cheese enchiladas, and tacos stuffed with an array of chorizo, beans, bacon and potatoes. There are plenty of vegetarian options, along with a kids menu. Wash it all down with a mimosa or several.
Award winning Italian restaurant offering upscale, contemporary dining in downtown Austin. The menu features homemade pasta, fresh seafood and locally sourced meat dishes, all prepared on a custom wood fired grill. Try tempting starters such as octopus with rucola, olives and pancetta, or burrata with roasted vine tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic. Mains include roast pork and veal ravioli with sliced fresh truffle butter, 50 day dry aged porterhouse steak, or red snapper in shellfish broth with tomato, olives, zucchini and capers. The international wine list features traditional and new world selections. There’s also an array of spirits along with house cocktails and digestifs. Note, a smart dress code applies.
Informal and lively, Suerte is a contemporary Mexican restaurant on Austin’s East Sixth Street. Here you can dine on traditional Mexican cuisine prepared with local Texan ingredients. The brunch menu offer such goodies as coffee glazed apple and sweet potato empanadas, or bacon, potato and red onion hash topped with fried eggs and salsa. Dinners span mains of oak grilled swordfish with almonds and leeks, to pulled pork and chorizo quesadillas. Enjoy tasty sides such as roasted cauliflower with raisins, almonds and pickled onions. The comprehensive drinks list has an array of house cocktails, along with an impressive tequila and mescal selection.
A classic South Austin neighbourhood diner serving up breakfast and lunch in a relaxed, 1950s style environment. The traditional American menu includes buttermilk pancakes, fried chicken and sautéed shrimp with grits. Try house specials such as the Cheeky Monkey, a deep fried egg encased in sausage, smoked cheddar and potato. There’s a good selection of burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches and salads. The drinks list spans cocktails, beers, and juices. Gluten free options and a children’s menu are available.
Oasthouse Kitchen and Bar
Lively family gastropub in the city’s northwest suburbs, serving dishes made with seasonal, local produce. The diverse, meat-friendly choices range from pulled pork hash, or wagyu steak salad with red onions and Danish blue cheese, to truffled prosciutto bruschetta with ricotta, figs and honey. There are vegetarian options, and a children’s menu. Sports fans will enjoy the widescreen TVs by the bar, which serves a good selection of craft beers, wines and cocktails. Outside is a patio for alfresco dining, and a kid’s playground where younger guests can burn off steam.
A centrally located, retro style diner serving new American cuisine. This hip restaurant resides in sleek premises on the site of a former laundrette and gas station. It’s open for dinner, weekend brunches and Friday lunch. The eclectic menu features starters of burrata with pumpkin butter, apple, sage and focaccia, or devilled eggs with black truffle, pancetta and fennel. Mains span wood grilled charred octopus with avocado and beluga lentils, pork ribs in guava BBQ sauce, and garganelli pasta with fennel sausage, taleggio and kale. The wine list is predominantly European, with some US labels, and there’s a decent brunch selection of house mocktails and cocktails.
Matt’s El Rancho
A family run Austin landmark, this downtown Tex Mex diner has been in operation for almost 70 years. Its homemade dishes are hugely popular with locals and luminaries (former US President Lyndon Johnson was a notable fan). The menu features classic meat, fish and vegetarian fajitas, enchiladas and tacos, alongside house specials. Try blackened redfish fillet with shrimp and cilantro cream sauce. Steak tampiquena combines 8 oz grilled sirloin with mixed cheese, poblano and bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and guacamole. Gluten free dishes are available.
Located in vibrant Zilker Park with a sister outlet in north Austin, Juliet is a relaxed and stylish Italian neighbourhood restaurant. Local contemporary art adorns the walls, and a covered patio offers outdoor dining in warmer months. The all-day menu features classic Italian fare. Choose from meatballs, calamari, chicken saltimbocca, or hand tossed pizza. Home-made pasta dishes include capellini in shrimp and tomato sauce, and rigatoni with tomato, bacon and vodka. Be tempted by traditional desserts such as cannoli and tiramisu. The wine list features regional Italian and international labels.
Light and airy, contemporary Mexican restaurant in South Austin, run by an award winning husband and wife team. The menu specialises in freshly dishes from the Oaxaca region. Open for dinner and Sunday brunch, starters include made to order guacamole and homemade tortillas with sautéed shrimp, chilli and poblano peppers. Try mains such as beer-braised beef ribs in chilli, served with green salad and goats cheese mashed potato. There’s a daily selection of homemade desserts, and the drinks list includes craft cocktails, plus a selection of tequilas and mescals.
An atmospheric Japanese/Texan fusion diner in East Austin. Choose from a meat, fish or vegetarian set menu, served in an informal setting inspired by the traditional Japanese izakaya (bar). Starters include edamame beans with Texan pesto, and ceviche (cured raw fish in citrus juice). Mains feature verbena and thyme chicken wings, chicken meatballs, and scallops with sweet potato puree and lemon. Vegetarian options include grilled cauliflower curry with raisins. Traditional Japanese desserts also make an appearance. The drinks list includes American and Japanese beers, along with a decent selection of sake and Japanese whiskey.
This contemporary eatery describes itself as a ‘butcher shop and supper club’ and offers a ranch to table dining experience. The restaurant serves up seasonal cuisine focussing on local produce, including an all-Texan wine and beer list. Typical mains include a wild game sesame sub sandwich packed with Nilgai antelope salami, wild boar and wagyu bologna sausage, salad and asadero cheese. Fish lovers can try the black drum fillet with crispy potatoes and sautéed green beans. Comforting desserts include ginger apple butter cake served with pumpkin ice cream, and butterscotch pudding topped with cream and candied pecans. There is a leafy decked patio area for alfresco dining.
Apis Restaurant and Apiary
Located in Austin’s hill country suburbs, to the north west of the city, Apis offers a stylish menu using locally sourced ingredients. The rolling six acre grounds are home to 20 beehives, which provide the restaurant with its ‘house’ honey. A seasonal international menu features classy starters such as Canadian oysters with horseradish foam, and nduja on sourdough with tomato, fennel and honey. Mains include duck confit with oyster mushrooms and roasted Jerusalem artichoke, and sea trout with purple potato pave, kale and pesto. The award winning cocktail list includes a number of inventive, honey based concoctions.
Jacoby’s brings its relaxed and friendly ranch-to-table dining experience to East Austin. Open for dinners and weekend brunches, the meat centric menu showcases 28 day cured hormone-free beef from the owner’s farm. Tasty starters include coffee cured beef carpaccio, and roasted garlic and bone marrow baguette. Mains span BBQ meatloaf with mashed potatoes and charred broccoli, to classic steak frites. There are weekly burger and steak specials. Chicken and fish also feature, along with veggie options. Desserts include homemade strawberry cake and Texan pecan pie. The restaurant offers alfresco dining on its heated, covered patio, with views over the Colorado River.
North Austin bakery and beer garden located in the Linc shopping mall. Open from 7am, Easy Tiger presents a relaxed vibe and spacious indoor and outdoor seating areas. The all-day menu includes artisan bread and pastries freshly baked on the premises. Take your pick from breakfast staples such as French and avocado toast, or a choice of soups, salads, sausages and pretzels. A tempting sandwich assortment lists hot pastrami with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, and a vegan ratatouille ciabatta. The eclectic drinks menu offers locally sourced coffee, and over 30 craft beers.
Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden
This lively, Rainey Street German style sausage and beer emporium offers roomy indoor and outdoor eating areas, and a hearty, meat focussed menu. Delights include bratwurst and currywurst, alongside potato salads, pretzels, fries, and pickles. Try house specials such as Schweinebraten: 10-hour cooked pork shoulder, served with crackling, braised cabbage and mustard jus. Sunday brunches feature familiar comforts such as pancakes, hashes and bagels. The venue hosts regular live music performances on its ‘Banger Stage’. The bar offers an agreeable selection of craft beers, ciders, and non-alcoholic beverages.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Jack Allen’s mantra is ‘Local in Source, Texan in Spirit’. This mini-chain has four restaurants in Austin, all serving up traditional Southern fare using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. A rotating menu includes classic salads, tacos and burgers along with house specials. Try starters such as buttermilk fried chicken lollipops with honey mustard glaze and slaw, or smoked barbacoa quesadilla with Monterey Jack, peppers and onions. Hearty mains span grilled ruby trout with walnut and tomato pesto and wilted spinach, and chorizo stuffed pork tenderloin in a roasted garlic cream sauce. There’s a tempting dessert list, along with a kid’s menu.
Kerbey Lane Café
This family owned, Austin institution has been serving a seasonal, locally sourced menu for over thirty years. Kerbey Lane currently has eight outlets around the city, dishing up classic American breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Hearty breakfast platters incorporate pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and fresh fruit. Enjoy comforting mains such as Greek style chicken breast with spinach, tomatoes, olives and feta, or seared salmon with a tamarind glaze, served with Brussels sprouts and basil mashed potato. Family portions, a kids menu and vegetarian options are available.
Austin fast-food chain of four Mexican taco eateries and one-drive thru. El Tacorrido’s budget-friendly menu includes tacos, quesadillas and tortillas. Choose from spiced beef, chilli chicken or slow cooked pork, and a medley of accompaniments such as avocado, jalapenos, cheese and salad. The recently opened Burnet branch in the city’s northern Brentwood district includes Mexican breakfast-styled scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and beans. Its menu also boasts non-meat tacos and tortillas, stuffed with tilapia or sweet potato, corn, mushroom, pepper and caramelised onions. Hot drinks, sodas and beers and sangria are available.
Popular neighbourhood restaurant in downtown Austin with an airy, open plan dining room, and an all-day menu. This doggy-friendly eatery even has a special mini-menu for four legged customers. Breakfast and brunch feature pancakes, eggs and bacon, and homemade baked pastries. There’s a choice of juices, smoothies and locally roasted coffee. Lunch focuses on salads and tasty sounding sandwiches such as crispy halibut teamed with quinoa, fennel slaw, and lemon and caper aioli. The evening menu includes chicken and green chilli enchiladas, and wild mushroom bolognese. The varied drinks list has wines, beers and craft cocktails.
Centrally located restaurant serving dinner and Sunday brunch. Enjoy contemporary American cuisine served in a stylish, candlelit dining room. The menu changes daily and includes Texas quail with sweet potato, black beans, avocado and roasted poblano peppers, and ginger and turmeric curried cauliflower in coconut milk. The drinks list features a rotating selection of craft beers from Austin breweries. There are also some intriguingly named house cocktails, such as ‘I’ve made myself clear’, which teams mescal, chartreuse liqueur, orange juice and lillet rose.
Long -established, rustic café located in the University of Texas campus neighbourhood. FoodHeads serves breakfast and lunch with a laid-back ambience, and a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Their meat and veg tacos include combos such as sirloin steak, feta, and serrano peppers. Lunch offerings include deli sandwiches on house-baked bread and a variety of fillings. Try the grilled pork tenderloin, or ciabatta with smoked Gouda, spinach and honey Dijon mustard. Freshly made soups, and salads are complemented with an extensive range of coffees, plus teas and soft drinks.
Located in the city’s historic east side, Franklins is an Austin institution. This renowned, bustling barbeque joint, run by cooking supremo, Aaron Franklin, has diners literally queuing round the block. Feast on legendary smoked brisket and ribs, pulled pork, succulent turkey, and home-made pork and beef sausages. Top with the restaurant’s bespoke espresso, Texas or pork bbq sauce, and sides of potato salad, slaw, and pinto beans. Desserts (if you can manage one) include dark chocolate, olive oil and sea salt ice cream, and bourbon banana tart. Get there early and join the line – service lasts until food runs out, usually by 2pm.
Happy Lobster is a popular food truck dishing up freshly caught Maine lobster to diners on Austin’s buzzing Rainey Street. The simple take away menu offers a choice of ‘happy’ or ‘angry’ (i.e. spicy) grilled lobster rolls, topped with peppers and mayo in a toasted burger bun. Additional temptations include moreish fried lobster mac and cheese bites, and chocolate whoopee pie for dessert. Wallet friendly, filling, and delicious.
A mid-range, centrally located Italian restaurant on downtown West Sixth Street. Cheery and informal, Italic serves Italian classic fare such as home-made rosemary focaccia, and antipasti with cured Italian meats, cheeses and house marinated olives. Mains range from classic wood fired pizzas and seasonal pasta dishes such as butternut squash linguine, to a roast half chicken and T-bone steak. The impressive wine list features exclusively Italian labels.
Contemporary, Scandinavian inspired coffee shop serving Austin’s South Lamar neighbourhood. Along with a selection of coffees, fruit teas, wines and beers, the menu offers nutritious and seasonal breakfast and lunch choices including sandwiches, toasts and salads. Try the Mexican chilaquiles tortilla with feta, poached eggs, avocado and salsa verde. Or opt for the healthtastic superfood salad which packs kale, clementine, sweet potato, coconut, and Brussel sprouts among its 12 ingredients.
Rosen’s Bagel Company
Rosen’s operates from the Tiny House Corner Café in Austin’s Barton Springs. The menu comprises 13 types of bagel: from cinnamon and raisin to jalapeno and cheddar, whilst the ‘Everthing’ bagel is loaded with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion and garlic. Toppings include traditional house-cured lox, and a range of spreads or ‘schmears’ with such diverse flavours as maple almond, basil lemon, and sundried tomato pesto. Cheap, nourishing and life affirming.
Customise your own stir-fry noodle dish at this contemporary Asian fusion restaurant in the east central Mueller district. Select your base (rice or noodles), protein (opt for steak, pork, chicken, tofu or shrimp) and veg from the multitude of freshly prepared ingredients. Add a sauce, from hoisin to ‘liquid lava’, then kick back and watch the wok-wielding chefs get to work. Generous, nutritious portions, dished up by friendly staff.
This Neapolitan style pizza joint has two restaurants, in the East Caesar Chavez and Brentwood neighbourhoods. Rustic starters include ricotta gnocchi with braised rabbit and capers, or burrata with sweet potato, black garlic and fennel. Mains include a variety of 12” wood fired crispy pizzas, ranging from traditional margherita to the feisty nduja, an inventive marriage of onion, pecan pesto, and house nduja sausage. Choose from a comprehensive wine list plus beers and non-alcoholic drinks. Indoor or outdoor seating is available.
Pho Saigon Noodle House
Informal Vietnamese eatery in the north Lamar neighbourhood. The economical all-day menu features a plethora of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) dishes, incorporating tasty mixtures of meat, fish, tofu and vegetables. Other foolproof choices include grilled pork, egg roll vermicelli, spring and summer rolls, and rice bowls topped with lemongrass beef and crispy fried tofu. Eat in or take out available.
Wild Chix and Waffles
Quirky north Austin chicken and waffle outlet. Wild Chix dishes up southern comfort food, with a menu focussed on sweet and savoury waffles. Get your teeth into What the Cluck, a combo of maple glazed fried chicken, egg, cheese, bacon, and sriracha mayo, or opt for a portion of TLC – chicken tenders served with waffle fries. Sweet options include Gone Bananas, a heady mix of nutella, waffles and sliced banana dredged in icing sugar. The drinks menu includes beers, wines, and hot and cold beverages.
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