WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
Finally! Here are my favorite restaurants and bars in Austin, Texas, organized by category. We’ll start with my top picks, followed by brunch/lunch, dinner, tacos/food trucks, bars/happy hours and some bonus activities for when you’re not busy sipping margaritas.
These recommendations are coming from a food blogger who appreciates healthy, fresh and creative cuisine, so if that’s your kind of food, you’re in the right place! All of these restaurants are vegetarian friendly, but Bouldin Creek Cafe is the only meat-free restaurant on the list. Here are the restaurants and bars you can’t miss!
OVERALL TOP PICKS
Veracruz All Natural: This taco truck (three locations) offers super fresh tacos, like the migas taco that inspired this recipe. I highly recommend ordering a pineapple agua fresca (they’re huge, you can share!) and probably some queso, too.
La Condesa (top photo): This modern Mexican restaurant made almost every category in my list! I absolutely love the colorful atmosphere. Their food is fresh and inventive, the cocktails are killer and they offer $2 mimosas and bloody marys during weekend brunch hours. Yes.
The Peached Tortilla: Creative Southern food with an Asian spin in a colorful, well-designed space up north. Ali and I went with Jack and Jeanine and sampled about half the menu, family style, but our checks were surprisingly reasonable.
East Side King: These food trucks (five locations) offer inventive Asian fare at affordable prices. They’re owned by chef Paul Qui (you might have seen him on Top Chef) and conveniently located near hip bars so you can drink while you eat. Get some beet fries and the Brussels sprouts and rice dish!
Weather Up: Our go-to bar near East 6th St. It has a lovely indoor atmosphere and a big patio out back, not to mention stellar drinks. If you go, tell our favorite bartender, Floyd, that Cookie and Kate sent you. Bonus: parking is available on site.
The Continental Club: Super classic Austin dive bar and music venue on Congress Street. They almost always have a band playing. Check out their more chill bar upstairs, too.
BEST BRUNCH & LUNCH RESTAURANTS
South Congress Cafe: This is Jeanine’s top stop for migas. I ordered a particularly gorgeous spinach and artichoke omelet. Expect a wait.
Magnolia Cafe: An eclectic Austic diner with an incredible variety of Austin-inspired and classic breakfast options. They’re open 24/7 but breakfast is best. Expect a wait for brunch and reward yourself with an order of queso.
La Condesa: Modern Mexican meals in a colorful environment. Mimosas and bloody marys are only $2 during weekend brunch hours! I like their saucy huevos rancheros.
Bouldin Creek Cafe: This vegetarian/vegan restaurant has a dog-friendly patio and a big menu of hearty, fresh options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had the best sweet potato enchiladas there!
Thai Fresh: Order some delicious Thai food at the counter and they’ll bring it to your table. Their spicy curry is seriously spicy.
Elizabeth Street Cafe (pictured below): The cutest Vietnamese place. I ordered the tofu bun with no regrets.
BEST DINNER RESTAURANTS
The Peached Tortilla: Southern food with an Asian twist, which sounds strange but is so good. Fun environment, delicious cocktails and inspiring food that won’t break the bank.
Sway: This modern Thai restaurant is downright sexy on the inside. It’s dark and the tables can accommodate quite a crowd. Highly recommend the vegetable stir fry and squash curry.
Licha’s Cantina: Fresh Mexican food on East 6th without a huge wait, at least when we went on a Saturday evening. Fun place for happy hour, too.
El Naranjo: I recommend this place on Rainey Street with slight reservations because prices were a little steep and not everyone at the table was crazy about their dishes. I loved mine, though—the pastel azteca was one of the best dishes I tried in Austin.
La Condesa: Yep, again. I just love this place and their modern Mexican meals.
BEST TACOS & FOOD TRUCKS
Veracruz All Natural: Super fresh tacos from a taco truck with three locations. Their tacos take a while, but they’re so worth it. Highly recommend the pineapple agua fresca (it’s huge!).
Tacodeli (pictured above): This place offers a wide variety of fun, tasty tacos with friendly, quick service. A lot of Austinites claim that these are the best tacos, but I like Veracruz better.
Torchy’s Tacos: These tacos trucks started in Austin and now they’re spreading elsewhere. Good! I loved their mushroom taco most.
Fork and Taco: I am so obsessed with their cauliflower taco. Their tacos feature fresh produce and locally sourced meat. It’s a cute, casual new restaurant north of downtown.
El Primo: This is probably where you should go if you’re craving classic, meaty tacos (not my kind of tacos). You can go grab some coffee at Once Over Coffee while you wait.
East Side King: These trucks are owned by Paul Qui, renowned chef, who comes up with awesome Asian dishes. There are five of them and they’re located near bars so you can drink while you eat.
BEST BARS, MARGARITAS & HAPPY HOURS
Weather Up: Love the atmosphere, drinks and service at this bar. If it’s nice outside, you might want to drink on the back patio. Located near trendy East 6th; parking is available on site.
Lucille Patio Lounge: THE best margaritas (agave-sweetened cucumber and jalapeño margaritas with chili-salt rims) are at Lucille’s annnnnd they’re less than $5 during happy hour. This cute bar is on Rainey Street, so you could start there and mosey down the street for dinner or more drinks.
La Condesa: This place again. Go to La Condesa for happy hour downtown. You’ll probably want to sample the apple-serrano salsa and the “margarita La Condesa,” which is made with fresh pineapple.
Easy Tiger: Love this casual bar for their pretzels and beer selection. You’ll walk into a bake shop with incredible smells; walk downstairs for the bar, which has with a bazillion beers on tap. Order a pretzel with beer cheese for me, please.
Whislers: Killer old fashioneds here. Whislers is a hip bar on East 6th with an East Side King trailer parked in the back.
The Continental Club: This bar/music venue on Congress is an Austin classic that you can’t miss. To my understanding, they offer live shows every night of the week. If they’re too busy, check out The Gallery upstairs.
WHAT TO DO (when you’re not busy eating & drinking)
Lady Bird Lake Trails: Lady Bird “Lake” is really more of a river. It flows through Central Austin and you can hop on the trails from almost any point. It’s a great place to go for a walk, run or bike ride.
Paddle Boarding on Lady Bird Lake. So fun! We walked down the Lady Bird Lake trail until we found the paddle boarding rental area near Zilker Park.
Zilker Park: The venue for Austin City Limits, this is one gigantic green park where hipsters flock on weekends. Dogs are everywhere! I love it. Word of advice: do NOT pull into the parking loop that wraps around the park. We got stuck in traffic in the loop for a full hour. Park elsewhere and walk to the park.
Barton Creek Greenbelt: This is the only place on my list that I didn’t actually visit myself, but everyone told me to go there and Ali said it’s gorgeous.
South Congress Shops: South Congress offers a variety of eclectic shops (think vintage stores, boot shops and more) and restaurants. It’s a fun area to explore by foot.
Flagship Whole Foods Market: The mother load! This is where Whole Foods Market got started. They have a bar and a coffee shop inside, as well as just about any food or ingredient you’d like to buy. Definitely pick up some of the salted, dark chocolate-covered chipotle almonds for me. They’re in the bins by the yogurt.
WHERE TO STAY
The Gold Door (our Air BnB rental): We lucked out and found the most perfect mid-century modern duplex in the best location in Austin (between I-35 and South Congress in Travis Heights). The awesome couple who owns the place also owns eight others like it, each with a different colored door. You can see all of their locations on their website, SoCo Spaces. We negotiated a good deal for our month-long stay at The Gold Door and I really can’t say enough good things about the location, the house itself and their responsive service. (Photo credit to Ali!)
Where to Eat in Austin by Gimme Some Oven: My roommate Ali’s complete list of restaurants we tried in Austin, with a Google map and everything!
Austin Food Truck Guide by Love and Lemons
Austin Food Guide by Love and Lemons
Ali | Gimme Some Oven
This is awesome!!! My favorite photo, of course, being of our little guard dogs.
I cannot agree more about Veracruz All Natural. I just spent a week eating my way through Austin, and really wish I had seen your guide ahead of time. Our lists overlap , but I’m still craving the migas at Veracruz.
Right?! So good. Here’s to hoping we both make it to Austin again soon!
I moved to Austin last year and have heard about the amazing food scene. My cousin who has lived here for years told me she thought the food in Dallas and Houston is better, and I have to agree. Austin overall has an amazing vibe, but food-wise, it’s lacking (although the hype is strong with all the TV shows on the city). I will say that I LOVE Elizabeth Street Cafe. Their Vietnamese food is so good, although VERY pricy for Vietnamese but the place is super cute. I loved eating at Torch’s and prefer it over Tacodeli. The one place I did not really enjoy was Easy Tiger. Friends from Austin took me there and they raved about it. The food was mediocre and although the bakery section is interesting, it was very small. I was wanting to see a full blown bakery with lots of good baked items…something I’m having a hard time finding here.
Dang, I’m sorry you aren’t loving Austin’s restaurants! My belly was very happy to be there. I had a really great pretzel at Easy Tiger!
I stumbled upon this list just in the nick of time! My husband and I are doing a quick 24 hours in Austin after a weekend with his family in Texas hill country in just a couple weeks. We’re planning to kayak at Lady Bird Lake, catch a show at the Continental Club, and eat and drink as much as possible in our short time there. This list will be in my back pocket for the duration of our visit!
You should put together a guide to KC too! I live here as well and I have my favorites, but I always love to hear what others would recommend to visitors!
Wow, girl! You don’t mess around! Will have to let you know if I move there. We are both in our 20s so we’ll have to do lunch (or brunch / dinner / dessert / drinks when is there time to do anything else in this city?!). Much love dear food-loving friend. -Heather
Thanks, Heather! Have a great time.
You didn’t try the Love Migas at Magnolia Cafe? You must come back to Texas and try them asap! They are best after staying up too late partying downtown, but I’d eat them anytime!
I can’t remember what I ordered there! Agreed, I’m due for a return trip!
Curras! I lived in Austin for years and my all time favorite place was Curras. Their enchiladas Curras are the thing I crave since I moved away. People rave about their avocado margaritas – I wasn’t a fan but they are worth a try.